What Is Hyaluronic Acid And How To Use It — Quick Crash Course
There are hundreds of beauty ingredients on the market, but in fact, very few are as powerful as hyaluronic acid (HA). I’ve gathered here some useful information and tips for everyone who would like to learn more where the popularity of hyaluronic acid comes from and to give you some insight into benefits of using HA in a daily skincare routine.
Little Glimpse Into Chemistry
Imagine yourself a very long chain made of sugar molecules (polysaccharide). It’s not an ordinary sugar you can find in sweets or fruits. This one works like a strong magnet for water — 1 gram o can bind up to 4 liters of water. We call it hyaluronic acid or hyaluronan.
It’s also sold in the form of salt: sodium hyaluronate with much smaller molecular weight for better skin penetration. Its name comes from Greek word “hyalos” which means glass and indeed describes the appearance of hyaluronic acid- glassy and transparent.
Do not worry, it’s completely different substance than strong acids used for chemical peels known as Alpha Hydroxy (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHA). In fact, the PH level of hyaluronic acid + water solutions varies from slightly acidic — 5.0 to the neutral 8.0. The natural skin mantle is between 4.5 and 6.2 so, it’s a perfect match.
Super Hypoallergenic Substance
In nature, hyaluronan is present in the majority of living organisms including bacteria. The human body contains approximately 15 g of hyaluronic acid which It can be found in the skin, eyes, joints or even, brain tissues.
What is very significant for this substance, the molecules of HA have the same structure, no matter where they come from — animals, bacteria or human body. These two factors — natural occurrence in the human body and lack of species specificity make hyaluronic acid one of the most hypoallergenic and tolerable substances for the skin and body. When applied or injected into the body, the immune system recognizes HA as its own.
These two factors — natural occurrence in the human body and lack of species specificity make hyaluronic acid one of the most hypoallergenic and tolerable substances for the skin and body. When applied or injected into the body, the immune system recognizes HA as its own.
How It Works In Your Skin
Around 50% of Hyaluronic Acid of a human body is located in the skin tissues. Hyaluronan acid is second most important substance for the skin structure right after the collagen. The long-chain molecules of hyaluronic acid create a mesh/membrane which keeps collagen organized and evenly distributed while binding the moist at the same time. Furthermore, HA produced in the skin works as an antioxidant, protecting it from UV rays and as a natural barrier against excessive water evaporation and bacterial infections.
The aging process slows down the production of hyaluronan and in result increases disorganization of collagen molecules and diminishes natural protective mechanisms. At the age of 60 years, the skin contains an average of only 20% of the initial amount of hyaluronic acid. The spikes of HA levels still happen but only in certain areas in case of the skin damage as result of wound healings processes.
Hyaluronic Acid in Health and Beauty Industry
Medical use of hyaluronan was initiated by sports vets in the form of injections into inflamed joints of race horses dramatically improving their performance. Soon lubricating properties of HA were introduced in human medicine as a treatment for degenerative joint disease and dry eye syndrome.
Over the last decade, hyaluronan became widely popular in the form of injectable wrinkles and lips fillers and cosmetic ingredients. The effects of injections with HA are proven to last longer than for instance side effects due to its neutral properties.
Hyaluronic acid used in serums and creams for topical application has scientifically confirmed the ability to improve skin regeneration, water retention, and diminishing wrinkles.
Thanks to its high-water binding properties small concentration of 1–3% it’s enough for optimal moisture level and skin protection. In fact, a higher content applied without added water can cause further dehydration. Technically you can’t use 100% hyaluronic acid directly on the skin since it’s a powder with rock solid particles. It may somehow stick to your skin but won’t bring any benefits of diluted hyaluronan which has a form of
Technically you can’t use 100% hyaluronic acid directly on the skin since it’s a powder with rock solid particles. It may somehow stick to your skin but won’t bring any benefits of diluted hyaluronan which has a form of smooth, easily spreadable, odorless gel.
The most common on the market of cosmetic products are three types of hyaluronic acid:
The most popular one: High Molecular Weight 1–1.08 Mda — creates a barrier on the skin surface which locks the moisture and prevents water escape
Low Molecular Weigh 0,1 do 0,4 Mda (Sodium Hyaluronate) — moisturizes and enhances penetration of active ingredients, especially water soluble
Super Low Molecular Weight 10 kDa and less (Sodium Hyaluronate) — penetrates and moisturizes deep layers of the skin.
How It’s Made (Good And Bad News For Vegans)
In the very beginning, hyaluronan was derived from animal body parts. One of the richest sources of hyaluronic acid are rooster combs. Further research proved that is mass production of HA is possible with microbial fermentation using specific strains of bacteria.
Unlike the hyaluronic acid obtained from animal tissues, bacterial HA brings a lower risk of cross contamination and has a higher level of purity.
Both types of hyaluronic acids are available on the market and sold under the same name, in the majority of cases without stating on the label how they were produced. In fact, there is no obligation for cosmetics manufacturers to provide the details of HA manufacturing process.
Final Tips On Using Hyaluronic Acid in Daily Skincare
That’s the beauty of working with pure hyaluronic acid. You can add it to almost every cosmetic to enhance it’s moisturizing and anti-wrinkle properties: creams, serums, masks, hair products or foundations.
When applying hyaluronan on your skin, any burning or stinging sensation shouldn’t occur. Pure hyaluronic water solution feels neutral to the skin with slight pleasant plumping sensation.
If your skin is super sensitive/allergy prone is good to choose minimalist approach to the skincare routine. Replace creams and lotion with a blend of hyaluronic acid and high-quality oil to lower risk of sensitisation.
Deeply Moisturising Compress
Dehydrated skin will be immediately improved and plumped by hyaluronic acid compress. First exfoliate your skin with gentle scrub or peel, then wash it off and apply few drops of HA gel. Next step would be to put on wet tissues or paper masks and keep it for up to 20 minutes. Then take it off and put some oil to lock the moist.
How To Recognize Good Hyaluronic Acid Based Products
When buying products with Hyaluronic Acid in the name avoid these with the long list of ingredients. It’s possible they have many unnecessary fillers or even potentially sensitizing and harmful ingredients such as fragrances, parabens, alcohol, silicones to name few.
I hope I gave you some useful insights on Hyaluronic Acid and how to use it for best skin benefits. Check out Triple Hyaluronic Acid 1.5% available in our store. It took me over a year of testing different hyaluronic acids on my own problematic skin to choose the right manufacturer.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8129457_Microbial_hyaluronic_acid_production, Date Accessed January 13, 2017
http://biotechnologia.pl/kosmetologia/artykuly/moda-na-kwas-hialuronowy,14830, Date Accessed January 13, 2017
http://biotechnologia.pl/kosmetologia/artykuly/wykorzystanie-kwasu-hialuronowego-w-kosmetyce-czesc-i,593, Date Accessed January 13, 2017
http://www.seikagaku.co.jp/english/index.html, Date Accessed January 13, 2017
Yarosh Daniel, PH.D., “The New Science of Perfect Skin,” Broadway Books, 2008, Print
Lilian C. Becker et al., “Final Report of the Safety Assessment of Hyaluronic Acid, Potassium Hyaluronate, and Sodium Hyaluronate,” International Journal of Toxicology Vol 28 Number 4s July/August 2009 p.5–67
Originally published at www.fromnature.ca on January 13, 2017.