Ever wonder why all you hear about these days is Hyaluronic Acid (HA)? HA is popping up everywhere these days - in skincare creams, serums, masks, lip products and even in oral preparations for hair, skin and nails as well as joints and osteoarthritis. HA is also used in eye products to help prevent dry eyes.
So, what is Hyaluronic Acid? Why do we need to use it? Are there different types? What benefits does it offer? And what are the most effective ways of using this ingredient?
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid (HA or Hyaluronan), is a carbohydrate molecule that is naturally occurring in our bodies. This substance is naturally found in many areas of the human body, including the skin, eyes, and synovial fluid of the joints but up to 50% lives in the dermis of our skin.
HA is a humectant, a substance that retains moisture, and it is capable of binding over one thousand times its weight in water thus HA provides lubrication to the connective tissues of our joints and is an important part of our skin’s overall health.
HA also works as an antioxidant to protect your skin from the free radical damage from UV rays that can age the skin faster by attacking collagen and elastin production.
Why do we need to use Hyaluronic Acid?
As we age, the production of key substances in our bodies, including hyaluronic acid (along with collagen and elastin) decreases.
As a result, our skin loses volume, hydration, and plumpness which means fine lines appear before eventually wrinkles and saggy skin take hold.
Also, when our joints are lubricated, the bones are less likely to grind against each other and cause uncomfortable pain so is very helpful for people suffering from osteoarthritis.
Sodium hyaluronate eye drops are used to relieve eye dryness and soreness. They moisten, soothe and lubricate the surface of your eye, making it feel more comfortable.
What are the different types of Hyaluronic Acid?
With HA popping up in all types of products it is important to know that there are different forms that do different things, and some may be considered more beneficial than others.
High molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HMW-HA) – This is the form that is usually taken orally in capsule, liquid or tablet form for joints and general wellbeing. If used in topical skincare products the molecules of HMW hyaluronic acid are larger so they do a great job of sitting in the uppermost layers of the skin and swelling it. However you won’t be getting moisture drawn deeper into the skin.
Low molecular weight hyaluronic acid (LMW-HA) – This is hyaluronic acid whose molecules have been broken into fragments that penetrate into the skin easier due to their smaller size. This form can also be known as sodium hyaluronate, a salt of hyaluronic acid that has the same humectant capabilities but can have a smaller molecular size. This will lead to more moisture in the lower layers of the dermis but the instant effects of plumping the skin are reduced.
Each type of HA has benefits depending on how and what results you required. Some products combine different weights of HA to give broader results while others are combined with other substances including Vitamin B5, Vitamin C and Collagen.
Skincare products with a formula of at least 1% Hyaluronic Acid are consider optimum while oral formulations for skin and joints should contain 120-240mg taken over an extended period (months). Eye preparations usually contain between 0.1% (normal) and 0.2% (forte) of sodium hyaluronate.
What benefits does Hyaluronic Acid offer?
Treatment of Osteoarthritis and Joint Pain – Oral supplements with HA help lubricate the joint space preventing bones from rubbing. HA is often combined with Collagen, Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM to enhance the benefits of joint support.
Our favourite product with HA in this area is Revive Active Joint Complex (Irish Brand) which combines HA with other products to create a berry flavour drink to help support joint health.
Treatment of Dry Eyes - Eye drop products usually contain sodium hyaluronate - the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the eye and has lubricating properties. It improves the way tears are spread over the eye and entraps water and together with its coating properties, results in lasting lubrication.
Our favourite product with HA in this area is Hylo-Forte 0.2% HA as it releases one drop for each click of the pump. Hylo-Forte eye drops are suitable for adults and children of all age groups and can also be used during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Hylo-Forte eye drops are safe to use with all types of contact lenses and so you do not need to remove your lenses before applying the drops. They are also available on prescription so are available on DPS and Medical Card schemes.
Healthy Skin, Hair & Nails – Oral products containing HA are formulated to nourish from the inside with add vitamins, minerals and collagen to support the normal health and appearance of skin, hair and nails.
Our favourite product with HA in this area is Swedish Nutra Skin, Hair & Nails which is formulated as a liquid for optimal absorption. It combines HA with Vitamin A, B Complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E as well as Collagen, CoQ10 and MSM.
Wrinkles and Fine Lines – Topical HA skin products, due to its moisture-pulling capabilities, can give the skin back moisture. Applying hyaluronic acid on your face plumps up the skin to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles (Grapes compared to Raisins). When your skin is supple and hydrated, it plumps up to appear firmer, less saggy, and more toned.
If you have got the right type of hyaluronic acid in a serum, it can penetrate into the skin and hydrate it at lower layers which is something that moisturisers can’t do due to the size of their molecules. Serums typically have a thinner consistency and a more potent concentration of ingredients to deliver great results.
Sodium Hyaluronate is usually listed alongside water because the two ingredients bind together, delivering the moisture into your skin. To make the most out of hyaluronic acid as an anti-aging ingredient, use it in the form of serum or drops and apply it on damp skin, then apply a moisturiser on top. When using a serum, wait at least 15 minutes after applying for the serum to completely absorb into skin before moving to the next step in your routine.
There are so many products in this area that offer different results it’s hard to pick our favourite product. So, we have a few suggestions that are tailored for all requirements.
- We love Vichy Mineral 89 serum - it combines Vichy's highest concentration of Vichy Thermal Mineralising Water, along with Hyaluronic acid, to plump and strengthen the skin barrier and protect it from pollution. This range also comes in a mask and eye fortifier.
- Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum instantly plumps and firms the skin while targeting fine lines, dehydration and dullness. It is a lightweight fragrance-free skin serum, with added Vitamin E, which hydrates and soothes even the most sensitive skin and helps restore youthful elasticity.
- CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum, developed with dermatologists, is a new lightweight serum that helps bind moisture to your skin’s surface, smoothing it and providing up to 24 hours of hydration. This Hyaluronic Serum contains hyaluronic acid, three essential ceramides, soothing vitamin B5 and patented MVE Technology.
Skincare Tips with HA
- For the best results, you should use the hyaluronic acid daily as part of your skincare routine.
- To make the most out of hyaluronic acid as an anti-aging ingredient, use it in the form of serum or drops and apply it on damp skin, then apply a moisturiser on top.
- Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C work together to create a beautiful complexion. The Vitamin C should be applied before Hyaluronic Acid as the Vitamin C will brighten your skin and promote a clearer palette, prepping the skin for the HA to plump it up with hydration.
- HA can be mixed with your lip balm, your body products and you can even pop some into your hair to help with dry ends.
- Use serums with Hyaluronic Acid after applying your retinol product of choice. Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is a known wrinkle fighter and collagen supporter but can sometimes cause the skin to dry out. HA serum will keep the skin’s surface hydrated and glowing.
- One of the benefits of hyaluronic acidis that it can help to hydrate the skin in a non-irritating way so is safe to use in eczema. HA serum helps to promote moisture to ward off flaky itchiness with a simple daily application.