From experts to neophytes, there’s one skincare ingredient that everyone seems to recommend—hyaluronic acid. Originally a clear, sugary substance that occurs naturally in the body, where it lubricates joints and even sustains the shape of the eyeballs, this gooey liquid is a mainstay in skincare and can be found in almost every product, from serums to sheet masks. Dermatologists have long lauded its plumping and moisturising ability because it can carry up to a thousand times its weight in water. We spoke to an expert to see what all the hype is about.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a sugar found naturally in our skin that holds water and helps keep it hydrated. The Hyaluronic acid within our bodies helps retain moisture in our skin and joints and also prevents all that moisture from evaporating into the air. “It is a humectant, which means that it works by attracting water—either from the environment or the skin itself and uses that to hydrate and plump up the skin,” says Dr Aanchal Panth, a Surat-based dermatologist with over ten years of experience. Just like collagen, the amount of naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases as we get older. There are, however, ways to help stimulate its production.
What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid?
- Hydrates the skin: Dr Panth says that the main reason why she recommends hyaluronic acid is due to its extreme hydrating properties. “It also makes the skin look smooth,” she adds.
- Reduces redness and dermatitis: According to research by Dr Zoe Diana Draelos, Department of Dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, USA, a prescription hyaluronic acid-based foam device offers an aesthetic formulation with excellent efficacy in patients requiring an environment for barrier repair with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis.
- Decreases fine lines and wrinkles: Dr S Manjula Jegasothy, President, Miami Skin Institute, USA, studied a group of women with an average age of 45 for a period of eight weeks. The results of the study showed a statistically significant moisturising effect of hyaluronic acid products. Measurement of skin roughness showed finer skin structure after two weeks of treatment, and skin elasticity showed improvement after two and eight weeks of treatment. The products demonstrated a significant benefit in decreasing the depth of wrinkles (up to forty percent) and skin firmness and elasticity were also enhanced (up to fifty five percent) at the end of eight weeks.
What is the best way to incorporate hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine?
“A hyaluronic acid serum can be applied twice a day. Apply it over Vitamin-C in the morning before sunscreen and at night apply it on top of a retinol-based serum or cream,” says Dr Panth. Hyaluronic acid works well with most other ingredients and can be paired with peels, retinols, vitamins, and other acids. The only exception would be acids with low pH levels, like glycolic acid, because it may degrade its potency and make it ineffective. Another point to keep in mind is that hyaluronic acid is so powerful at pulling moisture to the surface of your skin, that you likely don’t need to use it in more than one product in your routine. So, just a simple serum will suffice.
What is the best way to apply it?
When it comes to hyaluronic acid, correct application is extremely important. In fact, if you apply it incorrectly, it may dehydrate your skin even further. The molecule needs water to hydrate, but without any moisture on the surface of your skin or from the environment, it will pull the water from deep inside your epidermal layers and that water will evaporate within no time, leaving your skin dry. “Which is why you should always start with a slightly damp face, as that water can act like the perfect reserve to draw from. Then, after applying, seal it in with a rich moisturiser,” says Dr Panth.
Which skin-types benefit the most from hyaluronic acid?
“Hyaluronic acid is one of the very few skincare ingredients that works great with all skin-types. It is the most beneficial for ageing skin as it plumps up the skin, giving it a more youthful appearance. Even people with oily skin can use a hyaluronic acid serum without worrying about exacerbation of acne. If you have extremely dry skin, then make sure that you follow it with a good moisturiser,” Dr Panth adds. However, people that live in areas with extremely low humidity levels should generally stay away from using the acid.