Hyaluronic Acid: Definition, Benefits, and Best Serums

When you want to lock in moisture and fight signs of aging, consider this all-star skin care ingredient your go-to. Here you can learn how it works and what to look for in the ingredient list.

If there's one skincare ingredient that can give you hydrated skin fast, it's hyaluronic acid. You'll find it as an active ingredient in almost every category of skin care products (serums, cleansers, moisturizers, etc.).

There's a reason it's everywhere: Hyaluronic acid is not only great at keeping skin hydrated, but it also minimizes signs of aging, since plump, hydrated skin can make fine lines and wrinkles less noticeable.

Here's a scientific guide explaining the basics of hyaluronic acid. What is hyaluronic acid? According to research, it's technically a group of sugar molecules called polysaccharides.

The Cleveland Clinic notes that these molecules act as buffers and lubricants and are found naturally in the body's connective tissue.

Over time, the amount of hyaluronic acid stored in the body decreases. Research suggests age is a cause, but another study suggests environmental factors such as smoking and air pollution can also speed up the process. This is bad news.

The good news is that topical products containing hyaluronic acid, whether as part of a moisturizer's ingredient list or as the main ingredient in a serum, can help replenish these depleted supplies, says Dr. Bonnie Gasquet is

an internist at Studio Health Medical Center in Belchur, Louisiana.

"Hyaluronic acid attracts water molecules, binding them and increasing the skin's hydration level," says Dr. Shari Marchbein is a board-certified dermatologist with a private practice in New York City. Doctors say it can absorb

more than a thousand times its own weight in water. Marchbein.

What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid? The main benefit of hyaluronic acid is hydration and its incredible ability to retain moisture.

Marchbein says to understand how important moisture is for skin, you first need to know that dehydrated skin (when the top layer of skin doesn't have enough moisture) can appear dry, rough, and flaky.

This is not just an aesthetic issue. Dry skin can be dangerous. "Skin that is dehydrated cannot maintain a sufficiently intact skin barrier, making the skin more susceptible to damage from external and environmental sources,"

says Marchbein.

One study shows that if the skin barrier is incomplete, bacteria can get in, leading to infection. A weakened skin barrier may be linked to a number of skin conditions, including dry skin, atopic dermatitis, rosacea and acne,

one study suggests.

Then Hydrated Skin is for you. "Skin hydration is important because hydrated skin looks plumper, healthier, and more energetic," says Marchbein. It will also look younger if that's one of your goals.

According to research, skin aging is linked to skin moisture loss, and hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient in fighting or reversing these signs. "Due to its water-absorbing properties, hyaluronic acid can improve dry, dimpled

or 'wrinkled' areas and combat skin aging," says Dr. Gasquet.

One study found that an over-the-counter anti-wrinkle cream containing hyaluronic acid reduced the depth of wrinkles around the lips and eyes by 10 to 20 percent over three months. Skin firmness is also improved by 13% to 30%.

Gasquet recommends using products containing hyaluronic acid, especially in the winter when skin is driest. But even those who don't struggle with dryness want to incorporate hyaluronic acid into their skin care routine.

It's responsible for giving skin a healthy glow, says board-certified plastic surgeon Kenneth Rothaus, MD, of Rothaus Plastic Surgery in New York City. Marchbein recommends a hyaluronic acid-rich moisturizer suitable for people

of all ages.

"It's never too early to start good skin care," she says. 3 Types of Hyaluronic Acid: How They Are Different. There are three types of hyaluronic acid: Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid is hyaluronic acid that has been broken down into

elements small enough to penetrate the skin, says Gasquet.

It's hydrating, but not the most hydrating option, so it's best suited for people with oily or combination skin, as these skin types want to avoid over-hydrating. Gasquet says sodium hyaluronate can penetrate deeper into the

skin and provide better results, although the results won't last as long.

"Sodium hyaluronate is best for people with normal skin because it allows moisture to penetrate, but doesn't necessarily require intense, long-lasting results." This is an ingredient you might find in a serum.

Acetylated sodium hyaluronate has the benefits of sodium hyaluronate but with longer lasting results. It is most suitable for people who need moisture, such as: B. People with dry skin, people living in dry climates. Or those

looking for something suitable for dry winter months.

There’s also ingestible hyaluronic acid, a capsule filled with active ingredients. One study showed that by taking supplements, hyaluronic acid levels remained stable and results were long-lasting. It seemed to work:

Researchers found that participants who took 120 milligrams (mg) of hyaluronic acid daily for 12 weeks had improvements in skin wrinkles and overall skin condition. However, more research on oral hyaluronic acid is needed.

Are there any side effects of hyaluronic acid that I need to be aware of? Marchbein says hyaluronic acid is generally safe for all skin types and typically does not cause side effects when used topically. "Hyaluronic acid is

naturally found in our skin, so it shouldn't cause any problems," says Dr. Rossos.

“When patients complain of rashes or other problems with products containing hyaluronic acid, it’s usually due to an issue with another ingredient, such as one of the preservatives.” Preservatives can extend the life of a

product, but some, including parabens, formaldehyde-releasing substances and isothiazolinones, can cause irritation, according to DermNet.

Marchbein points out that many injectable fillers also contain hyaluronic acid, and while the ingredient itself is safe, the procedure can be risky and should be performed by a doctor certified by the American Board of

Dermatology or the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Hyaluronic Acid Uses: What to Look for in Topical Products

Name a skin care category and chances are there's a product that contains hyaluronic acid. You can find this ingredient in many products, including:

Before purchasing topical products, follow these steps:

Check for allergens and vitamin C

Gasquet says to be wary of ingredients that you're allergic to or that have caused you irritation in the past.

Look for hyaluronic acid products that also contain vitamin C as an ingredient. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these two ingredients work together to increase effectiveness.

Pay attention to its molecular weight

When looking for a product, check to see if its molecular weight is listed. This isn't always the case, but it's worth looking for as it can give you an idea of ​​how effective the product is. According to one study, lower

molecular weight acids (such as 50 kilodaltons versus 2,000 daltons) can penetrate the skin more easily and have been shown to be more effective in fighting wrinkles. This study found that even a 0.1% concentration of hyaluronic acid increased hydration and elasticity, although most products contain 1% or 2%. Check if alcoholic beverages are listed Alcohol will counteract the moisturizing effect of this ingredient. "Isopropyl alcohol is very drying and can make the skin prone to cracking, causing breakouts, and can allow irritants and bacteria to get in where they don't belong," Gasquet said. "Additionally, the 'drying' effect causes cells to become Not as plump, which is the exact opposite of what we want." She says to look at where the alcohol is in the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in order of concentration. So if it's one of the first six ingredients, the product may be drying, Gasquet said. Avoid using perfume Nazanin Saedi, MD, of Dermatology Associates Laser and Cosmetic Surgery Center in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., says products with added fragrances may cause irritation or breakouts in people with sensitive skin, so it's best to stay away. Fragrances can also cause contact dermatitis, a rash that can appear minutes to days after exposure to the trigger, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Don't be afraid of water You'll often find water as the first ingredient in hyaluronic acid products. It may seem like a useless ingredient, like it dilutes the product, but it actually helps the hyaluronic acid be more effective. "Water-based products —as opposed to creams, oils, or gels—allow products to penetrate the skin more easily," says Gasquet.

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