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Hyaluronic Acid: A Star Ingredient for Youthful and Healthy Skin
What is Hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a polysaccharide also known as a glycosaminoglycan which is a major structural component of our skin. It can also be found in our joints and connective tissues.
What does it do?
This large sugar molecule plays an important role in controlling tissue permeability, protecting and lubricating cells, fluid retention, and macromolecular transport between cells. But most of all, it is responsible for hydration, because HA has a unique ability to bind water 1,000 times its own molecular weight.
Acting as a molecular sponge, HA is binding protein and water together, and when applied to the skin it makes an elastic, transparent film, which stimulates the natural protective mechanisms. In the deeper layers, HA binds to collagen and elastin, which restores the volume of the skin. It binds a large amount of water, so the skin becomes tighter, moisturized, looks younger, more beautiful and supple. This natural carbohydrate from the group of mucopolysaccharides is biocompatible, safe and well tolerated by the skin, but with age, its concentration in the tissue decreases significantly.
Fortunately, biotechnology has improved greatly in the past decade allowing us to supplement this vital ingredient through oral and topical application. The topical use of HA is very limited due to the large molecular mass of the ingredient itself. For these reasons, sodium or potassium salts of hyaluronic acid are commonly used in cosmetics.
Types of Hyaluronic Acid
Sodium hyaluronate is a sodium salt of Hyaluronic Acid with lower molecular mass. This enables the ingredient to penetrate and retain the water in the deeper layers of the skin. This ingredient can be found in various molecular weights, from low molecular weight (<15 kDa) up to high molecular weight (>1000kDa).
High molecular weight (HMW) hyaluronic acid is the most powerful moisturizer and humectant available. It provides smoothness and softening to the skin, and due to its excellent humectant properties, it can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Most of all, it’s stimulating the natural mechanisms for the protection of the skin barrier.
Low molecular weight (LMW) hyaluronic acid increases the concentration of necessary enzymes in the skin, as well as the overall health of the skin. It actively helps in cell differentiation during the formation of new epidermal cells. It helps protect the skin from aging factors like the negative effects of sunlight, environmental pollution and the harmful effects of some chemicals. It strengthens and balances the defense mechanisms and thus normalizes the functioning of healthy skin.
What type of HA do we need?
The answer is both. A good cosmetic product and cosmoceutical will contain both. It is very important that hydration takes place at all skin levels. This is how we can use all the advantages and benefits of hyaluronic acid.
What else is important?
The concentration of HA (sodium hyaluronate) is also very important. Hyaluronic Acid is а hygroscopic ingredient, which means it attracts water from the atmosphere. In case of low atmospheric humidity, HA can bind itself with water from the lower epidermal layers. This can cause drying of the skin. The recommended usage of HA is from 0.1% up to 2%. Anything below this concentration will not be active, and anything which is above this concentration can dry out the skin. There are many types of products containing HA. Serums and ampoules are usually the products with the highest amount of active ingredients. The optimal usage of HA in such products is 1%-2%.
How to distinguish a good product with hyaluronic acid?
A good product with HA will probably contain an optimal level of HA. The concentration of the ingredients in the ingredient list are listed in descending order. Therefore, HA should be listed with its INCI name (Sodium hyaluronate) in the first few ingredients, right after the humectants. Serums, natural gums or inorganic polymers are not recommended. This is because HA itself is in sufficient concentration and can gel the mass, hence there is no need for additional polymers or gums. A good HA product will probably contain some other ingredients with good hydrating properties which will work synergistically with HA. And last but not least, a good product with HA, will be a combination of both, LMW HA and HMW HA.
Here are a few product recommendations.
Eve’s Garden- HYALURONIC Pure– Advanced Hydro Complex Facial Serum, Triple Hydration Method. This product offers a strong solution at a reasonable price. I give it a 10/10 rating.
SkinCeuticals- HYALURONIC ACID INTENSIFIER (H.A.) I’m rating this intensifier 9/10 because it is a wonderful product, but can be considered pricey for some.
EVE LOM- INTENSE HYDRATION SERUM. This serum is a good product, but again can be out of some’s skincare budget. I rate this product 9/10.
Hada Labo- Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Essence. I’m rating this an 8/9 because it is a good product at a good price. This is great for any budget.
About the Author
Name: Marina Hristovska
Professional Title: Cosmetic Formulator
Bio: Marina is a professional cosmetic formulator with more than 10 years of experience in the field of organic cosmetics, performance cosmetics and cosmeceuticals. She’s the owner of Marina Cosmetic Lab and a founder of the brand Eve’s Garden.
Social Media Handle: https://www.facebook.com/marina.hristovska.1