The Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid

Posted by Azadeh Shirazi MD on

Imagine a world where your skin glows with radiance, effortlessly maintaining its moisture and elasticity. This can be an achievable skin goal with a magical molecule known as hyaluronic acid. HA naturally occurs in our bodies and it's most abundant in our skin, eyes, and connective tissues. As the skincare world falls head over heels for this skin-loving sugar, let's unravel the secrets of hyaluronic acid and discover why it's become the talk of the town in the beauty industry.

How Is Hyaluronic Acid Different From Other Moisturizing Agents?

No other ingredient comes close to binding and holding water, as Hyaluronic acid has the ability to attract and bind up to 1000 times its weight in water. It’s a hydrator and not a moisturizer as it doesn’t have occlusive properties to seal in the hydration. 

What Particular Skin Types Or Conditions Can Benefit Most From Using Hyaluronic Acid?

All skin types can benefit by incorporating skincare products with hyaluronic acid into their routine as it helps improve hydration by infusing cells with water and enhancing our skin’s moisture content. Furthermore, it improves skin flexibility, allowing it to stretch and flex. It also helps plump up skin cells, instantly improving fine lines and wrinkles, and plays a role in wound healing. 

In A Typical Skincare Routine, Where Does Hyaluronic Acid Fit In Relation To Other Products?

It’s best formulated into serums and creams. I favor Hyaluronic acid based serums applied to damp skin and sealed in with a moisturizer to maximize its benefits. 

For oily skin types, look for a water or gel based hyaluronic acid product, but if you have dry skin look for a cream or oil-based hyaluronic acid products.  

I don’t recommend using Hyaluronic acid as a stand-alone product given it’s an ingredients that’s now formulated into so many skincare products. Overusing hyaluronic acid can potentially dry out or irritate some skin types.  

Are There Any Ingredients That Pair Exceptionally Well With Hyaluronic Acid? 

Hyaluronic acid is a team player and gets along with everyone. It works well with most skincare ingredients such as Vitamin C, retinol, collagen peptides, caffeine, and azelaic acid. 

What Should We Look For On The Ingredient List To Ensure We’re Getting A Quality Hyaluronic Acid Product? 

Choosing the right product can be tricky as different skincare products are formulated with various forms of “hyaluronic acid.” with the most common being a salt form with a lower molecular weight called sodium hyaluronate. The effectiveness and benefits between low molecular weight-HA and Hight Molecular Weight-HA can dictate the price point.  

Higher molecular weight HA is what’s found in our skin and in injectable dermal fillers, as it’s best for attracting water, hydrating our dermis, and reducing skin inflammation. The problem is that it can’t get into our dermis if we apply it to the surface of the skin, it just sits on top of the skin. It’s too large to penetrate. So skincare companies break it down, hydrolyzed HA, so that it can better penetrate into the skin. The issue is a high amount of low molecular weight hyaluronic acid or hydrolyzed HA can actually cause inflammation and irritation so it’s best to look for products with multiple forms of Hyaluronic acid in a well balanced formula. 

Addressing Common Concerns and Misconceptions:

What Are Some Of The Most Common Misconceptions You Hear About Hyaluronic Acid? 

Many think it’s an exfoliant because it’s an “acid.” People also think of it as a moisturizer, but it’s a hydrator meaning it simply binds water. You need a moisturizer on top of it to maintain skin hydration and have a “moisturizing effect” 

Is There Any Truth To The Belief That Hyaluronic Acid Can Penetrate The Skin?

Hyaluronic acid with a ultra low molecular weight generally less than 300 kDa (20-300kDA) passes through the stratum corneum, the skin’s outer layer, while high molecular weight (1000–1400 kDa) HA is largely impermeable. Larger HA molecules offer hydration only on the very surface of the skin when applied topically.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions:

What Potential Side Effects Should We Be Aware of When Using HA? 

Overusing hyaluronic acid can potentially dry out your skin. It’s best to have 1-2 products with HA in your skincare routine, as the more products the more water it needs. HA can start to pull water out of your skin and result in dehydrating your skin cells if it’s over used. It’s important to always apply Hyaluronic acid based products to DAMP skin providing it with water to bind to and just as important to seal it in with a moisturizer. 

Dr. Azi’s Recommended Products:

Hydratint BB SPF44: a comprehensive tinted moisturizer with SPF. Mineral based, making it great for sensitive skin and with hyaluronic acid for a hydrating application.

La Roche Posay Hyalu B5 Serum: a dermatologist approved anti-aging serum. Great for plumping and hydrating the skin. 

Azelaic10 Serum: A sensitive skin exfoliant. Keeps the skin hydrated while targeting skin concerns like Rosacea, Acne, and Hyperpigmentation. 

Cereve Moisturizing Cream: This product is safe for all skin types and can be a great option for those with dryer skin. Dermatologist and sensitive skin approved!

Recommended Products for your skin needs!

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Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, MD is a Board-Certified Dermatologist.

Specializing in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Shirazi received her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University Of Kentucky College of Medicine. After doing a Research Fellowship at Harvard Medical School at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine, she completed her residency training in Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in addition to completing her training in dermatology and cosmetic surgery at the University of California San Diego.

She has received multiple research scholarships from iconic institutions including Harvard University and the University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and has several peer-reviewed publications to her name.