What Is Hyaluronic Acid?


Hyaluronic Acid

Sometimes it feels like no matter how much moisturizer you use, your skin is still dry as hell. And while some of that is due to the weather, or your skin type, sometimes that perpetually dry skin is a sign that what you’re using just isn’t working.

What’s one to do? Time to pull out a hydration heavy hitter—hyaluronic acid.

What is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a natural compound found in the body, says Jennifer MacGregor, M.D., of Union Square Laser Dermatology, that acts as a powerful humectant—a substance that retains or preserves moisture. Think of it as the world’s smallest, mightiest sponge—it can carry up to 1000 times its weight in water, according to the New York Times.

As you get older, your body make less hyaluronic acid, leading to more emphasized fine lines, wrinkles, and dullness. Hence, the need for moisturizers that can add hyaluronic acid back into the skin.

What does hyaluronic acid do?

Think about what happens when you get a sponge wet—it swells up and gets springy to the touch. That’s basically the effect that hyaluronic acid has on your skin. It draws in and holds onto moisture, which helps plump up your skin and keep it looking young and supple, says MacGregor.

That’s why you’ll see it in a lot of moisturizers (like Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel), says Debra Jaliman, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. By locking water into your skin, it’s an ideal moisturizing ingredient.

Even though it’s got “acid” in the name, hyaluronic acid is one of the most gentle ingredients available. Its hydrating abilities can help soothe oily, acne-prone, and dry skin types alike, and can also be used on people with conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.


How do you use hyaluronic acid?

Your best bet is to use a serum or moisturizer with hyaluronic acid on clean skin. “For a quick ‘pick me up,’ apply a hyaluronic acid serum directly after a gentle exfoliation,” says MacGregor.

The exfoliation part is key. Dead skin cells hanging out on your face might make it harder for the hyaluronic acid to get down into your skin and get to work, so clear them off with a gentle scrub or your favorite peel pads.

This is an ingredient you don’t have to limit (it shouldn’t cause any irritation!), so feel free to layer on moisturizers, eye creams, and other products containing the savvy hydrator. Like Prince said, let’s get crazy!

FYI: Sodium hyaluronate is another common ingredient seen on product labels that is derived from hyaluronic acid, but works pretty similarly. You’ll probably see it on more budget products, since hyaluronic acid can get pretty pricey.

SOURCE: (Women’s Health Magazine)