We all dream of being asked how on earth we got our skin to be so soft, smooth, and clear.
Unfortunately, shady skincare companies love to sell us the fantasy of perfect skin without the evidence to back it up. Hyaluronic acid is one of the most talked about ingredients in the skincare world, marketed to treat everything from acne to fine lines. But what actually is hyaluronic acid, and what benefits can we really expect?
Read on as we break down everything you need to know about hyaluronic acid.
In This Article
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Unlike most other active ingredients, Hyaluronic acid is something that we
make naturally within our bodies. Hyaluronic Acid is a key component of the extracellular matrix (otherwise known as the scaffolding of the skin): the connective tissue that surrounds our cells.
Hyaluronic acid is also a powerful skincare ingredient that plays a key role in wound healing, promoting skin elasticity, and encouraging the production of collagen. Hyaluronic acid is also a humectant, an ingredient that draws in and preserves moisture, and is able to bind water molecules over 100 times its own weight. This means that when you use hyaluronic acid on your skin, it’s able to draw moisture molecules in from your environment and keep them on the surface on your skin, keeping it bouncy and hydrated all day long.
What are the benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for Skin?
Hyaluronic acid is associated with a wide range of benefits for the skin. These include:
- Improved Hydration
- Decreased Fine Lines and Wrinkles
- Increased Collagen and Elastin Production
- Soothing Irritation
How Do You Apply Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is gentle enough that it can be used daily or twice-daily. Most hyaluronic acid products come in the form of a cream or a serum that you can apply straight after cleansing your face. And, if you’re using your hyaluronic acid products in the morning, they should be layered underneath your daily SPF.
Since hyaluronic acid is a humectant, it needs to be accompanied by an occlusive (moisture retaining) product or ingredient that will seal the moisture into your skin and ensure that it doesn’t evaporate too quickly into the environment. If you’re using a hyaluronic acid serum, this means you need to follow up with a moisturiser. You can check out evidence-based products such as ESK’s hyaluronic acid collection – the Repair+ contains both hyaluronic acid and occlusive ingredients for a no-fuss solution.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help with Acne?
Although research hasn’t directly tied hyaluronic acid to improvements in acne, hyaluronic acid can indirectly help with treating breakouts.
For acne sufferers, hyaluronic acid, when combined with a good moisturiser, can also help to calm irritation and dryness caused by harsh treatment products like retinol, retinoids, or chemical exfoliants.
Hyaluronic acid can help those who suffer from acne due to an impaired skin barrier – the outermost layers of your skin . Your skin barrier protects the skin from outside forces like sun, pollution, and bacteria. Without a healthy skin barrier, your skin might experience increased irritation and breakouts. By preventing water loss, hyaluronic acid can help to promote a healthy skin barrier.
Hyaluronic acid is unlikely to cause acne. However, make sure that your products containing hyaluronic acid are non-comedogenic — meaning that the ingredients won’t clog your pores.
Can You Use Hyaluronic Acid During Pregnancy?
When you’re pregnant, it feels like there are a million things that you suddenly
aren’t allowed to use — your skincare products among them. There’s not enough research to say conclusively whether hyaluronic acid is safe to use during pregnancy, although many sources condone it.
Our rule of thumb is always to recommend checking in with your doctor about any skincare products you may be using while pregnant. Everybody is different, and skincare products often contain several active ingredients, some of which — including common actives like Vitamin A — are not safe to use during pregnancy.
Side Effects of Hyaluronic Acid
Apart from everyone asking if you’ve just had a facial, hyaluronic acid use isn’t associated with any side effects. Hyaluronic acid is not very harsh on the skin, which means that for the majority of people it is a great ingredient to use regularly. However, it’s still good to do a patch test before trying any new products in case of allergies.
There is also some speculation that hyaluronic acid can be drying on the skin when not used in conjunction with a good cream or moisturiser. This is because, without an ingredient to lock the moisture in that hyaluronic acid takes in from the environment, hyaluronic acid could cause water to evaporate off your skin more quickly. You can avoid this by making sure to follow a hyaluronic acid serum with a good moisturiser, or use a moisturiser that already contains hyaluronic acid.
Which Hyaluronic Acid Products are Best?
Not all skincare products formulated with hyaluronic acid are created equal.
Hyaluronic acid comes in many different sizes, from large molecules to tiny ones. Evidence suggests that medium size hyaluronic acid molecules are the best for wound healing and skin regeneration: small enough to penetrate the skin but unlikely to cause hypersensitivity or inflammation. If you have sensitive skin then we would suggest trying rosacea skincare products to protect dry, irritated, and maturing skin.