How Does Hyaluronic Acid Work?

30 Jun

Hyaluronic Acid is an ingredient of many uses and is increasingly showing up in a growing number of beauty, skin care, medical and supplemental products. The very word “Acid” conjures thoughts of harsh chemical burns or reactions, and visions of a bubbly chemical break down upon contact, but the ingredient behaves very differently. Hyaluronic Acid is naturally occurring in the human body. Though it exists throughout the body, high concentrations exist in our joints, cartilage, bones and eyes for purposes of lubrication, fluid, and for supporting body structure. By far, the largest concentration of Hyaluronic Acid is found in the dermis or second layer of our skin. It truly is a molecule that is widely used by our bodies and has many purposes however, from a skin care perspective Hyaluronic Acid is simply fascinating.

There are a few schools of thought on the how Hyaluronic Acid works and it benefits as a topical skin care product. The most commonly accepted and widely believed thought is that when applied topically the ingredient penetrates the skin and provides very hydrating results that reduce wrinkles. It does this by binding with water or moisture and it holding on to it, it is in fact a humectant. It can hold many hundreds times its weight in moisture due to its molecular structure. The result is smoother, younger looking skin, wrinkles appear to be smoothed out.

Another school of thought and less commonly accepted one, is that when applied topically the Hyaluronic Acid molecule is too large to penetrate the skin, thus it sits on top of the skin and actually pulls moisture out of the skin thereby causing dryness to occur from within. Though some believe this will happen regardless of environmental factors, others reason that climate is a contributor to this moisture pull from the skin. They believe that this will happen if Hyaluronic Acid is used in a dry climate because it will attempt to bind with and draw moisture from the skin verses from the air.

When I think about how folks reason out the benefits or drawback of the ingredient, I think about the size of the Hyaluronic Acid molecule, it’s very large. I fall into the school of thought that unless its molecular weight is greatly modified, the molecule cannot penetrate the surface of the skin much less the dermis layer which is where it naturally occurs and is most beneficial for hydrated healthy looking skin. Getting the Hyaluronic Acid into the skin directly is facilitated through the use of Restylane injections performed by a qualified dermatologist. Restylane is simply the commercial name for Hyaluronic Acid. The Restylane treatment is effective in reducing the appearance of wrinkles for several months. Once injected into the skin, the Hyaluronic Acid retains and binds with moisture and partners with your collagen to improve firmness and plumping of the skin. I don’t endorse it, but people do it to obtain the greatest benefit from Hyaluronic Acid.

All of this said, I’m a believer in topical Hyaluronic Acid as a valuable plumping and moisturizing ingredient when properly used in conjunction with a good skin care regimen. Since it is a humectant, it does hold moisture and is a great filler, thus it will increase the efficacy of a good moisturizer. It will temporarily hold moisture to the skin and generate a fuller and smoother appearance.

This video gives a great explanation! Feel free to view and/or share your thoughts on this cosmetic ingredient.


2 Responses to “How Does Hyaluronic Acid Work?”

  1. Aurelie R. July 22, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Seems like there are two sides to hyaluronic acid. One is the good side that helps to fight against wrinkles and the not so positive side- hyaluronic acid has too large molecules and cannot enter skin and can dehydrate the skin.

    • beautytrix July 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      Thanks for your comment! Yes, like most things, there appears to be differing opinions about this ingredient. I think that for most people the key is to try products with the ingredient then decide if it’s right for them or not. I’ve tested many products only to find that what has worked wonders for others isn’t really my cup of tea. Nice comment, thank you!

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