Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan found throughout the body’s connective tissue. It is found both in the epidermis as well as the dermis and is responsible for keeping the skin plump and hydrated.
The first signs of HA depletion are often felt in the superficial layer of the skin, the epidermis, which becomes drier as we age. HA is also an essential component of the dermal extracellular matrix, which provides structure and volume to the skin. The natural dermal function of hyaluronic acid in the skin is to fill the interstitial space and to keep the collagen and elastin fibres from collapsing.
Unfortunately, natural HA levels in the skin start decreasing from your 20s and accelerate from your 40s onwards. This can be attributed to both the natural ageing process called intrinsic ageing and environmental factors like UV exposure which is called extrinsic ageing. Damage to collagen and elastin fibres (solar elastosis) in the dermis leads to a loss of elasticity.
Low levels of HA can cause dryness, fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness and uneven skin texture. Fortunately, the use of topical hyaluronic acid has many benefits which can help to address these skin conditions as well as keeping the skin barrier functioning optimally.
“Unfortunately, natural HA levels in the skin start decreasing from your 20s and accelerate from your 40s onwards”
Hyaluronic Acid is a natural humectant i.e. it is hydrophilic or a water-loving molecule that acts like a sponge, retaining 1000 times its own weight in water. This helps to reduce or slow the rate of transepidermal water loss and keeps the skin hydrated which in turn makes it less sensitive and prone to irritation.
We know that hyaluronic acid in various forms can be injected into the skin as a dermal filler and this is cross-linked hyaluronic acid. Topically HA is often formulated as a serum or cream but is very important that the hyaluronic acid is formulated in the correct size and concentration. This allows it to be absorbed through the stratum corneum into the epidermis and preferably into the deeper layer of the skin, the dermis.
HA has varying molecular weights with some staying in the epidermis and others reaching the dermis. The lower the molecular weight, the deeper it penetrates and some formulations have a combination of fragmented or whole molecules as well as encapsulated HA. These have been demonstrated to provide immediate and sustained hydration of the skin as well as the improve the appearance of mild to moderate photo-ageing.
Clinical studies have also shown that HA helps to heal wounds and we have found that it is also good to use an HA serum or cream when introducing Retinol, especially if your skin is dehydrated or more on the sensitive side. This helps to lessen the risk of irritation.
Hyaluronic acid is a versatile ingredient that can be used by all ages and skin types – those with dry, dehydrated, ageing, sensitive, rosacea-prone, oily or dry acne skins can use the various formulations that contain HA.
Summary of Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid:
- Increases moisture in the skin
- Improves the skin barrier function
- Improves skin elasticity
- Plumps the skin reducing fine lines & wrinkles
- Smooths the skin texture & gives the skin a natural radiance
- Reduces transepidermal water loss
- Gives the skin a youthful appearance