HA or Hyaluronic acid is one of the most popular ingredients that you find in skincare products these days and you will find moisturizers, toners and serums with Hyaluronic acid, but no Hyaluronic acid is not the kind of acid which is an AHA or BHA, which are used for exfoliation, but Hyluronic acid is rather a humectant ingredient. In this article, we will try to understand what is Hyaluronic acid and try to find answers to the most common questions related to the same.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is primarily a humectant and what humectants do is that they help to draw in water from the environment into your skin, though there are a lot of humectants you can find in skincare ingredients, for example, glycerine, peptides, urea & marine extracts, what makes Hyaluronic Acid special is that it is Glycosaminoglycan i.e., it is a naturally occurring sugar which is really good at holding water. It is so good at holding water that it can hold up to 1000 times its weight.
One interesting fact about Hyaluronic acid is that when babies are born, they are born with the most of Hyaluronic acid in their skin than we are ever going to have, and that’s why their skin looks soft, plump and radiant. This Hyaluronic acid gradually decreases as we age and so much that for example, a 75-year-old person has only one-quarter of the amount of HA in their skin, compared to a 19-year-old person.
Different names of Hyaluronic Acid
The HA that is found in our body is Hyaluronan, which is interchangeably addressed as Hyaluronic Acid. In the synthesized form, HA is often hydrolyzed and broken down, so you can see many skin products which mention Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid and then there’s the cheaper, salt form of Hyaluronic Acid which is Sodium Hyaluronate.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid
Some of the amazing benefits of Hyaluronic acid include
- Hyaluronic acid is a great humectant, so it improves your skin hydration levels immensely
- HA is also commonly referred to as a moisture magnet because it can improve moisturization of the skin and add that radiant glow too
- HA is like the backbone of the skin structure and by supplementing Hyaluronic Acid orally or through topical application, you can increase the youthful plump and bounciness of your skin
- Due to the immense hydration it provides, Hyaluronic acid also helps in reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on your skin.
- Hyaluronic acid, because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, can also help speed up the healing of skin wounds
- HA can also help strengthen the skin’s acid mantle, i.e., the protective barrier of our skin.
- Hyaluronic acid also helps relieves joint pains by lubricating the bones
- It also soothes acid reflux symptoms, when consumed orally
How to Use Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid can be used in either of the skincare routines, daytime or nighttime. For example, in your night skincare routine, double cleanse your face, first with an oil-based cleanser to remove oil-based products on your skin like makeup, mascara, sunscreen and your own facial oils and pollutants, pollens and allergens etc., that get accumulated on your face. Then clean it with a non-soap gentle cleanser, to remove any remaining dirt.
Immediately after cleansing, while your skin is still damp, apply your hyaluronic acid serum. When it comes to HA, little is enough, so apply only a little amount of hyaluronic acid for your whole face. If you are only targeting only parts of your face, for example, your under-eye area, you may also focus to apply only these targeted areas.
Once you apply Hyaluronic acid, then apply a good moisturizer to lock in all the hydration. And make sure your moisturizer has
What are HA Injectables & are they safe?
Hyaluronic Acid Injectables are a type of temporary derma fillers which are used on the face and lips. HA fillers are used by dermatologists to give the instant effect of reducing signs of ageing, such as
- Reducing wrinkles & fine lines
- Correct facial lines
- Reduce the appearance of facial skin sagging
- Improve hydration and elasticity of the skin, including areas such as the face, neck and hands
- Plump up the skin and lips
- Reduce the appearance of skin damage caused by injury
- Reduce the appearance of acne pits
- Smoothen the skin texture
Hyaluronic Acid injectables are generally safe when administered by an experienced dermatologist, but common side effects include of HA fillers include swelling, bruising, bleeding, lumps, bumps and redness. It is not advisable to use HA fillers when the skin is infected or if the person is on blood thinners, where the person will be advised to stop blood thinners for 2 weeks before the procedure is performed.
Hyaluronic acid for oily acne-prone skin, dry skin and sensitive skin
For oily, acne-prone skin
If your skin is oily, then it doesn’t necessarily mean it is hydrated, it can be both oily and dehydrated. Hyaluronic acid, because of its amazing hydrating properties and because it is non-comedogenic, unlike an alternative like Glycerin, becomes one of the best ingredients to be used to moisturise oily and acne-prone skin.
For dry skin
How the Hyaluronic Acid extracts its hydration is what makes it complicated to use for dry skin. Hyaluronic acid always stays in the epidermis layer of the skin and in a humid environment HA draws water from the humidity of the environment, but if you are in a dry environment, or if you use a lot of air conditioning or central heating, then the water will be drawn from the inner layers of the epidermis.
So if you have dry skin and you stay in a very dry environment, using hyaluronic acid can be very damaging, as HA will draw water from the inner layers, the already dry skin will get dehydrated and damaged.
For sensitive skin
Hyaluronic acid is one of the most gentle skincare ingredients and it is safe to use even on the extra sensitive skin type.
Layering With Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is found in a variety of products these days from cleansers to toners, serums, moisturizers, and masks and everything in between, and it is generally safe to use, lets see how we can layer HA with different active ingredients.
Both Hyaluronic acid and Niacinamide are great humectants and are a great combination to not only hydrate and moisturize your skin but to help reduce the size of the pores, reduce hyperpigmentation and breakouts. You can layer both these ingredients and also use them in a combined formulation. If you were to layer HA and Niacinamide, first wash your face and while your face is still damp, apply Hyaluronic acid and then layer it with Niacinamide.
It is not only perfectly safe to layer Hyaluronic acid and Retinol, it is indeed suggested that you use Hyaluronic acid moisturizer with Retinol. Especially because Retinol and other Retinoids can be quite harsh on the skin and initially can cause dryness, irritation and purging and using a Hyaluronic acid moisturizer can alleviate the irritation caused by the Retinoids and in some cases avoid any skin irritation to happen too,
With Vitamin C
Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C have some great synergies and can work wonders when used in combination. Especially when you want to use Vitamin C in higher concentrations, first layering with Hyaluronic Acid serum or a HA moisturizer can help alleviate possible skin irritation and dryness.
AHA’s & BHA’s
Contrary to what might seem, Hyaluronic Acid is not acid like an AHA or a BHA and it is named an acid, just because it has low pH and Hyaluronic acid doesn’t exfoliate or strip the skin like an AHA or BHA. Once you use an AHA or BHA, applying Hyaluronic acid serum or a Hyaluronic acid moisturizer can be quite soothing and reduce any redness or irritation.
Precautions to take with Hyaluronic Acid
As we now know that HA is a skincare ingredient that is completely safe, the only precaution one has to be aware of is when it comes to dry environments and especially if you have dry skin. When you have dry skin and live in a dry environment with low humidity or spend a lot of time in air conditioning or central heating, applying HA can be quite damaging to your skin and should be completely avoided.
This article is medically reviewed by our expert dermatologist, Dr Nagakeerthana Sunder, M.D. DVL