You’ve seen it everywhere, you’ve only recently learned how to pronounce it [hahy–uh-loo–ron–ik] and you’re not confident you know how to spell it, but what the heck is it? Hyaluronic Acid has recently been the hot word in the world of skincare and it’s the featured ingredient in almost every product out there but what about it makes it so great? Well, we’re not scientists but here’s an attempt to answer why and how this ingredient is used.
What is it?
Hyaluronic Acid is a substance produced by our body of which 50% of it is found in the skin. This acid’s superpower is its ability to draw and retain water allowing for supple, dewy looking skin. Hyaluronic acid is what improves our skin’s elasticity and prevents it from sagging and producing fine lines and wrinkles.
That’s Great! So, how do I get more of it?
Although this compound is produced by our body, the half-life of this substance is incredibly short – less than a day! Because of this, our body is constantly reproducing this acid but unfortunately the reproduction rate decreases as you age. There is some good news though. Fruits and vegetables such as tofu, edamame, oranges, tomatoes, avocados and nuts are some foods that will help boost the production of and decrease the degradation of this precious acid!
Another way to increase hyaluronic acid is to just apply it directly on your face! There is no shortage of products that feature this ingredient. However, there are a couple of warnings that come with this man-made acid. The acid compound produced by our body are larger and heavier which is better for binding water and offering hydration. The downside is that these large molecules are unable to penetrate our skin thus the reason our man-made hyaluronic acids are shorter and lighter than our natural counterparts.
This sounds too good to be true…what’s the catch?
Unfortunately, these shorter molecules have been found to cause inflammation in some users. Hyaluronic acid draws water to the surface of the skin allowing for more hydrated looking skin. However, if your skin is already dry and your external environment is also dry, the acid may only provide a short-term solution but may leave you with drier skin thus causing inflammation. A good workaround to this problem is to apply hyaluronic acid when your skin is damp and to apply a moisturizer or oil after. This process will allow the acid to draw and retain water from your damp skin and the moisturizer will seal in its effects preventing dry skin later. If you are going to use a product with hyaluronic acid, look for low dosages between 0.2% and 0.5% anything stronger may cause inflammation and irritation. As with anything else in life, moderation is key.
And there you go, a crash-course on Hyaluronic Acid.