Touted as ‘nature’s moisturizer’, hyaluronic acid has the ability to attract and hold water, increasing hydration levels within the layers of the skin, which results in a plump and youthful appearance. Its unmatched hydrating ability rejuvenates the skin resulting in increased smoothness, firmness, and elasticity.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a water-binding substance that is formed naturally in the body. It functions to lubricate joints, eyes, and muscles and is found throughout connective tissues. Half of the body’s HA is found in the largest organ of the body: skin.
Deep in the layers of the dermis where collagen and elastin fibers form the cushion and base structure of skin, naturally occurring Hyaluronic Acid can be found in the gel-like substance that exists between the fibers. This ground substance plumps the tissues and continuously bathes the fibers in hydration to keep them stretchy and resilient. Hyaluronic acid also exists throughout the upper layers of skin, where it contributes to tissue repair and wound healing. It also plays a vital role in the transport of nutrients and waste, as well as the formation of natural moisture within the skin barrier system.
Young skin is smooth and elastic because it has a high concentration of HA. Hyaluronic acid decreases with age, leading to dehydration, surface roughness, flaking, and fine lines.
Hyaluronic in Skin Care
Hyaluronic acid has a fairly large molecular size, meaning it is not able to absorb very deeply into the skin when applied topically. This ability to stay near the surface helps to hydrate and protect the vulnerable outer layers of the skin and replenish fluids that are often depleted due to transepidermal water loss (TEWL).
Sodium Hyaluronate, on the other hand, is a modified form of HA (actually a salt derived from it) and provides the same hydrating benefits through a smaller molecule. This allows it to be absorbed much more easily into the deeper layers of the skin, where it can add volume for plumping, as well as adding supplementary hydration to the skin’s own reservoirs..
Both forms serve a purpose in treatment serums, hydrating masks, and moisturizers. These formulas typically provide volume and density and contribute to a decreased appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A formula with both high- and low-molecular-weight hyaluronic ingredients will provide a variety of preventative and anti-aging benefits.
Sources of Hyaluronic
In the past, hyaluronic acid was derived most commonly from rooster combs as a by-product of the poultry industry. As concerns about animal-derived ingredients grew, a method was developed to extract HA from plant sources using a fermentation process. Both sources are still readily available on the market, so if you have concerns about how your products are manufactured, consider an organic or vegan product line that clearly states how they source their ingredients.