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Hyaluronic Acid for Skincare: What Science Says About Its Hydrating Benefits

Use it for your skin, joints, and eyes.


The more we understand the basic functions and systems of our body, the better we can care for those systems and protect our bodies for many years to come. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that our bodies naturally produce and use for many functions, like promoting the health and development of the joints, eyes, and skin. 

Below is everything you need to know about hyaluronic acid products. Use this advice to integrate hyaluronic acid skincare products into your skincare routine, and to find the best means of promoting skin health and minimizing skin dryness. 

What Is Hyaluronic Acid? 

Hyaluronic acid exists throughout the body, and it plays a crucial part in protecting and supporting bodily systems. For instance, the texture of hyaluronic acid is slippery and gooey, which helps it provide cushioning for your joints, eyes, and skin. 

When it comes to joint function, hyaluronic acid works the same way that oil does in a car. It lubricates the joints and helps prevent pain or injury that occurs when bones rub against each other. This is particularly important for women as we age since our bones can lose density in the years during and following menopause. If we fall or stumble, low bone density can wreak havoc. 

Hyaluronic acid is also a key ingredient in hydration. It retains water, which is why it’s used in products for dry eyes, like eye drops. It’s also why hyaluronic acid shows up in moisturizing creams, serums, lotions, and vaginal lubricants that help provide temporary pain relief caused by vaginal dryness, which can be especially helpful for women in menopause.  

There are several ways to incorporate hyaluronic acid to your skincare routine, whether you need relief from extreme dryness or you just want the moisturizing boost that topical hyaluronic acid offers. Hyaluronic acid can be delivered via injection, dermal fillers, and even through the nose. In dermatology, hyaluronic acid formulations are often divided into categories based on molecular weight.

What Is Molecular Weight?

Hyaluronic acid is a common skincare ingredient that helps the body retain moisture. Although hyaluronic acid is its most common name, you may also have heard it referred to as hyaluronan or sodium hyaluronate. The variable names the different molecular weights of the same ingredient. In skincare, hyaluronic acid shows up as either a high molecular weight (HMW) ingredient or a low molecular weight (LMW) ingredient. Although you don’t need to know all of its chemistry, it’s good to understand molecular weight distinctions, as one or the other will be better for your skincare routine. 

For instance, hyaluronic acid with a low molecular weight (which is sometimes listed as sodium hyaluronate) absorbs more fully into the deeper layers of your skin. That’s because its molecules are so small that they can go farther in penetrating your dermal layers than HMW hyaluronic acid. Since LMW hyaluronic acid sits a bit deeper in your skin, you might not see results right away. Also, LMW hyaluronic acid can’t hold as much water as its HMW counterpart. However, LMW hyaluronic acid provides longer-lasting effects on your appearance.

Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid with a high molecular weight (which is sometimes listed as hyaluronan) typically sits just beneath the surface of your skin. These molecules are larger, so they can hold more water and provide almost instant visible effects. However, you may need to apply HMW hyaluronic acid regularly to make the effects last.

What Are the Hydrating Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid?

There are many benefits to using hyaluronic acid, chief among them helping to hydrate your skin and keep it looking fresh. 

It helps the skin retain moisture & replaces lost moisture.

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that has the remarkable ability to bind up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which means it’s an excellent way to promote skin hydration. Hyaluronic acid binds to skin moisture to make your skin look and feel soft and glowing. When your skin is properly hydrated, it’s more capable of fighting off the germs and buildup that lead to acne and irritation. But the natural aging process and environmental factors such as UV exposure from the sun, pollution, and other irritants can cause hyaluronic acid levels to drop

Those of us who’ve been exposed to irritating environmental factors for many years can support our natural hyaluronic acid production with supplements. Hyaluronic acid supplements support your skin barrier to slow the rate at which water evaporates from the skin. This, in turn, reduces the feeling and appearance of dry skin and helps your skin feel healthy and soft again. 

It reduces the appearance of wrinkles and redness.

Hydration isn’t the only benefit of hyaluronic acid — it can also help reduce the appearance of other signs of aging like wrinkles and redness. Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide, which means it has a complex, chain-like molecular structure that works like a ladder or piece of scaffolding. It supports the healthy growth of fresh tissue in the skin, which can help reduce the appearance of aging and fine lines. 

In addition to reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, hyaluronic acid reduces redness on the skin’s surface, particularly when applied as a hyaluronic acid serum. That’s because it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which helps protect your skin against what are known as free radicals. Free radicals are a type of unstable molecule that can cause damage to the skin cells, eventually resulting in visible signs of aging.  

It makes the skin more flexible & elastic. 

By properly hydrating the skin, hyaluronic acid helps the collagen and elastin proteins in your epidermis become more flexible and elastic. In doing so, hyaluronic acid can minimize discomfort related to dryness and promote a smoother, more even appearance. Its tissue-building properties make it a useful tool for tightening the appearance of sagging skin, and because it captures the moisture in the skin that is often lost to evaporation, it helps keep the dryness that leads to lower skin flexibility at bay. 

At the end of the day, hyaluronic acid helps support your skin’s flexibility and elasticity, which means you may see improvements in the softness and stretchiness of your skin. This also helps promote your skin’s overall health and protect it in the future. 

It supports overall skin health.

If your skin has been damaged due to environmental factors or chronic or acute skin conditions, hyaluronic acid may be able to help. As a contributor to your body’s natural wound healing abilities, it promotes healthy connective tissue and reduces the appearance of damage to the skin. Since damaged skin often pulls, cracks, or otherwise irritates, quick and proper healing is essential to smooth and comfortable skin. And because hyaluronic acid is so good at promoting skin elasticity, it can actually help your skin resist future damage.

So why aren’t you using hyaluronic acid? 

Hyaluronic acid is one of the most versatile and important elements in the body. It protects everything from your eyes to your joints to the surface of your skin. It binds to water and helps to hydrate and moisturize the skin, which can help you avoid redness, dryness, and cracking, and can also minimize the visible effects of aging. It’s rich in antioxidants to help reduce the appearance of redness on the skin. Basically, it’s a key ingredient in keeping your skin firm, supple, and more radiant. So get thee to the makeup counter and get some hyaluronic acid now. 

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