Skin-plumping hyaluronic acid has become one of the most controversial ingredients lately, and for good reason: Our skin makes less and less of it every year. “Our skin is made up of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid,” says New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD. “As we age, the amount of the three components in the skin decreases.”
“Hyaluronic acid is one of the primary naturally occurring compounds of our skin that binds with water to give our skin hydration,” continues Monroe, MD, LA dermatologist Janine Hopkins, MD. “Like collagen, we lose hyaluronic acid over time and our skin becomes dry and less supple.”
With continued and consistent use, hyaluronic acid—both topical and in-clinic injections—can help reverse dry skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Ahead, top dermatologists walk us through the ins and outs of the indispensable skincare champ.
How does hyaluronic acid work?
“Hyaluronic acid is rapidly becoming a popular ingredient in skincare products for plumping and hydrating skin,” adds Dr. Hopkins. “I often tell my patients that applying hyaluronic acid is like giving your skin a big drink of water.”
West Palm Beach dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD, a Florida dermatologist, says hyaluronic acid works by acting like a sponge, “providing hydration as well as little plumping with no irritation associated with other molecules.”
It’s more than just skin care
Hyaluronic acid can be used topically or injected under the skin. “When injected, it brings lost volume to the skin, improving fine lines and deep wrinkles and improving skin texture,” says Dr. Peridot. When used topically in skin care products, hyaluronic acid helps maintain skin moisture and aids in the tissue regeneration process. Its main purpose is to retain water and keep the skin hydrated.”
“HA wrinkle reduction injections replaced collagen injections about 15 years ago, and now most popular fillers like Restylane, Juvéderm, and newer RHA fillers are all forms of hyaluronic acid,” says Dr. Hopkins. “When injected into the skin, it helps replace lost volume to reduce sagging skin, lines, and wrinkles.”
Why does biocompatibility matter
According to Dr. Beer, hyaluronic acid is popular for a simple reason: “It works really well and is very biocompatible, which means hyaluronic acid is similar to the molecules it’s supposed to be in the skin.”
“I think the popularity of hyaluronic acid largely stems from it being naturally present in many tissues including the skin,” says Campbell, MD, a California dermatologist Amelia Hauswer, MD. “It’s something our bodies constantly build and break down. This biocompatibility – meaning it’s safe and body-friendly – and its ability to be reversible is part of the reason why it’s so appealing as a dermal filler. We are fortunate to have so many different forms of hyaluronic acid fillers that are well tolerated and provide accurate and enhanced results. .”
Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing
“In skincare, the fact that hyaluronic acid is hydrophilic and collects 1,000 times its weight in water makes it a fantastic moisturizer,” explains Dr. Hosayor. “Because it catches water and locks it in, we call it a humidifier.”
Best paired with emollients
According to Dr. Hauser, for more comprehensive hydration and hydration, “the hydrating HA should be paired with an emollient such as ceramides that help seal breakouts in the skin to make it more elastic.” When combined, the doctor says, it allows for “more deeply restorative skin care.”
Hyaluronic acid is not just for wrinkles
Dr. Perido says that hyaluronic acid serum is not intended for those of a certain age. “I recommend HA products not only as an anti-aging product but also for millennials to use as a great moisturizer or moisturizer.” Hyaluronic acid can be found in light serums, water gel moisturizers, and perfect cleansers for any age.
Not every formula is created equal
Not all HA formulations and products are created equal, Dr. Beer warns: “Shop for a brand that invests in ingredients and uses them in concentrations that make a difference, and don’t skimp on ingredients. That doesn’t mean it has to be super expensive, just that it has a good ingredient list and good proportions.” “.
Always check the label
When shopping for a new hyaluronic acid formula, Dr. Hausauer advises checking the ingredient list first. “I look for HA to be higher on the ingredient list, as some formulas are more silicone based than real hyaluronic acid.”
“You should look for a serum that contains different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid,” adds Dr. Peridot. “To maximize the benefits of hyaluronic acid even more, look for serums that contain additional ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, antioxidants, and peptides.”
Dr. Perido says skin care products containing hyaluronic acid can be used in the morning, at night, or both. “You should apply the product to your entire face, including the neck,” she adds. Dr. Hausaeur recommends applying the HA-boosting product to damp skin, “so it can lock in that moisture instead of letting it evaporate and dry out the skin.”
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