Although it sounds more like something from high school science class than an ingredient you should be putting on your face, hyaluronic acid could be the key to skin hydration. Like collagen, hyaluronic acid is produced naturally in our bodies and the skin, our largest organ, contains about half of our total hyaluronic acid. Unfortunately, due to age and aggressors such as stress, pollution and UV rays, our natural production declines over time.
There are benefits to both ingesting hyaluronic acid as a supplement and applying it as a cream or serum to your face but picking the right one can be tricky.
To make life easy we’ve answered all your biggest questions below.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic Acid (also known as hyaluronan, hyaluronate or simply HA) is a naturally occurring carbohydrate made from two molecules called glucuronic acid and N-acetyl-glucosamine (think of it like a very long chain of sugar molecules). It is found in nearly every cell of our bodies, but is concentrated in the fluid of joints, the fluid inside our eyes, in our connective tissues, and our skin.
Its rope-like structure gives hyaluronic acid the impressive ability to bind with up to 1,000 times its weight in water, creating a compression-resistant “gel” that provides structure for the eyes, lubricates joints and muscles and provides support and hydration to the skin.
Just one gram of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six litres of water, making it one of the most hydrating compounds out there. So that the cells don’t become over hydrated and burst, it also has the ability to regulate the moisture levels in the cell. This makes it a pretty smart ingredient.
What does hyaluronic acid do for your skin?
Hyaluronic acid is part of the skin’s natural moisturizing arsenal and maintaining youthful levels can slow the signs of premature aging. Both hyaluronic acid and collagen are responsible for the skin’s structure: collagen keeps the skin firm yet elastic while hyaluronic acid moisturizes the skin and its collagen.
Hyaluronic acid can be taken internally and/or applied topically to help remedy dry skin, fight wrinkles and fine lines and support skin healing.
It can also help to protect the skin from environmental pollution and, when used topically, it creates a film on the skin’s outer layer to help prevent water loss, making it a wise choice in dry environments. Hyaluronic acid doesn’t only have an important role for the skin on your face. The skin of the scalp has a high concentration of hair follicles in the dermal layer. This layer contains connective tissues rich in hyaluronic acid that nourish and hydrate the follicles which can result in healthy, lustrous hair.
How do you use hyaluronic acid?
There are two ways you can use hyaluronic acid. Using just one of these is great but for smooth, plump and hydrated skin we recommend a combination of both.
Hyaluronic Acid Serum and Moisturizer
Applying hyaluronic acid topically works simply by holding onto moisture and acting as a cushion to keep it trapped just below the skin surface. But hyaluronic acid’s abilities really depend on the size of the molecule. There are three weights: high, medium and low and each has its own important role in hydrating the skin.
- High molecular weight: The molecule sits on the surface of the skin and forms a dense protective film. This ensures a good recovering effect and long-lasting moisturization.
- Medium molecular weight: Penetrates the layers of the skin to provide good moisturization and lubrication.
- Low molecular weight: Small enough to penetrate through to the deepest layers of the skin and provide lasting skin nutrition and moisture.
A product which combines all three molecular weights means you’re receiving the benefits for all layers of the skin. This leads to plump, smooth and hydrated skin with wrinkles and fine lines filled out.
Hyaluronic Acid Supplement
As your hyaluronic acid levels naturally decline with age, it’s a good idea to top up with supplementation. This boost in hyaluronic levels can help to provide a support network to the skin, leaving it plump and hydrated.
There’s much debate on how much of the active ingredient hyaluronic acid actually makes it to your skin, but all is not lost. Ingesting and absorbing hyaluronic acid into the gut can help support and encourage the GI system's natural healing process. And we all know that good skin health begins in the gut.
Combining a hyaluronic acid-containing supplement, such as MitoQ Skin Support Complex, with skincare products containing the ingredient will give you the best skin-smoothing benefits because it’s acting on your skin’s layers both internally and externally.
Reviewed by: Asha Hira/ BPharm