Hyaluronic Acid: Everything You Need to Know SKINTASTIC

Hyaluronic Acid: Everything You Need to Know

Hyaluronic acid is the key to instantly plumping fine lines and making skin look glowy. It can be found in everything from serums to sheet masks and even injectables—but what exactly is it? We asked dermatologists to give us the 4-1-1 on hyaluronic acid, including the right way incorporate it into your skin care routine.

What is HA? Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a sugar found naturally in our skin that holds water and helps keep it hydrated and plump. The HA within our bodies holds a thousand times its weight in water to not only retain all that moisture in our skin and joints, but also prevent all that moisture from evaporating into the air, according to Dr. Lily Talakoub, a dermatologist at the McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center.
Just like collagen and elastin, the amount of naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases as we get older. There are, however, ways to help stimulate production of HA in our bodies. “Diet affects the skin significantly,” says Dr. Howard D. Sobel, a dermatologist in New York City. “Eating fruits and veggies with lots of antioxidants protect the skin from inflammation in turn helps the skin retain it.”

Ultra-Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serums
HA is a powerful humectant. When used in skincare products like creams and serums, hyaluronic acid brings moisture to the surface of your skin. “Because of its ability to draw and hold water, it can be used as a humectant in your skin care regimen,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “It continually keeps skin moisturized throughout the day.”

 “As a topical [product], as long as it is in the right formulation, it will make the skin appear more dewy and younger because it improves skin elasticity,” says Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, a dermatologist in New York City and the founder of Mariwalla Dermatology. Hyaluronic acid is so powerful at pulling moisture to the surface of your skin, you likely don't need to use it in more than one product in your routine.

Hyaluronic acid plays well with most other ingredients and can be paired with peels, retinols, vitamins, and other acids. Nazarian says the only exception would be acids with low pH levels, like glycolic acid, because it may degrade the HA and make it ineffective.

But picking the right hyaluronic acid product is tricky. The molecule is often times too large to effectively deliver hydration deep into skin layers. “[See] where the molecule is micronized or if the HA is in a vehicle that penetrates the skin in order to be effective where it needs to be,” she says. “Otherwise you are just putting it on top of the skin without it being helpful.”

Hyaluronic acid used incorrectly can also dehydrate your skin. The molecule needs water to plump, but without any moisture on the surface of your skin or from the air, it will pull the water from deep inside your skin. This is easy to counteract, though. Try applying the serum on damp skin, then quickly topping it with a cream. HAs are best used under a more occlusive moisturiserr to trap in the water-binding effects of the acid. 

Back to blog