— the molecule holding up to 1000x its weight in water.
Why this ingredient could be your ultimate saviour in restoring skin hydration.
✎ Tash Havos
Contributing writer /
Don’t let the word “acid” fool you here – this water-holding molecule is the cornerstone to great skincare. The hype of Hyaluronic begun when research released its humectant properties; its ability to hold up to six litres of water. In a race against time – actually – Hyaluronic Acid rapidly became one of the most sought for anti-ageing ingredients.
The natural ageing process as well as over-exposure to UV radiation, smoking and pollution all effect optimum levels of hyaluronic acid in your skin. To replenish the moisture levels and restore skin elasticity, Hyaluronic Acid serum was born.
But, what is it?
Hyaluronic Acid is found in almost every cell in your body, particularly connective tissue, however the greatest concentrations are found in your skin tissue. This molecule has about half the time to live than the time it takes to produce it, meaning it constantly needs to be replenished to maintain optimum skin health.
You may have seen on your ingredient listings two forms – Hyaluronic Acid (HA) and Sodium Hyaluronate. These two terms are used interchangeably, however Sodium Hyaluronate is actually the salt form of HA; a water-soluble salt holding 1000 times its weight in water. Salt state ingredients are generally more stable, and less likely to oxidise – in other words, they’ll last longer.
Molecular size – why you should care.
Another key difference between the two ingredient listings are the molecular sizes. Sodium Hyaluronate has a much lower molecular size than Hyaluronic Acid, therefore has the ability to penetrate the skin lower than the superficial layer. Rule of thumb – the lower the molecular weight, the more it can penetrate and restore your skin’s hydration from the inside, out.
With its ability to penetrate so much further than a regular serum, you might notice after applying Hyaluronic Acid that your face is dry to the touch. With low molecular Hyaluronic, the moisture travels further than your exterior layer of skin. Because of this, you may not notice immediate results on your skin’s hydration levels – rather when your dead skin cells shed, and your new layer reaches the surface. It may be around 14 days before you notice supple skin.
If you suffer from surface-level dryness, you might be looking for more immediate relief, in which case a higher molecular HA might provide you with that hydration. Bear in mind that high molecular HA will only provide temporary relief, and if you want to target the dehydration or dryness before it reaches the skins’s surface you might need to consider a low molecular weighted HA serum.
Finding the % balance in your products.
For Hyaluronic Acid to penetrate below to the skin’s surface, it has to be bioengineered to alter the molecular weight. You may have seen some companies promote their Hyaluronic serums as 99% HA – to put it delicately, they’re lying. Sodium Hyaluronate in its pure form is a salt, and anything above 4% concentration will actually draw moisture out of your skin leaving it completely dry. The highest concentration that is safe to topically apply is 2% - and keep in mind the other 98% of the solution will be water.
Why does my skin need it?
There are two prominent benefits to applying Hyaluronic Acid topically. For one, it promotes healthier, more supple skin. It’s the major matrix substance for how collagen and elastin are embedded, therefore has the ability to restore skin elasticity and reduce appearance of wrinkles in skin that is undergoing the natural ageing process or effected by environmental factors like sun damage or pollution. Due to its exceptional ability to hold up to 1000x its weight in water, it becomes the go-to ingredient to hydrate skin from the deeper levels of your skin.
Secondly, it has the ability to speed the wound-healing process. Hyaluronic acid regulates inflammation levels by signalling the body to build more blood vessels in the damaged area. This in turn reduces the size of wounds rapidly. Alongside this incredible property, HA also has antibacterial properties which reduces risk of infection while the wound is healing.
This ingredient is most perfect for combination, oily, or dry skin types. Particularly if you suffer from conditions like sun-damage or dehydration, blemish-prone skin, or aged or dull skin.
Our top recommendations for Hyaluronic Acid serums:
OSEA Hyaluronic Sea Serum $140 has low-molecular weight HA and high-molecular weight HA, targeting surface level dryness and deep dehydration simultaneously. The addition of sea algae extracts make it a potent anti-bacterial and anti-pollutant.
Evolve Hyaluronic Acid Eye Complex $39.95 targeting the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the sensitive eye area. The metal ball cools the eye area – a perfect remedy for tired eyes.
Nuori Vital Unifier Toner $79.95 is a product to seal the cleansing phase – lifting any remaining traces of dirt. Spray 3-4 pumps directly onto your skin in preparation for your hydration products.
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