Hyaluronic acid has become a bit of a buzzword in the beauty industry. What is it, how does it work, and when will it benefit your skin? Here’s what you need to know.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in your body’s connective tissue and in the skin where it helps to preserve moisture levels.
In an article on Dermastore.co.za, Dr Ian Webster explains that in youthful skin hyaluronic acid will “retain moisture by binding with water” creating “a plumpness and glow.” However as we age our hyaluronic acid levels start to drop, which means water loss and dehydration.
In recent years skincare brands have started to incorporate hyaluronic acid into their ranges to supplement and counteract the natural depletion in our skins. Hyaluronic acid is one of the best ingredients to moisturise your skin, whether it is oily, sensitive or prone to breakouts. Its ability to hold moisture means it can offer a steady supply to the skin throughout the day. This is particularly significant in skin types that struggle to retain water, including older skins, and those suffering from dryness, dehydration and broken skin barriers.
If your skin cannot hold on to moisture it starts to loose its plump, firm appearance. That is why a dry or dehydrated skin will often show fine lines faster than a healthy, hydrated skin. Hyaluronic acid has a unique capability to enhance the moisture content in your skin’s outer layers so that it looks smoother and feels softer.
Apart from moisturising your skin, it also turns out that hyaluronic acid can help to provide protection against environmental damage. According to Paulaschoice.com, hyaluronic acid can work as an antioxidant to fight free radical damage to skin cells.
Then you might have heard talk about hyaluronic acid with a low or high molecular weight. Sounds very scientific, right? Really all it refers to is the size of the molecule. Smaller molecules will be able to travel deeper into the skin, while larger molecules with a high molecular weight will remain on the skin’s surface.
One isn’t necessarily better than the other. Instead it depends what the product aims to do. Burn wounds, for instance, would be treated with hyaluronic acid that has a high molecular weight, which would create a type of moisture web on the skin’s surface and improve healing. In skincare a combination of both would mean you get moisturisation on the surface and deeper layers of the skin.
Oily skin needs moisture too
It is a common misconception that oily skin needs less hydration. In a healthy skin, oil or sebum produced by the skin will help to relieve dryness and maintain a healthy surface barrier. The problem comes in when your skin overproduces oil, or when the oil has a particularly sticky consistency. This is all greatly influenced by genetics and hormones, but the products we use have their own effect.
In the past the trend was to treat oily skin with products that strip the oil, leaving you with that squeaky clean skin-feel. It might feel “refreshing” in that moment but in truth you often end up knocking your skin further out of balance.
Ideally you want to use a gentle, water-soluble cleanser that will remove daily grime and oily buildup without drying your skin out, followed by a lightweight but effective moisturiser.
Hyaluronic Acid and Oily Skin
Hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient to use if you have oily skin, providing hydration with a weightless skin feel.
People who struggle with oily skin tend to avoid anything that feels heavy or sticky on their skin, and this provides an ideal solution. Hyaluronic acid is also a gentle ingredient and suitable to use on sensitive skin, helping to calm skin that is prone to redness or breakouts.
The new Neutrogena Hydro Boost range has been built around hyaluronic acid, providing lightweight but intense hydration for a supple skin. The Hydro Boost Water Gel Cleanser (R99,95) lathers away dirt and oil while still caring for your skin barrier. For a moisturiser, I am particularly fond of the Hydro-Boost Gel-Cream (R139,95) in the range, which is fragrance-free and provides intense hydration without feeling heavy.
This post was sponsored by Neutrogena.