"Intensely hydrating". Quick, what's the first skincare ingredient that pops into mind? Well, chances are, it'd have been Hyaluronic Acid. And for a good reason.
This time-tested dermatologist favorite acts as a powerful humectant – meaning it can draw, physically encapsulate, and hold moisture (note: 1 gram of Hyaluronic Acid can bind up to 6 liters of water) (1).
But let’s be honest. You knew that already. What you (likely) didn’t know, however, is the fact that Hyaluronic Acid can do so much more for your skin than simply moisturizing it. Spoiler alert: Hyaluronic Acid also has excellent anti aging properties. How … and why? Find the answers below.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Despite containing an "acid" in its name, Hyaluronic Acid isn't a "true" skincare acid, like your AHAs and BHAs, that act as exfoliants. We know, we know. Instead, Hyaluronic Acid is a type of sugar – more specifically, a long-chain carbohydrate – that your body makes naturally (2).
While you can find Hyaluronic Acid in all the nooks and crannies in your body (e.g., muscle fibers and in the fluid-filled sacs cushioning your joints), most of it lies in your skin. That’s because of what Hyaluronic Acid does for the skin; thanks to its humectant properties, the key role it plays in the body is in keeping the skin moist and lubricated.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for skin
Hyaluronic Acid’s seemingly magical ability to retain moisture isn’t the only reason skincare bloggers, dermatologists, and the beauty industry as a whole love it so much. Below, we’ll explore 3 benefits Hyaluronic Acid can bring for your skin – in addition to being a hydrating superstar.
#1: “Reverses” signs of aging
First, a little background on the structure of your skin. As you probably already know, collagen is the main structural protein in your skin – giving it strength and shape. But collagen isn’t the only thing that makes up your skin’s support structure. There’s also hyaluronic acid.
In fact, naturally occurring hyaluronic acid is bound to collagen on one side and links to water molecules on the other within the skin, thus contributing to that sought-after plump and hydrated complexion (3). If it makes things easier, you can think of collagen as the frame of your mattress and hyaluronic acid as the padding.
Everything's good so far. That is … until you realize that your body's collagen production starts to dip in your early 20s – then decreases about 1% yearly (4). Imagine what that means for your skin.
That’s right. Since hyaluronic acid is naturally bound to collagen, a loss in the latter would inevitably mean a decrease in the former. Thus, translating into an easily dehydrated skin prone to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. Hallmark signs of aging skin.
So, what can you do to remedy this? Easy: add Hyaluronic Acid (i.e., your skin’s “padding”) into your routine.
This 2014 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy is a testament to Hyaluronic Acid's anti aging effects (5). In it, 23 women applied a serum containing Hyaluronic Acid twice a day for 8 weeks. The results? At the end of the study, the participants showed an improvement in signs of aging – specifically, skin wrinkles.
#2: Boosts your skin barrier’s defenses
Dealing with dry skin? Then Hyaluronic Acid is your skin’s savior. To understand why, think about what happens to your skin when it runs low on moisture.
That’s right: it gets itchy; it cracks; and, arguably worst of all, starts to peel and flake. The very opposite of a healthy, supple, and glowing complexion. To make matters worse, all that cracking, flaking, and peeling that goes on damages your skin’s natural barrier.
Just so you know: the skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin that functions to keep all the good things in and the bad stuff out. Meaning? When your skin barrier is damaged, it'll not only do a poor job at keeping irritants and germs out of the skin but also preventing water loss from the skin. The consequence is skin that's angrier, drier, and more irritated. It's a vicious, never-ending cycle. That is until you turn to Hyaluronic Acid.
Hyaluronic Acid is akin to a “moisture magnet”; it’s key to offsetting any trans-epidermal water loss that occurs when your skin barrier is damaged. Hyaluronic Acid doesn’t just serve as a tall drink of ice water for your thirsty skin, either. Research shows that Hyaluronic Acid can even go as far as to help rebuild your skin’s natural protective barrier – which further minimizes moisture loss (6).
#3: Plays nice with oily and acne-prone skin types
When you have oily, blemish-prone skin, you may think that using a moisturizer is the last thing you should do. But nothing could be further from the truth. That’s because skin oil isn’t the same thing as skin hydration. Skin oil, also known as sebum (i.e., that shiny sheen on your face), is secreted by your sebaceous glands to help maintain the skin's barrier function.
On the other hand, skin hydration describes the process where water is absorbed into layers of the skin – more specifically, the epidermis and dermis – to maintain its elasticity, resiliency, and plumpness (7). In short: oily skin can still be dehydrated. And if you fail to quench your skin’s thirst? It’ll produce even more oil.
Takeaway? Hydrated skin is healthy skin. Thus, explaining why dermatologists are constantly espousing the importance of moisturizing for everyone, across all skin types – even those with oily skin.
That said, looking for a moisturizer that doesn't feel too heavy (or clog the pores) for skin blessed in the sebum-production department can be a tricky affair. But a good rule of thumb would be to look for ingredients that are non-comedogenic and oil-free. Hyaluronic Acid ticks both boxes.
In fact, research consistently recommends moisturizers formulated with Hyaluronic Acid to be suitable for people with oily, acne-prone skin, as it adequately hydrates the skin without weighing it down (8).
Side Effects of Hyaluronic Acid
For the most part, Hyaluronic Acid is non-irritating. When used as a topical skincare ingredient, Hyaluronic Acid is well-tolerated; there aren’t any known side effects.
How to Use Hyaluronic Acid for Skin
An important tip about incorporating Hyaluronic Acid into your routine: according to dermatologists, this hero hydrating ingredient needs to be applied to damp skin to work. Why? Well, that’s because Hyaluronic Acid is a moisture magnet.
If you apply it to a dry face, Hyaluronic Acid will pull any residual moisture from the deeper layers of skin to hydrate the surface. You don't want that. To prevent this, you'll want to apply Hyaluronic Acid when your face is wet. Once Hyaluronic Acid meets water, it'll know what to do – and pull moisture from there instead of from your skin.
That means your routine should look like this:
¨ Cleanser: Remove your makeup and wash your face with a non-stripping cleanser, like our Hyaluronic Acid + Quandong Cleansing Gel.
¨ Toner: Spritz on your toner of choice after cleansing. For a refreshing, hydrating skin boost, give our Reset + Refresh Kangaroo Paw Toning Mist a go.
¨ Serum: Massage a few drops of serum (e.g., our Hyaluronic Acid + Collagen Serum) into your face.
¨ Eye cream: Apply your eye cream before you slather on your choice of creams and oils. Psst: if you’re still searching for “The One Eye Cream”, give our Age Defying Lemon Aspen Botanical Eye Cream a go.
¨ Moisturizer: Use Hyaluronic Acid + Native Snowflower Moisturizer during the daytime, then pamper your skin with our Deep Moisture Hyaluronic Acid + Kangaroo Paw Night Cream as you catch your beauty sleep.
¨ Sunscreen (daytime): Sunscreen acts as a shield against the outside world (so you don’t end up applying all those products on your face for nothing).
Oh, and here’s another benefit of adding Hyaluronic Acid into your skincare toolbox: there’s no need to rework your products. Hyaluronic Acid works well with pretty much all skincare actives, including Retinol, Vitamin C, AHAs, and BHAs.
Hyaluronic Acid for skin FAQ’s
Is Hyaluronic Acid good for skin on the face?
Yes, Hyaluronic Acid is good for the skin on the face. It acts as a humectant that draws moisture in – and keeps skin happy, well-hydrated, and healthy.
Is Hyaluronic Acid vegan?
Traditionally, cosmetic companies extracted Hyaluronic Acid from rooster combs (i.e., the fleshy crest on top of the head). But it is currently mainly produced via microbial fermentation – which means that, yes, it is vegan (9). One thing you should note about Terrakai Skin products is that we only use vegan ingredients.
What skin type is Hyaluronic Acid good for?
Hyaluronic Acid is a non-irritating skin hydrator that’s suitable for all skin types.
Can Hyaluronic Acid be combined with other ingredients?
Yes, it’s safe to use Hyaluronic Acid for skin with other ingredients (i.e., no known interactions).
Terrakai Skin Products that Include Hyaluronic Acid