What’s all the fuss about hyaluronic acid?
To a skincare novice it sounds like a hazardous chemical – but as anyone who’s reaped its benefits will tell you, hyaluronic acid is a miracle worker.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is naturally present in the human body, explains dermatologist Dr Antoinette Ciconte.
“It’s an important component of the extracellular matrix and has a role in maintaining proper structure and function of tissues by creating volume, lubricating tissues and cell proliferation, interaction and migration,” says Dr Ciconte.
Our natural levels of hyaluronic acid are often stretched to their limits, especially as we age.
“Youthful skin is hydrated because it contains large amounts of hyaluronic acid in the dermis,” says the Melbourne dermatologist.
“Hyaluronic acid in the skin decreases as we age, leading to increased dryness, fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.”
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Why the hype about hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a popular ingredient in topical skincare products and makeup, says Dr Ciconte.
“One of its most hyped-up features is its ability to draw moisture from air, in addition to holding 1000 times it’s weight in water,’ she says.
Hyaluronic acid is also the main component for popular dermal fillers, such as Restylane and Juvéderm, says Dr Ciconte.
“Because it naturally occurring in our skin, our body doesn’t register it as foreign,” she says.
“This is how we’re able to use it for volume, hydration of the dermis or even to medically correct asymmetrical facial features.”
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Does hyaluronic acid actually work?
The benefits of hyaluronic acid aren’t disputed, but its effectiveness in skincare is a subject of contention and more studies are needed to give a concrete verdict.
“Topically applied hyaluronic acid in anti-ageing products can help with moisture retention on the skin surface, but it cannot penetrate into the dermis,” says Dr Ciconte.
Hyaluronic acid is most effective in its natural state, especially because skincare products can’t penetrate into the deeper layers of skin.
Still, many skincare giants incorporate the ingredient into moisturisers, and many users swear by it.
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How to get more hyaluronic acid
One of the most fool-proof ways of upping your hyaluronic acid intake is by eating foods naturally high in the substance, such as tuber and root vegetables, fruits rich in vitamin C, and soy products.
Try using products containing hyaluronic acid to help promote, restore and retain hydration on the skin’s surface.
If you’re vegan, note that many topical hyaluronic acid products aren’t vegan friendly.
“Vegans need to be careful when selecting skincare products as the majority of hyaluronic acid is sourced from rooster combs, unless stated otherwise,” says Dr Ciconte.
Written by Charlotte Brundrett