What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid can be found in many skin products ranging from topical serums to filler injections. Over recent years, the skin care industry and skin care professionals have touted HA and recognized it an important component to overall skin health.
What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid?
Is it safe to use hyaluronic acid on the skin every day?
Topical hyaluronic acid like H.A. Intensifier by Skinceuticals is a great option if you want to add some extra moisture to the skin. However, topical HA will not be as effective as an injectable HA filler like …. for replacing lost volume. However, if the goal is to improve volume loss and laxity of the skin that naturally occurs with aging, injectable HA, rather than topical HA, is the preferred treatment method.
As a humectant, it draws water to itself and helps the skin to hold onto water. “The topical application of an HA product aids in drawing moisture from the deeper layers of the skin to infuse and hydrate the top layers of the skin,” says Dr. Widgerow. “Injectable HA is primarily used as a volumizing agent, filling areas that have thinned and atrophied during the process of aging … The injectables are also thought to stimulate new collagen and elastin formation by this increased volume working through a process of mechanotransduction—whereby increased forces in the extracellular matrix (ECM) from the filler stretch the fibroblasts, inducing them to produce collagen.”
An area of focus that has been gaining traction when it comes to HA is molecular weight (MW), and, more specifically, how the molecular weight, or size, of HA impacts the various functions it is able to carry out. High molecular weight HA provides anti-inflammatory benefits and is found in tissues, whereas smaller polymers of HA actually induce inflammation. The challenge with this knowledge is, it appears that for topical use only high MW products can be used to hydrate the outer layers of the skin, says Dr. Widgerow. He further emphasizes the importance of understanding the molecules and their sizes: “The challenge is to see if one can develop a product where high MW HA is used for surface protection and hydration but, in addition, agents are added that can stimulate the fibroblasts to produce their own high MW HA within the skin.”
HA is pretty friendly with other ingredients, adding to its utility in a variety of skin care formulations. Since HA is very short-lived in the body with constant turnover, “injectables that are used as a single dose per session with many months in between need to resist absorption for as long as possible. This is achieved by various cross-linking options, which confer stability, resistance to digestion and certain nuances functionally to the molecule,” expains Dr. Widgerow. Topical HA is also susceptible to hyaluronidase digestion, so daily use is key to keep boosting these levels. One way that Alastin Skincare uses and supports HA is with their TriHex technology, a proprietary blend of peptides and botanicals that simultaneously stimulate collagen complementary to injectables and synergistic to the fillers mechanotransduction properties.
Other products that use HA include the BioLumin-C Gel Moisturizer from Dermalogica, which actually combines five different types of HA to deliver long lasting hydration to the skin. The Theraderm NuPeel features HA as a workhorse ingredient that pairs with the papaya/papain enzymes to exfoliate and help preserve critical skin properties of water retention and pliability while reducing irritation from the natural enzyme exfoliation. The combination of HA and sodium hyaluronate in Repechage’s Hydra Dew Pure Night Cream helps to prevent moisture loss and strengthen the protective skin barrier. HA has become a key molecule in aesthetic medicine that benefits virtually all skin types and concerns.
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