Hyaluronic acid (HA) is one of the great skin heroes – an ingredient that keeps the skin supple and plump, can reduce wrinkle depth, combat redness and inflammation and aid in the healing of abrasions and wounds. Found in the fluids in the eyes, joints and skin, it acts as a cushion and a lubricant, and helps the body respond to injury and decrease swelling. It also acts as an osmotic pump, pulling other powerful nutrients into the deep epidermal layers. HA features in many VM skincare products, in particular our Collagen Boosting Gel, a hyaluronic acid serum designed to regenerate and prime the skin.
WHAT IS HYALURONIC ACID
HA is known as a “smart nutrient” as it can adjust its moisture absorption rate based on the humidity—relative to the season and the climate. Unlike collagen, HA is able to penetrate the skin’s upper layers to improve the skin when applied topically. It can also bind up to one thousand times its weight in water, so it functions as a humectant and holds water molecules onto the surface of the skin to keep it super-hydrated. It slows the rate at which water evaporates from your skin – something called trans epidermal water loss and makes sure you don’t lose too much moisture from the skin despite changes in your environment.
On a chemical level, hyaluronic acid is an anionic, non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan, distributed widely throughout connective, epithelial and neural tissues. HA occurs naturally in the body and generally decreases with age. In the skin it exists in the epidermis and keeps the skin hydrated & supple due to its high-water retention ability. The key molecule involved in skin moisture is Hyaluronan, a glycosaminoglycan with a unique capacity to bind and retain water molecules.
Where does Hyaluronic Acid come from?
Hyaluronic Acid is a natural glycosaminoglycan (polysaccharides that are an important component of connective tissue) and can be derived from multiple sources - foods, supplements, and HA powders. There are two main sources of HA: animal extraction (from Rooster Combs typically) and bacterial fermentation. At Vanessa Megan, our material is from bacterial fermentation using corn-derived glucose to create the Hyaluronic Acid in a bio-fermentation process.
WHAT DOES HYALURONIC ACID DO FOR THE SKIN?
HA has a multitude of benefits for your skin. It is incredibly good at bonding with water molecules, and this makes it a powerful anti-aging ingredient because a lack of moisture is one of the main culprits in the aging process. It is also a powerful repairer: medical studies have shown that it helps skin to heal more quickly. HA helps replenish cell moisture which in turn reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It is fast absorbing which means less mess, but also less lost product and it is safe for almost all skin types, including sensitive skin. It is also available in a variety of forms from topical products to supplements (always consult your GP before adding new supplements).
Water is an important component required for collagen production, which is one of the key building blocks of the skin that is lost during the aging process. Hydrated skin looks plumper than dry or dehydrated skin. Skin aging and damage is associated with this loss of moisture, and this is where HA is valuable as part of your skincare regime. Because the HA has extremely small molecules, it is able to penetrate the skin making it perfect for targeting lines and wrinkles. A medical study into its effectiveness found that it changed the depth of wrinkles, increased moisture in the skin cells, increased elasticity in the fragile skin around the eye and absorbed into the skin better than ingredients with larger molecules. It can also bring other ingredients with it, meaning that it is not only valuable on its own, but can partner with other active ingredients to change and protect the skin.
See some of our favourite anti-aging HA products below:
PINEAPPLE ENZYME + HA BRIGHTENING EYELIFT SERUM
GREEN COFFEE & GOTU KOLA BEAUTY VEIL LIFTING SERUM
GROUP 11 ACTIVE MIST
AURIC 24K GOLD & WILD HERB RADIANCE SERUM
It is important to understand what is causing your skin’s redness before you decide if HA is the answer. Some redness may be sun damage, inflammation associated with acne or blemishes, or it could be irritation, eczema or rosacea. It is important, when your skin is inflamed and red, to only use very natural, very gentle ingredients to soothe it. HA helps to prevent and treat redness by dealing with one of the main reasons behind it: a damaged skin barrier. Poorly hydrated skin is compromised and vulnerable to damage from the environment. It can let bacteria in, and this can lead to infection. HA fortifies the skin’s natural lip barrier (the fatty acids that prevent irritants entering the skin) making the skin better able to defend itself against pollutants and environmental damage. This not only allows redness and inflammation to heal but makes it less likely to occur in the future. It is wise to try a small amount of HA on redness to see if it does soothe and strengthen your skin. Sometimes inflamed skin needs time to calm before it is ready for HA.
HA is all about hydration and it holds up to one thousand times its molecular weight in water, which means that when it penetrates the skin, it binds water to the skin cells providing extra moisture to all the layers of the skin. Hydrated skin looks plumper and is less likely to sag or “crepe”. A 2016 German study found that HA decreased the depth of wrinkles around the lips and eyes by between ten and twenty percent and overall skin tightness by up to thirty percent. HA is also a humectant, which means that it not only provides water to the lower layers of the skin and strengthens the lipid barrier on top of the skin, it also continues to draw moisture from the surrounding environment, providing long lasting hydration for the skin.
Try our Silver and Hyaluronic Acid Collagen Boosting Sheet Mask for instant hydration.
HOW TO USE HYALURONIC ACID
It is very easy to work HA into your skincare routine. It needs to be applied to clean skin for ultimate penetration so always cleanse your skin well before application. We recommend using our Petitgrain PH Balancing Cream Cleanser. While your skin is still slightly damp, apply the HA serum to your face. This provides the HA serum with water to bind with and deliver to your skin cells. Follow the serum with your usual moisturiser and a daily sunscreen. If you are using our Holy Trinity skincare system, you can follow cleansing with 2-6 drops of our Collagen Boosting Gel Hyaluronic Acid Serum and then follow it with your N.E.O. and Rose Hydrosol. The instant plumping effect also makes HA the perfect primer before makeup. You can use a HA serum both in the morning and at night on clean skin.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Hyaluronic acid is an incredibly valuable addition to your skincare regime, particularly if aging or dryness are issues you are dealing with. It will hydrate your skin cells from within, fortify your skin from without and encourage other ingredients to work more effectively as well. Make sure that you always use it with other products that are completely natural – you don’t want your HA pulling toxic ingredients into your skin cells, only powerful naturaceuticals. We recommend our Cryo Facelift Ice Cube Treatment which combines HA with Aloe Vera, Rose water, Chamomile, Gotu Kola, Kangaroo Paw and Banksia to provide a cocktail of ingredients designed to plump, hydrate and protect the skin.