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what is hyaluronic acid?

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A complete guide to all Hyaluronic Acid benefits 

Read the top scientifically-backed benefits of Hyaluronic Acid and learn why it might be the missing ingredient in your skincare routine! Hyaluronic Acid can help with wrinkles, skin elasticity, texture and so much more.

The next time you’re out shopping for your new favorite skincare find, have a look at the list of ingredients on that serum, cream or mask you’re holding that claims to hydrate and plump skin. Chances are, you’ll spot hyaluronic acid (often abbreviated to HA).

You’ve probably heard of hyaluronic acid as it’s become an increasingly popular ingredient in the skincare industry. Incorporating a hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid in your skincare routine can make a major difference in the texture, tone and brightness of your skin.

Hyaluronic acid plumps, moisturizes, softens wrinkles and can be found in everything from serums to sheet masks, even injectables. But what exactly is hyaluronic acid? Below we break down everything you need to know about this star skincare ingredient and the benefits of hyaluronic acid.

What Is Hyaluronic Acid and Where Does it Come From?

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring carb that can be found in almost every cell in the body, although the greatest concentration is in the skin tissue. Your body uses hyaluronic acid to keep your skin and connective tissue lubricated, strong and healthy.

But, hyaluronic acid’s most coveted skin benefit is its incredible water retention properties. Natural hyaluronic acid is always present within your body. Within your skin, it binds to water, helping moisture, elasticity and overall skin health.

It also plays a major role in the health of your joints, stomach and eyes. There’s some scientific evidence that your body’s natural hyaluronic acid helps to keep your bones strong and healthy. Studies show that hyaluronic acid could potentially play a key role in helping the body produce new bone tissue.

Around half of your body’s hyaluronic acid is found in the skin. Over time, factors such as sun exposure and normal aging can reduce the amount of hyaluronic acid found within your skin, often by a significant amount.

In short, the natural hyaluronic acid produced by your body plays an important role in a wide range of different processes, from maintaining your skin, to keeping your entire body working efficiently.

What does Hyaluronic Acid do?

From a skincare perspective, hyaluronic acid plays several important roles. By keeping your skin hydrated, it contributes to a smooth, firm and plump look. Skin that’s dehydrated and lacking in hyaluronic acid can often look washed out and dull.

Cosmetically, hyaluronic acid is used in two different ways. It’s an extremely popular dermal filler, but it's also widely used as an ingredient in topical skincare products such as creams, masks and serums.

Biologically, hyaluronic acid plays a major role in helping your skin retain moisture, making it essential for keeping your skin supple, strong and capable of shielding your body’s organs from the outside world. As skin ages, it becomes drier as its ability to retain water lessens, which results in loss of firmness and fine lines. Collagen is mainly made of water and this is exactly what keeps skin looking youthful. Hyaluronic acid is a great treatment for wrinkles, also. It will rehydrate skin for a plumper appearance and will minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  But hydration isn't the only benefit of hyaluronic acid, it also has antioxidant properties to protect your skin from the environment, sun exposure and harsh chemicals.

Who is Hyaluronic Acid best for?

The best thing about hyaluronic acid is that it can be used by everyone, whatever your skin condition.  It's great for dry and mature skin, due to its hydrating and anti-aging properties. In fact, as we age, skin moisture can drop significantly, causing a drop in skin elasticity and making more visible the signs of aging on the skin.

Contrary to popular belief, oily and combination skin types still need hydration, and the lightweight formulation of hyaluronic acid is perfect, as it feels weightless on the skin, whilst still providing the much-needed moisture.

Hyaluronic acid is also great for sensitive skin as it helps to calm skin, whilst protecting it with its antioxidant properties.

So if your regular moisturizer just isn’t cutting it — or if you’re just looking to change the products in your rotation — consider giving hyaluronic a try to up your hydration game.

Can you combine Hyaluronic Acid with other skincare products in your routine?

Hyaluronic acid works well alongside other anti-aging ingredients such as vitamin C, which protects skin youth and improves the appearance of dark spots, uneven tone and enlarged pores. This pairing together encourages and protects collagen, whilst hydrating and brightening aging skin.

How Should I Use Hyaluronic Acid?

Thanks to its powerful water-binding potential, topical use of hyaluronic acid can help to make your facial skin more hydrated and elastic. In a 2011 study, researchers found that use of a 0.1% hyaluronic acid topical cream produced significant improvements in skin hydration and elasticity in 30- to 60-year-old women.

Other studies of a topical hyaluronic acid show similar results. In a 2014 study, a group of women with an average age of 45.2 experienced a significant improvement in skin hydration and wrinkle depth reduction after using a topical hyaluronic acid for eight weeks. The topical hyaluronic acid cream also improved skin firmness and elasticity by as much as 55% over the course of the study. 

When used topically, hyaluronic acid can make the skin appear more dewy and younger because it improves skin elasticity. Hyaluronic acid plays well with most other ingredients and can be paired with peels, natural retinol serum, vitamins, and most other acids.

 Like with any new skincare product, you should start slow with hyaluronic acid, applying it once per day to see how your skin reacts. If you find your skin is benefiting from the additional hydration, make sure to apply in the morning and evening.

Is Hyaluronic Acid Worth Using?

There’s no question that hyaluronic acid is one of the most coveted skincare ingredients, as of late. It’s the star ingredient in skincare products, from anti-aging creams, masks and serums to acne prevention washes, sunscreen and more.

If you want plumper, softer, smoother skin—with less fine lines and chronic dry patches, there's only one skincare ingredient you truly need: hyaluronic acid.

 by Jaclyn LaBadia - feature contributor

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