More than just a moisturizer— scientifically supported benefits of Hyaluronic Acid (HA).
Hyaluronic Acid—it’s the active ingredient in many of the most ultra-premium facial products available today. It’s usually known simply by its abbreviation (HA), and is also sometimes called Hyaluronan. The Health and Beauty Industry is currently in love with this amazing substance, and with good reason. Yet what actually is HA, and what does it do?
It’s true that facial moisturizers and serums has recently pushed Hyaluronic Acid into the spotlight. If you’ve heard about it before reading this that’s probably why. Yet it’s been used for years in multiple branches of medicine with fantastic results. Research is currently being done into further uses for the incredibly useful stuff, as well.
It’s also a naturally occurring compound which is found throughout the body. This means it’s almost entirely free of side effects across all of its many uses. Holistic medical practitioners and other natural health experts recognize HA as a safe, effective treatment for several common conditions.
The benefits of Hyaluronic Acid (HA):
- Increased hydration and intense moisturizing.
- Anti-aging effects.
- Improved skin elasticity.
- Fine line and wrinkle reduction.
- Faster wound healing.
- Increased volume.
- Can effectively treat some cases of eczema.
- Reduces facial redness
- Evens out skin tone and reduces blotchiness.
So how does HA accomplish these things? The answer is surprisingly simple. Hyaluronic Acid is what is known as a humectant, a substance that absorbs and retains moisture. It’s very efficient, and can hold about 1000 times its mass in water to keep the skin properly hydrated.
The structure of Hyaluronic Acid is responsible for its miraculous sponge-like ability. First off, Hyaluronic Acid isn’t a corrosive liquid, as the word “acid” implies. It’s actually a very complex carbohydrate known as Glycosaminoglycans. We’ll talk more about the shape and characteristics of the HA molecule later.
Each HA molecule branches thousands of times in a “bottle-brush” arrangement. Water molecules are drawn into the spaces between each “bristle” and become trapped there. This makes HA an obvious choice when formulating moisturizers and other skincare products—nothing holds onto moisture better.
Hydration of Skin
Skin that is well hydrated has a high water content for 2 primary reasons. The first is, not surprisingly, the patient’s daily water intake. Dehydrated patients will have dehydrated skin that’s not as healthy as it could be. The second factor is known as Transepidermal Water Loss, or TEWL. This refers to the rate at which water evaporates from the skin. Hyaluronic acid has been shown to reduce TEWL by drastically reducing surface evaporation.
Several small studies have indicated that Hyaluronic Acid can help wounds heal better and faster, as well. More research is needed to fully understand and measure this effect. It is reasonable to believe that well-hydrated skin will heal more efficiently, however.
If you need more plumping than hyaluronic acid can add, there is more in formation on our facelifts and other procedures for reducing wrinkles and increasing the youthfulness of the face.
Does scientific evidence support using Hyaluronic Acid (HA)?
Yes. Several large, well designed studies have shown that Hyaluronic Acid improves overall skin health when used regularly. Skin elasticity, roughness, and average wrinkle depth were all positively impacted. Yet, as alluded to above, not all varieties of HA work equally well. Others may even be harmful.
It was determined that benefits depend on the molecular weight of the HA molecules in the serum being used. Molecular weight can be understood as how large a molecule is, and is measured in Daltons. This unit is actually 1,000 Daltons, so it’s usually abbreviated as kDa (killodalton). Put simply, molecules of different sizes performed very differently when applied as part of a skincare regimen.
A comprehensive study was performed using serums containing HA molecules ranging from 50-1000 kDa. The maximum improvement in skin elasticity, texture, and wrinkle depth was found using 130 kDa molecules. This finding was later verified by a larger study which used serums containing 50, 100, 130, 300, and 2,000 kDa.
Serums tended to become less effective as the size of the molecules went past 130 kDa. It is thought that these very large molecules have difficulty penetrating the skin. They can still attract and hold water, yet will wash off shortly after applied. Extremely small, short chained HA molecules of less than 50 kDa were found to actually promote inflammation. This is not a desirable quality in an ultra-premium anti-aging serum.
So what type of HA is in your serum? It almost certainly contains around 2% HA with a molecular weight of around 130 kDa. This formulation has proven itself capable of improving the above mentioned signs of aging by 20% after only 1 month.
Selecting the right form of Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Not all forms of Hyaluronic Acid, or HA, are created equal when it comes to penetrating the skin. Previous research has shown that smaller HA molecules are absorbed by the skin more easily. These “Nano-Hyaluroid Acids” have considerable research backing up their ability to:
- Increase skin elasticity, especially around the eyes.
- Decrease the depth of wrinkles.
- Reduce or eliminate the appearance of fine lines.
- Increase the skin’s overall ability to retain moisture.
- Provide a moderate increase in skin volume.
The chemistry behind HA is extremely complex—an HA molecule can come in literally millions of shapes, sizes, and configurations. The following, known as Nano-Hyaluroid Acids, are the ones found in most commercially available products:
- Sodium Hyaluronate
- Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate
- Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid
Most reputable, high-end products will contain one or more of these varieties. This isn’t to imply that other HA molecule types won’t work, and some products contain more exotic forms. Research into the chemistry of Hyaluronic Acid is ongoing. Yet for now, the three varieties mentioned above offer the best performance for their price.
The premium Hyaluronic Acid serum used by Body Beautiful Laser Medi-Spa contains all three forms of HA. It is used during nearly all Micro-Needling treatments, and can also be applied using a specialized skin-roller.