To the uninitiated, hyaluronic acid (HA) sounds scary. But this ‘acid’ is not an exfoliator or a peel as one might assume: hyaluronic acid is a super-strength moisturizer that can hold 1,000 times its weight in water. “It works like a sponge,” explains London- and Paris-based dermatologist Dr Sebagh, “capturing and retaining water from the environment. It benefits all ages, skin tones and types.”
Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient that the body – and our skin – accepts readily as we already produce it naturally. “Each of us has around 15 grams of hyaluronic acid and we recycle half that amount on a daily basis,” says Düsseldorf-based aesthetic specialist Barbara Sturm. But the older we get, the less hyaluronic acid we produce, leading to the telltale signs of aging such as fine lines and a crepey, uneven texture. Supplementing your HA levels with topical treatments or injectables (known as HA fillerd) is therefore key to maintaining a plumped-up, youthful-looking complexion that is able to hold onto moisture for longer.
When included in skincare, hyaluronic acid can hydrate both the skin’s surface and deeper layers due to its varied molecular weights. New-generation formulas (made from cross-linked hyaluronic acid molecules) go even further, creating a ‘mesh’ over the skin’s surface to stop moisture escaping. To reap the benefits, go for a serum, as they contain smaller molecules that penetrate skin more deeply. But if you live in a very dry climate, the lack of moisture in the air can prompt hyaluronic acid to draw moisture away from your skin (as there is no moisture in the air), exacerbating dehydration. Instead, use an ultra-rich moisturizer, such as La Mer The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream.
Hyaluronic acid is also dermatologists’ go-to filler ingredient. “The differing viscosities allow us to fill in lines or add volume to lips and cheeks,” says Dr Sebagh. For areas such as the lips and cheeks, HA is used in large quantities in a few injection sites, while for a more all-over surge of moisture that floods the outer layers of skin, it is injected in minute doses in many areas. The latter method, known as the HA Facial, delivers on hydration without adding volume or changing the shape of your features. Finally, HA can also boost collagen production: “Studies show that hyaluronic acid stimulates the fibroblast cells that make collagen,’’ explains cosmetic surgeon Dr Rajiv Grover, “producing a long-term anti-aging effect.” Sold? Try the products below to experience the hyaluronic acid effect.
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