What’s hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan found throughout the body’s connective tissue. Glycosaminoglycans are simply long unbranched carbohydrates, or sugars, called polysaccharides.
HA is the main component of what gives your skin structure, and is responsible for that plump and hydrated look. You may have heard the chatter around collagen, but hyaluronic acid is where it’s at.
With the buzz around anti-aging, it’s about time we talk about hyaluronic acid, its benefits for our skin, and why molecular weight of an ingredient is important! It plays a pivotal role in the wound healing process, and decreases as we age making us more susceptible to sagging and wrinkles.
Read on to learn the science behind hyaluronic acid, so you can see that HA isn’t just a fad ingredient, but a staple for your skin care routine.
What Are the Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid?
The key benefit of hyaluronic acid is hydration and that unbelievable ability to retain moisture. To understand how important moisture is for the skin, you have to first know that dehydrated skin — when the top layer of skin doesn’t have enough water — appears dry, rough, and flaky.
Many people use hyaluronic acid to hydrate their skin. People can take hyaluronic acid as a supplement, or they can apply it topically as a cream.
Hyaluronic acid can increase skin moisture and improve the quality of life for those with dry skin.
One 2014 study involved female participants applying topical hyaluronic acid as a lotion, serum, and cream. The study results demonstrated an increase of skin hydration of up to 96% after 8 weeks of use across the different types.
Hyaluronic acid helps the skin maintain moisture and helps the tissue regeneration process involved in healing wounds.
One 2016 study suggested that applying hyaluronic acid to the skin to heal wounds can help relieve inflammation and regulate tissue repair.
When a person experiences changes in their skin, it can have an adverse psychosocial impact. This can occur during the aging process.
An older study found that hyaluronic acid can help reduce the roughness of a person’s skin and increase skin elasticity.
Around 50% of the body’s total hyaluronic acid is present in the skin. Changes in this amount, possibly due to UV exposure, can lead to the formation of wrinkles.
Hyaluronic acid can significantly decrease the depth of wrinkles and enhance skin firmness and elasticity.
One 2014 study involved women applying hyaluronic acid topically, twice daily, for 8 weeks.
The study reported up to a 40% decrease in the depth of wrinkles and an up to 55% increase in skin firmness and elasticity compared with participants who did not apply the acid.
Hyaluronic acid can help to improve the symptoms of mild to moderate eczema.
Participants in a 2011 study found that hyaluronic acid in a foam form was more pleasant to use and improved their eczema more than a ceramide-containing emulsion cream.
How often a person can use hyaluronic acid will depend on the type.
Typically, a person can use skincare products that contain hyaluronic acid twice a day, but it is essential to read the instructions as products will vary.
Hyaluronic acid is available in a variety of different forms.
Hyaluronic acid tablets have shown efficacy for treating several issues, including:
- skin hydration and wrinkle reduction
- joint pain
People should speak to their doctor or another healthcare professional before using any form of supplements, as they may interact with other medications.
Topical hyaluronic acid can come in the following forms:
Hyaluronic acid can help increase moisture levels in the skin and reduce signs of aging.
Because the body produces hyaluronic acid naturally, the chances of a person having an allergic reaction are low.
Therefore, hyaluronic acid in injection form can have a range of uses. It can have medical and cosmetic purposes.
One cosmetic purpose for hyaluronic acid is fillers, including facial and lip fillers. A dermatologist injects hyaluronic acid into the lips to give them a plumper appearance.
People using hyaluronic acid regularly generally report very few side effects. This is probably because the body produces hyaluronic acid naturally, which means there is little risk of allergic reactions.
One 2012 study involved participants taking oral hyaluronic acid for 12 months. They reported zero side effects.
An older article noted that injectable hyaluronic acid could cause adverse effects. However, these effects tend to be due to the injection itself rather than the hyaluronic acid. Adverse effects may include:
Pregnancy or breastfeeding
People receiving an injection of hyaluronic acid should talk with their healthcare provider if they plan on becoming pregnant or are breastfeeding.
There is currently not enough evidence to indicate the impact on a fetus or newborn.
People may be aware of the benefits of hyaluronic acid as an ingredient in skincare but may not be aware of its versatility.
Using hyaluronic acid supplements or topical products can help people maintain a youthful appearance and tackle many signs of aging. However, it can also help treat some medical conditions, such as vaginal dryness or joint pain.
People should consult a healthcare professional before taking supplements. They should make sure that any provider of injectable hyaluronic acid has registered with the appropriate governing bodies.
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