Hyaluronic Acid Benefits in Skin Care
By Cynthia Bailey MD.
What are the hyaluronic acid benefits in skin care?
Hyaluronic acid has numerous benefits that you want in your skin care routine. Everyone can benefit from hyaluronic acid; it is non-irritating, does not cause acne and is even tolerated by people with sensitive skin.
But not all hyaluronic acid products are created equal - you need to understand how to find the best hyaluronic acid product to get great results from this popular ingredient.
Why do dermatologist's recommend hyaluronic acid skin care products?
Hyaluronic acid can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water to plump and hydrate skin fast.
This extraordinary water binding capacity instantly plumps crepey, wrinkled, deflated, dull and brittle skin when used correctly. We call hyaluronic acid a humectant because it binds water. It is important to note that hyaluronic acid does not add water to skin, it binds water. You must supply the water! Glowing youthful skin is dewy, plump and supple. Hyaluronic acid makes your skin look more youthful, soft, dewy and glowing.
Pro-tip: apply hyaluronic acid products to damp skin within the magic 3 minutes after cleansing skin with water and toweling-off the excess.
High humidity climates will also help increase the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid skin care products to plump limp, crepey or wrinkled skin.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan, or mucopolysaccharide.
These are long molecules composed of repeating amino and uronic sugar molecules.
Structurally, hyaluronic acid is made from pairs of sugar molecules that are linked together into polymers of varying sizes (molecular weights). Don’t confuse the word ‘sugar’ with what you know about sugar, this is a chemistry term for a class of compounds, table sugar being one type. I like to think of these linked 'sugar' molecules like a string of beads. They can come in different lengths and that creates different molecular weights. You get the best results when you use a serum with different sizes including small and large molecular weights. This is called 'fractionated' hyaluronic acid.
Fractionated hyaluronic acid serums work best
The term 'fractionated hyaluronic acid' means that the hyaluronic acid molecules in a serum have different sizes. This allows them to penetrate skin to different depths for the most effective distribution throughout your skin. Once in place, the molecules draw water to plump and hydrate skin. This is important.
Conceptually, I like to describe hyaluronic acid as an important component of the ‘squishy goo’ that your cellular and protein structures proliferate and migrate in. It's actually a clear viscous liquid that's slippery when you rub it between your fingers.
Tissues slip and slide because of hyaluronic acid. Cell surface functions also need hyaluronic acid for important cellular activities. Hyaluronic acid plays a key role in wound healing including tissue repair, inflammation response, and new blood vessel formation, all of which are necessary for skin repair and healthy skin.
Hyaluronic acid is widely distributed throughout the human body.
In the skin it is part of the extracellular matrix, which means the structural part of skin that is not cells. Said another way, it is part of the ‘stuff’ between cells.
Most of the hyaluronic acid in the skin is in the dermis.
The dermis is the second living layer of your skin that sits under the epidermis. The dermis is filled with collagen and elastin bundles and the hyaluronic acid lies between and around them. Your skin also has hyaluronic acid in the top living epidermal layer.
Up to 50% of your body's hyaluronic acid is in your skin!
The average 70kg (154 lb.) person has about 15gm of hyaluronic acid in their body, 50% of it is in the skin. Another important place you have hyaluronic acid is in your joint spaces and cartledge.
Hyaluronic acid needs to be replenished daily by your body.
Approximately 1/3 of total body hyaluronic acid is degraded and remade daily meaning your body is constantly producing hyaluronic acid. This is important when you think about adding hyaluronic acid to your skin using your skin care routine. You can also use products that stimulate your skin cells to make more hyaluronic acid. When it comes to you skin, more hyaluronic acid is better than less.
Dermatologist recommended tips to increase skin hyaluronic acid using your skin care routine:
- Instantly Luminous Multi Action Serum contains the most advanced fractionated hyaluronic acid technology combined with other humectants such as sodium PCA and glycerin for maximal skin plumping and water binding.
- Use ingredients that stimulate you skin to make more of its own hyaluronic acid. The best ingredients to stimulate cellular hyaluronic acid synthesis in facial skin are medical grade glycolic acid products such as my Glycolic Acid Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream and retinoids such as Retinol Night Cream (the best choice for sensitive skin). For non-facial skin, I rely on strong medical grade glycolic acid as found in Glycolic Acid Professional Body Lotion.
How does hyaluronic acid work in your skin?
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it avidly attracts water hygroscopically because of its chemical structure. As mentioned, hyaluronic acid can draw up to 1000 its weight in water meaning it's a super water sponge!
Hyaluronic acid is critical for skin hydration in the dermis and epidermis, which are the top two living layers of your skin. It also maintains hydrated spaces in the skin for the passage of nutrients. In the epidermal skin layer, hyaluronic acid has many crucial roles for epidermal health, including cellular functioning and skin healing.
Your skin loses hyaluronic acid as you age
Sun damage from UV exposure causes a breakdown of hyaluronic acid and cellular damage that leads to less production of hyaluronic acid by cells that produce it. Poor diet and smoking destroy hyaluronic acid in the skin too.
We don’t know why epidermal hyaluronic acid is lost with age, but the good news is that we can add it back with skin care products that are rich in hyaluronic acid. - Dr. Bailey
Get glowing skin with hyaluronic acid!
No matter how old you are or how damaged your skin is, a fractionated hyaluronic acid serum will plump and deeply hydrate your skin giving it a more youthful appearance and texture. My Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum works so well because of the varying molecular weight sized hyaluronic acid molecules that stratify in the skin layers to instantly plump and restore the dewy, hydrated, soft and youthful texture to skin.
I've been using doctor Cynthia's Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum for the last 2 weeks and I have to say it's incredible. I came home the other day and noticed my husband staring at me, wondering if something was amiss, I asked what he was looking at. He said are you doing something new, your face looks so bright and skin so smooth. I just smiled and said yeah, its Dr. Bailey's new products. Thank you Dr. Cynthia Bailey, I'm hooked! Denise
The best hyaluronic acid products are made with varying sized hyaluronic acid polymer molecules.
These stratify in different layers of the skin for more skin plumping. Small molecular weight hyaluronic acid penetrate skin readily. Larger molecular weight sizes stratify in the skin layers above. Large molecular weight hyaluronic acid layers on top of the skin to provide a nice barrier against dehydration when topped with an occlusive moisturizer or oil.
Skin care products made with this type of multiple molecular weight hyaluronic acid have good clinical evidence for improving skin skin hydration, elasticity, roughness, ﬁrmness and fine lines and wrinkles. This is the type of hyaluronic acid serum that you want. - Dermatologist Dr. Bailey
Hyaluronic acid helps other skin care actives penetrate into skin
Interestingly, hyaluronic acid can increase the penetration of other ingredients in skin care. This can increase the potency and effectiveness of other powerful active ingredients in your skin care routine. For example, it is proven to enhance penetration of vitamin C. Exercise care, however, because it can also increase penetration of artificial yellow dye. (The blue color in Instantly Luminous is copper PCA, an important skin humectant, it is NOT a dye!)
Pro-tip: only layer high quality skin care products with hyaluronic acid because it enhances skin penetration of ingredients for better or worse!
Best skin care routine with hyaluronic acid
As a dermatologist, I recommend applying a hyaluronic acid serum twice a day layered with other products to maximize your results. I always recommend applying products from thin to thick and/or water based to more oil/occlusive based. This means that your hyaluronic acid serum goes on first and other products are layered on top:
- Apply a hyaluronic acid serum under an antioxidant then layer a really great moisturizer to further prevent water loss for glowing skin during the day.
- At night, apply a hyaluronic acid serum under a collagen stimulating product such as glycolic acid or retinol. Top with a really good moisturizer if the collagen stimulating product is not also occlusive.
Best antioxidant to combine with hyaluronic acid
Green tea polyphenol antioxidants are unsurpassed for protecting skin from free radical damage. Layered Up Besties is one of the most popular product combinations for good reason. This duo layers Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy over Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum and the results are astounding. I recommend topping this combo with Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for the ultimate daily routine for glowing skin. I personally use this routine every day on my own facial skin. I'm not the only one grateful for how well this works on my skin:
Going through menopause wreaked havoc on my skin. I went from somewhat oily skin to dry flaky skin. I tried many products before I found this wonderful combination. I use it twice daily along with the Daily Moisturizing Face Cream. My complexion looks better now than it ever has. It’s smooth and my skin tone is even. Thank you Dr. Bailey! Holly B
Does hyaluronic acid in skin care products have any side effects or risks?
Not really. You will notice that the name implies that there is an 'acid' in hyaluronic acid, but it’s not really a skin care acid in the commonly used interpretation of 'acid'. Hyaluronic acid is not an exfoliator or irritating skin care ingredient. Other ingredients termed an 'acid' include glycolic acid and salicylic acid. Those are exfoliators and can irritate sensitive skin. Hyaluronic acid does not.
Hyaluronic acid doesn't burn, irritate or sting skin
The word 'acid' is confusing. It means that the chemical structure of a compound can donate a proton in a chemical reaction. It does not mean that the pH is highly acidic and can burn skin. The word 'acid' is technically chemistry terminology relating to proton donation not skin burning! Hyaluronic acid has not been found to irritate skin.
I used the Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum and my skin did feel / look luminous! Much softer and as with all of Dr. Bailey's products, my skin was not irritated at all, and the redness from rosacea was reduced. MKR
The bottom line with hyaluronic acid skin care:
Get glowing, dewy, hydrated skin with fractionated hyaluronic acid serum applied morning and night. Use only trusted well-made products in your skin care routine because hyaluronic acid enhances percutaneous absorption. I recommend layering Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum with Green Tea in the Layered Up Besties followed by Daily Moisturizing Face Cream during the day and Glycolic Acid Face Cream or Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream in your bedtime routine (layer Daily Moisturizing Face Cream over Retinol). This adds hyaluronic acid from the outside in and stimulates your skin cells to synthesize it in your dermis from the inside for maximal results.
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