A Dermatologist's Guide To Hyaluronic Acid

A Dermatologist's Guide To Hyaluronic Acid


Do you know that one key ingredient in your skincare arsenal could give you plump skin with a dewy glow without you going under the knife or breaking your bank account? Well, look no further - hyaluronic acid will do that for you. And if you still have not explored the enormous potential that this single molecule has, then this is your signal to start ASAP!


What is Hyaluronic Acid?


Hyaluronic is an organic substance - a sugar molecule naturally found in the human body. It is the same substance that helps your joints to glide smoothly. It is also present in the eyes, skin, nervous system, and many other organs. It binds water to collagen and holds onto water molecules. Its key property is that it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. No wonder it is known for its excellent humectant properties.


Needless to say, hyaluronic acid is a hero ingredient in skincare products. Hyaluronic acid makes our skin soft, supple, dewy looking with a natural glow, and smooth. The human body naturally synthesises hyaluronic acid, but its production gradually slows down as we age. This decrease in production leads to certain signs, like dull, dry skin. It also leads to the development of fine lines. The areas of the body where the skin is thinner (e.g. the eyelid area) begin to lose hyaluronic acid faster, which is why the earliest signs of ageing are observed in these areas.


The hyaluronic acid in skincare products can be a salt (like sodium hyaluronate) or the acid itself. The salts of hyaluronic acid are smaller and better absorbed into the skin. So you can see if the product contains a combination of the two to get better results.


How does Hyaluronic Acid work?


So, a lot of people confuse hyaluronic acid with other acids like glycolic, salicylic, etc. The major query that comes forth - will it cause peeling? It is definitely an acid, but it does not cause peeling. It does just the opposite.


It holds onto water molecules and gives your skin a moisturised feeling. Skin that is losing moisture can wither due to the natural process of ageing or skin treatments. When treated with hyaluronic acid, the skin responds beautifully.


So, whether your skin is oily, dry, acne-prone, sensitive, pigmented, ageing - all skin types respond excellently to hyaluronic acid. Thus, it is a must in your skincare routine.

Hyaluronic acid also helps rebuild and protect the skin barrier. This means that hyaluronic acid seals tiny breaks in the skin. Thus it protects from environmental pollution, allergens, and germs.


Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid


Hyaluronic acid is beneficial for several skin-related conditions, such as -


  • Early signs of ageing and fine lines,

  • Acne scars,

  • Dry and thin skin,

  • Skin that undergoes any type of treatment, like chemical peeling, laser treatment, etc., for better healing.

Thus, anybody who feels that their skin feels dry at all times, doesn't have a glow, or is lustre-less will benefit from adding hyaluronic acid to their beauty routine. It is also beneficial for those whose skin is acne-prone and sensitive and those who cannot find a suitable moisturiser to hydrate their skin, either due to the breakouts or the treatments they are using.


But the ones who benefit most from hyaluronic acid are the ones with ageing and mature skin. Their body gradually produces lesser amounts of hyaluronic acid. Adding it as a topical application can help fill the deficit.


Another advantage of hyaluronic acid is that it is hypoallergenic, implying that the chances of it causing an allergy are low. And it is also gentle and non-irritating. Thus, a wide variety of skin types can comfortably apply this.


How to use Hyaluronic Acid?


Usually, the formulation and type of hyaluronic acid determine how the HA would benefit your skin. This is because hyaluronic acid is a large molecule. Even though it's a great humectant, it cannot penetrate the skin properly if not used in the proper steps.


Thus, the product has to be either micronised or used with another product (carrier) that can help deliver it into the deeper layers of the skin to provide hydration. If used incorrectly or retained on the top layer of the skin, hyaluronic acid can lead to dryness by sucking away the moisture from the skin. Thus it is essential to choose the right type of hyaluronic acid.


Hyaluronic acid with lower molecular weights (50 kilodaltons versus 2,000, for instance) can penetrate the skin faster and may be more beneficial for hydrating the skin. A study found that even a 0.1% concentration of hyaluronic acid led to increased hydration and elasticity. Most skincare products that consist of HA as their essential ingredient contain 1% or 2% for better results.


Another important point is that hyaluronic acid does not replace a moisturiser. You need to seal your hyaluronic acid serum with a moisturiser or oil to get maximum benefits.

You can find hyaluronic acid-based skincare products in beauty aisles in the form of serums, sheet masks, gel creams, moisturisers, and other formulations. These are great for home-based skincare routines and need to be used regularly. You can see immediate hydration in your skin after a few applications. But to notice better results, continue using HA-based products for over three months.


On the other hand, hyaluronic acid is also available in an injectable form, which is used by dermatologists for more specific treatments, like lip plumping, facial lifting, sagging cheeks, and many more indications. Prescription-grade hyaluronic acid injections can be administered at a deeper level in comparison to topical serums and creams. These also last longer and provide hydration more effectively.

Thus hyaluronic acid is beneficial in adding moisture to the skin and contouring, filling, sculpting, and enhancing various body parts.

Since it is naturally found in the body, hyaluronic acid is a very safe ingredient to use in the long run.


Combining Hyaluronic Acid with other active ingredients


Yes, hyaluronic acid can be combined with almost all other skincare ingredients. It can be used with retinol (works beautifully to counter the dryness commonly associated with these), vitamin C, peels, peptides, etc. Just a word of caution - hyaluronic acid can degrade faster when used around AHAs and BHAs, which have a very low pH. It also works beautifully with products that target pigmentation of the skin as well.


You can find a number of great hyaluronic acid products on the DermDoc website. Here are some of the products you can try out in your skincare routine:



So let us summarise the beneficial effects of hyaluronic acid here -


  • Hyaluronic acid is the number one ingredient for those experiencing dry skin due to any cause. It works best for those with ageing and mature skin.

  • Its main function is to hold onto water, thus adding moisture to our skin.

  • It is a natural component produced in our bodies and does not cause allergies or irritation.

  • One can safely combine it with most other skincare ingredients.

  • The ideal formulation should contain a combination of different-sized hyaluronic acid molecules.

  • It is best for adding hydration to dry and dehydrated skin and needs to be sealed with an oil or a moisturiser to get maximum benefits.

  • It also heals damaged skin and thus can be used to repair the skin when undergoing any treatment.

  • When used as an injection, hyaluronic acid is used to define and sculpt.

For the best results, add this skincare magic ingredient to your routine today, and see signs of ageing and dryness disappear in a jiffy!

About the Author

Dr. Samujjala Deb Chatterjee is a dermatologist and medical content writer with more than a decade of experience in healthcare-related writing. She has worked on the editorial boards of some of the world's best Dermatology journals. She has more than 50 scientific publications to credit. She has experience in managing complex medical writing projects as well as content suited for skincare consumers. She is result-oriented and adept in the production of meaningful and original content for various media platforms and clients.
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