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If you’re still one to shun away upon hearing the word “acid” when it comes to skincare, trust us that your fear is unfounded. In fact, the efficacy of skincare has improved by leaps and bounds, thanks to the incorporation of good-for-you acids in formulas.
In our previous instalment of our weekly acid guide we spoke about salicylic acid – and how it’s the one skincare ingredient that comes highly recommended by dermatologists and skincare gurus alike to treat blemish-prone skin. This week, we’ll be touching base on yet another familiar acid: Hyaluronic acid.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
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Despite its scary-sounding name (which you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of), hyaluronic acid is actually naturally found in our bodies. That means, we are constantly producing it naturally - which is why our skin reacts well to skincare that comprise of the acid. In fact, most, if not all moisturisers, contain hyaluronic acid as their hydrating agent.
While most acids serve the function of “dissolving” skin debris when applied, hyaluronic acid doesn’t. Instead, its sole purpose is to keep our skin hydrated, thanks to it being a natural humectant. That means it has water attracting and retaining properties.
Hyaluronic acids are found in almost all of our skin cells, and because of its water-binding ability, it acts as a soaked cushion that keeps moisture trapped beneath our skin’s uppermost layers. That said, while our bodies naturally produce it, production levels slow with age – which results in our skin be becoming dry and wrinkly as we get older… should we not frequently moisturise.
What does it do for our skin?
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The moisturising effect of hyaluronic acid is so great that it’s able to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. To be more specific, a single gram of hyaluronic acid is able to take up to 6 litres of water. As we go about our day, external aggressors and daily activities will inevitably strip our skin of moisture. For example, our skin loses moisture when we perspire. It loses moisture even when we bathe.
What hyaluronic acid does is that it sits beneath the dermis layer of our skin, feeding it with moisture to keep our skin’s hydration levels balanced. That’s the reason why our skin appears plumper after applying moisturisers with hyaluronic acid in it, and body creams with the acid in it help alleviate dry patches of skin.
Babies are born with an abundance of the acid in their system, which is why their skins are so soft. As we get older, the amount of hyaluronic acid that our body produces depletes, which is why we need to constantly replenish it.
Things to note when using hyaluronic acid
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The size of the hyaluronic acids that are being used in skincare are not all the same. Acids with larger molecular sizes are not able to penetrate into the deeper layers of our skins. That means it serves to only hold water at the surface of the skin.
On the contrary, hyaluronic acid with smaller molecular sizes are able to be absorbed into the deeper layers of our skin – but there’s debate on how these small fragments may cause inflammation, especially for people with sensitive skin.
But generally, hyaluronic acid is a stable acid that plays well with other skincare ingredients. It’s a commonplace acid that has been used in skincare for years; you might actually be using it without even knowing.
Some of our favourite products with hyaluronic acid: