Hyaluronic acid is a popular skincare ingredient, commonly found in moisturizers, serums, sheet masks, and other beauty products. It’s widely marketed as a “miracle” ingredient that can hydrate the skin, reduce the appearance of fine
lines and wrinkles, and improve overall skin texture.
But do these hyaluronic acid skincare products provide the results they claim? What many people don’t realize is that hyaluronic acid, when applied topically, doesn’t have the desired anti-aging effects that it’s often praised for.
To understand why, let’s dive into the science.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring polysaccharide that is found in the body, particularly in the skin, eyes, and joints. It is a gel-like substance that helps to keep tissues lubricated and moist.
Hyaluronic acid is a large molecule that works by binding to water molecules, thus increasing the skin's hydration and moisture levels. When applied to the skin, the hyaluronic acid molecules sit on the surface, forming a thin film that can help to lock in moisture.
However, this film cannot penetrate deep enough to reach the dermis, where the majority of skin aging concerns originate.
"And there is a another critical disadvantage of topical hyaluronic acid: It is completely washed off at night when you engage in your nightly skin routine," says Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Davis.
At best, HA creams are a skin moisturizer with varied results, and consumers should look for a more comprehensive approach to anti-aging skincare.
One study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that hyaluronic acid only had a temporary hydrating effect on the skin's surface.
“You’ll need to apply liberal amounts often to achieve a constant state of moisturization,” say Davis.
While hyaluronic acid may not be able to penetrate the skin deeply enough to provide long-term benefits, there are still ways to incorporate it into your skincare routine. For example, combining hyaluronic acid with other ingredients that can penetrate the skin deeper, such as retinol or vitamin C, can enhance its effectiveness, as can injectable fillers.
Additionally, taking hyaluronic acid as a dietary supplement such as in Gut to Glow or as part of a healthy diet may have a more desired effect since you’re helping to rebuild the skin from within.
While hyaluronic acid skincare products can provide temporary hydration and moisture to the skin's surface, they’re just not able to penetrate deep enough to provide long-term anti-aging benefits.
To maximize the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid, it's essential to combine it with other skincare ingredients or as part of a more comprehensive skincare routine that also focuses on diet, exercise and overall health.