Hyaluronic Acid And Its Use in skincare
Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Hyaluronic Acid is one of the most interesting ingredients in skincare formulations. If you’re new to this stellar ingredient, you may think that HA is an acid just like glycolic acid or Alpha Hydroxy Acid, but it’s much different. HA is a naturally occurring polymer found in connective, neural, and epithelial tissue in both animals and humans. Hyaluronic Acid can hold about 1,000 times its weight in water. Because of its ability to hold water, HA is an easy choice when looking for an ingredient that will hold moisture when applied to the skin.
Hyaluronic Acid History
When HA was first discovered, it was harvested from the eyes of cows and from rooster combs (thankfully that’s not how we source HA now) It wasn’t until the 1990’s that scientists were able to isolate the chemical composition and clone HA from Staphylococcus bacteria. Unfortunately, the bacteria also carried the risk of staph infection, which can be quite horrifying to look at and painful. Realizing this wasn’t a good alternative, it didn’t take long for scientists to discover a way to clone HA without the risk of bacterial infection and without having to use animal sources. Today, most HA is from vegan sources like the Hyaluronic Acid Powder used and sold by Essential, and safe to use. In 2003, the FDA even approved HA as an injectable in anti-aging treatments. While these treatments are effective, they are often very expensive and only last for about 4-6 months.
Hyaluronic Acid in Skincare Formulations
Fortunately, when hyaluronic acid is applied topically, it takes very little to make a noticeable difference in helping aging skin recapture the appearance of youthful skin. In fact, it is so effective at retaining moisture it’s nearly impossible to add more than 1% HA to any formulation. As demonstrated in our Kitchen Chemistry series, any more than 1% and you end up with clumpy “snot” like globs. Not very appealing at all. HA is, however, safe to apply directly to the skin.
One interesting debate has emerged about using HA in dry climates. Because it is so powerful at drawing moisture in, it is suggested that if you live in a dry climate HA may in fact cause your skin to be drier. The theory is that if there isn’t enough moisture in the air, the HA will draw moisture from the skin causing it to be drier. There is good news, though if you live in a dry climate and want to use HA, simply apply an occlusive such as a facial crème or lotion after applying HA to create a barrier and keep skin moisturized.