Hyaluronic Acid in Skincare

Written by: | December 18, 2018 | 11 responses

Hyaluronic acid (HLA) was first discovered in 1934 by Columbia University scientists Karl Meyer and John Palmer. The substance was isolated from cow’s eye and derived the name hyaluronic acid from hyalos, meaning “glass” in Greek and the uronic sugar found in HLA. Hyaluronic acid is used for many medical procedures and by the 1990s, hyaluronic acid was just beginning to be used in skincare. It has taken up position as a popular and sought-after ingredient, in fact, topical skincare is the most abundant use of this substance. But why? What does this ingredient really do for skin?


We all know that hydrated skin feels supple and keeping skin hydrated also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid is one of the most powerful ingredients you can use to bring hydration to your skin. It can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water so it mainly works by attracting and holding that water to your skin. However, there is some debate about using this ingredient if you live in a dry climate. The theory is that hyaluronic acid is such a powerful humectant that it will draw moisture from your skin if it can’t draw it from the air. In order to prevent moisture loss from your skin, you can apply a good occlusive lotion or creme. The protective layer of creme or lotion will help prevent moisture loss from your skin.

Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hyaluronate

It’s important to note that hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate are often used interchangeably, and they are essentially the same thing. Sodium hyaluronate is the salt of hyaluronic acid developed to reduce oxidation, whereas hyaluronic acid is just hyaluronic acid. Both exist naturally in the human body, however, hyaluronic acid is usually created by bio-fermentation in a lab rather than harvesting from rooster combs. Generally in skincare, when you see hyaluronic acid, it means sodium hyaluronate that was lab-created to be bioidentical to the hyaluronic acid found in nature.

Size Matters! 20,000 Daltons vs. 2,000,000 Daltons

When it comes to hyaluronic acid, size does matter. Size in chemistry is measured in daltons. A Dalton is a standard unit of measure that quantifies mass on an atomic or molecular scale (atomic mass). The lower the molecular weight, the smaller the size of the molecule. This is particularly important when choosing which hyaluronic acid to use in a skincare formulation. Lower weight HLA will not form a gel, and it is suggested that the lower molecular weight can cause irritation. Higher weight HLA will form a viscous gel, is less likely to irritate the skin, and it’s more effective as a humectant. Check out our video on hyaluronic acid for a visible demonstration of the different weights and check out this simple recipe for creating your own hyaluronic acid serum.

Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum

Equipment You’ll Need

Stove top safe pot or beaker
Stick blender or high shear mixer
Measuring cups/spoon or scale
Approximate yield: 1 Pound
Approximate cost per pound:  $2.54

Suggested Packaging: 1oz airless pump
Suggested retail price:  $15 – $20


IngredientWeight – (pounds)Kitchen MeasurementsPercentage by weight
Deionized Water.97312 Cups97.5
Hyaluronic Acid Powder.01001Tbsp1
Phenoxyethanol.0100½ TBSP1
Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate.00501Tsp0.5



  1. Heat water to 120F – 130F
  2. Slowly sprinkle Hyaluronic Acid Powder into the water while mixing with your stick blender or high shear mixer.
  3. Add Phenoxyethanol and Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate to preserve.
  4. Use on clean face after toner/astringent. Let absorb into skin, then apply moisturizer.

Please note that this recipe has not been challenge tested for preservation efficacy. If you use this recipe for market sales, it is up to you to ensure the safety of the product.


Essendoubi, M. , Gobinet, C. , Reynaud, R. , Angiboust, J. F., Manfait, M. and Piot, O. (2016), Human skin penetration of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights as probed by Raman spectroscopy. Skin Res Technol, 22: 55-62. doi:10.1111/srt.12228
T Schlesinger & C Rowland Powell, Efficacy and safety of a low molecular weight hyaluronic acid topical gel in the treatment of facial seborrheic dermatitis final report (open access), J Clin Aesthet Dermatol 2014, 7, 15-18.

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