Hyaluronic acid: why this skincare ingredient has everyone excited

Web searches for hyaluronic acid went up 400% last year making it one of the most popular skincare ingredients. But what does hyaluronic acid do?

Hyaluronic Acid: Why This Skincare Ingredient Has Everyone Excited
© Unsplash/ Mathilde Langevin
Hyaluronic Acid: Why This Skincare Ingredient Has Everyone Excited

Even the most non-commital skincare user has probably heard of hyaluronic acid by now. This plumping ingredient has long been popular in fillers but it has just as much benefit when used topically.

Discover our latest podcast

What is hyaluronic acid?

Despite us loading hyaluronic acid onto our faces in our skincare routines, our body also produces this gooey fluid naturally with the largest amounts found in our skin, connective tissue and our eyes. The main function of this sugar in our bodies is to bind itself to water particles in order to retain moisture and lubricate our joints, but it also aids in skin repair and defence against free radical and UV damage.

Unfortunately, the amount of hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases as we age, resulting in wrinkles as well as looser, dehydrated skin.

How does hyaluronic acid benefit the skin?

Typically, when we think of acids in skincare our minds immediately drift to lactic acid, azelaic acid, niacinamide and salicylic acid, but hyaluronic acid does a very different job - it acts as a humectant. When used topically, hyaluronic acid works to hydrate the skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles as well as boosting the skin’s plumpness.

Hyaluronic acid also comes in a variety of weights. Higher weight HA is unable to penetrate deep into the skin where we need it, that’s why we now have low molecular weight HA molecules also known as hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid and Sodium hyaluronate. These chopped up, lower molecular weight variants of HA are able to dig deeper into the skin’s layers to bring hydration where it’s needed most.

How to use hyaluronic acid in your skincare routine

Before you go out and splurge on hyaluronic acid serums and ampoules, check the back of your moisturiser, chances are it’s already in there.

However, if you do want to incorporate a special hydrating serum or HA serum into your skincare routine there is something you should keep in mind; hyaluronic acid steals water from the environment around you to draw it into the skin. That means HA works extremely well for people in more humid climates. If you typically have super dry skin or live in a drier environment, this ingredient will likely kidnap what little moisture you have in your skin, leaving your skin even drier.

To use your HA in a way that won’t dry out the skin, wash your face as normal, then spritz your face with a toner and immediately follow through with your HA. After that, let your serum soak in and apply the rest of your skincare as normal! If you’re unsure how to layer your serum, check out our guide here!

Best hyaluronic acid products

Looking for a good hyaluronic acid? Try these products:

The Ordinary - Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 - £5.90 Boots
The Inkey List - Hyaluronic Acid Serum - £5.99 Boots
Glow Recipe - Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum - £37.00 Cult Beauty
Paula's Choice - Hyaluronic Acid Booster - £34.00 Cult Beauty
Glossier - Super Bounce Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin B5 Serum - £24.00 Glossier
Bolt Beauty - Mad About Moisture Home Jar - £30.00 Bolt Beauty
These are the best skincare ingredients for the winter These are the best skincare ingredients for the winter