Skincare 101: Hyaluronic Acid

Everyday I get asked about what skincare products are best for acne, anti-aging, rosacea, dark spots… and the list goes on!

My answer is always “there isn’t one answer for everyone.” All skincare lines have great products. I have my favorites (a post for another day), but they may not be right for you. The key to finding great products is to look at the ingredients. If your product contains active ingredients that have been shown to improve the skin, you will see results (regardless of the brand).

The ingredient I am covering today is hyaluronic acid. From now on I will refer to hyaluronic acid as “HA.”

HA is the major glycosaminoglycan in the epidermis and dermis. Picture your epidermis and dermis as the foundation (like a foundation of a house) of your skin and hyaluronic acid is part of the concrete.

HA is key in maintaining the structure of the skin, improving skin hydration and maintaining the barrier function of the skin. It is really important stuff!

Unfortunately, the natural HA content of the skin decreases with age – which is why there are hundreds of serums and creams that contain HA, claiming to replete the HA that is lost during natural aging.

The question is, does topical application of HA actually improve skin quality?

Small studies have shown improvement in skin hydration and increases in both HA and collagen after topical application. There are also studies that have shown that topical HA can decrease sebum production resulting in less oily skin. But these are small studies and many are supported by the companies that make products with HA.

So are HA topicals worth it? I would say yes. Personally, a few of my favorite products contain HA (Skinceuticals Retexturing Activator and Neocutis Journee), however some highly concentrated HA products have caused me to have breakouts. So I look for HA in products, but usually not as the first ingredient.

My recommendation when buying any skincare product is to either try and get a sample or purchase from a retailer who has a good return policy (Sephora and Nordstrom). You shouldn’t return an anti-aging product due to lack of results in a short time period (results take months), but you want a good return policy in case you have a bad reaction. These creams are expensive!

Hopefully this post will help you the next time you hit Sephora, Blue Mercury or Nordstrom. One word of caution when purchasing these products, buy from a licensed retailer to ensure you get a pure product, not Amazon.

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