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Hyaluronic Acid and Your Skin

woman with good skin looking at herself in the mirror
Your skin is a complex organ made of multiple layers with various components constantly playing off of one another to maintain its health. Many of us are now aware of one or two vital components, typically collagen and elastin, because beauty gurus focus on their importance to our skin. Collagen is one of the primary structural proteins of the body and heavily present in your skin. It provides the structure that gives form and firmness to your skin. Elastin, by contrast, is the part of your skin’s structure that allows it to be flexible and return to form after being deformed slightly. Your skin snaps back into shape quickly after you pinch it and pull up specifically because of elastin. Focusing on these two ignores that they need support from a third component: hyaluronic acid. Let’s take a quick look at this often neglected compound.

Wait, wait…Acid?
Yes, your skin has a form of acid spread throughout. We’re going to ignore the pH of sweat and natural oils for the purpose of this discussion, but that also has a place in any broader discussion of skin acidity. Hyaluronic acid is interesting in that, in the appropriate concentration, it doesn’t really act the same way that you likely think an acid should. It is a lubricant instead. Hyaluronic acid is well-known for its ability to store and transmit moisture. The acid is generally interwoven within collagen and elastin as a means of keeping the protein properly moisturized and flexible during use. Without it, both would dry out and become unhealthy to the point that begin to degrade. That’s why the two should never really be mentioned without the third. Interestingly enough, there are multiple forms of hyaluronic acid that the beauty industry has isolated and refined. These forms are frequently used in beauty products as a natural way to give your skin a boost.

Form and Function
Hyaluronic acid is the form that we’re most familiar with because it is actually part of our body. This is a relatively easily isolated compound that is easy enough to understand why it would be useful. After all, in some ways, it is the skin’s natural internal moisturizer. When incorporated into a product, the hyaluronic acid generally absorbs moisture that it will then help trap in the skin after application. The acid is quite useful and can bypass the barrier of the skin fairly well, but the overall size of individual molecules makes it a little less useful than we’d like. Fortunately, sodium hyaluronate, a salt derivative of hyaluronic acid, is substantially better in this respect. The molecule sizes are smaller and better able to penetrate past the skin’s various barriers to get more moisture into the skin. That is why many beauty products use this form of the ingredient preferentially.

Why You Should Care
A highly effective moisturizing ingredient doesn’t initially seem like something that many people would be terribly interested in. After all, it is a niche ingredient with a specific purpose. This is because most people aren’t considering the whole picture. Hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate are actually two of the better anti-aging ingredients in the beauty industry. Let’s pause to consider the nature of aging. As you age, your skin thins are the supplies of collagen deplete and this leads to more stress being placed on the elastin as it tries to support what was once support by the collagen. The lessened amount of collagen leads to drier skin that in turn damages the elastin and makes the skin less able to snap back. Both of these contribute to various signs of aging, but especially to wrinkling. The hyaluronic acid ingredient family support the health of both collagen and elastin while providing the moisture necessary to help keep your skin youthful and firm. It is a wonderful ingredient for this very reason.

Despite many people forgetting hyaluronic acid’s place in skincare, it remains an excellent ingredient to see in any of your products. It doesn’t deserve being forgotten by comparison to its peers. Think about looking for moisturizers and anti-aging products that include either hyaluronic acid or sodium hyaluronate. Either one will be the signal to you that the maker of the product knows what they’re doing.

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