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Beauty Buzzwords: Hyaluronic Acid

What if we told you your body produces one of the more powerful anti-aging ingredients found in today’s skin care? Hyaluronic acid (HA) works on many levels, all of them moisture related: It regulates cell renewal, attracts and holds vast amounts of moisture, lubricates connective tissues and joints, and maintains skin’s moisture and elasticity.

A polysaccharide that occurs naturally in the human body, it’s the workhorse of hydration — and claims about this ingredient are easy to back up.

The Benefits

As we age our skin becomes more dehydrated, due in part to the breakdown of our own natural hyaluronic acid. As skin dries out, firmness and pliability decrease, and wrinkles and sagging begin. That’s where HA as a skin care ingredient swoops in: Its intense moisture-retention abilities (1 gram of HA can hold up to 6 liters of water) mean it does a stellar job of providing and locking in hydration, helping repair your skin’s moisture barrier while delivering instant skin plumping and smoothing.

Though HA is a hydration-holding powerhouse, what is truly unique is that it can deliver just the right amount of moisture to skin without going overboard (which can be a problem in itself). And because the body naturally produces HA, it’s agreeable to all skin types, including sensitive skin; has complexion-calming qualities; makes a preferable alternative to synthetic ingredients; and is less likely to be rejected by your body as a foreign substance (which is important with injectables).

The Best Bets

For a while, HA’s molecular weight was such that it couldn’t fully penetrate the outer layers of the skin to fill in wrinkles and provide hydration below the skin’s surface when applied topically. But science has figured out a way to bioengineer HA, reducing its molecular weight while maintaining its hydrating qualities, so engineered HA can penetrate the skin for improved efficacy.

Serums and sprays containing HA (such as SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier and Derma E Hydrating Mist) are popular topical panaceas for providing hydration to skin, but if you’re looking to take HA’s plumping benefits a step further, you can try a new-to-the-U.S. product called Fillerina. It’s one step removed from injectables, such as Botox and Juvéderm, and uses HA molecules to temporarily fill fine lines and wrinkles without needles.

Photo: Leonori

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