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Hyaluronic Acid Skin Benefits: Why Use It?

There's a lot of buzz on hyaluronic acid in skin care, but what is it and why use it? Here's the scoop on its skin benefits, plus my top moisturizer picks!

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What does hyaluronic acid really do for your skin? I went to a medical spa recently for a treatment, and the staff was really trying to sell me on some expensive hyaluronic acid serum. I didn’t buy any because I do my own product research before buying new skincare products, but it did put hyaluronic acid on my mind. I wanted to find out if I really should be using hyaluronic acid (HA), and what types of HA products are best. But first we need to know…

What is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occuring molecule found in many parts of our bodies, but most of it is found in our skin. HA is known for being able to retain large amounts of water, which is why hyaluronic acid is key in skin moisture. HA can hold about 1000x its weight in water!

As we know, skin aging includes the loss of moisture. There are actually two types of skin aging, according to this article published in Dermato-Endocrinology. Intrinsic skin aging involves the natural aging process all of our internal organs go through. Extrinsic skin aging includes damage from external factors, mostly UV damage from the sun. According to the article, aging skin is marked by a significant reduction of epidermal HA. This aging process leads to dreaded skin wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and dryness.

Hyaluronic Acid Skin Benefits

HA can visibly make your skin look plumper, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. HA also helps restore your skin’s protective barrier, which protects your skin from external damage. Along the same line, HA helps your skin heal faster, which is beneficial for healing acne scars. HA even contains antioxidant properties to help fight UV damage. Yay for fewer wrinkles!

Speaking of that, did you know some dermal injectable fillers such as Juvéderm and Restylane consist of HA? So HA can not only help your skin appear plumper and smoother from the outside but from the inside as well! If you’re curious, these are some other interesting and unexpected uses for injectable fillers (in case you want to ask next time you’re at the derm’s office, wink wink).

On top of all that, I love hyaluronic acid because it’s acne and oily skin friendly. It’s so important to moisturize so your skin doesn’t get dehydrated. Otherwise, your skin will try to compensate and produce even more oil. I learned this the hard way when my acne was at its worst…I looked like an oil slick all the time!

What to Look for in Hyaluronic Acid Products

Naturally, if your skin is being depleted of HA as you age, you’d think that you need to replace it somehow. Hyaluronic acid serums and moisturizers are a great addition to your skincare routine. I love these HA products because they’re often oil-free formulations that feel light on the skin but still deliver a ton of moisture!

When choosing an HA skincare product, you may see sodium hyaluronate on the ingredient list. This is a form of hyaluronic acid that is more easily absorbed.

Another thing to look for is the percentage of HA the product claims to have. Some claim to be 100% hyaluronic acid- but this simply means it’s 100% HA solution. An HA solution will contain at most 2% pure hyaluronic acid, while 98% of the solution is water. So basically 100% HA is a solution of water and a small percentage of HA. You only want a small concentration of HA anyway, because too much will actually DRY your skin out, according to this article. Just something to be aware of when you’re shopping around.

You can choose from a hyaluronic acid serum to apply under your moisturizer to give your skin extra hydration, or you can buy a moisturizer formulated with hyaluronic acid.

Top Picks for Hyaluronic Acid Skin Care Products

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Hyaluronic Acid Gel Moisturizer

This is my favorite drugstore brand moisturizer, and it’s oil-free and alcohol-free. If you have oily skin, but are looking for a good winter time moisturizer, check this out. It’s hydrating without making your skin greasy. I don’t use up all my skin care products that often because I change them frequently, but I finished a whole jar of this easily!

OZ Naturals Hyaluronic Acid Serum

I looked at several hyaluronic acid serums on Amazon and ended up choosing this one because of the ingredients. It doesn’t contain harmful preservatives like phenoxyethanol and is cold pressed for higher product potency. It also contains antioxidants Vitamin C and E, green tea extract, and rose hip extract! The reviewers say it gives your skin a great glow, doesn’t cause breakouts, and is great under makeup!

Paula's Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster

Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster

I know I can depend on Paula’s Choice for a no-nonsense, fragrance-free formulation that is effective. I like the versatile formulation of this product because you just have to mix a few drops of this hyaluronic acid liquid-gel into your moisturizer to get an extra boost of moisture. So easy!

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LANEIGE - Water Bank Moisture CreamLaneige Water Bank Moisture Cream

Laneige’s moisturizers are generally pretty awesome. I’m currently working on the eye gel version of their Water Bank moisturizer line, but I might have to pick up some of this moisturizer to round out my set. It contains hyaluronic acid, as well as essential minerals zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and sodium “to help replenish and retain ideal hydration levels, preventing future moisture loss.”

Peter Thomas Roth Get Drenched Water Drench Cloud set

Peter Thomas Roth Get Drenched!: Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Set

I think this set is a fantastic value and a great way to sample a variety of PTR’s hyaluronic acid products. It includes their Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum, Water Drench Cloud Cream Cleanser, and Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream. They boast hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and antioxidants to combat skin aging. I also like that they are fragrance-free and you can layer the serum and moisturizer depending how dry your skin is.

Looking for other great moisturizer options for oily skin? Check out my post on the top moisturizers for oily skin.