What on Earth is Hyaluronic Acid? (And Why Should You Care?)

This tried-and-true moisturizing skincare ingredient is as one-size-fits-all as you can find, i.e. it works for every skin type (even oily!).

| March 5th, 2015

Read any article about skincare and you’ll no doubt see praise for products having hyaluronic acid in the formula. And that’s where the explanation ends.

So what exactly is the stuff? And why do you want it?

Hyaluronic acid may not be the newest or flashiest ingredient out there, but it’s tried and true and seriously good for your skin. First off, don’t let the word “acid” fool you. Hyaluronic acid isn’t harsh or skin-stripping at all. In fact, it’s the exact opposite—a powerful humectant (aka moisture-binding ingredient) that keeps skin plump and hydrated and, yes, young-looking.

“Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide (carbohydrate) in the human body,” explains Arielle Kauvar, M.D., director of New York Laser and Skin Care. “It’s present in large amounts in the spaces between skin cells, where it provides moisture, plumpness, firmness and suppleness to the skin. It’s also present in the eyes and in the joint spaces, where it acts as a lubricant and ‘shock absorber.’ ”

Know how a baby’s skin always looks so deliciously dewy and pillowy? It’s because babies are born with a high level of hyaluronic acid, which keeps their skin plump and smooth. Unfortunately, your body produces less and less hyaluronic acid over time. “The amount of hyaluronic acid in skin diminishes with age, most significantly after age 40,” notes Dr. Kauvar.

While you’re never going to get back that perfectly dewy baby-skin, it is possible to help restore the skin’s hyaluronic acid content and give grown-up skin a younger, fresher, more supple look. The best news is you can simply use a serum or moisturizer or targeted spot treatment that contains hyaluronic acid.

StriVectinLABS Anti-Wrinkle Hydra Gel Treatment combines the power of hyaluronic acid with anti-aging technology NIA-114 to treat specific spots that need serious smoothing and plumping. Instead of paying for pricey fillers, these potent (pain-free) patches instantly plump and smooth fine lines and wrinkles for a fraction of the cost, and in the comfort of your own home.

Common areas that need extra attention include the lines that run from the corners of your nose to the corners of your mouth (“nasolabial folds” as they’re called by dermatologists) or the hollows under your eyes (“tear troughs” in derm-speak).

“Even though hyaluronic acid is a relatively large molecule, when you apply it topically it penetrates the dead cell layer (stratum corneum) and permeates the skin,” says Dr. Kauvar. “It increases hydration, improves elasticity and also reverses free radical damage, so it may have some benefit in protecting from UV damage.”

Bonus? Hyaluronic acid is one ingredient that works across the board. “Every skin type, even oily, can benefit,” says New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D. “Apply it alone if you have oily skin or under moisturizer if you have dry skin. It works well with acne medications, anti-aging products and sunscreens.”

A one-size-fits-all solution to wrinkles? Sign us up!

Want more effective, at-home dermatology tips? Head over to our DIY Dermatology hub.

This post is sponsored by StriVectinLABS.

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