What Is Hyaluronic Acid And How Does It Work?

Hyaluronic Acid. Sounds scary, but secretly holds the key to smooth, flawless and hydrated skin.

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Hyaluronic Acid. To the less beauty savvy, it may sound like something you don't want to put anywhere near your face (we all took chemistry lessons at school, just sayin...).

But, what if we told you that it actually holds the key to smooth, flawless and hydrated skin?

In fact, our own cells actually produce Hyaluronic Acid naturally in a bid to maintain moisture levels. But, thanks to pesky ageing and environmental aggressors, to name just a few things flung at our faces on a daily basis, those levels tend to take a bit of a dip.

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Cue sensitivity, dullness, fine lines and uneven tone and texture. Need we go on?

'HA (hyaluronic acid) is critical in maintaining skin hydration,' says Aesthetic Doctor, Dr. Maryam Zamani, 'although it can be degraded by free radical mechanisms caused by things like UV exposure. Topically applied, it helps to hydrate the skin and maintain this hydration as a humectant.'

ELLE Glossary: Humectant (hyoo/meck/tant): a substance used to reduce the loss of moisture.

Sounds pretty great, right? Well, here's everything you need to know about the hero skincare ingredient that is hyaluronic acid and exactly why you should be slotting it into your regular beautifying routine. That is, if you haven't already.

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

'Hyaluronic Acid (which you might find hiding on the labels of some of your skincare products as HA), is naturally occurring in the human body,' says Dia Foley of Indeed Labratories. The substance works as a magnet for moisture, helping your cells retain as much of it as possible so that your skin feels and appears hydrated, plump and healthy.

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Now for the science-y bit. Just a single gram of Hyaluronic Acid has the impressive ability to hold up to six (yep, six) litres of water. Add to that, a super smart ability to regulate that moisture within the cells, so as not to drown them and you've got one genius ingredient.

Why Is Hyaluronic Acid So Good For The Skin?

If your skin isn't already lapping up the benefits of Hyaluronic Acid, this is why it should be:

1. If skin is sufficiently hydrated, it feels super-soft, plump and pillowy and looks so much more radiant. See ya, Insta-filter.

2. When skin is hydrated, lines and wrinkles (even the deeper ones) appear diminished, so it is a great ingredient for those with ageing skin who are desperate to cling on to their youthful perkiness.

3. It works wonders on everyone. 'Hyaluronic Acid works for any skin type, says Dia Foley, 'even sensitive or breakout-prone skin, as well as those with an oily complexion.'

4. Recent research suggests that Hyaluronic Acid also has antioxidant properties, which means it can act like a shield against free radicals we aren't in control of, like pollution and other aggressors.

Is Hyaluronic Acid Safe?

Yep!

Don't be put off by the name, because, unlike some acids, Hyaluronic Acid doesn't strip the skin or cause any downtime when applied topically.

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'It is different than other acids which are used to exfoliate,' mentions Dr. Zamani. A natural and powerful moisture-binding substance, it delivers gentle hydration to where your skin needs it the most.

How Do I Know If My Skin Needs More Hyaluronic Acid?

If You're Worried About Ageing:

As we age, the amount of Hyaluronic Acid our skin cells produce begins to lessen and cell turnover can become sluggish - this is is when lines, wrinkles and rough texture tend to make their debut.

So, if you want to maintain your youthful glow, incorporating Hyaluronic Acid into your anti-ageing skincare routine is definitely a good idea.

'Skin moisture can drop significantly as we age, says Indeed Laboratories' Dia, something which Dr. Zamani seconds. 'This makes the skin lose elasticity and expose the signs of ageing on the skin. But Hyaluronic Acid acts as the ultimate drink for your skin,' Dia says.

If Your Skin Is Dehydrated:

Different to dry skin, dehydrated skin can be peppered with lines and wrinkles and has the tendency to look dull. It also often feels rough, tight and sensitive which is where Hyaluronic Acid comes in.

'It is exceptional as it has the ability to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water,' mentions Dr. Zamani, so it keeps moisture on lock-down, quenching parched patches instantly and cumulatively throughout the day.

The Hyaluronic Acid Skincare Products You Need In Your Life

Best Hyaluronic Acid Cleanser

Don't let the word 'foamy' put you off. Thanks to the added Hyaluronic Acid in Bio Essence's cleanser, your skin feels hydrated almost instantly, making any serums or moisturisers you apply afterwards a bonus, not a necessity.

Massage over your face for up to a minute to really drench your skin.

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Bio Essence Hydra Tri-Action Foamy Cleanser, £12

Best Hyaluronic Acid Face Mask

Teoxane's sheet mask boasts RHA (Resilient Hyaluronic Acid - a type of Hyaluronic Acid that is much more effective at hydrating long term) which switches on your skin's interior water valve to flood thirsty skin cells with moisture for a youthful 'bounce-back' effect.

Worth looking a bit silly for a few minutes.

Teoxane Hydrogel Mask, £42

Best Hyaluronic Acid Eye Cream

The Hyaluronic Acid hit in this Zelens offering cleverly stalls the skin's natural ageing process so you can say laters to the crows feet. Those in search of an even bigger Hyaluronic Acid hit will fall head-over-heels for Mario Badescu's eye cream which has a huge cult following.

Zelens Triple Action Advanced Eye Cream, £75

Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream, £15

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Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Beauty obsessives rarely leave The Ordinary's London Spitalfields store without stockpiling the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5.

Instead of drawing water out of the skin for temporary surface hydration, it boasts three forms of Hyaluronic Acid in varying molecular weights which reach the cells at deeper levels. The pocket-friendly price-tag is the icing on the cake.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.90

Can't get your hands on it? Try the Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Boost Serum, £24.99 that provides an intense flood of hydration in next to no time.

Best Hyaluronic Acid Moisturiser

With a gel-like texture, this oil-free moisturiser absorbs in seconds to plump up sad looking skin.

Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Moisture Cushion, £52

Best Hyaluronic Acid Body Hydrator

This clear liquid may look pretty humble but the targeted formula boasts a powerhouse of ingredients, including moisture magnet Hyaluronic Acid, to restore hydration to even the most parched of skin cells.

Ditch the thick body lotion - this takes mere seconds to absorb so you can get dressed straight away.

Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Body Mist, £17

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Best Hyaluronic Acid Lip Product

Yep, Hyaluronic Acid works wonders to smooth and plump lips, too.

Fillerina's new and improved Lip Volume Grade 3 (which has a fan in model Jourdan Dunn) swaps needles for a pain-free roller ball that distributes a team of six different molecular weights of Hyaluronic Acid over the lips to lend them a pillowy, supple feel.

Fillerina Lip Volume Grade 3, £75

If you're looking for a multitasker, advanced skincare specialist and facialist Debbie Thomas rates Fillerina's HA packed Eye and Lip Treatment, £45 for expertly smoothing fine lines.

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