When people learn that I am a Cosmetic Scientist, the first question I’m asked is usually something like this: “How can I stay looking young forever?” Now, I may not have the secret to nevershowing signs of aging (if you do, shoot me a message asap), but I typically respond with, “Have you heard of hyaluronic acid”. Instantly they’d say, “Acid? That sounds scary.” Well, it doesn’t have to be.


If you want a glowing, plumped and hydrated complexion, then hyaluronic acid is your best friend. However, to understand hyaluronic acid, we must first understand hydration but to understand hydration, we must know about the skin. Our skin is broken into three layers: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The epidermis, the outermost layer, is further subdivided into more layers. Of these, it is the stratum corneum that is most considered because it regulates the movement of water and varying substances – a function that is crucial for survival. If we were to look at the stratum corneum under a microscope, it would look like a brick wall, or a ‘brick and mortar’ as it is called – where the bricks are the dead skin cells, and the mortar is the intercellular matrix (i.e. sebum). This structure keeps the good things in, like water, and keeps the bad things out, like bacteria. Imagine if we were to have holes in our brick wall, then there can be free movement of substances, therefore compromising the skin’s health. 


So how does hyaluronic acid play into this, and how can it benefit you? Firstly, hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring humectant that helps to moisturize the body. Think of hyaluronic acid like a sponge where it attracts and retains water. If you’re a skincare junkie like I am, I’m sure you would have heard that hyaluronic acid retains 1000 times its weight in water. Unfortunately however, as we age and are affected by environmental aggressors, the way we produce and distribute hyaluronic acid throughout the body changes. As a result of this, the signs of aging, like dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, become more apparent. Fortunately for us, and the women who ask me “How can I stay looking young forever”, we can apply hyaluronic acid topically in the form of serums and creams. Similarly, if you are not opposed to needles, then hyaluronic acid can be injected. In either case, you can expect a smoother, brighter complexion and improvements in the appearance of firmness and plumpness. Studies have shown that topical application of hyaluronic acid have led to a decrease in the appearance of wrinkles and improved skin elasticity. Furthermore, it proved effective in treating dermal irritations like seborrheic dermatitis. 


Within continued clinical research, scientists were able to develop different forms of hyaluronic acid – these being its salts, sodium hyaluronate and potassium hyaluronate. These are of lower molecular weight, meaning they are smaller and therefore can more easily penetrate more deeply into the skin layers, allowing for deeper moisturization.


As a skincare super ingredient, hyaluronic acid, and its salts, can benefit any and everyone. Moreover, it can be used all year round, both day and night. However, be mindful of the humidity because when humidity is low, hyaluronic acid can have the opposite of the desired effect – instead, the skin can become dry and cracked. To prevent this, simply add a nourishing cream on top to seal in moisture. The most important property of hyaluronic acids and its salts is that they are safe to use.  They are non-toxic, non-immunogenic, and typically do not cause any adverse effects. However, if you are particularly sensitive, always do a patch test before use. 


Shop some of our favourite hyaluronic acid products


The Ordinary, Hyaluronic Acid Serum


Foreo, Hyaluronic Acid-Infused Mask




Words by Christal McLennan & Image Glossier