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In the last few years, skin care products containing hyaluronic acid have been on the rise. Anti-aging campaigns boast the use of this miracle formula in every type of product on the market. Eye and face creams, gel moisturizers, and even make-up products are loaded with this “age-defying” product. Below I have listed some information about hyaluronic acid and how you should use it in your skincare routine. If you would like to skip ahead to the recipe for hyaluronic acid serum, click here.
Hyaluronic acid is not actually an acid at all. It is a chain of sugar molecules that naturally occur in the body’s connective tissues and mucous fluids. It can hold 1000 times its weight in water, which means that it can aid in anti-aging by retaining moisture in the skin. Doctors have found success with hyaluronic acid derivatives for burn victims and it is available in pill form as a nutritional supplement for bone and joint health. Injectable fillers, like Restylane and Juvederm, use hyaluronic acid to plump wrinkles and can provide volume in the lips and face.
The type of hyaluronic acid in your skin care product is important to understand before you introduce it into your skincare regiment. Applying hyaluronic acid in a cream or serum will never compare to the effects of an injectable filler. Skincare marketers like to compare their products to injectables, making claims like “better than Botox” or “no more needles”. While there are many benefits to using topical creams to prevent and treat fine lines and wrinkles, applying something on top of your skin will not freeze it like Botox or give you the filling effects of a filler.
Hyaluronic acid falls under the category of a humectant. Similar to humectants like glycerin and honey, hyaluronic acid brings moisture to the skin by binding with water molecules. It does this by either pulling moisture from the air or strengthening the ability of the top layer of skin to absorb water. Because of this, hyaluronic acid works best if it is used with an occlusive agent or a moisturizer that traps water into the skin. If you are using hyaluronic acid as a serum and you live in a dry climate, keep this in mind. If there is not enough water for the hyaluronic acid to pull from the environment, then it will bind with water molecules from the bottom layers of your skin and possibly dehydrate your skin.
Hyaluronic acid, like any other product that you will apply to your skin, has a molecular structure that you can compare to your skin’s pore size. If a formula is larger than your skin on a molecular level, then it is not able to penetrate your skin’s pores.
People often misuse the term “clog my pores” when they are referring to anything that they apply to their skin that causes them to break out.
This large molecular structure is a beneficial characteristic of certain emollients or oil-based products, but when you are trying to retain moisture into your skin, a product that simply sits on top of your skin will not be effective. For this reason, many hyaluronic acid creams use a salt derivative called Sodium Hyaluronate. This derivate is basically hyaluronic acid that has had its fats, proteins, and other parts of the cell removed in order to make the molecules small enough to penetrate the skin (Source).
Yes! Now that you know what hyaluronic acid is and what ingredients to look for, you can make your own at home with just a few ingredients. Combining Sodium Hyaluronate powder with water will make a serum, however there are a few ingredients that you can add to improve the formula. I do not add glycerin to my formula, as it irritates my skin. If you would like to add it, you can use it as an equal substitute for the aloe.
To create a 1% solution you will need:
The mixture will “gel” together as it sits in the refrigerator. You can continue to shake it if you notice any powder that has not dissolved in the water mixture. Store this in the refrigerator for up to a month.
I use this twice a day– in the morning after my vitamin c serum and before my daily moisturizer. At night, I use it after my retinol serum and before my night cream.