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What is hyaluronic acid and why is everyone talking about it?

Find out why hyaluronic acid is the latest love for the skincare savvy.

When it comes to products you put on your skin, anything with the word "acid" in it seems like something you should be avoiding. In the case of hyaluronic acid though, you're definitely going to want to slather it on. An increasingly popular ingredient in serums and moisturisers, the acid is both incredibly gentle and phenomenally helpful for all skin types.

We take a look at exactly what hyaluronic acid is, how to use it and all its skin-boosting benefits.

So, what is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is actually a naturally occurring substance found in connective tissue throughout the body, with 50 percent of it being found in the skin. It is a glycosaminoglycan, meaning that it plays a vital role in maintaining and supporting collagen and elastin, helping the fibres to retain moisture. As the skin ages, its ability to retain water lessens, resulting in dry, sagging skin as well as fine lines and wrinkles.

Applying hyaluronic acid to your skin will help to minimise these effects. With an amazing ability to hold 1,000 times its weight in water, this moisture-boosting molecule works to dramatically rehydrate the skin.

Which skin types is it best for?

Thanks to its super hydrating nature and anti-aging properties, hyaluronic acid is a great help to mature skin, but it can also be incredibly beneficial to all skin types. For those with sensitive or blemish-prone skin, the acid can give relief by helping to calm and protect the skin with its antioxidant properties.

It's also great for those who have oily or combination skin, even if your skin is oily, you still need to keep it hydrated. The lightweight formula of the acid has the ability to regulate the moisture in the cells, giving a boost of hydration without drowning the skin or adding excess oil.

Hyaluronic acid is also safe to use during pregnancy, although as with all new products, it's best to consult with a doctor before using.

Will it reduce signs of ageing?

As we age, the body's natural production of hyaluronic acid starts to slow. As the skin loses its ability to hold onto moisture, it also loses its plumpness, firmness and suppleness. Hyaluronic acid acts as a magnet, drawing moisture into the skin and helping your cells retain as much of it as possible. It also revitalises the skin's outer surface layers, making skin softer and smoother.

Whilst it cannot reverse the signs of ageing, hyaluronic acid can slow them down. The moisture surge can have a plumping effect which helps to greatly reduce the appearance of current fine lines and wrinkles, whilst also helping to slow the skin's ageing process.

What are the benefits?

As well as improving skin hydration and helping to slow down the signs of ageing, hyaluronic acid has a bunch of other advantages. By locking moisture into the skin, the skin is effectively plumped out and the texture greatly improved. The acid also helps with the production of collagen whilst maintaining skin elasticity, fighting free radicals and protecting the skin with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

How do you use it?

The most common way to use hyaluronic acid is to apply it topically, either on its own or through a serum or cream containing it. Used on its own, hyaluronic acid is not a great moisturiser. Whilst it has an amazing ability to attract and trap moisture in the skin, not using it correctly can actually make skin worse. So how do you use it properly?

First, apply hyaluronic acid to skin that is both clean and, ideally, damp (ie straight after a shower). This allows the acid to quickly lock in moisture before the water evaporates, leaving your skin feeling dry. Next, always ensure you follow your application with your favourite oil or moisturiser in order to give the acid something to attract into the skin and hold onto. Oils and moisturisers act as a final seal to hold all the moisture in your skin.

As with all new skincare products, you should start slow. Begin by applying it once a day and then, if you think your skin could benefit from additional hydration, apply it both morning and evening.

You can also look for serums, moisturisers or masks containing hyaluronic acid and apply them as normal.

NOTE: Whilst many products containing hyaluronic acid claim to have hydration benefits, the acid molecule itself is too large to penetrate the skin. Instead, it sits on the surface of the skin and can actually draw out moisture. Whilst this will make the surface of the skin temporarily hydrated, the deeper layers of skin will feel ever drier once the product is rinsed. To combat this, look for products with varying molecule weights to allow for multi-depth hydration. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2%, for instance, uses three forms of hyaluronic acid to avoid this, making it one of the most popular choices on the market.

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Which ingredients does hyaluronic acid work best with?

AHAs are acids that help aid the skin's shedding process. Whilst they are extremely helpful in promoting cell turnover and improving the skin's overall condition, they can also be incredibly drying to the skin. Using an AHA at night, followed by hyaluronic acid and a moisturiser or serum in the morning will let you reap all the benefits of AHAs without parching your skin.

The acid also works well with products containing Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which has been clinically proven to trigger collagen synthesis. Combining the two makes for a skincare routine that will work hard to prevent signs of ageing.

Where can you shop hyaluronic acid?

Top hyaluronic acid picks

THE ORDINARY - Hyaluronic acid 2% + B5 30 mL
THE ORDINARY - Hyaluronic acid 2% + B5 30 mL

Priceline

NIOD - Multi-molecular hyaluronic complex( 15ml )
NIOD - Multi-molecular hyaluronic complex( 15ml )

Cult Beauty

Clear skincare - Hyaluronic acid serum 15 mL
Clear skincare - Hyaluronic acid serum 15 mL

Priceline

 THE INKEY LIST - Hyaluronic acid serum
THE INKEY LIST - Hyaluronic acid serum

Cult Beauty

FORTE -  Hyaluronic acid triple effect moisure essence  50ml
FORTE - Hyaluronic acid triple effect moisure essence 50ml

StrawberryNET

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