Hyaluronic acid, also known as HA, is a compound found in anti-aging skin-care products. The substance also occurs naturally in the skin, although levels decrease as a person ages. HA functions as part of the skin matrix, helping to maintain structure in the skin. Once past the peak production of HA in the body, typically in late adolescence or early adulthood, wrinkles and fine lines begin to appear on the skin surface.
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Skin products intended to reduce wrinkles or fine lines often use hyaluronic acid. The idea behind using HA in skin care products is that it can replace the natural HA lost due to aging. HA also makes an effective moisturizer, as it can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. HA skin-care products are also used to combat inflammation and skin irritation.
Products With HA
Topical products with hyaluronic acid are applied directly to the skin surface. Some makeup products, such as eye shadow, blush, foundation and lip gloss, also contain HA, which can be combined with other moisturizing or anti-aging ingredients or used on its own. Injectable fillers aim to send the HA into the dermal layer directly. Because it is not allergenic, HA is considered safer than many other anti-wrinkle ingredients.
Hyaluronic acid comes in different sizes. Large-chain HA, with a length of 500,000 daltons or more, may reduce inflammation and protect the skin. Small HA molecules, under 20,000 daltons, stimulate wound healing and actually increase the inflammation response. Most skincare products with HA contain the large-chain HA molecules.
The use of hyaluronic acid as a moisturizer may backfire under dry conditions. If the air is too dry, HA may pull moisture from the skin to compensate. The effectiveness of HA as an anti-wrinkle agent remains unestablished. According to Smart Skin Care, the chains of HA used in anti-wrinkle products may be too large to effectively penetrate the skin and travel to the dermis where they would be most effective.
More Skin Help
For topical wrinkle treatments, collagen-stimulating peptides may be a more effective alternative. Other ingredients that can fight fine lines and wrinkles include alpha-hydroxy acids, retinol, DMAE, alpha-lipoic acid, idebenone and L-ascorbic acid. Vitamin E, glycerin and alpha-hydroxy acids are alternative effective moisturizing ingredients.