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Friday, April 23, 2021

The Drawbacks of Hyaluronic Acid. Why It Is Not The Holy Grail of Skincare... #Beauty #Skincare #HyaluronicAcid #glycerin #polyglutamicacid #humectant

 The Drawbacks of Hyaluronic Acid. Why It Is Not The Holy Grail of Skincare...

Hyaluronic Acid (HA) serum is probably the most often buzzed about ingredient in skincare. If I have to hear about it one more time I will honestly throw up my arms in frustration. Dermatologists usually recommend it so much. It is in almost every skincare product. But really, what do we know about HA? Why do they recommend it? What is so special about it?

HA is a humectant. Check. Does it provide moisture to the skin? Check. Does it work better than other ingredients? Wait...not so much. Ah, now we are getting someplace. Hyaluronic acid does hold 1,000 times its own weight in water. That does make it a great way to hydrate the skin. So there is that great aspect to it

Hyaluronic acid is often touted by dermatologists and others in the beauty community as being the Holy Grail of all ingredients. Mainly for its ability to hydrate the skin, but to be sincere it's not all that special. HA is a good humectant. But what exactly is a humectant? A humectant is an ingredient that attracts water to the skin to hydrate it, plumping up the skin's layers, decreasing fine lines and wrinkles and smoothing the skin in general. HA does have different molecular weights that make it able to penetrate all the way down to the deepest layer of the epidermis (basal layer). I will grant that it does hydrate the skin, yet it is not the best humectant out there. 

The main problem with HA is that it is a large molecule and because of this it cannot penetrate below the epidermis, unlike other humectants that can. This molecule can be broken down into smaller molecular weights and penetrate into deeper levels of the epidermis but it still cannot penetrate past this point into the dermis (the second layer of skin). This makes this humectant somewhat ineffectual in hydrating the skin. 

However, there are better humectants out there. One of them would be glycerin. I often speak of glycerin as a better humectant. Darn it, I am in love with glycerin as a humectant. Especially for my dry skin. It is less expensive to produce, the molecule is smaller, thus it can penetrate into the dermis and it hydrates better overall. Another is polyglutamic acid (PGA). This peptide only penetrates to the epidermis but its molecule is smaller and it holds 5,000 its own weight in water! It hydrates significantly better than HA. These two seem tremendously better than HA alone, do they not? So what makes hyaluronic acid so popular? 

The popularity of HA lies in its ability to actually hydrate the skin quickly and efficiently at the epidermal level. Plumping up the skin and lessening fine lines and wrinkles; HA helps keep the skin hydrated and is a good humectant/anti-aging ingredient. However, it would not be my first choice all the time. Ideally I would choose other ingredients over it because I like their ability to penetrate deeper into the epidermis and dermis. Ultimately I would choose something that has two humectants in it. Something that hydrates both the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin stands a better chance of making the skin look and feel better. This way fine lines and wrinkles would lessen and dehydration would decrease too. 

Humectants are important for any skin type. The ability for skin to draw in missing moisture is essential. Skin has a natural moisture barrier that is often compromised and is in need of hydration to keep it acting at peak capacity and to prevent dehydration. Dehydrated skin looks shiny but not oily, almost like it is wrapped in saran wrap. Problems arise when skin becomes dehydrated. The skin doesn't take in skincare products as easily, skin becomes more irritated, it can become sensitive and finally, it takes about a month or longer for the skin to repair itself when skin is dehydrated. When we are younger, the skin takes about 28 days to renew itself but this slows down to up to 70 days when we get older! That alone would make me want to keep my skin in tip top shape. Skin often becomes dehydrated when people use too many exfoliants, when it gets burned from the sun, or when the winter cold gets to it. Then the natural moisture barrier becomes compromised and it needs time to heal, Imagine waiting 70 days for this? This is one reason I always recommend keeping a good skincare regimen with lots of hydrators for anti-aging. 

Glycerin should be the HOLY GRAIL of humectants. And if you look in your skincare products you will find that glycerin is likely in many of your products. In moisturizers it is usually the 2nd or 3rd ingredient. One product I particularly like is a serum with a lot of glycerin in it. Kiehl's makes a wonderful glycerin based serum that works wonders in hydrating the skin, Hydro-Plumping  Hydrating Serum ($60.00). I adore this serum! It contains a whopping 15% glycerin. Very hydrating for normal, dry and mature skin, this serum smooths and hydrates the skin leaving it feeling like silk. As for PGA, The Inkey List makes a great serum with polyglutamic acid that leaves skin looking and feeling very hydrated and smooth, Polyglutamic Acid Serum ($14.99). This serum contains 3% PGA. It hydrates and smooths the skin much better than HA.

Kiehl's Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum

The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Serum

I am not saying you shouldn't have hyaluronic acid in your arsenal of skincare products. Just don't rely on only this one ingredient. What I am implying is that do some diligent research and make sure to include other ingredients that work better as well. Ingredients do matter. And percentages matter too. Ingredients are always listed in the percentage that they are included in the formula. You will find that ingredients are listed from ascending to descending order, with the amount below 1% listed in any order (but usually still listed in that same ascending to descending order). Certain humectants can only work according to how far their molecules can reach down in the skin's levels. Your best bet is to go with the one that works the deepest, as that one will hydrate the best. And those ingredients are glycerin or polyglutamic acid. Don't give up on hyaluronic acid though. Try and use a couple of humectants if your skin is very dehydrated. Skin needs to be coddled at times. It tends to be finicky, unfortunately. 

Hopefully this has been helpful and you learned something from the above information. Please let me know if you have any questions. My email address is mariepapachatzis@gmail.com

Until Next Time~

Marie Papachatzis

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