Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a must-have skincare product because of its proven ability to hydrate the skin effectively. This humectant is a naturally occurring sugar molecule in the skin that binds to water, provides hydration, and helps “plump” up the skin giving it the look of “fullness” – think of a dewy, natural glow effect.
Although HA can be found naturally in almost every cell in the body, it is found in the most significant concentrations (nearly 50%) in the skin. It is found in the deep underlying dermis and the top layers of the epidermis. HA attracts and binds water to the skin. It keeps the skin looking smooth, youthful, and vibrant. Young skin is smooth and elastic and contains large amounts of HA. With age, the ability of the skin to produce HA decreases; furthermore, HA has a short “shelf-life” in the skin, naturally turning over or degrading within 24 hours; this time frame slows down with age resulting in skin that appears rough, dry, and flaky.
Why size matters when it comes to HA
In addition to being an essential ingredient in topical skincare products, HA is also the critical ingredient in injectable fillers that Dermatologists, Plastic Surgeons, and other licensed medical professionals use to provide facial volume and smooth, deeper expression lines for their patients.
An essential distinction between injectable and topical hyaluronic acids is size. The injectable hyaluronic acids vary in size but typically have a higher molecular weight (they can be enormous – 2 million Daltons or more!). Further, many HA fillers are “cross-linked” or joined together to enable longer-lasting volume in the skin, making them even more significant and only deliverable by injection.
For the best outcomes with injectable fillers, injectors often reach for a combination of filler products to deliver different-sized HA to targeted areas of the skin (deep wrinkles versus superficial ones, for example).
Anything over 500 Daltons will likely sit on top of the skin if not intentionally delivered to its target. However, with targeted technologies, HA can be delivered topically to intended targets on the skin’s surface for supple, glowing, and resilient skin.
And while topical skincare products will never be able to deliver the results of injectable procedures conducted by trained professionals, topicals can take inspiration from the multi-faceted approach, combining multiple sizes of HA to plump and hydrate the different layers of the skin. Pairing injectable HA with topical HA can produce beautiful, complimentary results for improved patient outcomes.
Topical HA is suitable, well-tolerated, and beneficial for most skin types, not just aging skin.
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