Since hyaluronic acid seems to be everywhere, from fillers to over-the-counter topical beauty products, it’s a good idea to learn more about it. Find out what it is, how it works, and if it’s a good pick for you.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Despite its name, hyaluronic acid (HA) isn’t actually an acid. It won’t help exfoliate your skin like glycolic or salicylic acid. It’s actually a polysaccharide. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s a type of sugar.
Your body naturally produces HA. It helps to keep your skin looking plump and soft when you’re younger. It also lubricates your joints and helps your eyes retain their shape.
Like pretty much every other substance naturally produced by the body, HA levels start to drop as you get older. Compare the plump, soft skin of a baby or toddler to the somewhat dry and crepey skin of a 40-year-old. This is what happens when HA levels drop.
How Is Hyaluronic Acid Used?
Part of what makes HA so appealing as a skincare and anti-aging ingredient is that it attracts water. The sugary substance not only draws water to itself, it can also retain up to 1,000 times its weight in water. That can be both a plus and a minus, as we’ll discuss below.
For years, the most effective way to take advantage of the anti-aging, skin-renewing effects of HA was by having it directly injected into the skin. The makers of injectable fillers created a variety of different formulations of gels containing HA. For example, there are several variations of Juvederm available. Each form has a different purpose.
Juvderm Ultra Plus XC helps to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, particularly the nasolabial folds. Meanwhile, Juvederm Voluma contains a thicker, more viscous form of HA. It is the first filler FDA approved to add volume to the cheeks. Finally, Juvederm Volbella is an HA filler that has been specially formulated to add volume to the lips. It contains a lower concentration of HA compared to other fillers. It also produces a more natural-looking result.
Originally, the best way to take advantage of HA was by injecting it. HA molecules were initially too large to be absorbed by the skin when applied topically. But advances in technology have improved HA, making it small enough for the skin to absorb it. The effects from topical HA are much shorter-lasting than the effects from injected HA.
Is Hyaluronic Acid Better Than Other Ingredients?
HA isn’t necessarily better than other filler or injectable ingredients. It isn’t necessarily better than other ingredients found in skincare products either. It’s just different. For example, you wouldn’t expect Juvederm or a similar filler to replace Botox, since the two injections are designed to treat different types of wrinkles.
Whether HA is “better” for you than other options depends in large part on your goals. If you’re hoping to get instant, long-lasting volume in the cheek or lip area, Juvederm fillers might be a better bet than options that provide results gradually or that wear off within a few months. Whether an HA filler is a better option for you than Botox or a filler like Radiesse depends on the type of wrinkles you’re treating and how deep they are.
Are There Disadvantages of Hyaluronic Acid?
In some cases, the fact that HA is a humectant, meaning it attracts water, can actually work against it, at least when it’s used topically. Applying a lotion or serum that contains HA and going out into a humid environment can help draw moisture towards your skin.
But if you apply a topical skincare product with HA and you’re in a dry environment, the product might have the opposite effect. Instead of pulling in moisture from the air around you, the HA might start pulling whatever moisture is left in your skin. Your skin is likely to feel dry and tight as a result.
Dr. Paul Vitenas offers patients a variety of fillers containing HA at Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique, in Houston, Texas. To learn more about the ingredient and your filler options, call 281-810-9083 to schedule a consultation today.