Getting Under the Skin of Hyaluronic Acid
Never has the age-old saying “beauty comes from within” bore as much truth as it does in the modern-day beauty and cosmetics industry. The growth in shopper demand for products providing more than just skin-deep beauty has shaken up the UK’s £27 billion beauty sector (Finder UK, 2019), with a growing number of companies launching a new hybrid of skin products “cosmeceuticals”. Unlike traditional cosmetics which just coat the skin, cosmeceuticals are becoming widely popular for their application of natural elements in chemical formulas to facilitate molecular change.
One substance making serious waves within the cosmeceutical space is hyaluronic acid (HA): a molecule scientists credit with reducing loss of moisture in the skin
Naturally produced by the body, it presents as a transparent viscous liquid and is beneficial for improving joints as well as skin. As we age, levels of our organically produced hyaluronic acid in the skin drop and the size of the molecule decreases, leaving us with less skin elasticity and rustier joints. This need state is often treated with topical applications of moisturisers to mask the issue however none address the root cause.
So, are cosmeceutical formulas the only way to supplement a lack of HA?
Absolutely not – in fact, there are merits to the oral consumption of HA through tablet or powder form and as part of food or drink. Some early studies have shown that 7 days after continuous oral administration of HA, around 8.8% is absorbed by the body. If stacked with collagen, the effect of HA is magnified and there are claims that oral consumption can increase the availability of synovial fluid, reduce inflammation and improve joints, particularly in degenerative arthritis.
From a food and drink development standpoint the most accessible platforms include drinks, jelly, dairy and gels. In the supplement category, tablets or liquids usually combine HA with collagen, chondroitin sulphate, vitamins or glucosamine.
Consuming hyaluronic acid via these oral methods is also consistent with how bodily-made HA is naturally designed to work; absorbed by the skin inside-out. The acid alone consists of molecules too large to penetrate the mid-level skin (dermis) externally, hence why the initial foray of scientifically engineered HA into cosmetics has been successful with injectable treatments such as dermal fillers and Profhilo.
Undeniably, HA loves hydration but a word of warning to any interested parties with spectacularly dry skin; this love knows no bounds.
Like a magnet, these molecules will draw moisture from the deepest realms of the dermis potentially leaving your skin irritated and dry. For this reason, it is essential to always use HA in conjunction with a moisturiser; a task made easy with synergistic serums from brands such as L’Oréal Paris and Glossier.
Outward application of the acid has also been found to slightly hinders its’ effectiveness. Because of this, cosmeceutical companies have developed formulas which use HA as a protective barrier that sits on the surface level of skin (epidermis) to absorb the smaller molecules of added hydrating elements that can seep deeper into the skin. Effectively, if the molecular structure of cosmeceuticals were a netball team; HA would be goal defence.
Marine hyaluronics are the newest evolution of HA
Labelled as a “lightweight alternative” (Cult Beauty, 2020) to its’ predecessor, brands such as The Ordinary are even using Hawaiian red and blue-green algae bacterial extracts to enhance the product performance without leaving the sticky residue sometimes found with standard HA.
A marriage between nature and science
Hyaluronic acid has been embraced by the cosmeceutical market who no doubt sees its’ diverse target range as its’ most profitable asset. If it’s to replenish elasticity lost as we’ve aged or help smoothen the snow-capped acne mountains of adolescence, HA is a pioneering element in beauty products we’re going to be seeing more of both in health and beauty as well as food, drink and nutritional supplements. If you would like discuss hyaluronic acid products with our team, please contact us today.