It’s one of the most hydrating ingredients, but if misused, hyaluronic acid can actually dry out your skin. Here’s what you need to know.
When it comes to skincare, there's one particular ingredient that gets a lot of love: hyaluronic acid. You've likely read a dozen or two articles hailing its superpower abilities, seen a commercial or product launch featuring the buzzy ingredients or maybe you've even bought a serum because it contains hyaluronic acid.
For the uninitiated, hyaluronic acid is a humectant (meaning it helps reduce the loss of moisture) that can hold up to a thousand times its own weight in water. Why that's important is that hyaluronic acid helps bind water to collagen, in turn keeping your skin supple, elastic and youthful-looking. When used in skincare products like creams and serums, hyaluronic acid brings moisture to the surface of your skin. While we already have natural levels of hyaluronic acid in our skin, it slowly depletes as we age. With lower levels of HA, our skin’s ability to retain water is reduced, thus resulting in wrinkles, fine lines and loss of pliability. So not only is hyaluronic acid a major player in keeping your skin hydrated, but it's also touted as an anti-ageing skincare star.
If you're already a hyaluronic acid convert, you're likely well aware of all that. But what if we were to tell you that you might be using it wrong?
As it turns out, that "attracts 1,000 times it's weight in water" isn't as appealing as it sounds. "The way hyaluronic acid does its job is by pulling the after from your skin," explains Ciara Darcy, Dublin-based skincare expert. "But if your skin is dry, it pulls that moisture from the deeper layers of skin to hydrate the surface." In order for hyaluronic acid to deliver the hydrating, skin-plumping results its herald to do, the product needs to be applied to damp skin in order to work. Otherwise, it will have the opposite effect of what is intended and actually leave the skin even more dehydrated.
But before you go binning your once beloved, hyaluronic acid - there's an easy fix; all you have to do is make one minor tweak to your skincare routine. "By using a hydrating face mist beforehand, it’s going to pull that water from the layer of mist rather than directly from your skin,” advises Darcy. Once hyaluronic acid comes into contact with water, it knows what it's doing and you'll be left with glowing, hydrated and plumped skin.
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Main image by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash