Updated: Sep 18, 2020
By Amy Michaels Koberling PA-C
Hyaluronic Acid (or HA) is found naturally in our dermis and is responsible for the beautiful plump skin we see in young people. It is a humectant and known for its water-binding capacity. It can hold more than 1000x its weight in water!
Humectants are great moisturizers under the right conditions but are not for everyone. When it comes to their water affinity, they do not discriminate. Hyaluronic Acid will pull water from whichever surrounding environment has higher water content. That means that if you are in a dry climate or environment (this includes spending most of your time inside in the air-conditioning), the HA will pull water FROM your skin into itself because the surrounding air has less water content than your skin. You can see why this may be a problem for those looking to use HA as a moisturizer.
For dry types who want to use an HA, I always recommend occlusive ingredients overtop or mixed into their HA product to prevent this from happening. For oily types, this is less necessary as their sebum acts as a natural occlusive, and they can apply HA serums with a much lower risk of dehydrating their skin.
If you’re looking for a little plump, use your HA in a humid environment. The HA will pull water from the humid climate and plump of your skin! You may even see wrinkles soften before your eyes, albeit only temporarily! Darn it, right? But we will take anything we can get!
Another critical factor is the size of the hyaluronic acid used. Larger HA molecules cannot penetrate the epidermis. Products with appropriate formulations and appropriately sized particles can be advantageous and can even increase the penetration of other products used in conjunction.
Diva Faves: Neutrogena Hydro Boost, Skin Ceuticals HA5
Ms. Amy Michaels Koberling is a Dermatology PA-C practicing in Miami, FL. Please follow her on IG @the_skinthusiast