What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do for Skin?
TL;DR: Hyaluronic acid is a water-loving sugar that hangs out in our body to keep the skin healthy and hydrated. The compound — or ingredients that cause the body to produce it — is often added to skincare products, such as face washes and creams, to boost hydration.
Got dry skin? Let us hit you with your new skin-quenching secret weapon: hyaluronic acid. This is a power-packed skincare hero that does it all — moisturizes, heals and brightens — which is why it’s a core ingredient in the best face washes and creams for dry skin. We know skincare can be a little bit complicated — and let’s be real, ain’t nobody got time for that — which is why we’re here to lay down the logic and start untangling. In this guide, we’re going deep on hyaluronic acid, covering what it is, why you need it and if it actually does what it’s supposed to. Hint: it does.
What Is Hyaluronic Acid?
We love to get geeky on ingredients, so let’s start by deep-diving into some definitions. What is hyaluronic acid, exactly? To put it simply, it’s a naturally occurring compound that helps our bodies regulate hydration. To put it chemically, it’s a non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) non-protein compound with superior viscoelasticity, a high moisture retention capacity and hygroscopic properties. Don’t worry! We have no idea what any of this means either, so let’s break it down in layman’s terms.
Hyaluronic acid is a non-sulfated glycosaminoglycan, which essentially means it’s a sugar compound that’s naturally found throughout our body’s tissue, including the skin, joints and brain. It’s highly viscoelastic, which gives it the unique ability to move between skin layers and absorb deep into the skin for top-down hydration. Hyaluronic acid is also naturally hygroscopic, which means it can absorb a ton of moisture from the air and prevent the moisture in your skin from evaporating. Sweet, right?
But the most important property of hyaluronic acid is its high moisture retention capacity. This means that it’s able to hold a huge amount of water and effectively acts like a sponge within the skin, gathering up moisture from all around it and holding it there to deeply hydrate at every level. In fact, hyaluronic acid can bind up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. Basically, it’s like an aquatic magnet, so there are very few ingredients that can do quite as much heavy lifting in the hydration department.
On top of that, hyaluronic acid is classified as a humectant, which means it has the ability to bring moisture up to the surface of your skin, which is where it tends to need it the most. This gives it the power to deeply hydrate dry, cracked, irritated skin and is one more reason why you tend to find it in the most effective dry skin products. This also makes it a great tool for softening and smoothing the surface of the skin.
Why We Need Hyaluronic Acid in Our Skincare
So if our bodies make hyaluronic acid naturally, why should we use products that contain it? There are two primary reasons for this. First, some people simply don’t make enough hyaluronic acid, which can cause dry skin. This can happen naturally or as a result of certain lifestyle choices. For example, you may experience a lower amount of naturally occurring hyaluronic acid if you smoke or if your skin has been overexposed to the sun (shout out to SPF, the real MVP) or has faced a lot of environmental pollution.
Secondly, our skin loses its ability to self-moisturize with age. Just like collagen and elastin — that’s the naturally occurring stuff that prevents wrinkles, FYI — the body naturally slows its production of hyaluronic acid as we get older. So if you’re getting up there in age and find that you can’t seem to keep your skin hydrated no matter what you try, it may be because your body has slowed its roll on the HA. But don’t stress because you can easily re-up with the right hyaluronic acid moisturizer for dry skin.
The Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for Skin
So we know that hyaluronic acid serves as the body’s natural water sponge, drawing in hydration from the cells and air around it. But what does this actually translate to with regard to skin health? Here are the main benefits of following a regimen that includes at least one product with hyaluronic acid.
- It Keeps Skin Hydrated — Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but hyaluronic acid’s biggest benefit is that it can help whip even the thirstiest skin into shape. When you apply it directly to the skin with your favorite skincare products, it goes to work immediately gathering moisture from all around it. It’s like that one friend who’s always trying to get everyone to come to his house party, but instead of BYOB, it’s BYOW.
- It Heals Painful, Cracked Skin — If you suffer from extremely dry skin, you know things can go from mildly uncomfortable to all-out miserable really quick. That’s because moisture-deprived skin cells are so dry they can’t bind together with others, which causes cracking so painful it feels like an open wound. Deep hydration is the best cure for damaged, irritated skin, so hyaluronic acid is often the go-to for people who can’t beat the chap.
- It Makes You Look Younger — Forgive us for using the words dewy and illuminating, but those are pretty spot-on when it comes to hyaluronic acid’s powers. When our skin is zapped of HA, it appears dry and dull, which can contribute to fine lines, wrinkles and loss of elasticity. On the other hand, hyaluronic acid can keep your skin looking sexy with that subtle hint of dew, which makes you look younger and more vibrant.
- It Makes Your Skin Healthier — One cool thing hyaluronic acid does is that it actually helps build up the skin’s natural lipid barrier, which can break down over time due to constant exposure to damaging stuff like sun rays and pollution from the air. But we need this natural barrier to shield out toxins and impurities from entering our system and triggering blemishes and other issues. Hyaluronic acid can actually help preserve and repair the lipid barrier to safeguard against toxins and sun damage.
- It Makes Skin Stronger and More Resilient — Healthy skin is resilient skin, which is to say it’s skin that recovers from a bad day fast. Elastic, resilient skin is also better at staving off signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles. Using hyaluronic acid products can help your skin retain its unique ability to bounce back from a bad breakout or environmental damage.
- It Can Help Clear Up Zits — Healthy skin is clutch to a crisp, clear complexion, so you want to make sure you do everything you can to provide it with the nutrients it needs to thrive. While hyaluronic acid isn’t the MVP of your acne-fighting regimen — that’d be salicylic acid, of course — it’s still an unsung hero because it helps reduce redness and the visible signs of blemishes and acne scars. It’s also a great addition to your anti-acne strategy because of its ability to help repair that lipid barrier, which shields out blemish-causing toxins.
Is Hyaluronic Acid Safe for All Skin Types?
If you’ve got sensitive skin, you probably aren’t going to run out and slather just anything on it in hopes that it’ll fix all your problems. You’ve learned your lesson by now. So this begs the question: Is hyaluronic acid safe for all skin types, even sensitive ones? Obviously, given that its whole identity is built upon hydrating thirst, it’s a safe option for those of us with dry skin.
Luckily, if you tend to suffer from allergic reactions and breakouts with new products, you probably won’t have any issue with HA, either. Due to the fact that it’s remarkably gentle and isn’t likely to cause any serious reactions, it’s often added to sensitive skin products. Remember, hyaluronic acid is generally used to heal cranky skin, so don’t stress if yours tends to be irritation-prone. If you suffer from a serious skin condition, you can always check with your dermatologist before trying something new or, hot tip, do a patch test.
What about those with oily skin? We know it sounds counterintuitive, but a hyper-hydrating ingredient like hyaluronic acid is actually great for you, too. Interestingly, it can actually help train the skin to produce less oil, which can help you keep the excess oil production — and, in turn, the breakouts — under control. In short, HA is probably the last ingredient you need to worry about when shopping for skincare products, regardless of your skin type.
How to Use Hyaluronic Acid
Now that we know HA is the GOAT of dry skin remedies, let’s dive into the logistics. How, exactly, do you use it? There are a number of ways to get your daily dose of HA, from injectables (yes, this is a real and increasingly popular cosmetic treatment option) to skincare products packed with the stuff. It’s also important to note that you can get hyaluronic acid through your diet, and it’s found in abundance in foods such as fish, beef, pork, poultry and soybeans.
But, by far, the easiest way to ensure that you’re getting enough of the stuff is to use skincare products that contain it. Let’s be honest, most dudes aren’t going to call up a doctor and get in line for some hyaluronic acid injections, and the simplest way to go about it is to slather it on in the form of a face wash or moisturizer. We recommend using an acne-fighting face wash to deeply purge the pores and then following up with an HA-rich moisturizer to pump those pores full of hydration.
Want to get started the easiest, quickest way possible? Try Black Wolf’s hyaluronic acid gel moisturizer for oily skin. It improves your skin’s natural ability to hydrate and leaves skin looking and feeling physically smoother. At the same time, it helps rebuild your skin’s protective layer, keeping it safe from contaminants that could cause blemishes, not to mention harmful UVB rays. As always, this Black Wolf MVP is free of gross stuff like sulfates and parabens and is cruelty-free because we love animals.
Meet Your HA Match
Black Wolf is the maker of some best-selling men’s hyaluronic acid skincare products designed to help you revolutionize the way you care for your skin. If you’re searching for a skincare solution that won’t make you dread your daily routine, join the Black Wolf nation and enjoy fresh, clean skin. Let us help you whip your skin back into shape!
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