Hydration Superhero

Hyaluronic acid is a powerhouse ingredient that pulls more than its own weight when it comes to skincare benefits. Find out how it can fix your skin woes

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

You’ve probably heard that our bodies are made up of about 70 per cent water. If we don’t stay hydrated, our mental and physical functions decline and we feel sluggish. With skin, dehydration can cause sensitivity, redness, flare-ups, roughness, and lines. This is why with many beauty products, keeping your complexion moisturised is key. One of the popular humectants that beauty brands use is hyaluronic acid. Think of hyaluronic acid as sponges within your skin. Each molecule can attract and hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, or about six litres of water for every gram of hyaluronic acid.

What It Does

Hyaluronic acid can be used any time through the day. It keeps the skin moisturised to make it feel softer, fine lines look less obvious and your complexion appear more dewy.

The thought of using an acid on your skin may sound intimidating, but know that your body naturally produces hyaluronic acid to keep your joints, eyes and skin lubricated. 50 per cent of the body's hyaluronic acid is found in the skin. As this gentle ingredient is generally nonirritating, hyaluronic acid and its derivatives have become more popular in skincare products over the years.

What It’s Best For

Hyaluronic acid can be added to creams to treat atopic dermatitis and used in serums for additional hydration. Studies have also shown that it might help with wound healing, so you can also use hyaluronic acid products after derma-rolling treatments or ablative procedures like lasers to reduce redness and inflammation. Besides these topical uses, hyaluronic acid has also been used as injectable fillers that dissolve over the course of a year.

What’s It Called Again?

There are many variants of hyaluronic acid, so on ingredient lists, you might see terms like “hydrolysed hyaluronic acid”, “sodium hyaluronate”, or “sodium acetylated hyaluronate”. If long-lasting hydration is your goal, look for “sodium hyaluronate”, a water-soluble salt form of hyaluronic acid, which has a smaller molecular size, allowing it to penetrate deeper into skin and delivering hydration where it’s needed most. Different forms of hyaluronic acid come in different molecular sizes. Some are too large to penetrate into the skin, so they sit on the surface providing temporary moisturising benefits. That's not all bad. On top of smaller-sized hyaluronic acid that can penetrate into the skin, larger ones are added to skincare formulas in order to provide hydration at every skin layer.

It Doesn’t Play Well With Other Acids

One study revealed that hyaluronic acid starts breaking down when mixed with highly acidic (under pH 4) and highly alkaline compounds (above pH 11). This means that if you like to create your own beauty blends, hyaluronic acid won’t be as effective when added into acid-based products like glycolic or alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels. You can, however, use hyaluronic acid products after your peels to calm skin.



These products are souped up with hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump up skin for a youthful glow.
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Besides protecting skin with powerful antioxidants, Allies of Skin Triple Hyaluronic Antioxidant Hydration Serum, $105 (30 ml), is cleverly formulated with both low and high molecular weight hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin from within, seal in moisture and guard skin against stressors.
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Even though it has a lightweight formula, Tata Harper Hyaluronic Gel Moisturizer, $157 (50 ml), is packed with skin-loving botanical ingredients. There are 30 high performers, including 16 sources of plumping hydration – with a quintuple hyaluronic acid complex - eight sources of vitamins and minerals, and six sources to soothe redness.
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Spray on the BYBI Beauty Mega Mist Hyaluronic Acid Facial Spray, $50 (50 ml), any time skin feels a tad dry and needs a hydration boost. An easy way to incorporate the powerhouse ingredient into your beauty regime, you can use this before makeup or after application to set your makeup.
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Eye cream SIGI Skin Pink Nectar, $62 (30ml), has been formulated to help diminish dark circles, puffiness and fine lines. With five different kinds of hyaluronic acid to ensure optimal absorption levels and maximum hydration, you can use this rejuvenating cream as a lip mask, too.
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Senka Junpaku White Beauty Glow Creams, $19.90 each (50 g), come in two variants. The gel cream is said to be able to enhance skin’s radiance in a week, taking the place of a watery lotion, serum, moisturiser and mask. The UV cream, with SPF25 PA++, aims to moisturise, treat and brighten as well as target dark spots caused by UV exposure. Both have double hyaluronic acid to replenish skin’s moisture levels.
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The reformulated L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Serum, $105 (30ml), now has a dynamic hyaluronic acid complex that’s supposedly twice as powerful as regular hyaluronic acid. It also contains a lentil extract that tightens pores and improves the skin’s texture, and organic immortelle essential oil to help improve elasticity and firmness.
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Besides hyaluronic acid, IDS Skincare Ultra Moisturizer, $73 (30ml), has 11 other hydrators for an ultra moisture boost. There’s also niacinamide to regulate sebum production, soothe redness, and firm skin, and ceramides and free fatty acids to strengthen the skin’s barrier function, and argan oil, a natural vitamin E to aid repair.
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For Beloved One Advanced Hyaluronic Acid GHK-Cu Moisturizing Serum, $99 (30ml), is a lightweight serum that combines hyaluronic acid particles of different weights, to feed skin with moisture, with copper compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits to help keep the skin’s natural barrier strong and healthy.
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Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Lotion, $22.90 (170 ml), is formulated with four types of hyaluronic acid molecules. Its unique HPP& M Hydration Technology allows the active infusion of hyaluronic acid molecules of different molecular weight into different skin layers to hydrate so it becomes soft and supple.