Since bursting onto the skincare scene, hyaluronic acid has become a mainstay ingredient in products like serums, moisturisers and face mists, as we're all looking to combat dull, dehydrated skin – especially during the cold spell.
Otherwise known as HA, hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means it increases the level of moisture in the skin by attracting and drawing it in from the environment. As a result, fine lines appear minimised and skin looks and feels plump and moisturised. Unlike exfoliating acids (such as glycolic or lactic acid), which can potentially cause irritation, HA is a hydrating acid, and is well tolerated by most skin types. Forms of hyaluronic acid are actually found naturally in our skin, so think of HA skincare as a way of replenishing your natural reserves when they're running low, especially if your skin feels tight or has lost its glow.
Lately, beauty brands have upped their hyaluronic acid game, doing research into the most powerful forms of the ingredient for maximum skincare benefits in anticipation for winter. While there are many types of hyaluronic acid out there, one particular chain is making waves in the industry right now. Enter: acetylated hyaluronic acid.
Don't let the complicated name put you off. Without making this too much like a chemistry lesson, studies report that acetylation is a easy technique which increases hydration. Normal hyaluronic acid loves water, and attracts it wherever it can, but acetylated hyaluronic acid features both water-loving and water-hating molecules. Think of it like oil on water or even a micellar water, which you have to shake to activate. As a result, research shows that moisture is locked into the skin for longer, so you can sweat and wash your face and be assured that your skin will remain hydrated.
One skincare brand championing this buzzy super hyaluronic acid is Dior, namely the Capture Totale Super Potent Serum, £59.50. Tests have shown that the ingredient absorbs three times more than regular hyaluronic acid, keeping water in the skin and ensuring skin is hydrated for a longer period of time. The excellent reviews speak for themselves; it's silky, not sticky, sinks in fast and makes skin appear dewy for hours.
Dior isn't the only brand to reap the benefits of acetylated hyaluronic acid, though. Glow Recipe's Plump Plump Hyaluronic Serum, £37, features the star ingredient as well as vitamin C for brightening and defending against pollution, and zinc, which lowers inflammation and treats spots. Follow with moisturiser to lock everything in. Also try Hada Labo Tokyo Anti Ageing Super Hydrator, £17.45, as a nighttime treatment. It contains retinol, which encourages fresh, new skin cells, minimising fine lines and benefiting acne-prone skin.
Acetylated hyaluronic acid is still pretty under the radar in skincare products. If you want more choice, sodium hyaluronate (a salt form of hyaluronic acid which penetrates the skin better than regular HA) can be just as beneficial according to experts, and is more widely used. "Eucerin uses sodium hyaluronate, the water soluble salt form of hyaluronic acid, because it is more stable," says Dylan Griffiths, Eucerin's medical manager, so it does its job better than regular hyaluronic acid. Try the Hyaluron Filler Moisture Booster Serum, £25, or Hyaluron Filler + Elasticity Anti-Ageing 3D Face Serum, £38, after cleansing and before moisturiser or Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Day Cream SPF 30, £30, if you prefer to just use moisturiser in the morning. Both iron away fine lines, reduce the uncomfortable, tight feeling after cleansing, and make skin bouncy.
While it's easy to slot hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine, there is one key point to remember. "When people with dry skin just use a hyaluronic acid serum on its own, it can dehydrate skin further," says Dylan. You need to feed hyaluronic acid. "Hyaluronic acid absorbs so much moisture, and if it can't get moisture from the environment, it will take it from your skin, pulling it from the deeper layers within," says Dylan. "If you're using a hyaluronic acid serum, you should lock it in with a moisturiser, a nourishing sunscreen, or even a facial spritz or mist."
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