When it comes to skin hydration, you've probably heard of the wonders of hyaluronic acid. According to the experts, it's one of the best ingredients around in terms of leaving skin pillowy and hydrated, with fewer fine lines into the bargain.
Commonly known as HA in skincare circles, hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the skin – a group of carbohydrates that work to help maintain its elasticity. It's what's known as a 'humectant', meaning it works like a sponge, helping the skin retain water and leaving it plumped and dewy. But as we age, our natural levels of hyaluronic acid deplete, leading to dullness, loss of 'bounce' in the skin, and wrinkles.
That's exactly why it's such a popular ingredient in skincare. In fact, just a single gram can hold up to six litres of water and research suggests it helps protect against environmental aggressors, such as pollution, too. Best of all, it works for every skin type – especially in serum form, where it can be more easily absorbed and work its skin-plumping magic at a deeper level.
If you're a hyaluronic acid convert, you probably know all that already. But what if we were to tell you that you might be applying it wrong? According to the experts, the hero ingredient actually needs to be applied to damp skin in order to work. In fact, applying it to a dry complexion can have the opposite effect to what is intended, and actually leave skin more dehydrated. Nicolas Travis, founder of Allies of Skin, enlightened us as to why: "Hyaluronic acid is a moisture magnet," he said, "but if your skin is a bit dry, it pulls any residual moisture from the deeper layers of skin to hydrate the surface. In that case, you need to apply it to moist skin – which is why you should mist first and then apply a hyaluronic acid treatment afterwards. Once hyaluronic acid comes into contact with water, it knows what it's doing and your skin will end up supremely hydrated and plumped." He added: "I swear by the Bright Future Overnight Facial."
It makes sense when you think about it – hyaluronic acid doesn’t contain any water itself, therefore the more hydration you combine it with, the better it performs. Think of your regime as a hydration 'sandwich' – spritz your face with water, apply the hyaluronic acid treatment, then spritz again.
When it comes to moistening your skin, you can either use regular tap water or take things to the next level with a supercharged facial mist. Dr Roebuck’s Bondi Hydrating Mist stars kakadu plum, a potent form of vitamin C, to help protect against free radicals, as well as calming aloe vera and cucumber (kept in the fridge, it’s a godsend in the hot weather). Another green Aussie brand, Jurlique, is famed for its Rosewater Balancing Mist, which not only hydrates and calms but smells great, too.
But what about the HA? If you’re new to hyaluronic acid, try Indeed Labs' hydraluron™ Intense Moisture Lotion. It contains the ingredient at high, medium and low molecular weights, allowing it to penetrate at different levels. This means it doesn’t hydrate just the skin’s surface but the deeper layers, too, effectively doing the job of a serum and a moisturiser in one.
If your skin is looking dull, uneven or pigmented, try Sunday Riley's Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream, which combines hyaluronic acid with resurfacing papaya enzymes for extra brightening benefits. But if you’re after a serious hyaluronic hit, there's SkinCeuticals' award-winning H.A. Intensifier which contains ultra-high concentrations and has a cult following for the way it can transform skin that's parched and peppered with fine lines, bringing it back to its former toned glory. Otherwise, you can choose a product that’s been designed for specific areas. Fillerina's Lip Volume boasts a patented blend of six hyaluronic acid molecules developed for the delicate skin on the lips, to diminish fine lines and increase volume without having to resort to syringes.
Whichever way you decide to get your hyaluronic acid hit, remember to add water.