Dear Daniela: What Are Hyaluronic Acid Injections & Are They Safe For Skin?

Illustration by Olivia Santner
Dear Daniela,
I use a hyaluronic acid serum most days, but I keep hearing about hyaluronic acid injections. When I researched them online, I saw a few mentions of Profhilo but I’m not entirely sure what it is. Is it just another brand name of fillers?
Lucy, 33
Profhilo, despite sounding like the name of an eccentric Belgian scientist, is part of a new breed of next-generation skincare. As more and more of us become 'skintellectuals' (what was I before? A caveman, dragging around a club, grunting about retinol?), you’ll see more and more treatments like this crop up – as in, treatments that sound just like a really good facial, promoting skin health and regeneration in a powerful way, but which take place in a more clinical setting.
For a quick primer, I turned to Dr Sarah Tonks, a cosmetic physician who was one of the first to bring Profhilo to the UK. "It’s a kind of injectable skincare. It uses hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, but not in the way you’d expect to usually use a filler. Basically, it doesn’t add volume or change the shape of the face at all. Instead, the uncross-linked hyaluronic acid used in Profhilo boosts collagen and elastin production for a youthful glow and healthy-looking skin."
Let’s go over that again. If you went to a clinic and asked for regular dermal fillers, a practitioner would inject something like Juvederm into the desired area – your cheeks, for example – and you’d leave with a noticeable difference, such as higher-looking cheekbones. These fillers would break down over time and you’d go back to the clinic to get the same result again. Profhilo, on the other hand, is injected all over your face in very small amounts and instead of adding volume, it simply kickstarts your body’s own natural collagen and elastin production.
"Anybody who has any dullness of the skin or fine lines would notice a difference from doing Profhilo. It can be corrective or preventive," explained Dr Tonks. "It’s a subtle difference, and it’s interesting to see how people in a client’s life react to it because skin looks so much better, but not different per se, like it would do with other cosmetic procedures."
Collagen and elastin are the scaffolding that give your skin bounce, glow and tensile strength. We all produce less and less of it as we age, but other factors like stress, smoking and pollution can tear through those stores even faster. "Lots of products and facials might claim to be collagen-boosting, and they may be to a degree, but this treatment literally makes your skin produce more collagen in a quantifiable way," added Dr Tonks.
For it to be effective, you’ll need to go back for two or so top-up sessions after your initial appointment, and results take about two weeks to show up, as it were. It’s certainly not cheap (treatments start around £300) but as Dr Tonks told me, a lot of her clients say they feel they don’t need moisturiser after having it done, as they wake up with their skin already bouncy and fresh. "It makes the skin very luminescent – I prefer to call it the Injectable Glow," explained Dr Tonks.
Needle-phobic? Maybe this one isn’t for you. But injectable skincare on the whole is rising; this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Good luck,
Got a question for our resident beauty columnist Daniela Morosini? No problem, qualm or dilemma is too big, small or niche. Email, including your name and age for a chance to have your question answered. All letters to 'Dear Daniela' become the property of Refinery29 and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.

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