Is hyaluronic acid actually good for your skin?

An expert explains the ingredient's benefits

Beauty Crew Beauty Editor / July 08 2024

Hyaluronic acid has become one of the most commonly used ingredients in skin care over the last decade, but despite the fact that #hyaluronicacid is tagged in over 2 million posts on Instagram, a lot of us may still be confused as to what the ingredient actually does for our skin. 

If you often find yourself asking the question 'what is hyaluronic acid?', or maybe you just don't know as much about the plumping humectant hydrator as you'd like to, then we're here to help. 

We've employed the professional expertise of Cosmetic Doctor, Dr Yalda Jamali, to finally get to the bottom of what the ingredient actually does and why it's so great for our skin. Here, the expert and BEAUTYcrew demystify the many properties and types of hyaluronic acid...

What is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan, which in layman's terms roughly translates to a cushion-y or lubricant-like substance that's found in certain areas of the body such as the connective tissue, gut lining and brain tissue. 

What does hyaluronic acid do for you?

Naturally occurring hyaluronic acid in the body helps your joints to function properly and move smoothly. Hyaluronic acid can also be ingested or applied topically to aid in soft tissue, collagen and elastin growth, and elasticity. It's also a humectant, which means that it acts as a moisture magnet. Hyaluronic acid molecules will draw and bind water molecules to them, aiding in hydration for the skin and plumping fine lines and wrinkles. 

What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid for the skin?

"Hyaluronic acid supports the skin's natural barrier function, protecting it from environmental stressors and soothing irritation with its anti-inflammatory benefits," explains Dr. Yalda. The ingredient is also suitable and safe for all skin types, including sensitive and acne-prone skin, but it's great qualities don't stop there. 

"Hyaluronic acid smooths fine lines and wrinkles, enhances skin elasticity, and leaves a smooth, radiant complexion," says Dr. Yalda, who credits these benefits as the reason why you'll find the ingredient in so many in-clinic treatments for these great properties.

However, the cosmetic doctor suggests consumers take note that hyaluronic acid comes in different forms in skin care.

High molecular weight hyaluronic acid will sit on the skin's surface and provide immediate hydration as well as a smoothing and plumping protective barrier. Whilst low molecular weight hyaluronic acid will penetrate deeper into the skin to boost hydration from within, promoting collagen production and improving elasticity.

There's also sodium hyaluronate (a salt form of hyaluronic acid), which penetrates deeply to deliver long-lasting moisture and plumping effects and is commonly used in over-the-counter serums and masks.

Alternatively, you can head in-clinic to try cross-linked hyaluronic acid, which is modified and usually only found in professional in-clinic injectable hyaluronic acid treatments such as fillers and skin boosters.

2024's Top 3 hyaluronic acid serums for skin

1. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, $15.90, Adore Beauty

You'll be hard-pressed to find a more budget-friendly hyaluronic acid serum than this pick right here. The recently updated formula now boasts five molecular weights of hyaluronic acid to hydrate deeply and moisturise the top layer of skin. Ceramides have also been added to the mix to help reinforce the skin's natural moisture barrier and aid in moisture retention, while pro-vitamin B5 promises to calm skin and prevent moisture loss.

2. Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Intense, $103.10, Amazon Australia

Designed to hydrate, plump and restore volume and elasticity in dry, dull and crepey skin, this hyaluronic acid serum uses natural moisturising factors (NMF), vitamin B5 and superfood antioxidants to target dehydration, fine lines and wrinkles. The well-rounded anti-ageing formula incorporates multiple weights of hyaluronic acid to address dryness and dehydration on all levels in and on the skin.

3. SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier, $169, Adore Beauty

If you want to streamline your skin care routine and stick to a single serum during the day, then this is the one. It combines a high concentration of pure hyaluronic acid, Proxylane™ complex, and licorice root and purple rice extract to smooth fine lines and skin texture, and promote plumper, firmer skin, as well as improve hydration levels by 30 per cent. 

2024's Top 3 hyaluronic acid face masks

1. BIODANCE Bio-Collagen Real Deep Mask, $37.88, Amazon Australia

If you've been scrolling TikTok in the last six months then you've probably spotted one of the many before and after videos demonstrating this overnight mask's insane hydrating and plumping abilities. The mask's serum combines low molecular weight collagen and hyaluronic acid with probiotic galactomyces ferment filtrate to aid in deeper ingredient penetration and potency. Delivering to the skin a concentration of product that helps to refine the appearance of pores, promote elasticity, plump skin, smooth fine lines and wrinkles and strengthen the skin's natural moisture barrier. 

2. Go-To Skincare The Repair Shop, $50, Go-To Skincare

If your skin is feeling stressed out this soothing and nourishing pick from Aussie brand Go-To is the one for you. It promises soft, bouncy and radiant skin in just 10 minutes with the help of ingredients like moisturising ceramides and pro-vitamin B5, hydrating and plumping hyaluronic acid and glycerin, and soothing vitamin e and buriti oil.

3. Hada Labo Moisturising Facial Sheet Mask, $6.95, Adore Beauty

Infused with an entire bottle of Japan's top-selling hyaluronic acid serum — Hada Labo Tokyo’s Super Hyaluronic Acid™ this sheet mask deeply moisturises, revives, plumps and smooths the complexion in just 15 minutes. Pro tip: Apply the remaining serum in the mask packet to your skin once you're done masking and seal in the moisture with your favourite face cream.

Main image credit: @tyla

On the hunt for more HA infused skin care? These are the best hyaluronic acid serums, and these are the best affordable hyaluronic acid serums (for when you're on a budget).

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).

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