Hyaluronic Acid Makes a Comeback in Skincare

If you think hyaluronic acid (HA) is making a comeback, you may be right. In fact, The New York Times reported the resurgence last December in “The Second Coming of Hyaluronic Acid.” What’s driving product manufacturers to give new life to this potent humectant in a range of products? Aside from the fact that it’s a tried-and-true ingredient long touted for its hydrating abilities, it’s also been improved with new delivery systems that make it even more effective with results that go the distance. Here, we show you how HA is penetrating deeper into the skin to prompt real change. Of course, with the cold winter weather wreaking havoc on spa-goers’ skin, now is the perfect time to reintroduce this natural moisturizer to your clientele.

Benefits to Behold

Produced naturally in the body, HA helps cushion and lubricate the joints. It is also found in the eyes and helps protect the delicate tissue. It is equally important in hydrating the skin, and because it is so effective at replenishing moisture levels in dehydrated skin, it is a highly coveted ingredient. Its ability to bind and retain water molecules to the epidermis helps keep skin moist and healthy. Unfortunately, the body’s ability to produce it diminishes with age. As the main molecule involved in skin moisture, HA, or rather the lack of it, is associated with skin aging. Applying it topically or ingesting it are just two of the ways spa-goers can reap the benefits of this hydrating helper. “Hyaluronic acid is used in all forms today, from makeup to oral supplements,” says Shannon McLinden, founder and president of FarmHouse Fresh, which plans to launch an HA night cream in 2017. 

It’s really no surprise product manufacturers are revisiting this effective ingredient. “HA is one of the best hydration ingredients available to formulators, as it holds 1,000 times its weight in moisture,” says Annet King, vice president of global education for Elemis. “It attracts moisture while also forming a mesh over the skin to prevent trans-epidermal water loss.” According to Irena James, cofounder of CelleCle Skincare and vice president of product development for YG Laboratories, HA benefits almost every skin type and condition. “It is easy to incorporate in a variety of different formulations, and there are no contraindications for its use on the skin,” she says. “It is one of the most effective hydrating ingredients used in skincare today, but various forms of it can also offer profound results beyond moisturization, as the most impactful results can be seen not only on dehydrated, lined, and wrinkled skin but also on thin, fragile, damaged, or wounded skin in need of repair and regeneration.”

hyaluronic acid

Beyond the fact that it works, hyaluronic acid is experiencing a resurgence, because it complements today’s popular treatments. “Over the last decade, we have seen an increase in the popularity of aggressive and invasive treatments, such as microneedling, lasers, and chemical peels,” says James. “One of the reasons HA has become even more valued by skincare and medical professionals is its ability to boost the skin’s repair during trauma, speed up recovery, and soothe and hydrate the skin during and after procedures.” She also notes its growing use in wrinkle-reducing and volumizing injectables. HA fillers, such as Juvederm, Restylane and more, are more popular than ever.

It’s All in the Delivery

According to James, one of the most significant advances in the production of HA is its sourcing. While it used to come from animal sources, such as bovine or rooster’s comb, it now comes from non-animal sources, thanks to biotechnology and biofermentation. This is advantageous in that it appeals to consumers who are uncomfortable with the use of animal byproducts in skincare. In addition, it also creates a more abundant supply of HA with a more consistent quality at a much lower price than when it was first introduced. “I, for one, did not use hyaluronic acid in my formulations until the HA produced via fermentation became commercially available, even though its benefits were already known long ago,” says Vivian Valenty, Ph.D., president of VB Cosmetics.

As delivery systems continue to improve, HA has become even more effective. For example, it is available in various sized molecules, which impact the ingredient’s ability to penetrate the skin and its activity level. According to Valenty, HA was originally available as a large molecule, which stayed on the skin’s surface and was easily washed away. “The introduction of lower molecular weight, or smaller sized molecules, allowed for its penetration into the skin where it is more effective,” says Valenty.

According to James, sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of HA, may also be more easily absorbed into the skin. “Silanols, natural materials our skin produces, can also be used to bind and deliver HA deeper into the tissues, increasing its wound-reparation ability,” she says. “HA can also be microencapsulated in liposomal delivery systems, which closely resemble the skin’s barrier structure, making it easier for the molecule to penetrate into the barrier and slowly deliver its contents over a prolonged period of time, allowing for long-term hydration.” Improvements in HA delivery systems are ongoing. “Current delivery systems in use or under evaluation employ physical, non-invasive, or minimally invasive processes, such as microneedling, ultrasound, iontophoresis, sonophoresis, jet injection, and more,” says Valenty. “These work by disrupting the skin barrier and allowing actives to pass through.”

Formula for Success

When introducing HA products to your clients, you have a variety of options from which to choose. Depending on the season, they can be incorporated into treatments to help boost moisture when the weather changes. James finds that pre-soaked sheet masks containing HA, as well as biocellulose masks, are effective in achieving results in the treatment room and at home. “I’d use HA to promote hydrating treatments, especially those that use technology to help drive it into the skin, like microcurrent and galvanic,” says King. Shunri MacQuarrie, an esthetician and founder of Shunly Skin Care, recommends using HA products after any intensive exfoliation process, such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and waxing. “HA will help to repair and heal the skin from these processes,” she says. And for clients looking for real anti-aging results, HA products are a no-brainer. “Some HA products can be marketed in the spa environment as line fillers, plumpers, and volume boosters, providing instant results, such as a reduction of visible lines and smoother contours,” says James. It’s no wonder that HA is often promoted as the fountain of youth.

Hydrating Healer

Give clients’ skin a more youthful glow with these nourishing hyaluronic acid (HA) products.—Darby Radcliff

1. BelleCôte Paris Wrinkle Erasing Serum: Erase expression lines and wrinkles with this HA complex, which firms skin and creates a strong hydrating and plumping effect. www.bellecoteparis.com

2. Body Drench Coconut Water Moisture Body Serum: Enriched with coconut water, HA, and vitamins, this daily body serum hydrates skin. www.bodydrench.com

3. CelleClé Skincare 3D StrataSculpt: Recharge the skin’s hydration levels with this contour-lifting remodeling serum infused with HA, volumizing peptides, and restructuring plant stem cells. www.cellecleskincare.com

4. Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster: Relieve dryness and minimize fine lines with this hydrating fluid concentrate formulated with algae extract, glycolipids, HA, and panthenol. www.dermalogica.com  

5. Elemental Herbology Hyaluronic Booster: Protect against moisture loss and plump fines lines and wrinkles with this complex containing apple extract, HA, and squalane. www.elementalherbology.com

6. FarmHouse Fresh Green Tea Milk Wash: Soothe inflamed skin with this cleanser containing aloe leaf juice, coconut, green tea extract, and sodium hyaluronate, a salt form of HA. www.farmhousefreshgoods.com

7. Ilike Organic Skin Care Hyaluronic Time Erase Complex Gel Mask: Restore the complexion with this hydrating herbal treatment made with calendula, ginkgo, and high concentrations of plant-derived HA. www.szepelet.com

8. Nelly De Vuyst Lifting Complex Serum: Stimulate the natural process of protein synthesis and restructure aging skin with this resurfacing formula infused with HA, peptides, and salmon DNA. www.nellydevuyst.com

9. Sanitas Hyaluronic Concentrate: Increase skin cells’ ability to retain moisture naturally and provide a plumping effect with this firming treatment featuring HA and niacinamide. www.sanitas-skincare.com

10. Sesha Skin Therapy HA Serum: Formulated with HA and oligo sodium hyaluronate, this lightweight treatment delivers lasting hydration and boosts moisture retention and firmness. www.seshaskin.com

11. Shunly Skin Care CE+ Ferulic Treatment: Featuring ferulic acid, HA, and vitamins C and E, this toning formula stimulates collagen production and protects skin against environmental pollutants and UV radiation. www.shunlyskincare.com

12. Sothys Paris Hydra3Ha Hydrating Cream: Restore skin’s natural softness and suppleness with this treatment containing HA and Boletus extract, which reactivates the natural hydration levels to reveal a more youthful complexion. www.sothys-usa.com