Hyaluronic acid is a substance that occurs naturally within our own bodies. Despite its name, hyaluronic acid is actually known for its ability to retain moisture: it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. Skincare.com consultant Dr. Lisa Ginn explains that this type of moisturizing ingredient is called a humectant: “These molecules act like sponges that pull water in, in order to pull moisture over your skin like a blanket.” This ability to hold onto moisture is part of what has made hyaluronic acid such a popular ingredient in the formulas of topical skin care products.
When we’re young, hyaluronic acid is found naturally in abundant quantities in our skin. Also known as a glycosaminoglycan, hyaluronic acid is one of the reasons that youthful skin appears plump and hydrated. However, as we age, the amount of naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid found in our skin begins to dwindle which can result in our skin beginning to show some signs of skin aging. In addition to intrinsic aging—that is aging caused by the passing of time—over time a poor diet and/or smoking can also affect the amount of hyaluronic acid that occurs naturally within the skin, which may also contribute to visible signs of skin aging.
Dr. Ginn explains that hyaluronic acid is a potent humectant that is soothing to the skin and is generally suitable for most skin types including oily, combination, and sensitive skin. You can find it in the formulas of serums, moisturizers, masks, and more.