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What is hyaluronic acid and how does it affect you?

Let’s talk science20.04.22 7 min. read

Are you familiar with this? Your skin feels dry and tight. Small wrinkles and fine lines make you look tired and dull, and the elasticity of your skin seems to be diminishing? Then it could be that your skin lacks moisture.

You have probably heard a lot about hyaluronic acid. It is actually a fantastic ingredient when it comes to moisturizing the skin and making it look fresh, plump and healthy again. In this article, This Place explains what types of hyaluronic acid there are, how they work and what effects you can achieve with them.

Plant based Hyaluron/Hyaluronic Acid: What is it?

Hyaluronic acid (also hyaluron or hyaluronan) occurs naturally in the human body. It is also found in your skin, connective tissue, joint fluid, intervertebral discs, bones and cartilage, as well as in the vitreous bodies of your eyes. About half of your body's hyaluronic acid production is in your skin [1]. Hyaluronic acid consists of long chains of sugar molecules that can form networks. Its most outstanding property is that it can bind about 6000 times its own weight in water [2]. As a water donor and reservoir, it can provide structure, stability, tone and volume to the tissues in your body and keep your skin in good condition. But that's not all. The hyaluron in your skin can also: 

  • contribute to the formation of collagen and elastin fibers of connective tissue [1].
  • promote the skin's ability to regenerate and heal wounds [3; 4]
  • act as an antioxidant and antibacterial substance to ward off harmful substances from the outside world [5; 6] and protect cells from premature skin aging and wrinkling
  • regulate sebum production [7] 
  • regulate inflammation [3] and even reduce pain [8; 2].
  • reduce pain [8; 2].

 

Hydrating hyaluronic acid is therefore of great importance for the body and skin in both a medical and cosmetic sense. The right formula in cosmetic products can, for example, help prevent skin diseases, counteract wrinkles and fine lines, and keep the skin's appearance looking plump, elastic and fresh.

The production of hyaluron with age

Unfortunately, the body's own production of hyaluronic acid begins to decline around the age of 20 [9] - lines and wrinkles become noticeable and the skin increasingly loses its elasticity and moisture [10].

Depending on genetics, lifestyle and dietary habits, skin content in the 40s is just 40%. By the age of 60, it can drop to one tenth of the original concentration. So it makes perfect sense that anti-aging products containing hyaluronic acid are recommended as moisture boosters. But can hyaluronic acid from the outside really help against signs of aging in the skin?

 

Hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate) in cosmetics: what role does it play? 

If you look at the declarations (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients INCI) on the effect of hyaluronic acid in cosmetics, it says, for example, that hyaluronic acid has the following properties:

  • increase the moisture or water content of the skin
  • nourish it and
  • keep it in a good condition [2].

 

In skin care products such as hyaluronic acid creams, gels, concentrates or facial serums, hyaluronic acid is intended to serve as a daily moisturizer. As an active ingredient, it is suitable for dry and mature skin as well as for oily and acne-prone skin. Proponents even see it as a serious competitor to Botox due to its skin plumping properties, because it is usually well tolerated and does not cause muscle paralysis.

But: the skin's own hyaluronic acid is located in the deeper skin layer, the dermis. Can hyaluronic acid in cosmetic products reach this region at all and promise a lasting anti-aging effect?

 

Effect of high-molecular, low-molecular and oligo-hyaluronic acids in skin care

The correct answer is: it depends. Depending on the length of the hyaluron chains, a distinction is made between high-molecular, low-molecular or oligo-hyaluronic acid. But what does this mean?

Effect of high-molecular hyaluronic acid

High-molecular hyaluronic acid corresponds most closely to the body's own and can form three-dimensional networks due to its chain size. The comparatively large molecules remain on the uppermost skin cells and form a moisturizing and air-permeable or gel-like film there with the keratin of your skin [11]. This additional protective film enables your skin to regenerate better, small wrinkles appear as if they have been plumped up, and the skin's appearance is rejuvenated. Your skin can feel firm, soft and supple.

 

The film also has the ability to:

  • prevent moisture loss through the skin and maintain its elasticity
  • inhibit inflammatory processes [12]
  • protect the skin's protective barrier from external environmental factors 
  • promote tissue regeneration, support the healing of minor wounds and fight bacteria [9; 13]. 



So, your skin can actually be nourished and visually rejuvenated for a short period of time by the high molecular weight hyaluronic acid by providing it with plenty of moisture. However, this happens in a purely physical way and lasts as long as you care for your skin with hyaluron. However, high-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid cannot achieve a long-term effect in the sense of permanent revitalization and effective wrinkle smoothing in the connective tissue of the skin [14].

 Effect of low molecular weight hyaluronic acid

In the case of low molecular weight or fragmented or oligo-hyaluronic acid, their molecular chains have been broken. These hyaluronic acid fragments seem to be more able to

  • penetrate into deeper skin layers
  • to initiate inflammatory processes in the tissue at the beginning of wound healing [12]
  • retain moisture in the connective tissue
  • fill wrinkles from the inside
  • to stimulate cell division [15; 16] and thus counteract thinning skin and
  • achieve longer-term results [17].



Based on the study situation, low-molecular hyaluronic acid was included in the guideline "Dermocosmetics against skin aging" of the Gesellschaft für Dermopharmazie in category 1a (efficacy proven in placebo-controlled double-blind studies) in March 2012 [18]. This means: the moisturizing, possibly plumping effect of this type of hyaluronic acid has been scientifically proven.

Effect of oligo hyaluron

Oligo fragments are still relatively new on the market. They act like low-molecular hyaluronic acid, but can penetrate your skin faster and reach deeper skin layers.

 

Hyaluron Wirkung auf der Haut

Importance of hyaluron for scalp and hair

Hyaluron is also a useful active ingredient in hair care, for example for irritated scalp and dry hair. Here, as in facial care, a combination of high and low molecular weight hyaluron can help to maintain or restore the health of skin and hair [19]. In doing so, it binds and locks moisture to the collagen of the hair, prevents oxidative (tissue) damage [20], and regulates inflammatory responses.

The acid also appears to be able to promote the formation of new blood vessels and thus the healing of wounds and the supply of nutrients to the hair roots [21]. It can thus counteract hair loss, for example, and promote healthy hair growth.

Does hyaluronic acid have side effects?

If you go for vegan or vegetarian products, then you will certainly not want to use hyaluronic acid from animal raw materials. In terms of side effects, hyaluronic acid of animal origin may also contain protein residues that can potentially be allergenic. This risk does not exist with plant-derived hyaluronic acid.

If you want to be on the safe side, you can use laboratory-produced hyaluronic acid produced with the help of bacterial cultures or in vitro with enzymes. Your skin recognizes this as a natural substance and rarely reacts with intolerance [8]. However, you will not benefit from the many valuable plant components that plant hyaluron additionally offers.

Natural glow for all skin types

Our nourishing face cream The Glow contains CBD and zinc, as well as plant-based hyaluron to moisturize and revitalize your skin. The high-quality combination of active ingredients can make your skin glow in depth and combat a tired, dull, and restless complexion at its source. The plant substances give new energy to the renewal of your skin cells and form an additional protective shield against cell-damaging free radicals. Whether you have dry, mature, oily or irritated skin, The Glow is suitable for all skin types.

Verdict

The combination of high and low molecular hyaluronic acid is proven to be ideal for intensively moisturizing your skin and making it appear plump, healthy and vital. Both together soften dryness lines not only on the surface, but also plump up your skin's appearance.

Vegetable hyaluron in particular is generally well tolerated and suitable for all skin types. Especially in combination with other valuable plant substances, such as CBD, zinc, and squalane, hyaluronic acid in a synergistic complex can soothe irritations of your skin caused by dryness and strengthen your skin against environmental stress.

FAQ

What is hyaluron good for?

Hyaluronic acid has multiple functions in the body, giving shape, support, volume and elasticity to tissues through its enormous water-binding capacity. This benefits the mobility of joints, eyes, skin and hair, among other things. From around the mid-20s, hyaluronic acid production decreases, while at the same time the body's exposure to harmful substances increases. The skin becomes drier, the hair brittle. High- and low-molecular hyaluronic acid in the form of cosmetic products can help with these visible and noticeable deficiencies. Hyaluronic acid in creams, serums or gels can care for, protect and plump up the skin, while hyaluronic acid in hair care products can strengthen and nourish the hair roots. The smaller the molecule sizes, the deeper the hyaluronic acid penetrates the skin. Experts always recommend a combination of high and low molecular hyaluron due to the different effects.

How harmful is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is generally well tolerated as long as it has been made vegan and does not contain any foreign animal proteins. Sensitive skin can react to this with adverse reactions. You also don't have to worry about hyaluronic acid leaving an air-impermeable film on the skin. The high-molecular hyaluronic acid that remains on the surface of the skin does not hermetically seal the skin. Rather, it strengthens the skin's barrier function, prevents moisture loss while protecting against free radicals, and allows the skin to breathe. This helps prevent bacteria from multiplying and increasing irritation and inflammation of the skin.

What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid for the face?

Hyaluronic acid has the unique ability to store enormous amounts of water. Thus, it not only has a plumping effect for the skin, but also supports cell functions in the skin as well as the unhindered exchange of substances in the environment of the cells. A mixture of high and low molecular hyaluronic acid is ideal for skin care. Both types of hyaluronic acid together can plump up the skin from the outside and inside, regulate sebum production, visually reduce wrinkles, lines and folds, regulate inflammation, stimulate vascularization and thus nutrient and oxygen supply to the cells, and promote skin regeneration. Various studies have proven the effectiveness of hyaluron. Another advantage of hyaluronic acid is that, as long as it is not derived from animal raw materials, it is generally very well tolerated.

Sources:
  1. Kawada, Chinatsu et. al., Ingested hyaluronan moisturizes dry skin, 11.07.2014 in Nutr J; 13:70 More Info
  2. Multifaceted water reservoir, Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung 42/2019 More Info
  3. Papakonstantinoi, Eleni, Roth, Michael, Karakiulakis, George, Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging, 01.07.2012 in Dermatoendocrinol.; 4(3): 253–25 More Info
  4. Dereure, O., Czubek, M., Combemale, P., Efficacy and safety of hyaluronic acid in treatment of leg ulcers: a double-blind RCT, März 2012 in J Wound Care; 21(3):131-2, 134-6, 138-9 More Info
  5. Onodera, Yuta et. al., Hyaluronic acid regulates a key redox control factor Nrf2 via phosphorylation of Akt in bovine articular chondrocytes, 2015 in FEBS Open Bio.; 5: 476–484 More Info
  6. Pirnazar, P. et. al., Bacteriostatic effects of hyaluronic acid, April 1999 in J Periodontol; 70(4):370-4 More Info
  7. Jung, Yu Ra et. al, Hyaluronic Acid Decreases Lipid Synthesis in Sebaceous Glands, Juni 2017 in J Invest Dermatol; 137(6):1215-1222 More Info
  8. Tashiro, Toshiyuki et. al., Oral administration of polymer hyaluronic acid alleviates symptoms of knee osteoarthritis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study over a 12-month period, 2012 in ScientificWorldJournal;2012:16792 More Info
  9. Hyaluronic acid serum: test, effect, application & studies (04/22), supplementsbibel 20.11.2020 More Info
  10. Ghersetich, I et. al., Hyaluronic acid in cutaneous intrinsic aging, Februar 1994 in Int J Dermatol;33(2):119-22 More Info
  11. Laugier, J. P. et. al., Topical hyaluronidase decreases hyaluronic acid and CD44 in human skin and in reconstituted human epidermis: evidence that hyaluronidase can permeate the stratum corneum, Februar 2000 in Br J Dermatol; 142(2):226-33 More Info
  12. Litwiniuk, Malgorzata et. al., Hyaluronic Acid in Inflammation and Tissue Regeneration, März 2016 in Wounds; 28(3):78-88 More Info
  13. Pirnazar, P. et. al., Bacteriostatic effects of hyaluronic acid, April 1999 in J Periodontol; 70(4):370-4 More Info
  14. Bukhari, Syed Nasir Abbas et. al., Hyaluronic acid, a promising skin rejuvenating biomedicine: A review of recent updates and pre-clinical and clinical investigations on cosmetic and nutricosmetic effects, Dezember 2018 in Int J Biol Macromol;120(Pt B):1682-1695 More Info
  15. Kaya, Gürkan et. al., Hyaluronate fragments reverse skin atrophy by a CD44-dependent mechanism, Dezember 2006 in PLoS Med; 3(12):e493 More Info
  16. Farwick, M. et. al., Fifty-kDa hyaluronic acid upregulates some epidermal genes without changing TNF-α expression in reconstituted epidermis, 2011 in Skin Pharmacol Physiol; 24(4):210-7 More Info
  17. Pavicic, Tatjana et. al, Efficacy of cream-based novel formulations of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights in anti-wrinkle treatment, September 2011 in J Drugs Dermatol; 10(9):990-1000 More Info
  18. Dermocosmetics against skin aging, March 2017 Guideline of the GD Gesellschaft für Dermopharmazie e. V.|Aya, Kessiena L , Stern, Robert, Hyaluronan in wound healing: rediscovering a major player, October 2014 in Wound Repair Regen; 22(5):579-93|Onodera, Yuta et. al, Hyaluronan regulates a key redox control factor Nrf2 via phosphorylation of Akt in bovine articular chondrocytes, 2015 in FEBS Open Bio; 5: 476-484. More Info
  19. Aya, Kessiena L , Stern, Robert, Hyaluronan in wound healing: rediscovering a major player, Oktober 2014 in Wound Repair Regen; 22(5):579-93 More Info
  20. Onodera, Yuta et. al., Hyaluronic acid regulates a key redox control factor Nrf2 via phosphorylation of Akt in bovine articular chondrocytes, 2015 in FEBS Open Bio.; 5: 476–484 More Info
  21. Pardue, Erin L., Ibrahim, Samir and Ramamurthi, Anand, Role of hyaluronan in angiogenesis and its utility to angiogenic tissue engineering, Oktober 2008 in Organogenesis.; 4(4): 203–214 More Info