Ingredient Spotlight: Hyaluronic Acid

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

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microscope‘Hyaluronic acid’ (HA) is the new buzz word in cosmetics. It is a substance that is said to hold over 1,000 times it’s weight in water and, as such, is readily finding it’s way in moisturizers, serums and various other cosmetics to hydrate and keep skin soft, supple and firm. In gel form, hyaluronic acid binds to water and provides volume to easily fill larger folds of skin around the mouth and cheeks. 

Skin Care
There exists water-based HA products for normal – combination/ oily skin types and lipid (oil) based products for dry skin, both of which provide intense moisture to the skin for hours at a time. Sodium PCA is another humectant that naturally occurs in the skin, and both names can be found listed directly on the product packaging. These products have been deemed safe for use in cosmetic formulations on the basis of animal and clinical testing.

The Consumer Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients defines hyaluronic acid as a sugar compound that is present in all connective tissue in vertebrates. In humans, it is found in high concentrations in the skin, cartilage, in the umbilical cord, testes, and in synovial fluid. It is the jelly-like substance that surrounds the eye, and contains proteins and amino acids and appears to have glue-like properties. 

As such it is no surprise that it is also widely used in anti-aging/ anti-wrinkle cosmeceuticals and procedures in various chemical forms. While it may be of some benefit to your skin, there are no substantiated clinical studies to back the claims that it actually works as an “anti-aging” formula.

Cosmetic Fillers
non-animal forms of Hyaluronic acid can be found in cosmetic fillers like Restylane and Juvederm, which have been deemed safe for human use. This form of HA is injected into the skin, primarily on the face, to fill out wrinkles and fine lines as well as to plum lips. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, the use of HA in this manner can result in the following temporary conditions to the treated area: bruising, redness and swelling. Additionally, this treatment is not permanent and will have to be repeated frequently within a year for sustained results.The Mayo Clinic: Wrinkles

The oral intake of HA is increasing daily. In the human body HA provides the mechanism of transport to the essential nutrients from the bloodstream to the living skin cells; hydrates the skin by holding water and acts as a cushioning as well as lubricating agent against mechanical and chemical damage, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-edematous properties. It aids in the body’s water maintenance, and provides essential moisture for all the body processes and for molecular transport. Superior Coral

Factors that contribute to the degradation of HA in the body include aging,  smoking, improper diet, and excessive sun exposure. 

Hyaluronic acid supplements are derived from rooster comb or chicken sternum cartilage, and not from glucosamine and chondroitin (popular sources of joint lubricant suppliments). However, one common side effect of oral hyaluronic acid is high blood pressure. Experts recommend patients to drink excessive water after taking oral hyaluronic acid.

(Needless to say, be sure to consult your doctor before starting HA supplements, por favor)

Natural sources of hyaluronic acid are fresh vegetables, low-iron foods,  fermented soy products. Any kind of meat that has skin and large amounts of connective tissue will be high in hyaluronic acid. Cuts of meat that are from areas that the animal uses to support itself (such as the legs, chest and rump) are high in collagen and connective tissue. There is also evidence that sweet and other starchy roots contain high levels of HA.



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