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Many skin care bloggers and companies consider pure hyaluronic acid serum the fountain of youth. But can it really make you look younger?
If you want your skin to look younger and more radiant, you may be considering using a skin serum.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is one of the most popular skin care treatments today. But does a pure hyaluronic acid serum work? What does the research say? Do studies confirm that it would be worth it paying about $50 for a tiny 1 ounce bottle of a product such as Episilk?
Before answering that question, though, let’s take a look at what HA is and does….
What is Pure Hyaluronic Acid?
Normal, healthy joints in the human body (knees, ankles, elbows, etc.) have lubrication. The lubrication is synovial fluid. This fluid allows you to go for walks or jump up and down without experiencing pain. The older you get, the more your joints dry out. HA is a component of synovial lubricating fluid. In short, then, HA helps cushion and lubricate the joints.
Think of your body’s own HA as those gel-cushioning inserts in running shoes.
What does the mean for your skin? Well, a few signs of aging skin are wrinkles, sagging and puffiness as well as dryness. Without adequate lubrication, the tissues in your skin dry out. Your skin looks older as a result. Having a good supply of HA in your skin tissue is vital for healthy-looking skin. And, hyaluronic acid makes up a good chunk of your skin’s tissues. In fact, about 50% of the HA in your body is actually in your skin’s tissues.
Does old-looking skin mean less HA?
You might think that the older you get, the less HA you have in your body. But that might not be the case. This study analyzed HA in skin obtained at autopsy from individuals of different ages. Surprisingly, no significant differences in HA concentrations were found. Moreover, the sizes of the molecules weren’t different either.
Young and old alike had the same amount of hyaluronic acid. And the same size HA molecules. The researchers speculate that the chemical composition of your HA changes as you get older. For example, the proteins in HA might alter. Thus, when you’re much older, you don’t have less HA. But that HA isn’t quite as cushiony.
How does pure hyaluronic acid serum work?
If HA creams and pure hyaluronic acid serum doesn’t actually make you produce more HA internally, how does it work? The fact that it binds up to 1000 times its weight in water is a key selling point. This study on HA says that six liters of water can be absorbed by just one gram of HA.
Products such as Episilk, which claims to “rejuvenate skin from the inside out work by rejuvenating the body’s natural HA. Serums supposedly resurrect the gel-like cushioning action of your own HA. Consequently, your skin may feel softer. You may also experience a smoothing of crow’s feet (euphemistically: “fine lines”) and wrinkles. Moreover, Episilk serum claims to be able to renew your skin’s suppleness and elasticity. It also claims to provide “volume, form and lift” to the skin.
Are HA serums better than topical creams?
HA’s ability to reverse the effects of aging has made it a popular featured ingredient in skin care products. However, just using a topical cream with HA might not be as effective as applying a pure hyaluronic acid serum. That’s because serums penetrate the skin more than topical creams. If you use merely a topical cream with HA it might not sink into the dermis. The dermis is the deepest layer of your skin.
How is pure hyaluronic acid serum made?
If HA is naturally made in the human body, where does the HA come from? Does it come from human cadavers? Is it made in a lab? Are there HA banks like blood or sperm banks?
According to WebMD, the HA in medicine is from rooster combs. You know the peculiar-looking red, spiky, crown on a rooster’s head? That’s a rooster comb! If you’re aghast at the thought of rubbing rooster parts on your skin, don’t freak out. Pure hyaluronic acid is also made by bacteria in a lab. If you’re concerned about where your HA comes from, many brands will label their Pure hyaluronic acid serum as vegan-safe.
Is pure hyaluronic acid serum really a fountain of youth?
Not according to WebMD. An article on HA on its website says the following:
“There is no evidence to support the claim that … applying [HA] to the skin can prevent changes associated with aging.”
However, there are research studies that suggest HA can indeed benefit the skin.
Hyaluronic acid for skin
According to this study “a statistically significant moisturizing effect was observed with [HA] in the full product range—cream, serum, and lotion.” In fact, after eight weeks of treatment, the skin was significantly more hydrated. Moreover, the experiment group treated with HA demonstrated significantly finer skin structure. And that was just after two weeks of treatment. In addition, skin elasticity was improved just after two weeks of treatment and beyond.
There are other studies that also suggest HA benefits the skin. Besides being able to absorb moisture like a super sponge, there’s also another advantage of HA for skin. HA helps your body regenerate collagen. Collagen is your body’s most abundant protein. Out of the tens of thousands of different proteins in your body, about a third is collagen. Collagen is a structural protein. It helps your bones, teeth, hair, nails and joints stay strong. However, as you get into your senior years, your collagen degenerates. Just like HA, your collagen doesn’t evaporate. It just becomes, essentially, shriveled up and denatured.
Thus, the theory goes, the more HA you rub on your face, the more you’re supporting the building blocks that form collagen in your skin. This is one reason why eating foods like bone broth has become popular. Bone broth contains collagen from cow or chicken (or pork, etc.) bones. The amino acids of long-simmering bones helps your own body regenerate its collagen.
Therefore, using a pure hyaluronic acid serum and consuming bone broth on a daily basis might improve your skin’s appearance.
Hyaluronic acid serum side effects
Rubbing an acid on your face may sound dangerous and painful. However, according to WebMD, hyaluronic acid is likely safe if you rub it on your skin. Some people even get HA injections for joint pain. And HA injections aren’t only for joints. Injectible fillers for skin are just as popular as serums. Although WebMD doesn’t mention side effects of injectible fillers, there may be some side effects. Possible negative side effects include redness, swelling, and bruising at the injection site.
WebMD also adds, “Rarely, hyaluronic acid may cause allergic reactions.” And if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, there’s not enough info about the potential side effects of using a pure hyaluronic acid serum.
How to use hyaluronic acid serum
But if you want to give the pure serum a try, apply it morning and night. You can either apply with or without water. In dry climates, you may want to splash a little water on your face before applying. That way, the serum won’t suck out all the moisture from your dry skin. You can also spray some rosewater on your face before applying the serum. Remember, HA retains lots of moisture. Therefore, you don’t need to apply a lot of the serum. Especially when it’s $50 or more per ounce.