What I Know about Hyaluronic Acid
There is tons of info out there if you google hyaluronic acid starting with Wikipedia. I don’t want to cut and paste and worry about giving proper attribution so this is what I know in my own words.
What is it? A substance in all animals and plants. It is not an acid in the sense it is harsh or acid-like or like AHA is an Exfoliant. It is the opposite and very soothing and gentle.
What is its name? Hyaluronic acid, hyaluronate, sodium hyaluronate, Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide (botanical hyaluronic acid), HA
Where does it come from?
Animals, most commonly rooster combs. From plants either a biological fermentation of plant material or extracted from the seed polysaccharide of the plant Cassia Angustifolia.
My Skin Sanctuary skincare does not use animal products. I have no problem with either Cassia Angustifolia or produced from the bacterial fermentation of other plant material. Both are produced in a lab but come from plants.
What does it really do effectively?
It depends on what form it is used in.
Surgically it is used in eye operations and injected into knee and other joints. It acts as a lubricant and probably more for the eyes and is a lubricant and cushion for the joints.
Injected under the skin for fillers in cosmetic surgery. The hyaluronic acid naturally degrades over time but are said to last up to one year.
Taken orally it is supposed to boost collagen production but if you take too much it can cause diarrhea.
Applied topically in skincare it adds moisture, helps fight free radicals and can protect against sun damage. How much and how effectively depends on which type or size are used and most of all the concentration of pure hyaluronate to the other ingredients in the product.
WHY DOES SIZE MATTER?
You can buy it in 4 sizes. HA is measured in daltons which are some kind of sub atomic measurement. (I am not a scientist).
- The largest size or regular size is between 1 million and 1.5 million daltons. It does not penetrate the skin. It forms a permeable barrier that attracts and holds water. When mixed in water only it forms a gel. The recommended concentration is between .01 to 1.0 %. I don’t happen to use this one in any of our products.
- The next size comes in 80,000 – 110,000 daltons. The recommended concentration is .01 – 2.0 %. One percent greater than all the others. All I know about this one is that a Japanese study used it at a 2% concentration in a lotion and had measureable results for improving eczema. I have no information on its penetrating ability so assume it does not. I think I will get some and make an eczema crème to go with our eczema bar and Itch No More Crème.
- The first size that is known to penetrate the upper layers of the skin is Low Molecular Weight (LMW) at < 50,000 daltons. Average size is advertised at 17,000 daltons. Recommended concentration is .01-1.0 %.
- The smallest size is Ultra Low Molecular Weight (ULMW) at < 5,000 daltons. This is the one I use in the Intense Hydrating Serum 100% Hyaluronic Acid serum. When it penetrates the upper layers you are instantly moisturized. Your skin can feel tight and that is OK. It means you are fully hydrated.
What does 100% or Pure Hyaluronic Acid Mean?
It means that you have used the maximum recommended concentration. These are from the manufacturer and no one would exceed them if they cared about safety. Most companies do not come close to the maximum amount. SO for all but #3 above that would be a 1% concentration. This is 1% concentration to all the ingredients in the product you are buying, whether it is a lotion, cream or serum. That would be 1 gram for every 99 grams of all of the other ingredients. This is known as a 100% Hyaluronic acid serum or product. No one pays for the full 1% (or 2% in the case of #2) without advertising that it is 100%. Who would do that? So that is your first clue as to the actual concentration.
Now the simplest serum is HA with just pure water. When hyaluronic acid is added to creams or lotions or other products it is usually added in this form. So I can make a cream with 5, 10 or even 15% hyaluronic acid serum. But what is the final concentration? It is 5% X 1% = .05 X .01 = .0005 %. That is much less that a 100% Hyaluronic serum which is 1 or 2%. (nothing in between)
Our Intense Hydrating Serum is an organic aloe vera juice with the full 1% HA, a natural gelling agent and some ocean minerals for nutrients with a natural preservative.
So that is the reason you will see products costing from $15.00 to $75.00 with hyaluronic acid in the name. I will do another blog soon about how to read labels.