Hyaluronic acid, the miracle plumper molecule is well known in the World of Beauty, but what is it exactly? Is it some sort of magical water magnet? Or a super special sponge? Well, sort of. Let me explain:
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a long chain polysaccharide, essentially a large sugar molecule, the posh name for this type of molecule is a glycosaminoglycan. It is found in connective tissue throughout our bodies – there is however an incredible 50% found in our skin. It is a key building block in the extracellular matrix. This is an intricate meshwork that holds all our bodies specialist cells in place, without it we would essentially be a mass of cells with no form. Hence this ‘scaffolding’ for our cells is essential in giving us form and structure. Collagen is another key ingredient in this framework. However, we can cover that in another blog post.
As well as its structural role, hyaluronic acid is a key factor in retaining moisture. One molecule of HA can hold up to 1000 molecules of water. As we age, the level of HA in our bodies reduces. This is a normal process and contributes to our well-known signs of ageing, i.e. fine lines, wrinkles, dry skin and so on.
Retaining moisture in the skin plays a significant role in the health and integrity of our largest organ. The more moisture we have in our skin, the healthier it will be.
Because of the effects HA has on the skin, it has now become a common ingredient found in injectable fillers and leads to the instant plumping effect seen in many aesthetic procedures. Although the molecule is far too large to penetrate the skin to reach the dermis (deep skin tissue layer), it has been found to have some beneficial effects when used as a topical formulation, hence the increase in creams and serums containing this ‘beauty sponge’.
However, HA when found in fillers, topical products and now some revolutionary cosmeceuticals (ingestible beauty supplements) contains the same type of HA – by that I mean they are all the same length. However, in our bodies and especially in our skin, HA comes in a range of different lengths and is in a constant cycle of degradation and regeneration. Therefore, using HA’s of the same length does not replicate the natural structure of the skin. This is where a new discovery in the HA space is already making waves. The hyaluronan complex (HC), a simple but extremely effective concept that is changing the way the beauty industry uses HA. The HC is essentially a mixture of HA molecules that replicate the mixture of lengths found in the skin. The results with this formula have been nothing short of game-changing. Overall producing 20% improvements over HA alone. The complex is just starting to gain a following in the beauty space and will no doubt be the go-to replacement for HA in the future.
It just goes to show, when it comes to anything to do with the human body, the closer the match to the natural state that you produce, the more beneficial it will be.
Pupinder S Ghatora MPharm MRPharmS SCS