In this video I try to summarise Hyaluronic acid and how it works as well as the importance of having different molecular weights in a serum!
I have included products from different brands and at different price points, so you can see what product would suit you the best.
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First of all, what is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic is a humectant, or a hydrator which decreases in the skin as we age. It is able to hold over 1,000 times its weight in water which makes it good at plumping out fine lines – it works to increase the water content of the skin and is typically used to tackle dehydration. Additionally, Hyaluronic acid can be used before the treatment stage of your skincare routine to allow any products applied afterwards to be absorbed more effectively, hence why HA is often included in toners or in essences which are basically the same thing. But HA can also be included in serums themselves to help draw the treatment into the skin.
Hyaluronic Acid is typically applied onto damp skin as it is seen as more effective to do so, to draw the water into the skin instead of pulling water from the skin and enables the hyaluronic acid to absorb better.
Hyaluronic acid (not its salt form sodium hyaluronate) itself is an anti-oxidant that can help with skin healing and ease inflammation.
Hyaluronic acid when applied topically is too big to pass through the skin’s dermis (it is 3,000nm) and the intercellular space of the skin is 15-50nm. Therefore the salt of hyaluronic acid which is sodium hyaluronate, and smaller molecular weights are able to penetrate into the sub dermal layers of the skin, hydrating the dermis.
Which is what can be seen in the image.
Multiple forms of Hyaluronic acid in a serum is good as the larger molecules remain on top of the skin forming a barrier to help prevent TEWL and attract moisture from the atmosphere to keep the skin’s surface layers hydrated. Whereas the medium sized HA molecules can penetrate up to a certain point, and also like the larger molecules, will form a film over the skin, except the medium sized Has hold moisture just below the stratum corneum. The smaller sized HA molecules are able to penetrate deep into the sub dermal layers
Now onto the Hyaluronic Acid products – These products all contain different amounts of different molecular structures of Hyaluronic Acid with varying price points. My aim is to show you different types of Hyaluronic acid products so that you can decide which one would suit you and your skin needs the best.
Of note! All of these products do not contain added fragrance or essential oils.
First up is from a brand everyone knows: Hada Labo! And this is their Gokujun Premium Lotion (£17 for 170ml)
My Review of the Hada Labo Premium Lotion HERE
This is an upgraded version of the regular Hada Labo Gokujun Lotion (which I have reviewed, link HERE) which contains 3 forms of Hyaluronic acid – as this contains 5 forms and Urea (a humectant) as well as additional humectants to draw in moisture into the skin and really tackle not only dehydrated skins but severely dry skins too. (And lock In hydration).
The 5 forms of Hyaluronic acid are: Hyaluronic Acid (HA), Super HA, Nano HA, Absorbent HA and 3D HA.
(Or as listed): 1.Acetyl hyaluronic acid Na (super hyaluronic acid), 2. hyaluronic acid Na, 3. hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid (nanoized hyaluronic acid), 4. hyaluronic acid hydroxypropyltrimonium (skin Adsorption-type hyaluronic acid), 5. hyaluronic acid crosspolymer Na (3D hyaluronic acid).
The regular lotion contains Hyaluronic Acid (HA), Nano HA, Super HA – 3 forms which is still good.
Swatch: When swatching, this does have a rich texture and is quite gloopy without balling up / pilling on the skin, like the Dear Klairs Supple Preparation toner does.
The regular gokujun penetrates in the inner layers of the skin – hence why it is much thinner and lighter in texture than the premium lotion, which is thicker and gloopier. As the premium lotion contains also larger sized HA molecules which form a barrier in top of the skin, trapping moisture and holding it there. So this could be used or seen more as a moisturiser compared to the regular HA lotion which would require a moisturiser on top to prevent TEWL and form that barrier on top of the skin. And with the addition of Urea, this product just delivers more hydration to the skin.
The premium lotion contains all of these molecules and therefore penetrate deep and sit on top of the skin.
The Other humectants in here include Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Diglycerin, Propylene Glycol and Urea – so I feel like many bases are covered for dehydrated and dry skins.
Comparison between the premium and the regular: Butylene Glycol (both), Glycerin (Both), Diglycerin (Premium), Propylene Glycol (Premium), Urea (Premium). Nano HA = Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic acid. Super Hyaluronic Acid = Acetyl Hyaluronic acid NA. Hyaluronic acid Na (Sodium Hyaluronate).
The product ingredient breakdown can be seen on the Incidecoder HERE
In my opinion, I would recommend this for more dry skins or if you like the feeling of a thicker toner.
The next product is from Open Formula – which is the Hyaluronic Acid Moisturising serum (£8.05 for 30ml) which contains 0.3% HA (or 0.25%) and has a pH of 4.8-5.7 (quite a large gap?)
If you would like to see the other products from Open Formula I have swatched and want to know my first impressions, then please check out my previous video.
I believe it’s called a moisturiser because Open formula are pretty proud of the fact that this delivers sustained hydration to the skin without the use of any oils (which moisturisers usually contain). And this is meant to be used like a moisturiser i.e. the directions don’t instruct you to apply anything on after this, whereas usually HA serums usually indicate a moisturiser would be beneficial to apply on top.
The key ingredients in here other than 0.25% HA is Propylene glycol (which is a humectant), seaweed extract which adds ‘minerals’ and amino acids (humectants).
This contains only 7 ingredients. Water (Aqua), Chondrus Crispus (Seaweed) Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid.
This is stated to be suitable for sensitive skins and both oily and dry skins? And when swatching this, I could see that it would work for both skin types.
I would say however that this does only contain 1 form of Hyaluronic acid – Sodium Hyaluronate, which as we know from the diagram – can’t penetrate deep down into the inner layer of the skin. It doesn’t mean that this isn’t efficient at delivering hydration to the skin, but unlike something like the Premium lotion or the MMHC from Niod (upcoming) – this doesn’t penetrate as deep into the skin while simultaneously forming a water-retaining layer on top of the skin. I would say this is more simple and good for those who like the Ordinary’s HA serum as that also contains 1 form of HA.
The Incidecoder has a product ingredient breakdown HERE
Purchase link HERE
When swatching, you can see that this product is is relatively lightweight with a hint of stickiness as regular HA serums usually have. But it does dry down and feel less sticky.
The next product is from the Inkey List: This is their Hyaluronic Acid Serum (£3.99 for 30ml) and a pH of 6.21
Other key ingredients include Tripeptides (good humectants), Glycerin (humectant) and butylene Glycol (humectant). So you can tell this formula works to draw moisture into the skin and keep it there.
This, like the open formula, contains 2% Hyaluronic Acid, however unlike Open Formula, and more similarly to the Hada Labo Gokujun (regular) lotion, this contains 3 molecular weights of Hyaluronic Acid (High, medium and low) – so like the diagram which isn’t entirely accurate for this product, theoretically it can look like this in terms of the 3 weights of HA can sit on top, enter and sink deeper into the dermis for higher efficacy of hydration and moisture.
This Hyaluronic acid serum contains 2% concentration and the Inkey list state that it’s at 3 molecular weights (High, Medium and Low) but I can only find 2 ingredients: Sodium Hyaluronate and Hyaluronic acid (sit on top of the skin), to ensure maximum absorption at every layer of the skin, so it is similar to the Gokujun lotion and Open Formula. But this does contain Matryxl 1000 (Polypeptides) which are humectants and glycerin. Matrixyl 3000™ peptide
As we know what HA does – it works across multiple layers of the skin and hydrates it. To help plump out and smooth the skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines.
Water (Aqua/Eau), Propanediol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hyaluronic Acid, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1
Swatch: This is lightweight as HA serums are. It does have a slight tackiness but not as much as one would think and of course it dries down and forms a layer on top of the skin (but still more comfortable than the ordinary’s HA serum).
My Review of the Niod MMHC is HERE
The Niod MMHC (£38 for 30ml) has a pH of 4-5.
It contains 15 forms of Hyaluronic compounds and Hyaluronic precursors (building blocks of HA) as well as peptides to boost the humectant potential of the product. It is a water-based hydrating serum that helps the skin look plump and ‘restore elasticity’
Hyaluronic acid usually refers to sodium hyaluronate which is the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid and HA serums usually contain forms of sodium hyaluronate. The difference between this product and others, Niod state is that although this does contains Sodium salt forms of Hyaluronic Acid – the formula INCLUDES 1% of direct Hyaluronic Acid which appears in the ingredients as HYALURONIC ACID. which apparently is rare in products to see at this %. Direct Hyaluronic acid apparently offers pro-repair support beyond just acting like a humectant (water drawing compound) as sodium hyaluronate does. Which means this 1% HA improves the elastic appearance of the skin instead of simply plumping it up with water.
Like the premium HA – it contains an HA crosspolymer, very-low-molecular weight Hyaluronic complex, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic complex and mid-molecular HA as well as fermentation derived (High molecular weight) Hyaluronic acid.
It is safe to say that out of all these HA serums, this one covers almost if not all of the bases in terms of HA structure and therefore HA penetration into the skin and thereby benefits to the skin.
Swatch: This is definitely the thinnest formula out of the lot – as you can see it easily runs down my hand like water. Perhaps it’s due to the fermented ingredients, but definitely this product smells like cheese (it smells the worst out of these). But I do absolutely love this HA – it is one of my favourite HA products in terms of trexture as it so rapidly absorbs and sits beautiful under foundation and makeup.
And that’s it for the video!
I hope you enjoyed reading and watching.
My Skin Type: I am acne prone and have combo skin. My skin is usually tight where the cheeks and eye area is and the outer parts of my face. My T zone is oily. My skin isn’t a fan of thick/heavy formulas so I opt for lightweight formulas to prevent it from clogging up. My skin doesn’t like essential oils either and I try to avoid fragrance when I can.
Disclaimer: I am a skincare enthusiast and not a skin expert. I am not qualified to give out dermatological advice. This type of advice should only be given by a medical practitioner. Upon trying / using any of the reviewed products on the blog, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings and please seek medical advice if needed.