It may sound counterintuitive, but for centuries women have used acids to improve the appearance of their skin. Even Cleopatra bathed daily in asses’ milk – a type of lactic acid. However, not everything you read about facial acids, including hyaluronic acid (HA), is so straightforward.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
First, it’s important to note that Hyaluronic Acid is actually produced by our own skin cells and connective tissue. It is involved in tissue repair and acts as lubrication and cushioning for joints, hair, eyes, nerves and skin.
The beauty industry uses this acid widely, because of its amazing capacity to keep in moisture – one study shows that 1 gram of HA can store up to 6 liters of water! We know that a lack of moisture is a major cause of aging in skin, hence the acid is essential in repairing the skin’s moisture barrier. Also, as we age, the amount of HA in our skin diminishes, which is where the use of HA serums comes in. But, do we really know what these magic potions contain?
HA in your skin product
Sodium hyaluronate (SH), a water-soluble salt form of HA, holds 1,000 times its weight in water. Both HA and SH are used in beauty products and generally collectively referred to as ‘HA’. However, there are important differences: SA is a smaller molecule, and hence penetrates the skin better. In contrast, in order for HA to be small enough in molecular weight to penetrate the skin surface and still hydrate it, it has to be bioengineered. What does this mean? Well, serums claiming to comprise 99% or even 75% HA actually comprise a solution of the two acids. If it was truly 90% HA, it would be a salt rock. So here, 90% means ‘90% of the total HA and SH solution’.
SH also doesn’t come in a pure form, but rather in a solution that’s mainly water. But watch out: if your skin product contains over 4% SH it can dry out the skin. The problem is that we can’t really know the precise content of the product without a lab analysis.
The real HA effect
The bottom line is that products claiming to contain just HA don’t, as the molecule alone is too big to penetrate the skin as is. You’d wait forever to redress wrinkles if you were applying it topically and, because HA molecules extract water like a sponge wherever they can, your skin would dry out and become uncomfortably tight.
More seriously, when used in dermal fillers in cosmetic surgery, HA can lead to complications such as the severing of nerves and vessels, bruising and pain, and in some cases, can even lead to the grandly-titled: granulomatous foreign body reaction. A granuloma is an inflammation found in several diseases, as a result of the immune system trying to get rid of substances (like bacteria and fungi) that it identifies as foreign, but cannot eliminate in another way.
A safer way
With all this in mind, you may well be thinking of investing in a less invasive answer to aging skin! The handheld Sensilift device, created by the medical esthetics experts at Sensica, is a non-invasive means of reducing wrinkles and fine lines, tightening up the skin and improving its appearance. Its advanced technical abilities give you the same results as visiting an expert salon, but from the comfort of your own home and at your own convenience. No downtime, no pain, no risk, no surgery!