When it comes to frequently bandied about beauty 'buzzwords', it doesn't get much more popular than hyaluronic acid.
However, with the ongoing popularity of similar-sounding ingredients (salicylic acid and glycolic acid come to mind), it can be confusing to know exactly what role hyaluronic acid plays in our already-packed skincare routines.
To cut through the confusion and break down the benefits, we consulted skincare expert and founder of Vita-sol Nutriceuticals, Fiona Tuck, to learn everything there is to know about hyaluronic acid.
FIRSTLY, WHAT IS HYALURONIC ACID?
"Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan (GAG) produced by the human body," Tuck said.
In layman's terms, it's a type of carbohydrate that occurs naturally in the human body, and when it's not bound to other molecules, it binds to water, thereby helping the skin to retain moisture and for a firmer, plumper finish.
"The primary role of hyaluronic acid in the skin is to provide turgidity or firmness to the skin by supporting collagen, elastin and appendages in the cellular spaces in the dermis," Tuck explained.
WHY IS HYALURONIC ACID GOOD FOR THE SKIN?
"Hyaluronic acid has superior moisture binding capability and works by attracting and locking in moisture to the skin," Tuck explained.
"[Unfortunately] hyaluronic acid production decreases with age, which can result in dehydrated, thinner, wrinkled skin."
Thanks to its ability to attract and bind to 1,000 times its own weight in water, hyaluronic acid has become a go-to ingredient in many anti-ageing products.
IN WHAT KIND OF PRODUCTS IS HYALURONIC ACID TYPICALLY FOUND?
"Hyaluronic acid is found in hydrating skincare products such as hydrating spritzs, serums, gels and masks. It's also used in the cosmetic medical arena and is commonly utilised as a cosmetic filler that is injected into the skin to minimise lines and loss of volume," Tuck told BAZAAR.
IS THERE ANYTHING PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW BEFORE USING HYALURONIC ACID?
Although hyaluronic acid is suitable for all skin types, it is particularly useful for those who typically suffer from dehydrated skin or are seeing the signs of ageing, Tuck noted.
Tuck also emphasised that it's important to remember that whilst hyaluronic acid is produced naturally by living organisms, it is synthetically manufactured in skincare products to ensure maximum safety and ensure the product is free of contaminants.
"Staying hydrated by ensuring adequate water intake is important for hyaluronic acid quality. In times of dehydration the body will use hyaluronic acid as an emergency water reservoir which results in further dehydration and wrinkling of the skin," explained Tuck.