Hyaluronic acid is one of those superstar ingredients that has survived passing fads and, thankfully, is here to stay. Originally the main ingredient of in-office, injectable fillers, volume-boosting hyaluronic acid can now be found in cult-favorite creams, skin-saving serums and even makeup. Here’s a cheat sheet so that your beauty business staff can be informed about this effective skin hydrator.
THE BENEFITS OF HA
Hyaluronic acid, unlike the similarly named alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), does not strip the skin. AHAs, made of fruit acids, gently buff and brighten the outermost layer of the skin, which leaves a complexion smooth, soft and radiant. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is an entirely different beauty gem to be cherished. A water-loving, viscous-like molecule, HA is actually found naturally in the body. In fact, the body of an average adult has approximately 15 grams of HA, one-third of which is turned over and synthesized daily! However, by middle age, our bodies decrease production of HA, resulting in loss of moisture, wrinkles and the telltale signs of aging.
Scientifically classified as a polysaccharide, HA inherently provides cushioning, long-lasting moisture and lubrication for joints, nerves, hair, skin and even eyes. But its claim to fame is its power to plump and perfect the skin. Its impressive capacity to attract and retain up to 1,000 times its weight in water makes HA an integral component of the skin’s susceptible lipid layer and natural moisturizing factors– and, in skincare products, an enticing aging antidote. In fact, 1 gram of HA can hold up to 6 liters of water, making it effective in preventing the transepidermal water loss that leads to dry, flaky patches and skin laxity.
What does all this mean for your customer’s skin health and appearance? When applied via supercharged serums, rich creams and hydrating masks, HA plumps and fills fine lines–smoothing wrinkles while simultaneously boosting collagen production. Almost instantly after being applied, HA makes skin feel smooth and pampered.
With regimented use, firmer and more youthful-looking skin can be achieved over time. Though collagen production begins to take a nosedive as early as age 27, a daily slathering of an HA-infused serum or cream, combined with an HA-rich oral supplement, will help support collagen production and retain more of those skin-smoothing reserves. In addition to addressing aging concerns, HA’s moisture-binding abilities make it a heavenly humectant. HA delivers intense hydration to help prevent daily moisture loss, hence keeping at bay excessive dryness, premature aging and wrinkles.
But there’s another term you’ve probably seen printed on the backs of boxes and bottles: sodium hyaluronate. This generic, salt-solution version of HA has been bioengineered to a lower molecular weight. Oftentimes, you’ll notice products containing both HA and sodium hyaluronate in their formulations, making said products excellent picks for users looking to reap benefits on multiple levels. But there is a slight difference in delivery between the two ingredients, and choosing what to line your shelves with can be a little tricky.
BIGGER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER
HA has been used for years as the hero ingredient in many prized products–and is the main ingredient in cosmetic fillers such as Juvéderm and Restylane. But it’s sodium hyaluronate that has proved to be infinitely more effective when it comes to topical application; that’s because of its considerably smaller molecular size. Sodium hyaluronate was specifically developed to penetrate the skin’s epidermal layer, delivering more desirable, quicker and longer-lasting results. However, if a product touts a considerably high content of sodium hyaluronate, take a pass. Since sodium hyaluronate is salt-derived, high levels potentially can have the counterintuitive effect of dehydrating the skin.
Another component to look for among the top five ingredients listed on the label of a skincare product is hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, or nano hyaluronic acid. Hydrolyzed HA is simply HA in its purest form that has been modified chemically to be lighter in molecular weight, allowing for superior delivery.
The last factor to consider is price. Hydrolyzed HA and pure HA are more costly than their sodium hyaluronate counterpart.
The great thing about HA, hydrolyzed HA and sodium hyaluronate is that all skin types can benefit from them– even oily or problematic skin. For customers who long for intense, all-day hydration and don’t mind a super silky feel, suggest serums infused with hydrolyzed HA and sodium hyaluronate. For those seeking to tackle firming and antiaging concerns, recommend serums with low levels of sodium hyaluronate. All of your customers can layer serums with an HA- or sodium hyaluronate-imbued cream to seal the deal and round out their regimens.
4 WAYS TO STOCK IT
Offer your customers a variety of items to suit all of their hyaluronic acid needs.
When choosing what to carry in your store, seek out skincare products that contain a complexion- correcting combo of hydrolyzed HA with a low level of sodium hyaluronate, which will prevent the skin from drying out. Here’s what to look for in each type of product:
Serums and Creams: While serums are categorically more apt at penetrating the skin (due to their smaller molecular weight, high concentration of super-boosted actives and lightweight texture), both serums and creams are surefire additions to any antiaging regimen. It’s crucial to consider products that are vegan-formulated and devoid of potentially harmful ingredients such as parabens, glycols, alcohols and sulfates. Creams and moisturizers containing low levels of sodium hyaluronate are also great go-tos for layering over serums.
Sheet Masks: You may find that many of your younger customers gravitate toward sheet masks. Be sure to provide options infused with both hydrolyzed HA and sodium hyaluronate. Sheet masks typically pack about a week’s worth of serum into each sheet, so the skin is receiving a supercharged dose of antioxidants, hydration, vitamins, minerals and other actives. Plus, most HA-infused sheet masks contain collagen and other Korean-inspired ingredients that have been clinically proven to show remarkable results.
Supplements: Oral supplements containing 100 milligrams of pure, vegan-derived HA plus a healthy dose of fish collagen peptides provide a dynamic duo for your customers looking for the Fountain of Youth in a jar. Supplements can be taken as a beauty booster in addition to or in place of topical creams.
Makeup: The ingredient of the moment even has made its way to the cosmetics counter, inside blushes, bronzers, foundations and lipsticks. However, be wary. Their HA content is typically low—teetering on the point of nonexistence. Makeup manufacturers often put HA in products as a marketing strategy—so don’t tout its benefits unless you know a product contains at least 0.1 to 2 percent.