'Miracle ingredients' come and go in the skincare world - one minute we're all patting rosehip oil into our faces (because, like, Miranda Kerr said to) and the next, we're buying up on AHAs like they're going out of fashion. But (kind of like AHAs) hyaluronic acid (HA) is one of those ingredients that's deserving of its place in your skincare routine - and it's one you should be using from now until forever. "In the skin, HA's primary role is to maintain the skin's moisture levels, and it has the unique ability of being able to hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water," says Chiza Westcarr, Global Clinical Education and Development Manager at Advanced Skin Technology. You know what that means: smoother, softer, months-worth-of-good-night's-sleep kind of skin.
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The hard-working chemical (which also goes by the name hyaluronan) occurs naturally in the skin but, just like collagen production and the ability to pull of thigh splits, drops off as we get older. The result? Wrinkles and a loss of volume that translates to sagging skin. Not pretty. Enter HA 2.0 - the lab-derived version we can slather on (and increasingly, inject) for smoother and more supple skin.
Don't be put off by the word 'acid' - HA is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive, and doesn't make you more susceptible to sunburn like acid peels can. "All skin types will benefit from using HA in skincare preparations to prevent dehydration and also to assist with slowing down the ageing process," says Westcarr. "HA can be used as a standalone ingredient, as a component in moisturiser or a lighter-weight hydrating serum, with the key benefit of replenishing and preventing further water loss in the skin's upper layers." Given the ingredient's popularity, more and more brands are signposting HA as a key ingredient, but it can also be found in the most tried and tested formulas: take Estee Lauder's best-selling Advanced Night Repair, which is rich in the stuff.
If you want to fast-track the results (and aren't afraid of needles), you can always consider injecting it: HA is a common ingredient in dermal fillers. "HA fillers replace volume loss in the deeper layers of the skin, providing a support to collagen and elastin fibres, and improving the appearance of lines and wrinkles," explains Westcarr. "They've been around for years and are both highly popular and extremely safe due to their bio-compatibility with human tissue and zero granuloma risk." Would you go there? If not (baby steps), try out the HA-infused formulas pictured above - it's in everything from eye cream to lip balm, primer to powder. It's time to plump up.