Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is all the rage these days. And rightfully so, as it is a truly amazing skin hydrator. In fact, it is able to hold 1000 times its weight in water and if used properly, it can hydrate at the skin's surface and penetrate the layers beneath it, helping smooth and plump the skin's texture.
Hyaluronic acid – or hyaluronan – is a clear, gel-like substance that is naturally produced inside our bodies. With age, though, our ability to produce enough of this substance diminishes slowly. It is not only due to the natural aging process but also due to exposure to toxins and pollutants such as ultraviolet radiation, smog, tobacco smoke, that the amounts of this hydrator and lubricant slowly decreases in our skin.
Hyaluronic Acid Supplementation
This is why it makes sense to take Hyaluronic Acid internally, in form of supplements, and externally as a topical in facial serums, gels, creams, and lotions. Taken internally, hyaluronan can help decrease wrinkles and lead to overall improvement in skin’s suppleness and general appearance (check out full study here). When taken orally, HA can also help lubricate bones and relieve joint pain, aid with some digestive issues (e.g. acid reflux), as well as lead to the strengthening of hair and alleviating dry eye symptoms.
Hyaluronic Acid Serum Benefits
Applied topically, HA will plump and hydrate your skin and make it look and feel smooth, dewy, and radiant.
“Topically, Hyaluronic Acid has water storing properties, making it an ideal swelling agent and lubricant, enabling its incorporation into cosmetics leading to a perceptible and visible improvement of skin condition.” (Lotioncrafter)
When choosing hyaluronic acid to use on your skin, it is crucial to watch out for different molecular weights. Not to get too geeky here, but a little bit of science is in order.
There are two types of hyaluronan on the market: high molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HMW-HA) and low (or ultra-low) molecular weight hyaluronic acid (LMW-HA). The high molecular form of hyaluronic acid has much larger molecules and when mixed with water, it binds to it, forming a gooey gel which has a better hydrating effect than the low-molecular form.
Unlike regular HA, Hyaluronic Acid LMW will not form a gel in water. It is composed of much smaller molecules, and they don’t bind so well to water but they can penetrate the skin much easier. BUT, I would caution against using low molecular weight hyaluronic acid. In several studies, it has been linked to increased inflammation, and thus could be seen as a potential contributor to chronic diseases, including cancer.
“HMW-HA promotes regenerative healing in adult wounds. On the other hand, LMW-HA and intermediate-weight HA increase the expression of macrophage inflammatory proteins…, which may suggest that LMW-HA is important in the induction of the inflammatory cascade.” (Study)
Hyaluronic Acid and Aloe Vera Botanical Serum
“Hyaluronic Acid forms a thin transparent visco-elastic surface film that helps to preserve the characteristics of youthful and healthy skin: suppleness, elasticity and tone.” (Lotioncrafter)
Ever since I learned about the amazing hydrating and plumping abilities of hyaluronic acid (HMW-HA), I wanted to include it in my organic handmade skincare. It turns out, it is ridiculously easy to make. Just purchase the powder from a reputable source, making sure that the molecular weight is clearly stated and that it is high.
The powder tends to clump when added to distilled water or hydrosol, so you can either pre-mix it with glycerin (itself a great moisture binding agent), and then add it to your water. Or, you can add it to water in a jar with cover, shut it tight, shake and mix, and place it in the fridge for an hour or so. After this time to hydrate, mix the gel well and use it as is or add to the rest of your formulation.
In my serum, I add another superb hydrator to quench skin's thirst instantly and improve its ability to hold moisture over time: Aloe Vera Juice. If you are a true purist and grow your own Aloe in the garden or a pot indoors, you can scoop some of the gel from inside the leaves. Other than that, just get a good quality Aloe Vera juice (without any additives).
I also add one or two botanical extracts containing active Flavonoids and Essential Oil compounds to my serum: my faves are Chamomile (anti-inflammatory and soothing to the skin) or Helichrysum Extract (calming and anti-aging). Added Essential Oils work to target wrinkles and fine lines, improve scaring and other irregularities, tighten and help diminish the appearance of discoloration on the skin: Geranium, Juniper Berry, Frankincense Carterii, and Lavender.
Virtually weightless, the serum disappears into my skin almost in an instant. It can be used alone as a serum or mixed in with other serums, gels, and creams. I use AM and PM on clean, almost-dry skin. Moist skin absorbs product better than dry skin, so it makes sense to apply while skin is still slightly damp. In the PM, I follow the serum with the heavier or oil-based products like the my 14 Oils Facial Serum.
This recipe will make 100g of the finished product, with 2% HA concentration. (Contains affiliate links)
2 g HMW-HA
60g distilled water or hydrosol of choice (my favorite is this one)
25g Aloe Vera
5g Chamomile Extract (find here)
5g Helichrysum Extract (find here)
3g Leucidal Liquid (preservative accepted by the Whole Foods
Acceptable Premium Preservative List, approved for use as an ingredient in ECOCert Certified Organic products)
Pre-mix HA with distilled water or hydrosol. Let stand in fridge for one hour or until fully hydrated and gel-like without clumps.
Add other ingredients, mix well, put into bottles. Done!
Use it daily and see it do its magic.
In case you don’t feel like making one yourself, pop into my Etsy store where I offer fresh batches for sale. It is customizable, so if you tell me what specific skin concerns you’ve got, I can add essential oils or botanical extract to address these accordingly.