Why is your hyaluronic acid skincare drying you out? Troubleshooting this buzzy ingredient
Gorgeous girls stay hydrated
Let's paint a mental picture: You're sat at your vanity, excited to give your new hyaluronic acid-infused product a whirl. All is going well at first—your skin looks glowy, feels bouncy, and—as far as you can tell—is more moisturised. Unfortunately, however, looks can be deceiving—when you wake up, your skin is a desert. In other words, it's completely void of moisture of any kind. Why?
Well, to understand that, we'll have to delve into the science behind hyaluronic acid first. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring substance within the body. It's everywhere, from your connective tissue to your eyes, and plays a crucial part in countless bodily processes. As a skincare ingredient, in particular, it acts as a humectant which essentially means that it can bind water to itself (up to 1000 times its weight, to be exact)—this function makes it such a must-have in any skincare regime. Essentially, when used topically, it draws water into the skin and keeps it well-hydrated.
Our picks for the best hyaluronic acid products:
Sounds promising, right? There's a reason why this ingredient has been on the tips of everybody's tongues in the last five years, but it doesn't come without its drawbacks. With this in mind, it may come as a shock to hear that hyaluronic acid may also cause dryness. Now, it seems antithetical given what we've just asserted, but in low humidity conditions, it can cause dryness by drawing moisture out from the skin instead of into the skin, increasing transepidermal water loss.
Fortunately, the solution is simple. To avoid transepidermal water loss and dryness, seal your hyaluronic acid step in with an occlusive moisturiser; something that creates a physical barrier on the skin to prevent water loss.
Our picks for occlusive heroes:
A few moisturising ingredients to look out for include glycerin, shea butter, petrolatum, lanolin and plant oils like rosehip or squalene oil. Alternatively, ceramides are another great option, strengthening your skin's barrier to help prevent moisture loss.
In addition to the ingredients you use, the order and technique of your skincare routine are also important things to consider. For instance, when layering up your routine, make sure to start with your hyaluronic acid serum (or product) and finish off with your occlusive to "seal it all in", so to speak.
Need a more in-depth guide? Have a look at our guide to layering your skincare in the correct order
Better yet, when applying your hyaluronic acid step, make sure that you're applying it to damp skin. Hyaluronic acid doesn't actually contain water, so if you apply it over dry skin, it may end up pulling moisture out of the deeper layers of your skin to hydrate the surface layers, leaving you more dehydrated overall.
So, in order to reap the benefits and get your skin looking deliciously plump and glowy, you'll need to give it some moisture to hold on to. Whether you're straight out of the shower or you're using a facial mist before your hyaluronic acid treatment, damp skin is an absolute necessity.
If you've tried all of the above and still can't get the ingredient to work for you, fret not—this is not the end. You can always give polyglutamic acid a try—not only is it thought to hold more water than hyaluronic acid, but it also helps the skin produce more of the good stuff. Neat!
Find more skincare tips like this here.