All you need to know about Hyaluronic Acid and its benefits.
Beauty and fashion fads in skincare and health regimen, pass as new breakthroughs revolutionise the industry. One of the few “fixed constants” is the compound found in the current range of beauty products as the main stay ingredient that has been in the industry for several decades.
Most call it the modern application of the ‘fountain of youth’ in a bottle and it’s a far cry from the popular Botox which was a trending injectable filler that expands and freeze the dermal layer of the skin.
Its name, is Hyaluronic Acid (HA).
Hyaluronic Acid is a glycosaminoglycan, a polysaccharide. The compound is naturally found on the skin, and works to maintain the elasticity of the skin. It is also found in the vitreous membrane of the eyes as well as in the joints of the body.
From ages 25 and upwards, the body’s reserves of collagen in which HA is a part of, decreases by 2%. Collagen, is a protein mostly found in skin and cartilage. As humans age, visible signs of aging are notable loss of skin elasticity and firmness, slow water retention, sagging skin, wrinkles, laughter lines and stretch marks. In our era where global environmental pollution wrecks more and more havoc to our immune system, the aging process deteriorates further in stark contrast to technological advancement.
Hyaluronic Acid was discovered in 1943 by Karl Meyer and his colleague, John Palmer of Columbia University, New York. They were the pioneers who isolated the compound from the vitreous body of cows’ eyes.
In 1942, Ender Balazs patented the first application of the compound as a substitute for egg white in bakery products.
Further studies in the 1950s found the chemical structure which saw that the compound is composed of two sugar molecules. These are D-glucuronic acid and D-N-acetyl. It was coined Hyaluronic from the Greek root word “Hyalos”, which means “glass”; and “-uronic”, for the sugar found in it.
Extracting Hyaluronic Acid primarily came from animal vertebrae (bovine and avian) and later from bacterium. It was found to have medical applications mostly relating to eye surgery, orthopedics and plastic surgery.
In the beauty industry, the most used method for a youthful look is usage of Hyaluronic Acid is by facial masks, serums, creams, tablets, and dermal fillings.
Masks, serums and creams are applied topically. The usage keeps the collagen levels in the skin supple. Users of such products, testify to it. For example, a medical student uses it to remove eye bags and stress lines caused by lack of sleep due to excessive intake of caffeine. She attests to using the serum with moisturizer. “The serum literally ‘sits’ on the skin for 10-15 minutes because of the large molecular structure of the compound and later, moisturizer is applied for better absorption.” She also advised that she stays “hydrated inside-out. Use the product for external use as well as take steps in keeping a healthy lifestyle.” A 30-year old claims she is prone to hormonal breakouts, has large pores and oily skin. In the past, she had tried beauty techniques and gone to spas which did very little in reducing the appearance of acne. Her routine with the compound wasn’t noticeable until after two months of usage. An older user in her 50s, uses day and night lotions together with the serum. It didn’t completely eradicate the crows feet and wrinkles, but it improves her overall appearance.
The best forms of Hyaluronic Acid found in creams, lotions and moisturizers are: sodium hyaluronate, hydrolysed hyaluronic Acid and sodium acetyl hyaluronate. In skincare, these could be used separately or combined.
The option of taking it orally is by prescription. Tablets are taken as supplements when the option of injection is unbearable. It gives structure and moisture to the damaged tissue albeit slow results. Users who have taken such medications prescribed, are mostly afflicted by bone disorders and diseases such as rheumatism, osteoporosis and arthritis. A man, whose hiking career has taken a toll on his knees, said the changes made all the difference where other means failed. Although he had to say the pills are quite large to swallow compared to all other medication he has used so far. Another user, an older man battling with arthritis, used 100mg per day for three weeks, and saw that his aches and pains were all gone. His Doctor then explained that for his age, it was a testament to the fact that his natural reserves of HA, were boosted.
Sun exposure, gravity and years of facial muscle movements leaves telltale signs such as fine lines and wrinkles. As we age, changes in skin soft tissue results in the gradual breakdown of the inner and outer layers. It is due to this we have two types of skin aging: Internal and External.
The former is caused by changes in different skin layers. There is the flattening of the epidermal-dermal interface, a decrease in the amount of melanocytes and langerhans cells in the epidermis, a loss of dermal papillae, dermal atrophy, a notable lack in number of mast cells, fibroblasts and blood vessels, loss of elastic tissue in the sub-epidermal network, abnormal growth and finally fragmented elastic tissue in the reticular dermis.
The latter, external aging, is influenced by solar exposure and ultraviolet radiation. This is seen by the deterioration of the elastic tissue and decrease in cellular structure. Photo-damage induces elastosis perforans serpiginosa: an overgrowth of abnormal elastic fibers as well as increase the population of histiocytes fibroblasts and mast cells. In both cases of aging, collagen content and melanocytes activity are decreased and wound healing is suppressed.
To deal with age-related changes in skin quality and appearance, several treatments have been proposed. Development of soft tissue fillers(dermal fillings) can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles short or long term. The most preferred treatment used, is the short-termed. This has minimal side effects, is easily administered, and have minimal pain once injected at reasonable cost. However, depending on the residence time in tissue, dermal fillings are either temporary, semi-permanent or permanent. Also, they are classified based on their composition with primary extracts such as collagen, animal derived or synthetic hyaluronic acid, poly-L-lactic Acid, calcium hydroxyapatite, poly methyl methacrylate and polyacrylamide gel.
A lot of chemical medications are required in order to apply Hyaluronic Acid as a dermal filling. The compound is usually provided with instructions and mostly is available in powdered form, which when mixed with water, has a viscous consistency. Used this way, the solution, termed “Free Hyaluronic Acid”, is raw and unmodified. It greatly reduces the “staying power”, if not complete elimination.
Types of injectable dermal fillings that currently trend are termed “Hyaluronic Wrinkle Fillers”. HWF is popular among A- List celebrities who prefer this to the previous use of Botox injections. Research has shown that repeated usage of HWF, in fewer dosages, may help stimulate the body’s natural production of collagen. Users has seen a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles as well an increase in skin’s volume. It fills out facial areas in the lips, cheeks, jawline, forehead and limbs. The treatment, although fast-track, isn’t without risks. The synthetic wrinkle filler version obtained from the laboratory culture samples, is semi-permanent, but its side effects of skin discolouration won’t leave the body spanning weeks to months. This is called the “Tyndell Effect”. Other allergic reactions , range from permanent bumps and rashes to even rarer cases of blindness or paralysis.
It should be noted however, that the HWF application is strictly recommended by a certified dermatologist. The ideal prescription would given with thorough diagnosis.
According to Science Direct, a well known research website well versed in scientific research, claims that the use of HA fillers are gaining dominance globally.
Fortunately, most complications associated with HA filler injectables are mild and self-limiting. Rare vascular and infectious complications associated with HA filler injections can be limited by thorough understanding of facial vascular anatomy, proper medical administration with meticulous skin primers. Identifying an early sign helps with timely medical care which could significantly reduce long term complications associated with it.
Hyaluronic Acid has been accredited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the certifiable dermal filling. Statistics saw 2006, as when the cosmetic injection became the second most popular non-surgical procedure for women and the third most popular for men respectively. It is chemically engineered to extend its half lifespan. A thing to note is, Hyaluronic Acid is not meant to structure collagen and neither does increase its shortage in aged skin. It only works by augmenting volume.
In the past, especially during early 80s right through the 90s, collagen-based fillings were used extensively in the United States. Although the compound had its start in Europe in the mid- nineties, it became the standard in skincare and was a major breakthrough in the beauty industry.
Testifying about pros of Hyaluronic Acid, respected dermatologists worldwide agree that it makes the skin more plumper, firmer and emits a luminous glow only seen in youthful skin. Its unique ability lies in attracting and locking-in moisture thereby leaving lackluster skin looking more radiant.
The cons of Hyaluronic Acid, although uncommon, are seen in skin discoloration, blisters, swollen areas, itchiness, chills or heat flashes. For one, it is NOT to be used by pregnant women and lactating mothers. Studies have shown that lingering residue may affect the development of preterm foetus or newborn. The FDA has approved the use HA dermal filler treatments ONLY to persons over the ages of 21 for “temporary effects”.
For people with allergic reaction to poultry, caution is advised to stay away as Hyaluronic Acid sourced from rooster combs, might trigger reactions that could lead to discomfort and hemorrhagic complications.
For people who wishes to stick to enhancing their body’s natural supply of Hyaluronic Acid, Cheryl Woodman gives the following tips:
-Glycine Saponin is claimed to stimulate the skin´s own hyaluronic acid production by well over 200%.
-Vitamin C Supplements boosts the immune system and improve overall health.
-Green tea extract – an antioxidant that filters out free radicals and at 1% is found in body lotion.
-AHAs, also known as glycolic acid, is a great skin toner.
In summary, we find that HA supplements boosts skin moisture and limit the appearance of facial age telltale signs. Surface treatments is proven to soothe redness and dermatitis, while injections on the other hand, make skin appear youthful.
Application of HA ointment and lotion to open wounds, speeds up recovery time. It is unknown whether supplementing it with other compounds would effect similar results.
HA tables are just as effective in reducing pain in people with with bone disorders such as osteoarthritis. Injections may be a viable option, but not without side effects.
HA medication that combines vitamin supplements containing hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate, may help limit symptoms of pH imbalance in some people.
HA is naturally sourced in the vitreous area, and is predominantly a vital ingredient in eye solutions to relieve dry eye symptoms. It remains to be seen however in science that combining the compound would reveal agreeable augmentation.
Studies stemming from cultured HA samples reveal that high doses of the prescribed drug, maintains bone mass and delays the onset of collagen disintegration.
It also relieves bladder pain when surgically inserted directly through a catheter, as opposed to oral use of the compound which may not have the parallel results.
HA is NOT to be ingested when pregnant or breastfeeding infants. People having a cancer history, should consult their physician.
Hyaluronic acid is well known for its skin benefits, especially alleviating dry skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and speeding up wound healing.
Beneficial for a variety of conditions, especially those related to skin and joint health.
The concluding words of Dr. Oz sums it up as the key to most skin related problems and with its added bonus of protecting the body from the Ultraviolet radiation where the compound is infused with sunscreen. It is ideal for rather troublesome cases of combination skin that breeds acne.
Therefore, take great care of your skin.