Holy Grail Humectant: Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid has been the darling of the skincare world for some time.

Viscous and transparent form

It’s made headlines in anti-aging formulas for it’s ability to penetrate your skin deeply and hydrate from within, plumping the skin and creating a more youthful look.

However, it is also the one ingredient, if you will only ever familiarize yourself with one humectant, that you should commit to memory. This is especially true for my dehydrated friends.

Dehydration means your skin lacks water. So for all that brands claim their product is suitable for every skin type, give their ingredient list a quick once over. If it contains hyaluronic acid or sodium hyaluronate (a smaller molecule), it lives up to its claim.

As someone with sensitive-allergic skin, I can’t use products with a lot of ingredients. Often times, plant extracts will irritate my skin and in some cases, are actually used to dilute the product. Here are three hyaluronic serums I’m using at the moment, accompanied by a brief review and a quick ingredient once-over.

The Plant Base: Hyaluronic Acid

$23.00, 0.68oz |20ml

Ingredient(s): Sodium Hyaluronate

Consistency: Thicker, holds its shape, viscosity is moderately high.

Review: It absorbs quickly but I usually need two to three drops before I get the levels of hydration I need. Since it is thicker, I like to mist over top and pat it in so it doesn’t leave a sticky feeling. Additionally, the twister cap can be a bit troublesome (instead of a dropper cap) so you have to close and twist the bottle again in order to get more liquid.

My issue: It’s a lot less pricey than other pure HA or SH products but the cap is not very user-friendly and the product is less than an ounce.

Sano Naturals: Hyaluronic Acid Serum+

$15.99, 1 oz| 30ml

Ingredient(s): Organic Herbal Infusion, (Organic Aloe, Witch Hazel, Botanical Hyaluronic Acid), Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Carrageenan Gum, Organic Jojoba Oil, Wildcrafted Green Tea, Geranium Essential Oil, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Vitamin E, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin

A brief review of the above ingredients: Skip if not interested


Organic Herbal Infusion: – extracting the essence of chemical compounds of plants by steeping it in a solvent
Organic Aloe: naturally occurring humectant, draws water to the skin, soothing and hydrating, (hence why it may be used in anti-aging products).
Witch Hazel: Controls sebum production, may be a mite irritating for sensitive or dry skin.
Botanical Hyaluronic Acid: Is derived from Cassia Angustifolia, read the source below for the difference between botanical, man-made, and natural HA.
Kosher Vegetable Glycerin: humectant found in triglycerides, non-synthetic, draws water to the skin.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): allows for better absorption of other products, helps rosacea,a brightener.
Hydroxyethyl Cellulose: an emulsifier, gelling and viscosity agent
Carrageenan Gum: Fragrance control (do not eat – ewg certifies it as concerning to organs).
Organic Jojoba Oil: emollient, lipid, softens the surface of the skin.
Wildcrafted Green Tea: soothing, often found in hydrating products, beneficial for anti-aging (sagging) purposes, acne, and rosacea.
Geranium Essential Oil: fragrant, regenerative properties
Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C): brightening, protects against free radical damage, regulates collagen synthesis, prevention against collagen and fragile tissue break down
Vitamin E: emollient, protects against free-radical damage, works well with Vitamin C, protects skin barrier
Sodium Benzoate: natural preservative – minimal skin irritation, (do not eat)
Potassium Sorbate: natural preservative ingredient, used for fragrance (do not eat)
Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin: skin conditioning agent, preservative

Consistency: quite liquid, low viscosity, does not hold it’s shape

Review: This product was a little bit irritating and has quite a few ingredients so I doubt it is that potent (as it claims to be). However, it is far less irritating than the next one and has decent hydrating capabilities. While it is not pure, I’ve noticed that unlike The Plant Base’s HA serum, this one doesn’t ‘leave’ your skin so quickly — which is why you need an occlusive moisturizer when using HA serums — which is beneficial in some sense. I layer this before The Plant Base Moisturizer.

Note: I’ve observed some very mild redness/flushing over the past week and may discontinue use.

2018-04-13 04275192559..jpg

Elizavecca: Hell Pore Control Hyaluronic Acid 97%

$13.00, 1.69 oz| 50ml

Ingredient(s): Niacinamide, Propylene Glycol, 1, 2-Hexanediol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Adenosine, Allantoin, Carbomer, Arginine, Fragrance, Hyaluronic Acid

A brief review of the ingredients: Feel free to skip


Niacinamide: AKA Vitamin B3, smooths skin surface, antioxidant, brightens skin, improves skin texture (dryness and flakiness), also good for improving your skin barrier
Propylene Glycol: synthetic solvent, skin irritant
1, 2-Hexanediol: mild coupling agent, humectant, potential irritant but very low
PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil: comedogenic (tends to clog), large fatty acids, emollient (I think) 
Adenosine: anti-wrinkle, check out an in-depth review HERE by Fiddy Snails
Allantoin: skin-conditioning agent, derived from plants or animals, skin protection (ewg notes a lack of data )
Carbomer: stabilize emulsion
Arginine: antioxidant, helps collagen production, an amino acid 
Fragrance: potential skin irritant – read all about it at PAULA’S CHOICE
Hyaluronic Acid: Humectant, draws water from your environment if humid, HA molecules are actually a bit too big for our skin to absorb which might be why it feels very tacky or doesn’t absorb well (my own experience).

Note: The HA actually comes last in the ingredient list – I forget which countries this is true in but often times, the order of ingredients is the percentage included in the product, in descending order.

Review: I don’t think I’m really getting my 97% after all… hmm. When I first used this, the texture put me off a little bit but it seemed ‘okay’. It was cheap and didn’t ‘seem’ to have any of the glycols I’m allergic to. Fast forward two months, I’m on my third bottle, and I suddenly realized I’m flushing a lot when I use this (I don’t know why it took me that long to notice). I’m guessing that when I applied it for the first time, I didn’t wait for it to dry so I missed out on signs of irritation. Then later on when I learned more about skincare, I just assumed whatever I was already using worked just fine.

Note**: This works great for some individuals, but at that price you can still get more minimal products that will sink into your skin better.

Overall:

If you have sensitive skin or allergic skin, look out for hyaluronic acid serums that have minimal ingredients.

Additional tips: apply an occlusive moisturizer over top immediately. If you’re in a dry climate and your have very thirsty (dehydrated) skin, chances are your skin loses moisture very quickly. You want products that are more occlusive than emollient if you are very dehydrated (a conclusion I reached through personal experience).

Sources:

https://www.rainshadowlabs.com/Organic-Herbal-Infusion-in-Skin-Care-Products_b_296.html

HA – https://joshrosebrook.com/blogs/news/why-botanical-hyaluronic-acid-is-so-important

MSM – https://www.truthinaging.com/review/the-truth-about-methylsulfonylmethane-msm

https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701131/CARRAGEENAN/#.WtJnWraZOu4

VitaC – http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-C

Hexanediol – https://www.truthinaging.com/ingredients/hexanediol-12-hexanediol

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