I don’t usually delve into ingredients because I’m no expert. But there’s one ingredient that I do tend to look out for in skincare products, because it is well proven to be effective, both in science and from personal experience. I first learnt about it when I was first introduced to Hada Labo skincare back in 2009 – that’s almost 10 years ago!
That ingredient is hyaluronic acid, often found listed in ingredient lists as sodium hyaluronate.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with this ingredient by now. If you have ever looked for a product to combat dehydration then you will have come across this ingredient. It is present in most hydration serums, and you can find it in a more “pure” form, in brands like The Ordinary.
What I’ll share with you today, is what I’ve learnt from experience – the best way to use a hyaluronic acid serum or hydrating serum 🙂
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Quickly, what is a hyaluronic acid? It is a naturally occuring ingredient that is found in our skin to help it retain water and moisture. This helps our skin remain plump and firm and dewy. However, as our old nemesis age catches up with us, we start losing the ability to make enough hyaluronic acid in our bodies to maintain our skin moisture levels. So, our skin starts feeling drier.
Enter hyaluronic acid, which in skincare, has the ability to retain water. Some sources say 1g of hyaluronic acid can retain up to 6 litres of water. But this doesn’t seem likely, as this discussion tells us – it’s just far too incredible. But what we know for a fact is that hyaluronic acid has the ability to attract and hold water in the skin, releasing it as our skin needs it. It is often also referred to as a “moisture magnet” as that’s what it does – attract moisture.
Newer research now tells us also that hyaluronic acid has antioxidant properties that can help protect skin against pollution. This might explain why the Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly boasts this dual purpose – hydration and anti-pollution.
What are the benefits of using hyaluronic acid?
Well, based on the description of what it is, hyaluronic acid has proven to be beneficial for the skin. For those with dry and dehydrated skin, products that contain hyaluronic acid are a boon. It helps attract moisture in our skin, and to hold it, so we don’t feel so dry. The side benefits are also plumped up skin, reduced lines and firmer skin. It’s all quite elementary.
For those with oily or combination skin types, hyaluronic acid tends to be light enough that it feels comfortable as well. Even oily or combination skins need moisture. In fact, I’d venture the proposition that the trick to controlling oily skin is to keep it well hydrated. Stripping skin of its oils only serves to exacerbate the problem. But having left the realms of Oily Skin City for years, I’m in no position to test this claim. Perhaps, if you have, you can share your findings with me 🙂
What is the best way to use hyaluronic acid serums or hydrating serums?
The best way to use a hyaluronic acid serum or hydrating serums or products is on DAMP SKIN.
Here’s my logic 🙂
As hyaluronic acid is a moisture magnet, I theorize therefore that it will need moisture in order for it to be effective. If I were to apply it directly to my dry skin, where would be the moisture that it should grab onto? That would be whatever existing moisture already in your skin. What this may do is leave your skin feeling even more dehydrated than it is.
However, if I apply a hyaluronic acid serum or hydrating product on damp skin, then, it would have a medium in which to grab and attract all the moisture it needs, to retain within the skin and keep it moisturised. Hyaluronic acid itself is not a water. It is just a medium which attracts and retains water.
I am no chemist nor scientist and pretty much stumbled on this through experience. My theory is therefore anecdotal, but it seems to be borne out as shared on Refinery29.
How I stumbled on this was rather by accident. I used to use an acid toner after cleansing (I use it less often today than before) and then I’d follow up with a hyaluronic acid based serum for hydration. I figured then, that because the hydration serum was to help boost hydration, I wanted it as close to my skin as possible. I then follow up with a facial oil and moisturiser. However, I found that I did not seem to get the hydrating benefits my skin craved. Or at least, not as effectively as I had been led to believe.
I then discovered facial mists, and started incorporating the facial mist after the acid toner. I also started my theory of applying skincare on damp skin, without waiting for each layer to dry before proceeding to the next. I started noticing then, that my skin was reacting a little better. It was more plumped, more hydrated and I had not changed the product.
It was then I theorized that a hyaluronic acid based serum works better on top of damp skin, because it has moisture to attract and draw from. I now practice the moisture sandwich method (which I’ve shared with people experiencing dehydrated skin with great success) and it has been smooth sailing since.
When I apply a hyaluronic acid serum or hydrating product on damp skin, I find also that it absorbs better without feeling so sticky. If there’s one property I’ve noticed in a serum high in hyaluronic acid serum, is that it tends to be sticky. This is likely why Hada Labo recommends that patting method to apply their Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion. This is a common lament among users. While using this skincare technique helps, so does misting your skin before apply the hydration serum. You will find that it sinks right in almost without any problems or stickiness at all!
I realized this when I was using the Hada Labo Premium Hydrating Lotion (which I love!). I noted that the lotion did not seem to be as sticky as its earlier predecessors. Yet, this is one that is more concentrated. I soon realized that it was because I was applying the lotion after misting my skin. The lotion, chockfull of hyaluronic acid, soaks up all the water from the mist and did not feel as sticky going on.
I’d be curious to know if you too practice this, or if you have problems with products that contain hyaluronic acid. I remember when Hada Labo skincare was all the rage, that some readers shared that they were sensitive to hyaluronic acid, which caused a skin reaction. I’m not sure if it is because of the combination of ingredients, or if it is hyaluronic acid itself. It is known to be fairly inert and non-irritating, but because we all have different skin types, I won’t be surprised if there is a small percentage of people who experience irritation nonetheless. To them, I offer my commiserations, for this is one skincare ingredient I cannot live without! 🙂
Do you apply hyaluronic acid serums or hydration serums on damp skin?
If you don’t, try it tonight, and then come back here and let me know if it feels better or works better for you! 🙂