Ingredient Spotlight: Hyaluronic Acid

By Minji

  • Hyaluronic acid is considered the holy grail of hydration as it can hold up to 1000x its weight in water on your skin
  • Look for "sodium hyaluronate" in your labels and incorporate into your routine as a serum or facial sheet mask
  • Try taking it as a supplement and practicing yin yoga to stimulate natural production too!

If you’re even remotely interested in skincare these days, the one ingredient that you probably can’t stop hearing about is hyaluronic acid.  It’s quickly emerged as the holy grail of hydration due to the fact that it can hold up to a thousand times its weight in water on your skin.

Another amazing quality to hyaluronic acid is that it’s naturally found within your body so there are very few side effects to worry about.  It can be combined in all sorts of skincare products, starting from serums to moisturizers and facial sheet masks even.

Similar to other good stuff like collagen and elastin, unfortunately, as we grow less young, levels of hyaluronic acid naturally decrease (or otherwise redistribute) in our bodies, so it’s great to add some through your regular skincare routine.    

I personally love this ingredient and will specifically look for it in my product ingredients list to make sure I have a healthy dose of hyaluronic acid incorporated into my daily skincare steps.  Like many other skincare ingredients, there are different versions of hyaluronic acid.  When you’re checking your labels, look for not just plain hyaluronic acid but also "sodium hyaluronate" too.

Both hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate are used in a variety of skincare products and brands often refer to both as “hyaluronic acid”—but there are some important differences. Basically, sodium hyaluronate has a much smaller molecular size, which enables it to penetrate and soak into the skin better.

Especially in K-beauty products, I’ve been finding that “sodium hyaluronate” is the more beloved ingredient for this reason.  Although hyaluronic acid is extremely versatile and can make its way into all sorts of products, I particularly love this ingredient in my serums and facial sheet masks.

There are some crazy products out there that claim close to 100% hyaluronic acid concentration, but know that for this star ingredient, experts agree that you don’t need a radical high dosage.  Also, the extreme high numbers might be referring to a percentage of a complex in the product and not just pure hyaluronic acid itself so something to look out for.  A little goes a long way with this proven ingredient and even with less than 1% concentration, you can reap positive benefits.    

Remember that in order for hyaluronic acid to work properly, it needs moisture so you should never apply directly to dry skin.   You want to apply it to damp skin (so right after step 1 toner), then apply a nourishing moisturizer on top and even face oil after to seal it in.

Similar to Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid can not only be applied topically through your skincare products, but you can also take it in supplement form.  It’s actually one of the skincare supplements I take daily.  Lastly, exercises such as yin yoga and deep stretching can also promote your body’s natural production of hyaluronic acid too – that’s why yin yoga is often referred to as the fountain of youth!

Most good things come in threes so if you’re looking to actively incorporate more of this beneficial ingredient into your skincare journey, I highly recommend you use a serum with sodium hyaluronate, take daily hyaluronic acid supplements (make sure you verify the integrity of the brand and quality of product!) and engage in a yin yoga practice 1-2 times/week (in case you need a recommendation, my favorite free class here).