Hyaluronic Acid: The Cosmetic Secret You Need to Know About
Hyaluronic acid (HA) has become a major buzzword in beauty as of late. It is the star ingredient of many creams and serums that promise to add moisture and plumpness to our faces, and has actually been used in these products for a long time. While it may be a relatively new thing for consumers at makeup counters and drug stores to hear about this chemical, hyaluronic acid has been used in cosmetic surgery for over a decade as an injectable face filler. Unlike other chemicals, HA doesn’t cause allergic reactions so is safer to use as an injectable. It plumps the skin and helps reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and other age signs.
Hyaluronic Acid in the Body
The main reason HA is so safe is that it is a molecule that is found in our bodies. It is found our eyes, our connective tissue and is the thing that keeps our joints moving smoothly. HA is a glycosaminoglycan, a long unbranched polymer, whose main purpose is to support collagen and elastin in cells and keep protein fibers in balance. It also promotes the retention of moisture in cells, which is essential to the epidermis to keep the collagen and elastin healthy in skin. According to Paulaschoice.com, the magic of this compound “lies in hyaluronic acid’s ability to replenish moisture, a lot of moisture! One gram (0.03 ounce) of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six liters of water.”
Natural Sources of Hyaluronic Acid
Over the past 20 years, many sources and uses for HA have been discovered that only add to the allure of this magical compound. Firstly, in 2000, ABC’s Connie Chung reported on a Japanese village called Yuzuri Hara where many of the residents seem to live longer and look better than most other people on earth. Upon closer inspection of their diets, it was found that by eating a diet full of starchy tubers like potatoes, imoji (a root), and other concoctions of vegetables, their natural production of hyaluronic acid was increased. Japanese pharmaceutical companies even started producing hyaluronic acid supplements based on the findings of these natural sources of hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic Acid for Arthritis and Joint Pain
HA isn’t just credited for giving people younger, more supple skin. It is also naturally found in the eyeball and the cartilage between joints (synovial fluid), and can be taken as a supplement to alleviate joint pain. It is believed to be able to reduce pain associated with arthritis, osteoarthritis, and many types of joint stiffness or pain. Scientists think that as we age, we loose bounce and lubrication in the cartilage between our joints, so ingesting HA in supplement form (hyaluronic acid powder, capsule, or dropper) may help to replenish some of that. Taking oral hyaluronic acid for arthritis is recommended by many holistic health practitioners as a safe way to enhance aging joints and their cartilage.
Products that Contain Hyaluronic Acid
In terms of cosmetic uses, HA is often found in anti-aging serums and creams and many times is combined with vitamin C. HA increases absorption of vitamin C, helping the skin get the most out of this antioxidant. When HA is absorbed into the skin, it draws water into the skin which provides a temporary puffing of the skin that smooths out lines. There’s no proof that extended use of HA in skin creams can completely rid us of wrinkles, but it can temporarily reduce the signs without any kind of cosmetic procedure, which seems pretty magical as it is.
Side Effects of Hyaluronic Acid
According to LiveStrong.com and Drugs.com, if you are allergic to hyaluronic acid, your face and throat areas may become swollen when you come into contact with hyaluronic acid. Severe allergic reactions will cause your throat to close, impairing breathing, says Drugs.com. Other possible reactions include elevated heart rate and chest pain, headaches, dizziness and sleepiness.
Where Can I Get Some?
Well, check the ingredients list of any of your favorite anti-aging moisturizers or serums and chances are you’ve been using it already! Beyond facial creams, you can find hyaluronic acid in many pharmacies in liquid or capsule form. The health benefits of hyaluronic acid are many, but be sure to take it as directed and note any possible side effects you have. If you have questions about it, ask your healthcare provider for more information.