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Portrait and close ups of woman using hyaluronic acid for skin

Rehydrating Properties of Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid attracts and maintains moisture in the skin. Clinical data show that a topical blend of high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid rehydrates, smooths, and rejuvenates aged skin. 

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. April Parks, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Robert Goldfaden and Gary Goldfaden, MD.

Cosmetic procedures like topical fillers and laser resurfacing are established interventions for smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines.

But they can also have side effects that include pigmentation changes, infections, red patches, and bruising.1-3

Hyaluronic acid protects and regenerates the skin’s underlying architecture by increasing moisture,4 stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis,5,6 promoting tissue repair,7-10 and combating ultraviolet radiation.11

Replenishing depleted hyaluronic acid levels can help faciliate a more youthful appearance.

Clinical data show that a topical blend of high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid rehydrates, smoothes, and rejuvenates aged skin.

What you need to know

  • Hyaluronic acid is one of the main components of the extracellular matrix that provides structural support and cohesion to skin.
  • Well-known for its hydrating properties, hyaluronic acid also instructs cell behavior to protect and rebuild the extracellular matrix.
  • The natural decline in hyaluronic acid as we age is exacerbated by its increased loss from external factors, particularly ultraviolet radiation, leading to wrinkles and fine lines accompanied by dry and saggy skin.
  • Fortunately, topical preparations containing both high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid have been shown to restore healthy texture and hydration to aging skin, while reducing wrinkles and fine lines, to provide a more youthful appearance.
  • Topical hyaluronic acid provides the same skin rejuvenation benefits as established topical fillers and laser resurfacing but without the potential pitfalls.

Hyaluronic Acid: The Skin’s Internal Moisturizer

Hyaluronic Acid: The Skin’s Internal Moisturizer  

Hyaluronic acid is found throughout most tissues in the body, with the greatest concentration in the skin.12

It has an unmatched capacity to attract and retain up to 1,000 times its weight in water.

Hyaluronic acid forms the extracellular matrix, a loose hydrated network that provides structural integrity and cohesion to skin.13,14

Hyaluronic acid has been a mainstay ingredient of skin care products for decades, and for good reason. It bathes structural proteins collagen and elastin, allowing them to impart mechanical strength and elasticity that keeps skin firm and flexible.

By providing moisture between cells, hyaluronic acid increases volume and fullness that diminishes the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

While historically viewed as simply a “space filler,” accumulating research indicates that hyaluronic acid plays a greater role in fighting skin aging than previously thought.

Additional Effects of Hyaluronic Acid

Scientists have discovered that hyaluronic acid triggers a number of dynamic processes in the skin through its interaction with receptor CD44. After binding to the receptor, hyaluronic acid has been shown to:

  • Promote cell growth and proliferation to produce new skin cells that have a fresh, more radiant appearance.15,16
  • Enhance the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) to transport essential nutrients to skin cells from the bloodstream, thereby providing an ideal environment for tissue repair, healing, and growth.16,17
  • Modulate the inflammatory and immune response to ultraviolet radiation, which reduces free radicals that lead to DNA damage and lipid peroxidation.11,18
  • Stimulate fibroblasts to produce new collagen by causing mechanical stretching of the dermis.19,20

So, by stimulating cells to protect and remodel the extracellular matrix from external factors—like ultraviolet radiation—hyaluronic acid is one of the most potent weapons for preserving youthful skin.

Skin-Aging Effects of Declining Hyaluronic Acid Levels

The natural decline in hyaluronic acid production as we age is exacerbated by environmental stress, particularly chronic sun exposure.21-24 The fallout is a loss of moisture, abnormal structural changes to collagen and elastin, slowed cell turnover, impaired tissue healing, and compromised photoprotection—all of which lead to skin wrinkling, dryness, and sagging characteristic of premature aging.

Different Molecular Weights of Hyaluronic Acid

The effects of topical hyaluronic acid depend upon its size or molecular weight. High molecular weight hyaluronic acid has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory activity on the skin’s surface,25,26 while low molecular weight hyaluronic acid penetrates more deeply into the skin where it boosts hydration and tissue repair.27

Thus, topical preparations containing both are ideal to achieve the complete anti-aging effects of hyaluronic acid.

Let’s now examine research that implemented both forms of hyaluronic acid to safely rehydrate and rejuvenate aged skin.

Effectiveness of Topical Hyaluronic Acid

In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, 76 participants between the ages 30 and 60 with crow’s feet applied either a topical cream with a mixture of high and low molecular weights hyaluronic acid or a placebo twice daily to the target area for two months.

Compared to the placebo group, participants treated with hyaluronic acid experienced significant reductions in wrinkle depth and roughness while improving skin hydration and elasticity.28

In another randomized trial, scientists studied 40 healthy subjects with mild-to-moderate clinical signs of facial aging. Participants applied a topical preparation containing a mixture of high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid or a placebo to the target region for 30 days.

The hyaluronic acid treatment group showed greater reductions in wrinkle depth and volume accompanied by less skin sagginess and more cheekbone volume compared to the placebo group.29


Topical Hyaluronic Acid Restores Youthful Skin  

Hyaluronic acid protects, nourishes, and rebuilds the extracellular matrix responsible for skin cohesion, firmness, and elasticity.

Replenishing depleted levels of hyaluronic acid as we age helps restore healthy, vibrant, and youthful-looking skin.

Research shows that when applied topically, the combination of high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid is a safer, more affordable alternative to topical fillers and laser resurfacing with similar skin rejuvenation effects.

Gary Goldfaden, MD, is a clinical dermatologist and lifetime member of the American Academy of Dermatology. He is the founder of Academy Dermatology in Hollywood, FL, and Cosmesis Skin Care. Dr. Goldfaden is a member of Life Extension®’s Medical Advisory Board. All Cosmesis products are available online.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.


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