What is Hyaluronic Acid and Why do I need it?

I remember where I was when I first heard of hyaluronic acid (aka HA).  It was at a trade show years ago and I was chatting with a chemist that formulates products for lots of brands.  She said "here, try this, it is great for hydration for all skin types, including oily." I loved the texture - more of a gel than a lotion or oil - and it soaked in, but left my skin....a bit wet and "dewy."  I use quotations because this was before we were trying to achieve that look with every single product.  And "dewy" is the only way to describe the hydration.  This particular product was gel-like and bouncy.  Not watery at all, so the gel soaked in nicely but didn't slide all over my face.  The chemist explained that hyaluronic acid works well with powerful antioxidants, which can sometimes leave skin itchy (at least in my case!).   She also said it can be found in some skincare, but is just starting to come on the skincare scene.  Again, this was more than a few years ago.  Little did I know that HA would hit the scene big time, which is where we are now.

I bought some and fell in love.  It took me a year to pronounce it correctly but soon I couldn't live without it.  Why, you may ask?  For a few reasons, and it is important to point out that these facts are true for some HAs but not all (I.e. not watered down products or serums that claim to be HA but really only have an itty bitty drop per bottle).  

1) HA is a humectant, so it pulls moisture into the upper layers of the skin.  HA molecules can attract ~1000x their weight in water, which is why they are so good at hydrating skin.

2) Increased water content can plump our fine lines and wrinkles too, making them less apparent.  Makes sense, right?  Think about a fresh grape that is plump and smooth.  As it ages, it looses moisture and plumpness and becomes a raisin, dried up and wrinkly.  Sort of like skin that loses its moisture.  Too graphic?  I admit, I want to run out and jump in a pool of HA right now to fight off the wrinkles I feel like I am getting just thinking about this.

3) HA occurs naturally in our bodies - yes - it does!  But as we age, we produce less and less of it.  Like collagen, like a lot of other things.  So it helps to supplement, by eating more of it and applying it topically.

4) HA can promote collagen production and improve cell-to-cell interaction, both of which can improve skin's texture.

In the case of HA, obtaining it from a few different sources can only help.  For topical application, it is tough to beat our Hibiscus Beauty Booster, which has three primary ingredients (and 2 itty bitty things to keep it safe for extended use and sitting on shelves).  Sodium Hyaluronate (the chemical name for HA) is the top ingredient along with water, as it is in a water suspension.  The other two powerhouses are: astaxanthin and hibiscus, both incredible antioxidants. 

I also love incorporating my quest for HA into my regular diet.  Here are a few of my favorite sources:

  • Bone Broth - Bone broth has skyrocketed in popularity, much like HA, in recent years, but for good reason.  Bones are simmered in broth for an extended period of time (24 hours or more) and nutrients, including HA, are leached from the bones into the broth
  • Leafy Greens - You heard it here!  Leafy greens are good for you.  Ha! Obviously we know this, but specifically spinach, kale and microgreens are great sources of magnesium, which helps spur HA production within the body.   Avocado and okra are also good options to boost magnesium production, though not "leafy".
  • Nuts and Seeds - Also high in magnesium, nuts and seeds and boost your own production of HA.  The most magnesium-rich options are: brazil nuts, chia seeds, cashew nuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Soy-based foods - Also a source of complete proteins, many soy products contain estrogen, which is thought to boost HA production.  Tofu, tempeh and edamame are all great options.  

What are some of your favorite sources of hyaluronic acid?


Mahalo for the beautiful image -  Photo by Fabian Bächli on Unsplash  

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