You have about 15 grams of Hyaluronic Acid (HA) in your body and one third of this is degraded and resynthesised every day. It is one of your body’s main lubricating components. It allows your joints to move and lets your muscles slide over each other smoothly. It is also a major component of your skin. It is produced by the cells in your dermis but found in particularly high concentrations in the basal layer. Here HA holds water and aids in tissue repair.
If you look at the ingredient listing of any Esse moisturiser or water-based serum, you will see Hyaluronic Acid (listed as Sodium Hyaluronate). Although we don’t talk much about it, this is one of the key ingredients in the range.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a tricky ingredient but when it is used properly, it is one of the most effective anti-ageing ingredients in all of skincare. It reduces wrinkle depth and increases skin hydration, firmness and elasticity but there are a few catches …
As with almost everything in the skincare industry, there is a lot of “marketing-speak” with regard to HA. “This ingredient can hold more than 1000 times its mass in water”, for example or, from another brand, “1g of HA can hold 6 litres of water”.
HA can hold around 10 times is own weight in water, which should be impressive enough. The frequently quoted “facts” came from an academic paper that quoted that the molecule could hold 1000% of its weight in water and once non-scientific marketers got involved things got out of hand. Brands use the frequently quoted (but inaccurate) stats to make perverse calculations and claim that they use ridiculously high percentages of HA.
HA is expensive and most brands use very low levels to maximize profit.
The second important factor is the size of the molecule. HA is a polymer. A long string of repeating units. If the number of units is small then you have a small molecular size, perhaps 20 kDa. If the number of units is large then you have a much larger molecule, perhaps 7 000 kDa. For the molecule to penetrate into skin, Hyaluronic Acid needs to be small but if it is too small, it creates inflammation in skin. The sweet spot is between 60 and 80 kDa but this comes at extra cost because separating this size from other sizes is difficult.
HA is a key ingredient for Esse and we feel that the extra cost is worthwhile. We also source the HA from bacteria rather than the usual source which is animal cartilage.