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Hyaluronic Acid & Sodium Hyaluronate

August 26, 2013 Reviewed by admin 32 Comments

Injections of hyaluronic acid (the primary ingredient of Restylane), according to a review in The Archives of Dermatology cited by this New York Times article, are one of three anti-aging treatments available that are proven clinically effective. The others are: the topical application of retinol and carbon dioxide laser resurfacing. The article states:

“Theory and experiment back these treatments… Each depends on the same mechanism, the interaction of skin cells called fibroblasts with the collagen they produce… Fibroblasts—connective tissue cells—secrete a complex group of polysaccharides and proteins that creates collagen, which gives the skin shape and elasticity and supports blood vessels that permeate it. The network of collagen tissue is maintained by its mechanical tension with these skin cells…”

This post, however, is about the topical application of skincare products containing sodium hyaluronate—the salt of hyaluronic acid, which, the article says, “should not be confused with [hyaluronic acid] in some topical cosmetic products… Rubbing such products on the skin will not stimulate collagen production.”

Still others claim that—thanks in part to advances in infiltration nanotechnology and its ultra-low-weight molecular formation—that there is something to sodium hyaluronate.

But before we can get to what that something is, we have to learn a little bit about what makes hyaluronic acid (HA) so special.

What is Hyaluronic Acid?

HA is the naturally occurring and widespread component found within the extracellular matrix (ECM) within bodily tissues, especially those of the face. Originally extracted from rooster combs, it is now produced as a reactive byproduct of benign bacteria and is identical to the substance found within the skin. Its water-binding and water-attracting attributes fill up the spaces between the connective fibers collagen and elastin in the dermis. When injected into the face, HA functions to hydrate and separate the skin, holding onto water and supporting all that makes the face plump and voluptuous.

So why do you need it?

Well, in case you didn’t know, your skin’s dermis layer is made up of about 70% water and claims nearly 50% of your body’s total HA allotment; there it helps to support and hydrate the skin, resulting in a healthy and attractive appearance. As your amount of HA decreases (which it will do with age; in fact, adults have only 1/20th the amount of HA of a baby), the ECM becomes dehydrated, leading to surface roughness, flaking, fine lines, and a whole host of other undesirables.

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Dry skin also leads to wrinkly, flappy skin. Wrinkles come about from the loss of three important components in the skin: collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin. HA provides the hydrating, nutrient-transporting framework necessary for holding up the structure of the ECM in the skin. If elastin is not bathed in water it becomes dry and brittle, invariably leading to dull, loose and less-elastic skin. Dry skin is aged skin.

What is Sodium Hyaluronate?

Sodium hyaluronate has a smaller molecular size as HA (making it especially penetrative), and is able to hold more water than any other natural substance—up to 1,000 times its weight in water!

Thanks to these to attributes, when applied topically to the skin it can reach deep down into the dermis to combine with, maintain and attract water. It also promotes skin/blood microcirculation and nutrient absorption, and helps maintain normal metabolism. Thanks to its super-sized hydrating properties, sodium hyaluronate will result in smoother, softer skin with decreased wrinkles and an all-around fuller appearance.

Although HA and its various formations have been used in skincare products and cosmetics for some time, there have been no published clinical studies on its topical application, says Jenny Kim, associate professor of medicine and dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in an article for the Los Angeles Times. She goes on to say: “…to claim HA can rejuvenate the skin by applying it topically is probably a stretch, but it’s very good for the skin because it’s very moisturizing.”

So what does sodium hyaluronate do, really?

Well, for one, it helps your skin bring and absorb water more effectively.  On top of that, it reduces any sort of trans-epidermal water loss.

Think of it like one of those Sammy sports towels you see Olympic divers use to draw up all the extra water from their skin after getting out of the pool. Topically adding sodium hyaluronate transforms the dermis layer of your skin into a super-sponge for your face. By helping to maintain and attract water within the extracellular matrix, it not only hydrates the skin and increases its volume and density, but, by effect, temporarily stabilizes the intercellular skin matrix—the glue that holds your face together.

The result of all of this leads to a slight swelling of the skin that reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Unfortunately, this is more of a temporary improvement of the skin. Nonetheless, the intense moisturization does allow for the skin to operate at higher capacity to provide a better defense against environmental assaults and other aging effects.

Recommended Products w/ Hyaluronic Acid:

Sevani Hyaluronic Wrinkle Defense ($68 in the shop), Sevani Rose Hyaluronic Age Defying Tonique ($39 in the shop), Nutra-Lift Rejuvenating A Nano Renue ($48), Sheer Miracle Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($22), Hyalogic Episilk Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($59.95 in the shop)

Recommended Products w/ Sodium Hyaluronate:

Skinfinite Platinum PM Cream 1% Retinol ($79 in the shop), Your Best Face Hydrate B Concentrate ($45 in the shop), Prana Active Vitamin Lift Serum ($75 in the shop), Astara Age Defying Complex ($85)

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  • September 19, 2017

    by Rachel

    Nature Works Laboratories serums are all natural and vegan Hyaluronic Acid based. The HA is 300kda which is low enough molecular weight to be readily absorbed, but high enough not to cause an inflammatory response. There is even an oil based HA serum so the molecules don't start absorbing water and swelling till they hit your skin! It's my brand so feel free to ask me anything x

  • July 20, 2016

    by rogue g

    Hyaluronic acid works for wrinkles because the molecule swells after it absorbs water, and that plumps lines on the spot. Look for products with hyaluronic acid listed near the top of the ingredient list, cause that means there is alot of it. I use Lady Soma's Renewal Serum for my hyaluronic acid and will never stop using it. Its my favorite - and I am so happy everyone is into hyaluronic acid now because it does work!

  • March 24, 2016

    by adam

    Can you source where you are getting Sodium Hyaluronate has a smaller molecular size? It has roughly the molecular weight of 700k-1 million daltons. Your skin doesn't absorb anything much larger than 500 daltons. So that would suggest there is ZERO absorption when applied topically.

    Hydrolyzed HA from animal sources can be as low as 50 daltons, so those would pass into the skin, however this is almost never seen in skin care products. Oddly enough, food supplements HAVE had hydrolyzed HA available even though research suggests Sodium Hyaluronate is better ingested/injected than the hydrolyzed HA form.

    So in short, Hydrolyzed HA would be best for topical skin use, Sodium Hyaluronate is best ingested/injected. I would love to see research findings if there is another info out there.

  • August 15, 2014

    by gail

    Can sodium hyaluronate when used in undereye products cause puffy eyes? If its main purpose is to help skin absorb more water like a sponge increasing skin volume how could this not cause swelling which is its main purpose. Great for deep wrinkles and moisture to the face which does not cause problems for me but under eye its counter productive. Have you ever had anyone else share this problem/concern with you...I cannot be the first person to experience this reaction.

    Do you know of any other ingredient(s)used in under eye treatments that are noted to possibly cause negative reactions when applied topically under eye?

  • July 27, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi Mary
    Sodium hyaluronate should not interfere with blood pressure medicine or increase blood pressure. However, if you are taking medication and concerns and questions you should always consult your prescribing physician.

  • July 26, 2014

    by Mary

    Can sodium hyaluronate in topical face cream interact with blood pressure medicine or in some other manner cause an increase in blood pressure when applied to the face.

  • March 18, 2014

    by Alex

    Try Phyt-Age - http://phytogenics-anti-aging.myshopify.com/

    It contains sodium hyaluronate, yet it's just one of many active ingredients that fight aging. Others include Argireline, and Argan oil. Much cheaper than other creams with less ingredients.

  • August 31, 2013

    by MARIA

    I inject sodium hyaluronate into my face the same way hyaluronic acid is injected, and sustain the same results as injecting hyaluronic acid. Is their any dangers in doing this?

  • April 26, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Monica, sodium hyaluronate is a smaller molecular size and penetrates more effectively.

  • April 26, 2013

    by monica shurtleff

    So is it better to use products with hyaluronic acid or sodium hyaluronate?

  • February 26, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Maria, cosmetics are more often formulated with sodium hyaluronate because it has a smaller molecular weight and is better absorbed by the skin than hyaluronic acid. So, I'm sorry but I don't know of one that I would really recommend with hyaluronic acid, while there are many with sodium hyaluronate that are very good. Sevani's is actually a mushroom extract called tremella that retains more moisture than hyaluronic acid: http://www.truthinaging.com/ingredient-spotlight/tremella-a-natural-alternative-to-sodium-hyaluronate

  • February 26, 2013

    by Maria

    Dear Marta I do need your help, please.
    I found several products wrongly listing "hyaluronic acid" (CAS#:9004-61-9) in their ingredients while they are actually formulated with "sodium hyaluronate" (CAS#: 9067-32-7) the Mango Madness product you mentioned above is one of those as you can read on their webpage "Reduce deep wrinkles with pure sodium hyaluronate ".
    Sevani claim to use a third sort of HA, Tremella Hyaluronic Extract (CAS#: 778577-37-0)
    I'm trying to figure out if it is possible to find a product with THE hyaluronic acid, not his salt being the price of the two very different and I would be nice to know what I'm paying for.
    Thank you very much.
    Maria

  • November 14, 2012

    by Cathy

    Many HA serums say that they are not suitable for the eye area. Why is that? Isn't that the one place that really could benefit from more moisture?

  • July 15, 2012

    by Karen

    I would think that taking the HA internally would give the best benefit. Everything we put in our bodies affects the outside appearance of our skin. I had to find out the hard way after years of junk food addiction and greasy foods. At early 20's, my skin was aging, badly, and have had bags of purple and blue under my eyes. Those won't go away. I think using this stuff internally would really give you the results. I'm cleaning up my diet, and trying healthy supplements. We'll see what happens.

  • May 8, 2012

    by Marta

    As I understand it, sodium hyaluronate has smaller molecules and penetrates the skin more deeply where it combines with and maintains water (as well as attracting it). SH is what we most commonly see in cosmetics. On the other hand HA sits on the skin and may draw water from there. If there was no other source of moisture (eg in the air) then the result might be drying. Indeed, readers have written in from desert areas (such as Arizona) saying that products with a high concentration of HA are drying. On the other hand, a humid summer day in NYC would probably be OK.

  • May 7, 2012

    by Beth

    Thanks, Marta, for your response. Skin Biology's claim kind of makes sense. If a solution such as HA is drawing out water molecules from the skin and moving them to another area, wouldn't the area of the skin where the water molecules were sucked out of become dehydrated and dry, causing wrinkles down the road? What do you think about their claim?

  • May 2, 2012

    by Marta

    Hi Beth I saw that newsletter too. I was frustrated that it didn't link to studies where I could verify or read more. In contrast, the The Archives of Dermatology said sodium hyaluronate is one of three anti-aging treatments available that are proven to be clinically effective. I shall keep scanning for more information.

  • May 2, 2012

    by Beth

    Skin Biology sent me an e-mail newsletter with an article about the dangers of HA. I didn't have time to read the whole article but it was about the bacteria in HA causing inflammation in people, and that injecting water soluable in HA is not natural and eventually dries out the outer layer of skin. Can anyone comment on this?

  • March 13, 2012

    by ekeatn

    I am a licensed esthetician, and i have dehydrayed skin, that is also dry at times. My personal opinion is HA should be an ingredient in all moisturisers, moisturising masks, and moisturising serums. Most people believe that only dry skin needs hydration, and dehydrated skin is dry skin, not true. you can have oily skin and still be dehydrated, dehydrated skin is the leading cause for most skin problems. if your skin isn't properly hydrated, it causes inflammation, acne, clogged pores, etc. when your skin is inflammed, it cant function or fight damaging elements as it should, which leads to and triggers the aging process. HA/sodium hyaluronate is beneficial to all people, and all skin types. Ive found very few over the counter(drugstore type products) contain this must have ingredient. I, personally use a toner that contains HA, i use an HA serum, accompanied by a moisturiser that contains HA. It's one of the only effective hydrators that dont cause a "greasy" feel to the skin, and your skin has to be properly hydrated in order for other products to absorb and work properly. Also, everyone needs to exfoliate, without exfoliation and proper hydration, anything you use on your skin is a waste. Dermologica makes some great products containing HA's, and they make a moisturiser with HA thats for oily skin. Remember, dont use a body moisturiser on your face (& vice versa), facial moisturisers have a different molecular size than body products, and if incorrectly used, won't penetrate deep into the skin, inabling them to work, at all. So, if you'v not tried an HA, be sure to do so, it's a all around skin saver.

  • February 28, 2012

    by april

    I would be interested in knowing what percent is normal in creams and second, which ones have a 5%. I am now on a hut for the highest percent for the price.

  • February 26, 2012

    by Stephanie

    Ive been using demalogica skin hydrating booster with HA and it has been great with my moisturizer. I also use Retin-A every night and before using HA my skin could not tolerate it. I just bought the Timeless HA serum mentioned in a previous post. I don't think it works as well as dermalogica but the price difference might be worth it. $50 vs $15

  • December 5, 2011

    by jw

    Can you clearify this a little more? So, the sodium hyaluronate holds more water than HA, yet also stimulates collegen growth for longer lasting results? And, this is when using it topically and or internally as a filler? Thanks for your help! JW

  • September 17, 2011

    by Ann Requa

    I found sodium hyaluronate in Almond-aloe moisturizer by earth science that you find in some health food stores.

  • August 12, 2011

    by terence hughes

    i am a formulation chemist and have my own skincare company, www.naturalskinsolutions.co.uk
    i use hyaluronic acid as nothing more then a humactant in my formulations, i dont believe it can penatrate into the deeper layers of the skin, it does give the skin a nice bounce, but at high levels of 10% the formulation goes very sticky, ive found it better to be at 5% concentration,
    i use cyclopeptides and broths to create changes within the skin,

  • May 21, 2011

    by Justd

    Has anyone heard of or tried Timeless skincare Hyaluronic acid? I've read some good reviews on this product and bought it to try out. Just curious.

  • September 27, 2010

    by Barbara Newman

    Dear Cole,

    I am interested in acquiring a catalogue. I am 63 years old and have been under a great deal of stress this decade:deaths of mother,sister,mother-in-law,father-in-law; marriages of two of four children; births of four grandchildren(local and out-of-state childcare); loss of job; near loss of 37 year old home; near loss of husband's 30+year small business! (Too much info)?! SO, I've been studying cosmetics from MyChelle, John Master's, 100% Pure, Derma E, Avalon, Pure Focus,.... What can I do? Are you interested in a research customer; I made my own shampoo and conditioner last fall when I started losing my thick, naturally wavy hair (due to taking a fish oil that was inadequate and resulted in mercury poisoning). So, I now need a great deal of help with face creams, eye creams, moisturizers, and make-up,etc. Thanks for your attentiveness. Best wishes on your venture. God keep you in His care. A GRATEFUL PATRON

  • August 28, 2010

    by Cole Knight

    Great post, and nearly all of my products will contain HA, very active levels. I will have products that I have formulated to be higher strengths with active ingredients, natural and infused, the highest levels of any active ingredients that can be found in any main stream or department store brands at this time. I am just starting my company so please keep checking back, all products will be added soon. Fill out contact page and you will receive a catalog and information as it comes available.
    Thank you,
    cole knight

  • July 21, 2009

    by Sara

    I am wondering if anyone knows which moisturizing creams contain HA? And I dont mean really expensive lesser known brands. I have seen commercials recently about a cream which contains HA but I cant remember which one. Maybe it was made by Vichy or Roc. Can anyone help me out??

  • May 21, 2009

    by elfdangdang

    thank you for your useful info.Claire!

    Hi all,

    we are the HA manufacturer in China.we produce very good quality HA with attractive price.If you have further interest,please contact us via kaddiewu@gmail.com or visit our web site at www.chinaeastargroupsh.com for more info.

    thank u!
    regards,
    Kaddie

  • December 27, 2008

    by Skin Care and Beauty Blog

    Thanks for this informative article. I am looking into HA based fillers and their anti-aging effect. As I read in Elle, they don't only reduce wrinkles by plumping the skin, they also stimulate collagen production which has a longer lasting anti-ageing effect on the skin. Moisturizing and anti-ageing abilities of Hyaluronic Acid are really impressive!

  • September 2, 2008

    by Stan

    <p>This is great information. It is a no brainer that it should be included in all moisturizers. I am starting to think that since it is in most of the premium products recommended here it makes them more effective for healing and nutrient transfer.</p>

  • August 27, 2008

    by tia

    <p>Hi Claire,</p>

    <p>Great post... a lot of useful info. <br />
    Have you ever heard of Skin MD Natural shielding lotion? Skin MD is made with natural ingredients (aloe, yarrow and chamomile, etc.), it's NOT animal tested and you only need a tiny bit to get results. I'm so certain you'll absolutely love the way Skin MD Natural feels, goes on, and how it protects and hydrates your skin that I unconditionally guarantee it. Would you like a sample?</p>

    <p>Best,<br />
    Tia<br />
    Community Manager (Skin MD Natural)<br />
    Online Marketing & PR Specialist (Expansion+)</p>

    <p><a href="http://www.skinmdnatural.com/" rel="nofollow">http://www.skinmdnatural.com/</a></p>

    <p>Oh yeah, here are a few Skin Care Tips for Fall… </p>

    <p><a href="http://www.skinmdnatural.com/skin-care.php" rel="nofollow">http://www.skinmdnatural.com/skin-care.php</a><br />
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