Do you faithfully apply your moisturizer twice a day yet still feel like your skin is tight and a bit dull looking?
You see, moisturizer seals in the water/moisture in your skin and supports your skin’s natural oils. It keeps your skin from flaking and becoming rough, but it doesn’t actually add moisture to it.
If your skin still feels tight or looks dull with consistent moisturizing, you may have dehydrated skin. Your skin becomes dehydrated from external factors like exposure to the sun, wind, indoor heat, not drinking enough water, diet. These things can suck moisture from your skin even if your skin isn’t naturally dry. In other words, your skin might actually be thirsty.
It’s a little confusing
Hydration adds moisture to your skin. Moisturizer helps your skin keep the moisture it has.
Hydration comes from the extracellular matrix (the gel like mixture of carbohydrates like hyaluronic acid, water, collagen, and elastin) which is protected by the natural fats and oils in the outer layer of the skin. It’s what makes our skin soft and elastic. To keep the skin from becoming dehydrated, the first line of defense is to drink plenty of water. The second is to use a moisturizer to help keep that water from evaporating out of your skin.
If your skin is already dehydrated or to keep from getting that way, keep drinking that water but add a humectant to your skincare routine. A humectant is an ingredient that attracts water. Once your skin is dehydrated, using a humectant is your fastest route to repairing it.
Hyaluronic acid, propylene glycol, alpha hydroxy acids, urea, or glycerin (also labeled as glycerol), and aloe are all humectants.
For skin care, hyaluronic acid is the gold standard.
What’s hyaluronic acid?
It’s actually a type of sugar that naturally occurs in your body. The “acid” in its name can be a little scary. But, don’t worry, it’s not harsh on your skin at all. It’s actually very soothing and gentle.
It’s often called the “goo” molecule because of its sticky, gooey feel. There’s a high concentration of it in your skin, connective tissue, eyes, and joints. It provides lubrication for your joints, keeps your eyes moist so you can see, and keeps your skin soft and elastic. About 50% of the hyaluronic acid in your body is in your skin.
It’s made in the fibroblasts along with your best skin friends collagen and elastin. And unfortunately, just as with collagen and elastin, hyaluronic acid production starts to decline as you get into your thirties.
In fact, it drops dramatically. People between the ages of 19 and 47 have twice as much hyaluronic acid in their skin as those in their 50s and 60s. As we age into our 70s, that amount drops even further.
Less hyaluronic acid in your skin means your skin is less able to retain water. Combined with lowered oil production as we age means skin is both more prone to dehydration and dryness. We talked about moisturizers last week, and they are still first line of defense against dry and dehydrated skin.
Using products with hyaluronic acid can help to add moisture directly to your skin. And, lucky for us, it’s available from outside sources. And, it’s really well tolerated even by people with sensitive skin.
Hyaluronic acid can come from plant or animal sources, or a lab
Hyaluronic acid takes well to lab processing. It can be cross-linked with proteins to make it even more gel-like and is used to lubricate joints and shape faces. You may have had this form of hyaluronic acid injected into a painful knee joint or as a dermal filler to your face.
The size of the molecules in lab produced hyaluronic acid are too big to be absorbed through the skin. Which is good because if you’ve paid all that money for a knee or facial injection, you’d like the stuff to stick around for as long as possible.
If you have dehydrated skin, you want hyaluronic acid with a low molecular size that is easily absorbed. It turns out that hyaluronic acid sourced from a plant (Cassia Angustifolia, the seed of very pretty yellow flowered plant), has very small molecules that your skin likes.
It draws water to your skin (1000x its weight in water!) and holds it there. Your skin immediately becomes more hydrated, dewy, and bouncy. Fine lines and wrinkles become softer. And because it’s better hydrated, your skin functions better.
Here’s how to up the hyaluronic acid in your skin
- Wear sunscreen. UV rays from the sun breakdown hyaluronic acid in your skin. Along with collagen and elastin and damage to your skin cells. This is the best thing you can do for your skin.
- Use antioxidants on your face (vitamin C, E, CoQ10, certain herbs and berry extracts). They can be in serum form or in a moisturizer. Or, better yet, both.
- Eat more antioxidants in your diet with veggies and fruits like carrots, leafy greens, starchy root veggies, citrus fruits
- Bone broth is an excellent food to increase hyaluronic acid in the body
- Vigorous exercise increases hyaluronic acid production. And former and tighter skin.
- Skin care products with hyaluronic acid, often serums or an ingredient in serums
- Using a retinol product boosts hyaluronic acid production. Conversely, using hyaluronic acid with a retinol product can help with any redness or irritation that beginning retinol users may experience.
- You can also take hyaluronic acid supplements and the evidence is that they actually do increase hyaluronic acid levels in your skin
How to Use Topical Hyaluronic Acid
To get the best results from hyaluronic acid containing serums, apply them to your face when you skin is slightly damp. Allow it to be absorbed (it’s quick). Follow with a moisturizer to seal in your hydration and support your natural oils.
You’ll see the best results by using it or a serum containing it twice a day. You’ll see an immediate improvement in the moisture levels of your skin and the full results after about a month.
I use a high proportion of hyaluronic acid in all of SunWindSnow's serums and moisturizers because it's so important for your skin (and effective). If you haven't tried it before, I highly recommend it.