Okay, I'm back for real this time. A massively busy week was capped off with a nasty cold, which I am finally recovering from. The combination of those two things meant I had no brains left over for blogging. My apologies if you have left a comment around here recently and didn't get a response. This is why! Now I have a huge backlog of ideas (and photos), so I hope to get back into the swing of things.
I want to talk about a skincare ingredient that's become one of my favorites in the last couple of years: hyaluronic acid. It's something that occurs naturally in skin tissue, and it has healing properties. It also a extremely effective humectant, meaning that it has the ability to hold moisture. Apparently one gram of HA (hereafter, because I am likely to spell it wrong repeatedly, otherwise) can hold up to six litres of water. It has anti-oxidants and and helps with inflammation. It's basically unicorn magic, okay? I mean, science. Unicorn science. You can read more about it here.
I find it difficult to judge the long term results of skincare products most of the time, partly because I don't know what my skin would look like if I hadn't used them. But this stuff is promising in the long run, and it has short term effects that I really like. HA helps the skin feel smoother and softer. That's my favorite thing about it. When I apply a product with HA in it, my skin feels "really fucking nice," as I've said before.
Because HA is a humectant, that means it draws moisture from the environment. Ideally, it will draw moisture from the air and put it on your skin. But if the environment is so dry that your skin has more moisture in it than the air, it can actually draw moisture out of your skin. This fact probably explains why when I first tried a serum with HA in it, I wasn't impressed. I was living in an apartment where I couldn't control the heat, and it was always cranked all the way up. That winter it was regularly -30 outside, and I still had to crack my windows open in order to be comfortable. SO DRY. It's the same winter I tested the Neutrogena hand cream that is mostly glycerin--another humectant--and wasn't impressed. Yet when I travelled to Seattle for a weekend and used it there, suddenly it was more effective. So if you live in desert-like conditions, your results may not be spectacular. Otherwise, I recommend giving HA a shot.
My current HA is a Vitamin C serum (pictured above) from a company called Maple Holistics, who sent it to me, along with a shampoo and conditioner, for free. This is one of only two times I have ever been sent what could be termed "press samples." Now you know I'm not much for "natural" nonsense when it comes to skincare. Even weirder, Maple Holistics markets some of their beauty products as "homeopathic," which . . . I'm not even going to get into that. What could that even mean? But the proof is in the ingredients, I think. The Maple Holistics Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum ingredients list looks like this:
Looks good! I actually can't really say much about this stuff as a Vitamin C serum. I've never had much luck with Vit C in skincare. Either it doesn't do anything for me, or I just don't have the issues it's meant to help with (my skin is already "bright," etc.). Plus, the first ingredient is water, and Vitamin C works better in formulas without water. However, ignoring that, this is great as a HA product. I smooth on a few drops in the morning, and my skin feels lovely. You can see from the photo above that I've almost finished my bottle. I've been using it since about September, 4-5 times a week, so I've tested it pretty thoroughly.
Water, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate) 10%, Vegetable Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Vitamin E Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Algae Extract, Pullulan Xanthum Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate
At under $12 for an ounce of product, it's not a bad price, either. In fact, you can test it out for free in return for an Amazon review (info here). Amazon is actually a decent source for products with HA in them. There are a lot of smaller companies out there selling stuff like this. The potential downside is that a lot of them trade free product for reviews, and even though they specifically request "honest" reviews, most people seem to be paranoid that a negative review will mean no more free stuff. (I hope you can trust that I am not one of those people, because I have amassed very little free stuff after years of negative reviews here. Which maybe means that concern is not so paranoid . . . ) Anyway, I would advise caution when looking at the options available on Amazon. Maybe assume the ratings are inflated or at least read the reviews with fewer stars.
If you don't want to venture into uncharted (or weirdly-charted) Amazon territory, there are HA options from more mainstream brands. For example, I recently read good things from auxiliary beauty about CeraVe's PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, which contains HA. It costs about $13 for 3 oz. and contains other good things like niacinamide and ceramides. That seems like a particularly affordable option. If you want something separate from a moisturizer, there's the Paula's Choice Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Serum (that I reviewed before), which has a bunch of other promising ingredients. Not cheap, though. Or if you have a regimen that you already like and just want to add HA to it, there's Paula's Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster (damn, I had to spell it again), which allows you just to add some drops to whatever product you're already using. I've tried it and it seemed effective. It's also not cheap, but it should last a long time, since you only use a couple of drops at a time.
Whatever source you get it from, I do recommend giving a product with hyaluronic acid a try. It combines making your skin feel awesome immediately with (probably?) having excellent long term effects.
ADDENDUM: Please see this additional short post about another benefit of HA.
Anyone else a big fan of this stuff? Are there other good (affordable) sources of HA out there that you've tried?