When dermatologists embrace a skincare ingredient, you know it’s the real deal. So when Dr. Sandra Lee, aka Dr. Pimple Popper, talks about hyaluronic acid, we’re listening — intently.
We asked Dr. Lee why this substance is so popular, and to reveal her top three reasons for incorporating this hydrator into your skincare routine, asap.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Technically speaking, hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan (phew) — a compound contained in connective tissue — made up of sugar molecules bound together to form what’s called a polysaccharide. Hyaluronic acid makes up a significant portion of skin’s extracellular matrix: the “goo” that surrounds the cells.
What’s so special about it? Hyaluronic acid has an uncanny affinity for water: each molecule can bind many times its weight in H2O. It plays a crucial role in keeping the skin’s moisture levels balanced — without it, skin would dry up like a raisin.
Why Dr. Lee loves hyaluronic acid
#1 Hyaluronic acid is safe for all skin types
Produced naturally by the body, hyaluronic acid lubricates tissues like skin and joints. Because it’s a familiar substance, just about everyone can tolerate it topically. “I have really dry skin — and it’s sensitive,” says Dr. Lee. “But I have no problems using hyaluronic acid, because it’s one of those universally-tolerated ingredients.”
Dr. Lee says that when rare reactions occur, it’s almost always due to another ingredient in the formulation.
#2 Hyaluronic acid is an equal-opportunity hydrator
Serums containing hyaluronic acid are great for plumping up fine lines of the face — but they’re also useful for quenching a variety of other parched parts. Dr. Lee uses it on chapped lips, cracked heels, ragged cuticles — even sparingly on split ends.
“Another trick I learned from my makeup artist friends is to mix a couple of drops of hyaluronic acid into your foundation or tinted moisturiser,” she adds. “It just gives you a youthful boost.”
#3 Hyaluronic acid helps your skincare work better
When skin is properly hydrated, it’s healthier. The skin barrier is stronger, while fine lines and wrinkles are less apparent. Here’s what happens when you combine hyaluronic acid with other potent anti-ageing ingredients:
- Reduces the redness, flaking and irritation that can accompany retinol or alpha hydroxy acid use
- Plumps up the newer skin cells revealed after retinol, AHA and BHA exfoliation, which enhances the effect.
“I advise patients who are experiencing some retinol sensitivity to ‘sandwich’ their product application with a layer (or two) of hyaluronic acid,” Dr. Lee explains. “This minimises the redness, peeling and irritation that can sometimes happen with potent actives like retinoids.”
What’s the best way to try hyaluronic acid?
The most effective form of topical hyaluronic acid is a serum. Look for one that’s either pure hyaluronic acid, and combine it with a non-occlusive moisturiser, or find a formula that already includes one. SLMD Skincare Skin Drink combines hyaluronic acid with squalane, an oil-based, non comedogenic moisturiser that’s similar in composition to skin’s own sebum — taking care of hydrating and moisturising in one simple step.