Hyaluronic acid: The simple skincare ingredient that's the key to amazing skin.


Back in the day (okay, like 10 to 15 years ago), most women were fine with buying a cleanser or moisturiser based on the words on the front of the bottle or tub – like anti-ageing, smoothing or hydrating.

Now women (and skincare-loving men) are seeking out information around individual ingredients. Skeptical about marketing jargon, they are keen to educate themselves on what’s actually in their products and what those ingredients do.

One such ingredient is hyaluronic acid.

What is hyaluronic acid?

“Hyaluronic acid is a big trending ingredient, everybody’s talking about it. In fact a lot of raw materials are having a resurgence,” Janet Pardo, Senior Vice President of Product Development at Clinique, told Mamamia.

“Looking at what people are Googling is really interesting. I am obsessed with those pieces of information because it’s a good way to know what people are talking about.”

Said people are wondering what exactly hyaluronic acid is, what it does, and if it’s a type of exfoliator because it has the word ‘acid’ in the name.

In actual fact, hyaluronic acid isn’t exfoliating in the way that alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid. It pretty much does the opposite as it’s a super hydrator, with one gram of hyaluronic acid being able to hold up to six litres of water.

Heaps of hydration = plump skin.

woman using moisturiser
Put simply, hyaluronic acid make your skin feeling springier without the needles. Image: Getty.

How does hyaluronic acid work?

“Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally, our bodies produce it. When we are babies we have a tonne of it - it's basically what lubricates your joints, and it's what's in your epidermis and in your dermis,” Pardo said.

“You know when you touch a baby's cheek and you feel a springiness? That’s it. But as we age, and they say particularly after the age of 35, the level of hyaluronic acid that our bodies normally produce significantly drops. It’s a steep drop, quickly.”


Pardo explains that because if its ability to plump and hydrate, hyaluronic acid is often used in facial fillers.

“It's hard to get hyaluronic acid into the skin. That's why a lot of injectables are so popular. They are injected deep down, and they are a form of hyaluronic acid.”

How can hyaluronic acid work in skincare?

While it is hard to get hyaluronic acid to penetrate the skin topically, it's definitely not impossible. It’s all about how the product has been formulated.

“Hyaluronic acid is something that we have been using for decades at Clinique. We have a product called Moisture Surge, and it’s been in there since 1988. We were the first brand to launch a cream gel, and hyaluronic acid was one of the ingredients that went into the formulation,” Pardo said.

“Over the years as new technology became available we upgraded it and hyaluronic acid was always an ingredient that got upgraded, and got better.”

Excuse us while we get sciencey for a second, but we felt it necessary to explain that whether or not a product will work comes down the the size of the molecules used.  

“Hyaluronic acid is usually a larger molecule. Because of that it’s not so easy to penetrate, so we look at different sizes of molecular weight between hyaluronic acids.”


“In Moisture Surge we have different types of molecular weights  - a high molecular weight and a low molecular weight, and they are able to penetrate the epidermis at different levels. Essentially they do different things, but they are all forms of hyaluronic acid,” Pardo said.

What benefits should hyaluronic acid give the skin?

Because of its super moisturising properties, your skin should feel hydrated and plump. Fine lines will be reduced and you should have an overall glow.

“We know that when you have more hyaluronic acid in your skin, your skin looks better and you feel better.”

“It’s similar to when your body is dehydrated - you don't feel good but you don't realise how badly you are dehydrated until you get the level back up. It's the same with your skin and hyaluronic acid,” Pardo said.

Which skin type is hyaluronic acid best for?

All of them.

“Hyaluronic acid is great for any skin type because any skin type can be dehydrated. Even if you're super oily, you can have acneic skin and be really dehydrated.”

“As a matter of fact, most people who do have acne also have dehydrated skin, because they use products that strip the skin but don't realise what it’s doing.”

If you're into fashion, kick-arse women or both, check out Mia Freedman's interview with Laura Brown, the woman from Sydney who also happens to be the Editor In Chief of US InStyle.