What Is Hyaluronic Acid, and What Does It Do For Your Skin?

  • Hyaluronic acid is a skin-care ingredient commonly found in products.

  • Hyaluronic acid has many skin benefits, including plumping and hydrating the skin.

  • You can use hyaluronic acid in a moisturizer or serum.

Ever wonder what's really behind the trendy ingredients in your beauty products? That's how we feel about hyaluronic acid, which has become a huge buzzword in the skin-care world in the last few years. You've likely seen the ingredient listed on bottles in your medicine cabinet and on face creams, serums, and cleansers in the aisles of your local drugstore. But what does hyaluronic acid do for your skin, and does it live up to the hype? Since it's enjoying a resurgence, we reached out to dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, and cosmetic chemist Stephen Alain Ko to find out just what hyaluronic acid is, its benefits for the skin, and how to use it.

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture from its environment and retains it like a sponge. According to Harvard Health Publishing, it holds over 1,000 times its weight in water.

"Hyaluronic acid plays an important part in the health of our connective tissue, skin's elasticity, and wound healing," Dr. Jaliman tells POPSUGAR. "It's present in all tissues and fluids." Fifty percent of the hyaluronic acid in our bodies is found in our skin.

Dr. Jaliman describes the ingredient as a clear, gooey substance that occurs naturally in our bodies. Applied topically, the polymer has the ability to hydrate and plump your skin.

Hyaluronic Acid's Benefits For Skin

You might have noticed the ingredient being advertised on the bottles of some of your favorite moisturizers. "It's super hydrating and has antiaging properties," Dr. Jaliman says. "It helps to seal in moisture and creates fullness and plumpness to the skin."

The Dermato-Endocrinology Journal reported that younger skin is naturally pliable and bouncy due to its high water content. As we age, however, our skin produces less hyaluronic acid. "[This ingredient] can help slow down the loss of water from the skin, increasing skin hydration and its appearance," Ko says.

According to the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, hyaluronic acid "exhibits remarkable skin regenerating and collagen stimulating" effects, both when used topically and when injected into the skin (more on that later). The article also noted that the ingredient "showed promising efficacy in skin tightness and elasticity, face rejuvenation, improving aesthetic scores, reducing the wrinkle scars, longevity, and tear trough rejuvenation."