How Hyaluronic Acid Benefits Your Skin
HA is a natural substance found in great abundance in young skin. As we age, the presence of HA in the skin decreases, leaving the skin dry and wrinkled. Over time, free radicals - produced mostly through exposure to pollutants and sunlight - destroy the HA in the skin, so it is critical to replenish the supply by using premium, high molecular weight, hyaluronic acid skin care products. When applied to the skin, Hyaluronic acid forms a barrier similar to the way it naturally holds water in the intercellular matrix of the skin. Due to this, HA is a perfect moisturizer and cosmetic base that doesn’t leave a greasy feel after application.
Although Hyaluronic Acid (HA) can be found naturally in most every cell in the body, it is found in the greatest concentrations in the skin tissue, collagen and other areas of the body. Almost 50% of the body’s HA is found here. It is found in both the deep underlying dermis, as well as the visible top layers of the epidermis. Young skin is smooth and elastic and contains large amounts of HA that helps keep the skin stay young and healthy. The HA provides continuous moisture to the skin by binding up to 1000 times its weight in water and literally acts like a sponge to retain a supple and firm skin tone and youthful appearance. HA plumps the skin and enhances volume to create the same firm and soft skin we had in our youth. Often, changes can be seen in as little as 30 minutes and last up to six months or longer. With age, the ability of the skin to produce HA decreases leaving the skin unhealthy and wrinkled.
The Anatomy of Skin
Epidermis: Less than a millimeter thick, the epidermis is composed of three types of cells, the most populous of which are the moisture-rich keratinocytes.As these keratinocyte cells migrate up towards the skin surface from the base of the epidermis where they are produced, they lose water, begin to harden, and eventually die. The dead keratinocytes are then integrated into our sebum or surface skin oil and help form the outermost protective layer of the epidermis (the stratum corneum) until they are eventually sloughed off and replaced.
Dermis: Just beneath the epidermis is the dermis, the thickest of the skin's three layers. The primary cells at work here are called fibroblasts. They maintain the dermis's network of collagen and elastin proteins, which, in turn, form the structure of the skin and give it its elasticity and resilience.
Besides the dermis's nourishing system of tiny capillaries and langerhans-producing lymph nodes, it is also home of the sebaceous glands. These glands generate the protective sebum that travels via tiny hair follicles from the dermis to the epidermis where it lubricates and protects the skin's surface. Although an over-production of sebum can result in skin that is excessively oily, too little sebum is equally problematic, leaving skin parched and vulnerable to wrinkling.
Subcutaneous Tissue (Hypodermis):
Composed primarily of adipocyte fat cells, the innermost layer of the skin is the subcutaneous tissue and is largely responsible for providing insulation and padding, as well as housing sweat glands and a system of tiny muscles connected to our hair follicles. As we age and the subcutaneous tissue thins, our skin begins to sag and the epidermis contracts, causing wrinkles to appear.
ECM (ground substance):
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a gelatinous (gel-like) fluid that surrounds almost all living cells and is essential to life. It gives structure and support to the body and without it, we would just be a trillions cells without a shape or function. It is essentially the mortar between the bricks. The skin, bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments are examples where the ECM is located in the body. The ECM is composed of material (fibrous elements) called elastin and collagen surrounded by a gelatinous substance (Hyaluronic Acid). HA's roles in the ECM is to prevent the stretchy fibers in the body from overstretching and drying out by continually bathing them in this nutritious water base gelatinous fluid. It also serves as a wonderful medium through which nutrients and waste are transported to and from the cells of these structures. This fluid would not exist if it was not for the ability of the HA molecule to bind up to 1000 times its weight in water.
Free radicals are a natural byproduct of metabolization, and they exist all around us in the form of environmental toxins and even sunlight. Simply put, a free radical is a molecule (often oxygen) that can exist with one electron instead of two. Because electrons like to be in pairs, free radicals leave a path of instability in their wake as they seek to replace this missing electron by stealing it from another. When they do, they create instability in the violated molecule which continues this destructive cycle.
So what does this have to do with our skin? Free radicals have been found to be a prime culprit in the premature aging of skin, causing collagen cells to bond inappropriately (called 'collagen cross-linking') and therefore break down over time. As collagen and elastin in the dermis break down, the dermis becomes thinner, leaving the epidermis above it with less padding and causing wrinkles to form.
Since there's really no getting away from free radicals, we need to develop effective techniques for managing their effects inside our body as well as in our skin. This is where antioxidants come in. These heroic little molecules (vitamins E, carotenes and flavonoids chief among them) trap free radicals by bonding with them without becoming unstable themselves. This renders the free radical molecule harmless.
The best way to protect your skin -- and the rest of your body -- against the detrimental effects of free radicals is to take a multifaceted approach. Take care of your insides by eating a balanced diet rich in antioxidants. This means eating lots of fruits and vegetables and using Hyalogic’s skin care products enriched with green tea extracts, such as the Epilsilk Skin Perfecting Lotion and the Episilk™ Age Spot Lightening (ASL) serum, both of which are an excellent source of antioxidants!
Next, protect your skin against the damaging effects of the sun. Wearing adequate sunscreen and ensuring that you moisturize your skin will help defend you against potentially dangerous ultraviolet rays.