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The Science behind Hyaluronic Acid?

The Science behind Hyaluronic Acid?

A lot of us don’t care about wrinkles. Despite the endless march of time moving forward at a steady rate (well, it moves even faster if you live on the moon or in a low gravity environment) but everyone on Earth cops the same yearly march of time. Over time, we learn more, become more experienced, and grow wiser. Unfortunately, some obvious negatives occur as we age. Our joints get sorer, we lose muscle and gain fat and wrinkles slowly form. The good news is that we can exercise our joints to keep them healthy and we can hit the gym to keep the fat away and the muscles toned, but what can we do for our wrinkles?

Traditionally Treating Wrinkles

There is any number of creams that can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. They pretty much cover every pharmacy wall and it is a multi-billion-dollar industry. In America alone, the anti-aging market, of which anti-wrinkle creams are a huge part, was worth over 44 billion dollars in 2020[1], and these creams help! After all, why would people buy them if they didn’t help in some way?

There are several ingredients in creams that work to help the skin. Topical antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and E, Ubiquinol, lipoic acid, and glutathione, all have evidence to support that they help reduce the effects of skin aging. The other antioxidants such as green tea, dehydroepiandrosterone, melatonin, selenium, and resveratrol, have also antiaging and anti-inflammatory effects[2].

Topical Hyaluronic Acid

One ingredient that stars in a lot of skin creams is hyaluronic acid (HA). We know a lot about this ingredient as it has been researched for many years now. For over 10 years we have known that aging skin is associated with a loss of moisture. HA uniquely binds to water molecules to retain moisture in the skin[3]. We also know that of all the HA naturally found in the body, 50% is found in the skin[4]. As mentioned, the key roles for HA include the hydration of the skin, but HA is also involved in the lubrication of the joints[5]. In the skin, HA plays a role in skin healing which is why as we age, our skin becomes a lot more fragile, and wound healing is delayed[6].

Anti-Wrinkle Creams with Hyaluronic Acid

A lack of skin moisture causes the skin to wrinkle and the restoration of skin moisture can rapidly improve the appearance of the skin. The skin can naturally increase moisture by using acids/dermal glycosaminoglycans such as HA[7]. Amazingly, just one gram of HA can absorb 6 litres of water![8]

A recent 6-week clinical trial investigated the effects of topical HA and found that there was a clinical improvement in skin-plumping, hydration, smooth fine lines, and wrinkles. After 6 weeks of using this cream, fine lines were reduced by 31%, and wrinkles were reduced by 14%[9]. So it seems the topical application of HA works pretty well to reduce wrinkles after 6 weeks. But as the skin grows from the inside out, can oral HA be used to reduce wrinkles?

The use of Oral HA for the Treatment of Wrinkles

It is not a far-fetched idea that HA, when taken orally, can have a positive impact on the skin. After all, external factors that drive wrinkles deplete the skin’s levels of HA. These factors include UV light, aging itself, and the drying out of the skin[10]. Aging is probably the biggest factor in our skin losing most of its HA. Amazingly, at age 75, the level of HA in our skin is less than one-quarter of its level compared to when we were a youthful 19 years old[11]. A lot of cosmetic doctors are injecting HA into the skin to push it deeper into the dermis. Of course, this works, but these injections are expensive and there is a risk of pain and swelling[12].

There is good evidence that oral HA improves the skin health of individuals who consume it. Of course, if this does work, it will save you have having problematic and expensive injections. In one study, 39 Japanese women were given oral 120mg of HA per day for 6 weeks. Even after only 3 weeks, the HA group had significantly improved moisture content of the skin around the eyes[13]. In another 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled study, 50 men and women aged 22 to 59 were each given 120mg/day of HA.

All of these subjects had wrinkles around the eyes. After only 8 weeks of the consumption of HA, there was a significant reduction in the appearance of the wrinkles around the eyes[14]. In a more recent study, 40 Asian men and women were again given 120mg of HA per day and their skin parameters were closely monitored. After 12 weeks, the group of individuals taking HA significantly improved their skin condition.  This improvement included all the skin parameters measured in the study, of wrinkle parameters, stratum corneum moisture content, and skin elasticity[15].

The Take-Home Message

Hyaluronic acid works well on the skin because there is a massive loss of HA in the skin as we age. HA holds onto moisture in the skin, giving the skin a youthful appearance, which includes the reduction of wrinkles. The million-dollar question is can it be taken orally or do we have to apply a cream and hope for the best? The answer, according to studies, suggests we can simply take 120mg of HA (or more) per day orally in powder or pill form and this can help with the appearance of wrinkles and improve skin plumpness.

To find out more on our top beauty tips, listen in to one of our recent podcast episodes on our top beauty, skin-loving ingredients.  Episode 325, see below to check it out.

References

  1. https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/anti-aging-market#:~:text=Market%20Overview,6.1%25%20over%20the%20forecast%20period.
  2. Puizina-Ivić N, Mirić L, Carija A, Karlica D, Marasović D. Modern approach to topical treatment of aging skin. Coll Antropol. 2010 Sep;34(3):1145-53. PMID: 20977120.
  3. Skin ageing and its treatment. Baumann L J Pathol. 2007 Jan; 211(2):241-51.
  4. Hyaluronan in the rat with special reference to the skin. Reed RK, Lilja K, Laurent TC Acta Physiol Scand. 1988 Nov; 134(3):405-11.
  5. Hyaluronan: from extracellular glue to pericellular cue. Toole BP Nat Rev Cancer. 2004 Jul; 4(7):528-39.
  6. Angiogenic oligosaccharides of hyaluronan induce multiple signalling pathways affecting vascular endothelial cell mitogenic and wound healing responses. Slevin M, Kumar S, Gaffney J J Biol Chem. 2002 Oct 25; 277(43):41046-59.
  7. Hyaluronic acid, a promising skin rejuvenating biomedicine: A review of recent updates and pre-clinical and clinical investigations on cosmetic and nutricosmetic effects. Bukhari SNA, Roswandi NL, Waqas M, Habib H, Hussain F, Khan S, Sohail M, Ramli NA, Thu HE, Hussain Z. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018 Dec; 120(Pt B):1682-1695.
  8. Efficacy of a New Topical Nano-hyaluronic Acid in Humans. Jegasothy SM, Zabolotniaia V, Bielfeldt S J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 Mar; 7(3):27-9.
  9. Draelos ZD, Diaz I, Namkoong J, Wu J, Boyd T. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2021;11(4):1385-1394. doi:10.1007/s13555-021-00566-0
  10. Chronic ultraviolet B irradiation causes loss of hyaluronic acid from mouse dermis because of down-regulation of hyaluronic acid synthases. Dai G, Freudenberger T, Zipper P, Melchior A, Grether-Beck S, Rabausch B, de Groot J, Twarock S, Hanenberg H, Homey B, Krutmann J, Reifenberger J, Fischer JW. Am J Pathol. 2007 Nov; 171(5):1451-61.
  11. Evidence for structural changes in dermatan sulphate and hyaluronic acid with aging. Longas MO, Russell CS, He XY. Carbohydr Res. 1987 Jan 15; 159(1):127-36.
  12. Adverse effects of fillers and their histopathology. Haneke E. Facial Plast Surg. 2014 Dec; 30(6):599-614.
  13. Sato T., Yoshida T., Kanemitsu T., Yoshida K., Hasegawa M., Urushibata O. Clinical effects of hyaluronic acid diet for moisture content of dry skin. Aesthetic Dermatol. 2007;17:33–39.
  14. Oral hyaluronan relieves wrinkles: a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study over 12 weeks. Oe M, Sakai S, Yoshida H, Okado N, Kaneda H, Masuda Y, Urushibata O. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017; 10():267-273.
  15. Hsu TF, Su ZR, Hsieh YH, et al. Oral Hyaluronan Relieves Wrinkles and Improves Dry Skin: A 12-Week Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2021;13(7):2220. Published 2021 Jun 28. doi:10.3390/nu13072220