Hyaluronic acid is having its moment, but this popular skin care ingredient may not just be a fad.

While it’s best known as a humectant, an ingredient that helps lock in moisture, it can do more than keep your skin from drying out.

Other reasons to love hyaluronic acid include its ability to:

  • Provides aging support
  • Soothes eczema prone skin
  • create a dew-like ending
  • Helps treat acne and reduce the appearance of scars

That’s right – if you’re looking for a new way to treat acne-prone skin, hyaluronic acid might be worth a try.

You actually already have hyaluronic acid all over your body, where it performs important functions like helping to cushion your joints. In skin care products, it is mainly used for its moisturizing properties: It helps your skin retain water and prevents dryness.

Dry skin tends to look dull, dull, and easily irritated, so adding moisture and locking in moisture will help hydrate and plump your skin for an overall healthy look.

So what can it do for acne-prone skin?

As you probably already know, some acne can appear due to an overproduction of oil. Sebum, an oily substance produced by your sebaceous glands, can clog pores and lead to breakouts. Controls excess sebum production, which, in turn, can help prevent pore blockages and breakouts.

Research from 2017 shows that hyaluronic acid doesn’t just help lock in moisture. It can also help control sebum production, making it a useful ingredient for acne prevention.

People with acne may also experience skin barrier dysfunction. Your skin barrier protects you from external threats like sun exposure, environmental conditions etc. A damaged protective barrier can lead to skin problems like excessive dryness and breakouts.

Since hyaluronic acid helps prevent water loss, its use can improve skin barrier function, which in turn can reduce redness and reduce irritation.

What about acne scars?

Several studies point to the benefits of hyaluronic acid injections for acne scars:

  • ONE Research 2018 12 participants found evidence that three injections of hyaluronic acid gel, 4 weeks apart, effectively reduced moderate to severe acne scars with no adverse effects.
  • ONE Research 2020 also included 12 participants with moderate to severe scarring who reported similar results. In this study, participants received two injections 4 weeks apart. The study authors reported a significant improvement in scar depth.

Topical hyaluronic acid can also help:

  • A 2017 study found that a topical hyaluronic acid serum can help reduce the appearance of acne scars when combined with CO2 laser resurfacing. When comparing the results of the combined treatment with a combination of CO2 laser resurfacing only, the researchers found that adding a hyaluronic acid serum resulted in more improvement in scarring. It also has the added benefit of less recovery time and reduced side effects.

Hyaluronic acid can also do other things for your skin.

Based on research since 2014, hyaluronic acid can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin elasticity. That said, you’ll likely get the most noticeable benefits with hyaluronic acid injections, rather than the serums you apply topically.

Plus, because hyaluronic acid helps retain water in the skin and improves skin barrier function, it can also help alleviate eczema symptoms.

Informational reports show that some people develop breakouts after using serums, face creams, and other skin care products containing hyaluronic acid.

Here’s the thing: It’s hard to say whether the culprit is in fact hyaluronic acid or another ingredient, like oil.

Furthermore, because your skin is unique to you, there’s always the chance that you’ll experience a reaction to a product that doesn’t have a negative effect on someone else.

That’s why you should do a patch test when trying new skin care products for the first time.

Exfoliation occurs when an ingredient stimulates an increase in the rate of skin cell turnover. This reaction speeds up shedding of skin cells and can leave you with drier skin than usual.

If you have acne, it can be difficult to tell what’s clear and what’s real. So, how do you know if your new hyaluronic serum has triggered a purge – or sent you straight to Zit City?

A reaction-related flare, which tends to last longer than a purge, can take up to 10 days to clear. Oftentimes, you’ll also notice pimples popping up in areas you don’t usually get. On the other hand, product bleaching often occurs in the same areas where you frequently break out.

There is always a chance of a reaction when trying new skin care products.

However, hyaluronic acid is far less likely to cause skin irritation than other products, like harsher retinoids, especially since your body already produces it naturally. You can also safely use hyaluronic acid topical while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Hyaluronic acid injections come with a higher risk of side effects, but that’s often more related to the cosmetic procedure itself.

If you’re concerned about potential side effects, you should never check with a dermatologist before trying new products for chronic skin conditions like severe acne.

Serums are one of the most popular hyaluronic acid products.

You apply the serum after washing your face, up to twice a day. Most bottles come with a dropper to help you dispense the product without waste. Put a few drops on your finger and gently apply to face.

You can still apply moisturizer or other products on top of the serum after your skin has had a chance to absorb the hyaluronic acid.

If you’re using a moisturizer containing hyaluronic acid, simply apply it whenever you regularly moisturize.

Choose a product

If you have persistent acne, you often want to choose products that are labeled hypoallergenic, which means they won’t clog your pores. It’s best to use products that are recommended by a dermatologist or dermatologist.

You can also read the ingredient list – always a good practice – to check for common acne-causing ingredients:

  • cocoa butter
  • linseed oil
  • coconut oil
  • oleic acid
  • lanolin acid
  • laureth-4
  • squalene
  • butyl stearate
  • isopropyl myristate
  • isopropyl linoleate
  • isopropyl isostearate
  • oleyl alcohol

If you have moderate to severe acne, you should connect with a dermatologist before trying new products. They can also provide guidance on whether hyaluronic acid injections can help reduce the appearance of acne scars.

Ultimately, your dermatologist probably won’t recommend hyaluronic acid as a first-line treatment for acne. However, it can offer some benefits as part of your regular skin care routine.

Hyaluronic acid helps keep your skin hydrated without weighing it down. It’s safe for most people to use, and it shows promise as a complementary acne treatment.

However, keep in mind that it’s just one tool in your acne toolbox, and it may not always be the right tool. A dermatologist can be more supportive in finding the best treatment for your skin care needs.

Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraines who has a special interest in health and fitness. When she’s not clicking on the keyboard, she’s probably deep in a good book.


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