Tips for Using Hyaluronic Acid Safely and Effectively

Hyaluronic acid is a substance that’s naturally produced by the body – it’s mostly found in the skin, eyes, and connective tissue and functions mainly to retain water,  keeping tissue lubricated and moist. It is also sometimes used to help with osteoarthritis. Some people take hyaluronic acid as a supplement, which may help the skin look and feel more supple and slow down the aging process. It can also be used in eye drops, injections, and topical serums. 

If you’re thinking about using hyaluronic acid, you may be wondering if it’s safe. The good news is that, yes, in most cases, hyaluronic acid can be used safely and effectively – even for those who have sensitive skin or who are pregnant or nursing. However,  it’s not recommended to be used more than twice a day, in the morning and at night.

Safety Considerations

Before taking any new supplement, you should talk about this with your doctor to check if it’s right for you. This is especially the case if you already take prescription medicine, are receiving treatment for an illness, or suffer from a chronic health condition.

While over-the-counter hyaluronic supplements and skincare can generally be used safely, if you are prescribed a product containing this ingredient, it must be used exactly according to the instructions given. Further, if you are opting for hyaluronic injections, these should only be administered by a qualified and licensed medical professional.

What are the Potential Side Effects of Hyaluronic Acid?

Adverse reactions to over-the-counter hyaluronic supplements and skincare products are rare. However, hyaluronic injections may cause side effects such as pain, redness, itching, swelling, and bruising, which are usually a reaction to the injection itself rather than the hyaluronic acid solution it contains. In most cases, such reactions clear up within a week.

Is There Anything That Hyaluronic Acid Doesn’t Mix With?

No, hyaluronic acid can be combined with virtually any other skincare product, if desired, without the risk of irritation. In fact, some people actively mix it with slightly harsher products to make them more mild and less likely to cause a reaction. Hyaluronic acid is a soothing, moisturizing substance that’s versatile, too, when it comes to combining it with the other serums and lotions in your skincare arsenal.

Look Out for the Molecular Weight

Check the label on hyaluronic acid for skin products to find out the molecular weight of the acid in each. This lets you know how deep the product will be able to penetrate into the skin. The lower the molecular weight, the deeper the hyaluronic acid molecules can get beneath the skin, potentially delivering greater benefits. Further, a higher molecular weight is more likely to result in the product leaving a film on the surface of the skin. A small study in 2011 backs this up, where it was demonstrated that a lower molecular weight of hyaluronic acid resulted in a reduction of wrinkle depth among the participants.

Avoid Harsh Ingredients

It’s best to avoid hyaluronic acid-containing products that contain harsh ingredients, such as fragrance and alcohol, or those with high concentrations of acid, to be as kind to your skin as possible. It’s also important to consider the humectant level of moisturizers – too high can actually cause a loss of water from the skin, undoing the good work of the hyaluronic acid.

Opt for Hyaluronic Acid Skincare that Contains Occlusives and Other Complementary Ingredients

If you’re looking for the most effective hyaluronic acid-containing moisturizer, it’s best to choose a product that also contains occlusives. These substances help prevent water from leaving the skin to evaporate into the air and include kinds of butter like cocoa and shea, oils like avocado, lanolin and stearic acids, carnauba wax, and beeswax.

Choose products that contain ingredients that are complementary to hyaluronic acid, too, like Vitamins C and B5. The former is an antioxidant that can help repair the skin and protect against environmental damage, while the latter smooths and softens the skin.

Using Hyaluronic Acid Safely: The Takeaway

Skincare and supplements containing hyaluronic acid can deliver benefits, including smoother, supple, and more moisturized skin, which is less prone to showing the signs of aging. Use the guide above to work out whether this treatment is right for you and how to go about using products containing the ingredients safely and for maximum effect. If in doubt, or you think you’re having a reaction to a product containing hyaluronic acid, always be sure to check with a medical professional.


Joan David-Leonhard

Joan David Leonhard is a recent Pharm.D graduate with a strong passion for the pharmaceutical industry and a particular interest in pharmaceutical media and communication. Her brief internship experience includes roles in pharmacy where she built strong patient-pharmacist relationships and a pharmaceutical media internship where she actively contributed to drug information articles, blog posts, social media engagement, and various media projects.
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