Skin creams are loaded with all kinds of crazy ingredients: rare orchid extract, deep-sea algae, crab-apple stem cells, diamond dust, ground unicorn’s horn… OK, not the last one, but it is hard to take it all seriously. However, this past year has seen the rise of one star ingredient which is worthy of the hype and that’s hyaluronic acid. It may sound like something you messed around with in school chem, but it isn’t in the least corrosive and you definitely want it on your skin. It’s actually a substance that occurs naturally in the body, but – depressing pronouncement alert – as with most of the building blocks we need for youthful skin, it diminishes with age. Have no fear, though, because it is now included in many skincare ranges, so we can top up.
Now, hyaluronic acid is not an exfoliant – which is the rooky assumption – but, in fact, a benign hydrating substance that even sensitive skins love. It can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which basically means it makes any moisturising ingredient you put on your skin work harder by holding it in and preventing moisture loss. It works two-fold when you apply it: it has an immediate plumping effect and deeper long-term benefit. So, when choosing a moisturiser, check the ingredient list for hyaluronic acid (often listed as sodium hyaluronate), because your skin will thank you for it. And it will feel good knowing what you are doing at the counter, because skincare shopping is usually mystifying at the best of times.
If you have very dehydrated skin or visible fine lines, do as the skincare know-it-alls do and layer on pure hyaluronic acid before you even moisturise. Indeed Labs Hydraluron, is excellent and will last ages. A pea-sized blob will deliver a springy boost and absorbs fast.
There are many more expensive pure formulations around but, frankly, it is all the same stuff packaged differently and this is a product you don’t need to splurge on. If you have dry body skin, try Nip + Fab’s Hyaluronic Fix Body Gel. Nip + Fab is the sister spin-off range to the luxury Rodial range, so it borrows much of the innovation but comes at a lower price tag. And crepe-y shins can be seen off in one application of the fast-absorbing body gel.
If you have a long-haul flight looming, or have been overdoing the alcohol of late, the Korean brand Mizon makes a brilliant sheet mask infused with hyaluronic acid and lots of other good-skin things, bizarrely titled Returning Starfish Bio Mask, £7.50. It gives a near-instant brightening boost, like you’ve had a week of early nights and never drink coffee.
Hyaluronic acid is also popping up in make-up now, which is especially useful in concealer. Dry skin around the eyes makes dark circles more pronounced and is very common unfortunately. Urban Decays’s The Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer, is exceptionally flattering and, because of the hyaluronic, won’t dry out under the eyes like many long-lasting concealers.
So, invest now and you’ll be the smug glowy one, not suffering the ills of winter weather and central heating.