Hyaluronic acid is naturally present in our body and has a molecular weight of 4000 to 8,000,000 daltons. In cosmetics, there are different types of hyaluronic acid that can be used in cosmetic formulations. And they vary based on their molecular size and their effects can vary based on the molecular size that is indicated by its daltons. Hyaluronic is typically labelled as sodium hyaluronate (INCI = Sodium Hyaluronate) and thus doesn’t outline the different molecular sizes that a manufacturer is using. It is at the discretion of the brand to be transparent about the type of sodium hyaluronate it is using. Again, type in relation to the molecular size which has different effects on the skin. If you want to find out which Hyaluronic Acid a brand is using you need to ask the brand about the specifics so you get the result you are looking for.
Roughly, we distinguish between 2 molecular sizes: high molecular weight hyaluronic acid and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid. However, there are more specific ones that you can see below outlined in the table.
Below is a table to outline the different molecular sizes Sodium Hyaluronate can represent and its effect:
Type of HA
|Molecular weight (in Dalton)||kDA||
|High molecular weight||>1.800.000||<1.800||– works only for a short time
– forms a moisturizing film on the skin surface
– has anti-inflammatory effects
|Middle molecular weight||1.000.000 to 1.800.000||1000 – 1800||– works long term
– is stored in the connective tissue of the skin
|Low molecular weight||400.000 to 1.000.000||400 – 1000||– works long term
– is stored in the connective tissue of the skin
– has a lasting anti-wrinkle effect
|S||100.000 to 400.000||100 – 400||Works in deeper levels of the skin|
High molecular Hyaluronic Acid Low molecular Hyaluronic Acid Nano molecular Hyaluronic Acid
So, most brands and the products include a thousand sizes of Hyaluronic acid based on the sizes and the measurement used to measure the different types of hyaluronic acid.
Most effective Hyaluronic Acid
High molecular weight
High molecular weight hyaluronic acid is the much larger variant as per outlined in the table above. It consists of molecules of 1,500 kD and larger and cannot penetrate the skin barrier. However, it forms a film with the keratin of the skin on evaporation, which moisturizes the skin and improves its elasticity. Unfortunately, this film is washed off relatively quickly, so that no real long-term effect occurs. Finally, this type has anti-inflammatory properties. So it is quite nurturing and soothing.
Low molecular weight
Low molecular weight hyaluronic acid makes it possible to enter the skin. It consists of molecules of 50 kD and smaller and ensures that water is stored in the connective tissue of the skin. The additional moisture not only makes the skin more firm and firmer, but also visibly reduces wrinkles. When using low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, the moisture is stored in the skin sustainably. Therefore, it has more advantages and above all a more lasting effect.
Recent independent research have outlined that the hyaluronic you want to use should be between 80,000 to 1,000,000 daltons (80 – 1,000 kDa). See reference to refer to the research. Thus, this seems to be the most effective molecular size that supports the skin to maintain its moisture and elasticity according to studies. Anything higher won’t do much good and has a short-lived effect that is getting removed after you cleanse your face. Anything lower might cause inflammation if used in too high dose as it penetrates deep into your skin. So one needs to carefully formulated with those and leave it to experts with years of experience.
Hyaluronic Acid & Medicine
In medicine, e.g. hyaluronic acid is used as joint injection for lubrication and padding of joints. In many eye drops, it is included as a wetting agent for contact lenses or for the treatment of dry, irritated eyes. In aesthetic surgery, it is also used as a skin filler to make wrinkles disappear for a few months. Hyaluronic acid is certainly an ingredient that is popular in premium products that focus on more mature skin. However, it is never to late to start using hyaluronic acid.
In general, formulations do not include more than 2% and is indicated by manufacturer to ensure safe usage. This indication is based on testing and safety assessments conducted by independent parties.
NAYA: Our formulations
At NAYA, we stick to those guidelines to formulate effective and safe products. So turn the label around and look where you can read the name Sodium Hyaluronate. Some brands typically use a combination of high molecular weight as it demonstrates an immediate effect to convince the buyer of its effectiveness. However, the effectiveness isn’t long lasting if you want to support your skin in the long run. At Naya, we use a low molecular weight to give you lasting effect.
In our new products, we will use a newly researched Hyaluronic Acid which is considered an innovation in the cosmetic industry. So sign up to our newsletter to learn more about it.
- Schlesinger T.E., Powell C.R., “Efficacy and tolerability of low molecular weight hyaluronic acid sodium salt 0.2% cream in rosacea, “ J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 Jun 1;12(6):664-7. Available on: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23839183
- Sundaram, H., Mackiewicz, N., Burton, E., Peno-Mazzarino, L., Lati, E., Meunier, S., (2016) ,“Pilot Comparative Study of the Topical Action of a Novel, Crosslinked Resilient Hyaluronic Acid on Skin Hydration and Barrier Function in a Dynamic, Three-Dimensional Human Explant Model”, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology : JDD [01 Apr 2016, 15(4):434-441] Available on: http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/27050698