Hyaluronic acid helps keep skin moisturized, while vitamin C protects from sun damage and can help fade skin discoloration.
It’s not a coincidence. Both ingredients can help support graceful aging in skin — especially when they’re used together.
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Our skin gets wrinkled with age thanks largely to hormonal changes that make skin drier and less elastic.
Oxidative damage (from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and the body’s regular metabolic functions) also impacts the synthesis of collagen, the protein that makes up skin and other connective tissues.
Hyaluronic acid is a molecule naturally produced by the body that’s found in bones, connective tissue, cartilage, hair follicles, and skin. As a humectant, it helps skin retain moisture.
“[Hyaluronic acid is] an effective moisturizer because it can hold one thousand times its weight in water,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist practicing at Shafer Clinic in New York.
“It creates a barrier for the skin, locking in moisture and improving texture,” explains Engelman.
“Hyaluronic acid acts like a sponge. It binds [with] water to pull it into the skin outer skin layer,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology.
Although hyaluronic acid injections are more effective than creams or serums, research suggests that applying hyaluronic acid to the face may help:
- moisturize skin
- decrease the appearance of wrinkles
- enhance skin firmness and elasticity
- repair and regenerate skin
Hyaluronic acid creams may be particularly helpful as skin ages, especially as the levels of hyaluronic acid in the skin drop with age.
“Skin loses water and moisture as we age, and this ingredient will help store hydration. The result is a softer, plumper, and even skin tone. It can improve fine lines and wrinkles as well,” Engelman says.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that’s naturally present in high levels in the skin. It helps protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) sun and other environmental damage.
“Vitamin C is perhaps the best-studied antioxidant we have available for topical application,” says Zeichner.
Engelman and Zeichner say applying vitamin C to the skin may help:
If you’re looking for a pair of skin care ingredients for optimal skin health, consider hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. Combining the two makes for a great all-in-one skin care step.
“Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C are commonly used together because they complement each other to hydrate, protect, and repair aging skin,” says Zeichner.
There’s another reason the ingredients are often paired: “Too much vitamin C can be irritating, trigger dryness, and even cause acne breakouts in certain skin types,” says Engelman. “Hyaluronic acid is a great addition to vitamin C because it does not overwork the skin. Rather, it nourishes [skin] by helping to create a moisture barrier, and it allows the skin to heal.”
2020 randomized controlled trialinvolving 50 women found that, compared to a placebo, applying a 20% vitamin C serum daily for 2 months improved skin color, elasticity, and radiance while reducing wrinkles.
Ultrasound was used to measure the thickness of the epidermis and dermis at multiple points during the study. Researchers found that the vitamin C solution was highly effective as a rejuvenation therapy and induced collagen production in all age groups.
As for hyaluronic acid, a
At the end of 6 weeks, researchers noted improvement in all measured areas, with the largest improvements in hydration, smoothness, plumping, and fine lines.
There aren’t any risks when pairing these ingredients together. But if your skin is sensitive to either ingredient, you should avoid it, says Engelman.
Engelman adds that it’s highly unusual to have a reaction to hyaluronic acid. “Everyone can benefit from hyaluronic acid. There is no tolerance required, and it pairs nicely with other ingredients.”
Before applying a new product to the entire face, it’s best to do a patch test on a small area to test for sensitivity. Apply a small amount of the product to the skin and wait 24 hours. If any sign of reaction or irritation occurs, discontinue use.
With age, skin becomes drier and less elastic, increasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help battle oxidative damage to the skin. It’s often paired in skin care products with hyaluronic acid, a humectant that helps keep skin moisturized.
If you want to maximize your skin care benefits, try using these ingredients together.
Colleen de Bellefonds is a Paris-based health and wellness journalist with over a decade of experience regularly writing and editing for publications including WhatToExpect.com, Women’s Health, WebMD, Healthgrades.com, and CleanPlates.com. Find her on Twitter.