Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring protein found in our body. Because of its biochemical properties, it has an affinity for water and therefore, lubricates and hydrates our tissues.
When it comes to the skin, aging, UV radiation, and many other forms of damage cause hyaluronic acid to break down. As most of you know, we can supplement our skincare regimen with hyaluronic acid to replace what we’ve lost. The difficulty lies in choosing which form of hyaluronic acid to use: high or low molecular weight? And what does the molecular weight even mean?
By classifying proteins by their molecular weight, we are representing the size of the protein. As a skincare product, high molecular weight hyaluronic acid is typically over 1500 kDa and low molecular weight hyaluronic acids is under 1000 kDa. So why do we care so much about this?
For two reasons: 1) Skin permeability and 2) inflammation. High molecular weight hyaluronic acid will not penetrate through the outermost layers of the skin. This is why needling has been a popular technique to improve penetration into your skin, but in this case and for topical use, choosing the low molecular weight hyaluronic acid is more effective.
When it comes to inflammation, few studies have demonstrated the effects of high versus low molecular weight hyaluronic acid. I have taken a look at these studies which were performed in vitro, meaning in an artificial laboratory environment with a single type of cell. Scientists perform in vitro experiments to help support our data, however, when confirming pro-inflammatory versus anti-inflammatory effects, we need to look at the bigger picture.
What exactly is inflammation? Inflammation is a natural and necessary process that occurs all the time without us even knowing. Of course, when we get an injury or infection, we mount an overwhelming inflammatory response that is characterized by redness, swelling, heat, and pain. However, controlled inflammation is the first step in the degradation of old/dead cells and proteins to clear the way for generation of new ones and ultimately repair tissues.
So back to hyaluronic acid. If you’re needling it in, you are physically creating an overwhelming inflammatory response to ultimately result in skin repair and the addition of whichever hyaluronic acid of your choosing, the effects are again negligible. It doesn’t matter the molecular weight. Furthermore, when you add it to skincare products such as FACTORFIVE, the concentrated formula rich in anti-inflammatory proteins overcomes any singular effect of the hyaluronic acid rendering it also negligible to pro- or anti-inflammatory effects.
Choosing low molecular weight has a greater likelihood of penetration to produce an effect, which is retaining water for a healthy plump appearance and which is why for FACTORFIVE Skincare products, we add low molecular weight hyaluronic acid.
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