An active ingredient with multiple facets

What is this multifaceted active ingredient that we talk so much about for the youthfulness of the skin? This natural element of the epidermis sees its stock gradually decrease over time to reach only 50% of its capital at age 50, causing skin premature aging. Why is it useful for us to renew hyaluronic acid within our tissues? How to integrate it into your nutricosmetic solutions?

Hyaluronic acid in the body

It is an essential constituent for many tissues and physiological fluids. For example, the dermis contains half of the total hyaluronic acid in the human body. First isolated in 1934 by Meyer and Palmer, this element was for a long time looked at as a filling material without much interest, but it has now  showned to play a decisive role in many physiological mechanisms :

  • It is one of the main constituents of the connective tissue extracellular matrix, where it helps to maintain hydration thanks to its high water retention capacity.
  • It influences many important cellular processes: macrophages and granulocytes activation, protection, proliferation, differentiation and migration cells.

A production that turns to biotechnologies

The first industrial productions were carried out by extraction from the rooster’s crest.

Rooster crest7500
Human skin200
Human Synovial Fluid1420-3600
Human Chest Lymph8,5-18
Human vitreous humor140-338
Human Umbilical Cord4100
Human amniotic fluid20

Table I: hyaluronic acid concentration in various tissues and fluids

Hyaluronic acid

In recent years, production has shifted to biotechnologies, and a large part of this acid is now produced by fermentation. These biotechnologies thus make it possible to avoid the use of animal derivatives in cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

Certain microorganisms, in particular Lancefield’s streptococci A and C, represent a source of hyaluronic acid. These lactic bacteria have the capacity to produce this active ingredient, which is an essential component of their capsule. This extracellular production is in fact a natural defense phenomenon in front of particular conditions.

Whatever its origin, the polymer chemical structure is the same (identical molecule).

The ability of hyaluronic acid to retain water leads us to take a closer look at the hydration phenomenon and its role.

Moisturize your skin orally

A first approach to deeply moisturize your skin is to take hyaluronic acid in the form of capsules, tablets or drinkable ampoules. But how does this active ingredient work within our various skin layers? What impact does it have on the aging of our skin?

Water retention in the dermis

The particular structure of hyaluronic acid allows it to retain more water than most other natural or synthetic polymers. Thus a 2% aqueous solution of this pure acid retains the remaining 98% of water, taking on the appearance of a gel. However, it is not a gel. This property is very specific to hyaluronic acid, and allows the formation of a viscoelastic network (gel structure).

One of the most important roles of this acid in the skin is therefore to maintain hydration by retaining water in the extracellular matrix. Its polymeric network then acts as a “molecular sponge”.

Hyaluronic acid in the epidermis

Although the dermis contains most of the skin’s hyaluronic acid, the cells of the epidermis also have the capacity to produce it.

The water retained by hyaluronic acid in both the dermis and the epidermis’s vital layers is essential for maintaining hydration.


Skin aging, particularly after the age of 50, is accompanied by changes in its macromolecular components, which lead to radical changes in the viscoelastic properties of the extracellular matrix of the dermis. In particular, the current hyaluronic acid in the epidermis gradually disappears. In the dermis, recent studies have shown that the major change is the increase in the bonds between the tissues and the acid, which becomes less and less extractable and loses its  retain water capacity and maintain hydration.

Consequently, it would seem that age-related skin alterations: loss of elasticity and suppleness, wrinkles, dryness, are linked to these changes in the hyaluronic acid network in the dermis.

The purpose of this oral intake is therefore to bring collagen to the tissues by creating a mechanical and biological effect. Indeed, its presence is recognized by the skin cells (fibroblasts) which then initiate a process of synthesis of collagen and natural hyaluronic acid.

Moisturize your skin with cosmetics

Choosing to integrate hyaluronic acid through cosmetics into your beauty routine is a second approach. Whether in the form of day or night creams, serums, masks or patches, the cutaneous application of this active ingredient helps to hydrate the skin, prevent and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and more importantly, repair the skin’s structure.

High molecular weight hyaluronic acid solutions form non-occlusive viscoelastic films when applied to the skin, and thus regulate water perspiration. These films retain water in the same way as acid in the extracellular matrix of connective tissue. They also protect the skin from external aggressions, which could damage the epidermis’s lipid barrier and lead to stratum corneum significant desquamation.

In addition, the study of different moisturizers shows that the most effective polymer in maintaining hydration should have the following properties :

  • High molecular weight;
  • High affinity for water;
  • Heterogeneous structure to form a soft and flexible film on the skin.

By meeting all these criteria, hyaluronic acid is considered an ideal moisturizer.

For multiple applications to skin service

In conclusion, this multi-faceted molecule can be used in cosmetics, food supplements and wrinkle-filling medical devices in different grades depending on the application. This active perfectly illustrates the notion of “nutricosmetics” or “beauty in&out”. Indeed, combining an oral and cutaneous contribution would increase its long-term effectiveness on our tissues. Find our anti-aging product innovations in dietary supplements by  clicking here or our cosmetics.

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