Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Acne? Here’s The Truth
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Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Acne & Breakouts?
When dealing with acne, most every one tends to think they need to “dry out” the skin using harsh products in order to clear up acne. However, that’s actually not the best way to go about treating acne, and drying out the skin can actually make acne worse. Keeping skin hydrated means you are keeping skin healthy. And when skin is healthy, it can help improve acne. One of the best hydrating skincare ingredients is hyaluronic acid that has many different skin benefits, but is clear skin one of them? Does hyaluronic acid help acne? Let’s find out!
Hyaluronic acid is a substance found naturally in skin. It is often used by skincare companies to hydrate the skin, smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, and give skin a healthy glow. Studies have proved that it can improve wrinkles by up to 80 percent. It is commonly used in anti-aging skincare, and can be found in many beauty products. It’s even included as an ingredient in some acne treatments , due to its ability to hydrate the skin, which is important when using acne products as most acne-fighting ingredients can dry out the skin. But does hyaluronic acid help acne or make acne worse?
What Is Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that our body naturally products and can hold up to 1000x its weight in water. It helps to attract water molecules into the skin which plumps skin and keeps it hydrated and healthy
Benefits: hydrates, plumps lines and wrinkles, stimulates collagen production, may help acne
Best for: dehydrated skin, oily-acne prone skin but can be used by all skin types
How Often To Use: can be used 2x daily
Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that is naturally produced by our bodies. Not only is hyaluronic found in the skin, it’s also found in connective tissues and its purpose is to retain moisture and helps to keep your body hydrated. It’s found throughout the body, but at high concentrations between the skin cells and beneath the dermis. It helps keep skin supple and hydrated by binding water molecules to keep skin plump and full of moisture. Hyaluronic acid is key in skin cell turnover, tissue repair and wound healing, collagen production and overall skin health. Meaning, with the right levels of hyaluronic acid in your skin, it can help with acne, scarring, fine lines and wrinkles and overall skin health.
Hyaluronic acid is used by many skincare companies to make skin smoother, softer, more supple, and more hydrated. It’s found in many beauty products as well, including moisturizers and products designed to help with wrinkles or fine lines around the eyes because it plumps skin instantly, so it diminishes the look of fine lines, wrinkles and pores.
Hyaluronic acid is also found in many acne-fighting products to help keep skin hydrated while using harsh and drying products. Oftentimes, the active ingredients in acne products, like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, etc. can dry out the skin, so adding hyaluronic acid to the product helps to add that moisture back.
As it can retain moisture, hyaluronic acid can help keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. It can also help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles by plumping up the skin beneath wrinkles and smoothing out fine lines.
Hyaluronic acid is able to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water molecules, making it an amazing moisturizer that will soften the top layer of your skin as it penetrates deep into your skin to moisturize from within.
Hyaluronic Acid Skin Benefits
- Hydration – as mentioned earlier, HA can keep skin hydrated by holding lots of water. This helps to plump the skin and prevent transepidermal water loss
- Heals Wounds – it’s been found that hyaluronic acid can also help speed up wound healing from cuts to acne. It does so by regulating the levels of inflammation in the skin and promoting tissue repair
- Smooths texture – A study found that topical HA helped significantly improve rough skin texture
- Anti-aging – Hyaluronic acid helps to diminish fine lines and wrinkles by plumping the skin
- Stimulates collagen – HA is also involved in collagen synthesis, which over time, can help reduce wrinkles, sagging skin, increase firmness and elasticity
- Helps Acne – It’s been found that HA may indirectly help with acne thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties
- Strengthen’s the skin barrier – HA helps to keep the skin’s protective barrier strong so it can defend itself against irritants and pathogens while protecting skin against damage
Most people think that hyaluronic acid just helps with skin hydration. And while it does (very well, I might add), it also has some other incredible benefits for the skin.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help With Acne?
Now that we have a good understanding of hyaluronic acid and acne, let’s dive into the relationship between hyaluronic acid and acne and figure out if hyaluronic acid is good for acne.
What Happens When Skin Is Low On Hyaluronic Acid?
When you have a low level of hyaluronic acid in your skin, it will begin to show the signs of being moisture depleted. Signs of low hyaluronic acid levels include:
- Rough Skin Texture
- Dull Skin
- Flaky Skin
- Closed Comedones
- Fine Lines & Wrinkles
So why does all this happen when skin is low on hyaluronic acid? As we discussed before, hyaluronic acid is essential in keeping skin healthy, including regulating skin cell turnover, collagen production and more.
So what does all this have to do with acne? Well, when skin is dry and dehydrated, it causes dead skin cells to stick together, leading to rough skin texture. It also means that your skin cell turnover is not happening the way it should, so all those dead skin cells are kind of just hanging out on your skin. That means those dead skin cells aren’t being efficiently removed, so they can get trapped in your pores and lead to clogged pores, blackheads and acne.
Additionally, when skin has low levels of hyaluronic acid, it’s likely the protective moisture barrier is not as strong as it should be. This means that your skin is more susceptible to bacteria and other irritants, which can also lead to acne.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Clear Skin?
While hyaluronic acid doesn’t contain antibacterial or exfoliating agents like traditional acne fighting products, hyaluronic acid can still help acne! It just does so in a different way.
As we discussed above, hyaluronic acid help to keep skin cell turnover in check. When your skin is lacking hydrating and moisture, skin cells cannot shed themselves effectively, so they end up getting trapped in pores. This can lead to blackheads, closed comedones, cystic acne and other types of acne.
Hyaluronic acid also helps to keep the skin’s protective moisture barrier strong, so that it can defend against acne-causing bacteria and other irritants. When skin’s moisture barrier is damaged, your skin cannot protect itself as well against bacteria, so bacteria can enter your pores, which can lead to acne.
When it comes to clearing skin, keeping the moisture barrier strong is key. Most acne fighting ingredients can damage the moisture barrier pretty easily. It’s been shown that an impaired skin barrier can lead to increased acne.
Another benefit of using hyaluronic acid for acne is that HA can help with wound healing and inflammation. So if you have inflammatory types of acne (cystic acne, papules, pustles, etc.), hyaluronic acid can help speed up healing and reduce inflammation (redness, swelling) and overall get rid of acne quicker.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Heal Acne?
Yes, hyaluronic acid can help to heal acne and speed up recovery time. Hyaluronic acid is great at promoting wound healing and stimulating collagen and elastin production, which is exactly what you need when trying to heal a pimple.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Cystic Acne
Hyaluronic acid has lots of great anti-inflammatory properties which can help to reduce inflammation, redness and swelling associated with cystic acne. However, it is not a treatment that you can use by itself and expect to get clear skin.
Cystic acne is often hard to treat and will need multiple ingredients to get clear skin. Hyaluronic acid can be a great supplemental ingredient to add into your routine to help decrease inflammation in the skin, but that’s about all it can do for cystic acne.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Comedonal Acne
Hyaluronic acid can be a great ingredient for comedonal acne or closed comedones. Closed comedones happen when excess oil and other impurities get trapped in the pores, leading to clogs and comedones. Since hyaluronic acid can help to balance out oil production, it can certainly help to reduce closed comedones!
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Hormonal Acne
Unfortunately, hyaluronic acid cannot really help hormonal acne. Since hormonal acne is driven by hormones, hyaluronic acid cannot do much. However, it can’t hurt either! Like with cystic acne, it can help to reduce any inflammation which can help with redness and reducing the severity of the pimple.
In general, for hormonal acne you’ll need some sort of oral medication like birth control to really get it under control.
Is Hyaluronic Acid Comedogenic?
No, hyaluronic acid is a 0 on the comedogenicity scale, which means it’s non-comedogenic and will not clog pores.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Cause Purging?
Active ingredients like salicylic acid or glycolic acid often do cause purging, or an increase in breakouts. And although hyaluronic acid sounds like it fits right in, it’s actually not an active ingredient and does not exfoliate the skin or do anything to the skin that would lead to an increase in breakouts or purging.
So, in short, no, hyaluronic acid does not cause purging, but if hyaluronic acid is included in a product that also has an active like salicylic or glycolic acid, that could be causing the issue.
How To Use Hyaluronic Acid For Acne?
Hyaluronic acid is luckily very easy to add into your skincare routine, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you’re using hyaluronic acid properly.
- Use hyaluronic acid on damp skin – after cleansing or after showering, don’t dry skin completely and apply your hyaluronic acid serum while skin is still damp. This will allow the HA to draw all that extra water into your skin
- Seal with a moisturizer – never use a hyaluronic acid serum without layering a thicker moisturizer on top. A moisturizer will help to lock in all that hydration and keep it from escaping and leaving your skin parched and thirsty
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Acne FAQ’s
Still have questions about hyaluronic acid and acne? I’ve got ya covered!
Does Hyaluronic Acid Make Acne Worse?
No, hyaluronic acid does not make acne worse, and if you’re experiencing breakouts when using a hyaluronic acid serum, chances are hyaluronic acid isn’t the culprit. It’s probably another ingredient in the serum. Since our bodies naturally produce hyaluronic acid, the chances of it causing any breakouts or other issues are slim to none.
Is Hyaluronic Acid Ok For Acne Prone Skin?
Yes! Hyaluronic acid is great for acne prone skin and also oily skin. In fact, it can help acne prone and oily skin become less oily. Some people with excess oil just think their skin is oily but it’s actually dehydrated. When skin is dehydrated, it can lead to overproduction of oil which means greasy and shiny skin!
So by adding in a little extra hydration with a hyaluronic acid serum, this can help to decrease oil production because your skin isn’t going into overdrive trying to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized with oil.
Will Hyaluronic Acid Clog Pores?
No, hyaluronic acid itself will not clog pores as it is non-comedogenic, meaning it will not cause clogged pores or breakouts.. However, do keep in mind that with many hyaluronic acid serums, there are lots of added ingredients and some of those may be comedogenic or cause clogged pores or breakouts.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Blackheads?
Hyaluronic acid can actually help treat blackheads! A blackhead forms when excess oil and dead skin or other impurities clog the pore. So if you keep your skin hydrated with hyaluronic acid, it can help to regulate oil production which can help prevent blackheads.
Do keep in mind that hyaluronic acid cannot treat blackheads, but it can help prevent them.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Acne Scars?
In short, no, hyaluronic acid cannot help acne scars. While it can help reduce inflammation and redness associated with acne scarring, it does not actually help fade the pigmentation or reduce atrophic acne scarring which is when the skin becomes indented.
Although you can get hyaluronic acid dermal fillers to help with atrophic acne scars, a hyaluronic acid serum can really only help to reduce any redness.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Cause Breakouts?
Generally, no hyaluronic acid will not cause breakouts. Since it’s not an active ingredient and does not cause purging or exfoliate the skin in any way, it will not cause any issues.
However, when hyaluronic acid is used improperly, it can definitely lead to some problems. This is mainly an issue if you live in drier climate.
Hyaluronic acid, like other humectants, work by drawing moisture from the environment into the skin. So if you live in a dry climate, there’s not a whole lot of moisture in the environment in the first place. And if you don’t lock in the hyaluronic acid serum with a moisturizer, all that moisture can escape into the environment which leaves your skin dehydrated and dry.
Best Hyaluronic Acid For Acne Prone Skin
Now that we’ve talked about how hyaluronic acid can help acne, let’s look at the best hyaluronic acid products for acne prone skin. When you are acne prone, it’s important to look at ingredients to make sure there’s nothing in the product that could clog pores and lead to acne. Here are acne-prone skin safe hyaluronic acid serums and products:
Versed Hydration Station Serum Booster
This lightweight hyaluronic acid serum by Versed packs a punch with tons of hydration. With two types of hyaluronic acid – one for hydration at the surface and another just below it- it provides lightweight moisturizing without feeling heavy or greasy on skin. It can be used as a standalone product if desired but also mixes well with other products too!
With two different types of hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid in order to provide both light weight moisture up top and deeper down where needed most, it’s incredibly hydrating yet super lightweight! Plus Glycerin and Indian Cress Extract that work to draw even more moisture into the skin, this is the perfect lightweight hyaluronic acid serum for acne prone skin!
Timeless Hyaluronic Acid 100% Pure
Struggle with reactive skin that seems to breakout or react to everything you put on it? This Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum by Timeless has only 4 ingredients, so it’s perfect for those with sensitive or reactive skin. Although the ingredients are minimal, this serum will instantly plump skin full of moisture. It sinks in quickly and leaves skin feeling supple.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Get ready for skin hydration like never before. This hyaluronic acid serum by The Ordinary, combines low-, medium- and high-molecular weight hyaluronic acid, as well as 2% of a next generation crosspolymer. Vitamin B5 is added to enhance skin hydration and Glycerin and Panthenol work to draw even more moisture into the skin.
This incredibly affordable hyaluronic acid serum is one of the best on the market. The only downside? This product tends to ‘pill’ on the skin, so you have to be careful when layering this serum with other skincare products.
Good Molecules Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Instantly give your skin a nice drink of water with the Hyaluronic Acid Serum from Good Molecules. This lightweight serum instantly hydrates and smooths out all of those lines on your face that give away how stressed or tired you are feeling. Another serum that has minimal ingredients, making it a great option for those with sensitive and reactive skin types.
How To Use Hyaluronic Acid For Acne
Hyaluronic acid can be a great treatment for acne-prone skin. It helps to moisturize the skin and reduce inflammation caused by acne breakouts. For people with acne, using a hyaluronic acid serum is an excellent way to provide hydration and soothe the sometimes painful feeling of dryness that comes with breakouts and acne fighting-products. Here are some tips on how to use a hyaluronic acid serum for acne-prone skin for best results.
- Apply To Damp Skin – Always apply a hyaluronic acid serum on damp skin – whether you apply right after cleansing or use a spray toner or water, as long as skin is damp, you’ll get the best results. The hyaluronic acid serum will trap that moisture in your skin, so it will instantly help plump your skin and rehydrate.
- Lock It In – Once you have all that moisture in your skin, you want to keep it there! To do that, you need to use an occlusive moisturizer that will keep the moisture from leaving the skin. Usually you can use any moisturizer or cream on top of the hyaluronic acid serum.
- Use With Other Humectants – For extra hydration, look for ingredients like glycerin, honey, panthenol and beta-glucans which work in the same way and will help keep skin hydrated without being heavy or greasy.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Cause Acne?
Some people believe that hyaluronic acid causes acne, but this is actually not accurate. Hyaluronic acid doesn’t cause acne– it helps to hydrate your skin and reduce inflammation caused by breakouts. Additionally, hyaluronic acid is something that is naturally produced by your body – so there is no way hyaluronic acid will cause acne or skin purging. So don’t worry, you can use hyaluronic acid without worrying about more breakouts!
Is Hyaluronic Acid Good For Acne Scars?
Acne scars are difficult to get rid of and can be permanently damaging to one’s skin, especially if they are indented scars like icepick or boxcar scars. Some people believe that hyaluronic acid helps acne scars, but in reality, it is not likely to help eliminate scarring. There is no solid evidence that supports the idea that hyaluronic acid will get rid of acne scarring.
However, hyaluronic acid does help stimulate collagen production, which in turn, can help with indented acne scarring. Indented acne scarring occurs when the collagen in the skin is damaged from the inflammation process. In order to get rid of hypertrophic acne scars, collagen needs to be rebuilt and since hyaluronic acid can help stimulate collagen, it can certainly help with acne scarring. However, for most indented acne scarring, you will need professional treatments like lasers, microneedling, etc. Hyaluronic acid can help, but only so much.
For pigmented acne scars, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, hyaluronic acid can’t do much. It can help speed up wound healing and make the scar a little more short-lived, but that’s about it. You’ll have much better luck with things like vitamin c, retinoids, lighteners and chemical exfoliants.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Acne: Wrap Up
Is hyaluronic acid good for acne? While hyaluronic acid doesn’t directly treat acne or breakouts, it can certainly help with preventing acne by keeping the skin barrier strong and help to keep skin cell turnover happening at a healthy rate.
If you have been struggling with acne, know that there are some things you can do to help treat it that may not involve traditional acne treatments. It can also reduce inflammation which is often a contributing factor in breakouts or acne outbreaks. Hyaluronic acid doesn’t directly treat acne but it’s one more way for you to take care of your skin and keep your skin healthy so it can shed dead skin cells and defend itself against acne causing bacteria.
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Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Acne?
Elizabeth is the owner of The Blushing Bliss, a skincare and beauty blog that she started to order to help others navigate the overwhelming world of skincare. With skincare trends constantly changing, there’s one thing that will always be true: science. Elizabeth is here to help decode the science behind skincare and with a background in chemistry and microbiology, she's a pro at deconstructing scientific studies and medical jargon. She’s on a mission to tell you what works and what doesn’t do you can save time and money and get the skin of your dreams.