Hyaluronic acid has become a staple in the cosmetic industry. And for good reason: it is considered an excellent moisturizing agent, which helps to give the skin a plumped and smooth texture. However, for some people hyaluronic acid may cause irritation. So, what can you substitute to avoid its side effects? Here are some alternatives to hyaluronic acid in skincare.
What Is a Good Hyaluronic Acid Alternative?
- Hyaluronic Acid: When To Substitute It With Another Active Ingredient?
- What Are the Alternatives To Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic Acid: When To Substitute It With Another Active Ingredient?
Hyaluronic acid is highly valued for its moisturizing and plumping functions. Highly hydrophilic in nature, this sugar has the ability to bind to water molecules and retain a large quantity of water, up to 1,000 times its weight in water, in the heart of cells. It thus helps to limit the natural evaporation of water and to restore the hydration balance to normal levels in order to maintain a hydrated skin. Its application to the skin also helps to temporarily reduce the depth and surface of wrinkles.
In facial care, hyaluronic acid can be of high molecular weight and remain on the surface of the skin to form a protective film against external aggressions and dehydration. It can also be of low molecular weight and thus be able to cross the skin barrier to infiltrate the layers of the epidermis where it captures and gels water for a plumping effect on the surface and maximum hydration. In addition, it serves as a signaling molecule to instruct the fibroblasts to synthesize new hyaluronic acid molecules. The smaller the molecular weight of the active ingredient, the greater the penetration into the skin and hydration of the skin. Although for the majority of people, low molecular weight hyaluronic acid allows deep hydration of the skin, for others they may be allergic to it.
Although hyaluronic acid irritations are rare, since hyaluronic acid is not a typical allergenic ingredient, some cases of allergy can be observed. It can cause inflammatory reactions of the skin. These include redness, itching, increased skin sensitivity, and rash, which will occur immediately after applying a hyaluronic acid-based skin care product to the skin.
What Are the Alternatives To Hyaluronic Acid?
If you can't tolerate skincare products containing this ingredient, there are hyaluronic acid alternatives to benefit from a moisturizing effect for your skin despite the allergy.
Lactic Acid (INCI name: Lactic Acid): Studies have shown that topical application of lactic acid in small amounts increases skin hydration. Its unique structure gives it the ability to retain water molecules within the epidermis, thus limiting the phenomenon of transepidermal water loss. In addition, another study has shown that it promotes the biosynthesis of lipids in the stratum corneum, in particular ceramides, thus strengthening the skin barrier. Lactic acid would be metabolized into acetyl-coenzyme A, which would then be used as a carbon source for the biosynthesis of lipids;
Aloe vera (INCI name: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice): Due to its composition rich in mono-, polysaccharides and amino acids (histidine, arginine, threonine, serine, glycine, and alanine), studies have revealed that aloe vera extracts help improve skin hydration through a humectant mechanism. In other words, they act by attracting water from other layers of the epidermis to the most superficial layer. As a result, aloe vera has the ability to increase the water content of the stratum corneum, also improving the physical and chemical properties of the skin's surface to make it smooth and soft;
Beta-Glucane (INCI name: Sodium Carboxymethyl Beta-Glucan): Derived from cereals (rice, wheat, barley, oats…) or microorganisms (yeast, bacteria, fungus…), this natural polysaccharide helps slow down the skin's water loss and minimize the appearance of fine dehydration lines. In fact, studies have found that beta-glucan can promote the biosynthesis of skin cells and collagen, despite its large molecular size. It has been shown that beta-glucan can penetrate deep into the skin through the intercellular space;
D-panthenol (INCI name: Panthenol): This compound also has a moisturizing property. Studies have shown that the application of a formula containing panthenol produced a significant decrease in transcutaneous water loss and an increase in the hydration of the stratum corneum, explained by the ability of provitamin B5 to stimulate the synthesis of fatty acids that constitute the protective barrier of the epidermis, thus improving skin hydration;
Lactobionic acid (INCI name: Lactobionic Acid), gluconolactone (INCI name: Gluconolactone), etc.: Thanks to their structure, PHAs are considered to be excellent humectants that have a strong affinity for water molecules due to their numerous hydroxylated groups (-OH). In fact, they have the ability to bind large amounts of water, and retain it in the surface layers of the skin to maintain a plumped up, plumper look;
Glycerin (INCI name: Glycerin): It is one of the most effective humectant polyols alongside sorbitol and mannitol. Glycerol is diffused into the stratum corneum and creates a “reservoir” within the lipid bilayer, where it is thought to interact with the lipid structures or proteins of the stratum corneum to modify their water-binding properties. It is its structure that gives it its moisturizing effects. Glycerin has three hydroxyl groups (-OH) which are responsible for its hygroscopicity. Indeed, they will bind and retain water. However, the moisturizing effect of glycerol on the skin is a function of the quantity absorbed in the stratum corneum: skin hydration increases linearly with the quantity of humectant accumulated;
Niacinamide (INCI name: Niacinamide): Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is believed to stimulate the production of ceramides and other intercellular lipids in the epidermis, which in turn help to strengthen the skin's barrier function to limit moisture loss, thus keeping skin hydrated and plumped for longer;
Sodium PCA (INCI name: Sodium PCA): Numerous studies have shown that sodium PCA can increase the water content of the upper layers of the skin. Thanks to their ionic charges, this PCA derivative is able to attract moisture from the air and contain water molecules in the stratum corneum, up to 250 times its weight;
Urea (INCI name: Urea): The moisturizing action of this polar molecule has been widely studied over the years. Data has shown that urea can significantly reduce water loss through evaporation, thus helping to improve and preserve skin moisture levels. Under high humidity conditions, urea is able to increase the water content in the stratum corneum by binding to water molecules.
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