Retinol, Vitamin E and salicylic acid are right up there as the most essential skin care ingredients that are able to address some of the most common skin concerns. 

They are to dermatology what onions, garlic and olive oil are to any cooked dish - you just can't bring out the flavour without them. In terms of skin, "flavour" would be youthfulness, elasticity and brightness.

READ MORE: "I tried this popular treatment for hyperpigmentation - and my skin already looks brighter"

But you know what other ingredient you can't make a good meal without? Salt.

And in the context of skincare, that's hyaluronic acid (HA).

Just like salt, less is more with HA.

What this means is that it's possibly one of the most multifaceted skin ingredients - when added in the correct proportions - that you'll find in products sold over the counter. But are there any actual facts backing up the hype around it?

There sure are and Cape Town based dermatologist and aesthetician Dr Alek Nikolic has all the receipts.

When we spoke to Dr Alek Nikolic, this is the research he shared with us:

Studies have shown that in order to maximise deep skin penetration (into the dermal layer) while also achieving anti-inflammatory and beneficial skin effects, topical preparations should only contain a low molecular weight hyaluronic acid of around 50 kilodaltons (about 8g).

In fact, studies have demonstrated that hyaluronic acid of 20 kDa (3g) or less will activate receptors in the skin that will lead to pro-inflammatory or negative effects in the skin.

Dr Alek's own skin cosmoceuticals range contains a 50 kDa low weight hyaluronic acid as part of their hyaluronic acid complex.

Dr Alek adds that "studies have also demonstrated that there is a major difference in results when we compare a 50 kDa to a 800 kDa hyaluronic acid molecule. Specifically, it was found that the 50kDa hyaluronic acid revealed a much more pronounced gene regulatory activity on keratinocytes (cells responsible for elasticity) than it could be observed for 800 kDa hyaluronic acid (120 genes versus 40 genes)."

In a nutshell HA is good for the skin and in fact vital however this is dependent on the molecular size. Too small and it is detrimental and too large it will just sit on the skin and only have superficial benefits and not deeper epidermal and dermal benefits.

Now that the you have the scientific info on lock, you must be dying to know what exactly the benefits of this friendly acid are. Well, thanks to our trusted dermatologist, this is what we can confirm:

7 Skin benefits of correct weight or size hyaluronic acid:

1. It provides moisturisation to all the layers of the skin.

2. It reduces trans epidermal water loss.

3. It plays a pivotal role in tissue regeneration and repair as studies have shown that the integrity and balance of different skin components become normalised with hyaluronic acid.

4. It contributes to the regulation of wound healing.

5. It prevents and treats ageing skin changes, including fine lines and wrinkles.

6. It has anti-inflammatory effects, but this is dependent on the molecular size of the hyaluronic acid.

7. It repairs and maintains the skin barrier.

READ MORE: Our 2019 skin resolutions - the W24 team shares


Then we recommend you try these three skin products containing hyaluronic acid: prescriptions

I've been using Dr Alek's pure medi-spray and flash serum for about three months. My main concerns have always been oily skin and late last year I developed whiteheads on my nose, and these products have done well to alleviate the latter. 

I think I need a miracle for the oily skin, though.

The medi-spray goes for R700

Esse serum

This serum is heralded as the perfect product to treat oily, sensitive, ageing and even acne-prone skin. Get it online at Faithful to Nature for R360 

Neutrogena - Hydro boost supercharged booster serum

If it's good enough for Nomzamo Mbatha, it's good enough for the rest of us.

Retails for about R380 at local Dis-Chem and Clicks stores.

Now you're ready to serve face. And it's always best served hot!

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