“Hyaluronic acid is one of the most essential ingredients in skincare today,” said Nikolaus Hofer, Head of Strategic Portfolio Management at Croma Pharma.
The ingredient has a prominent role in beauty and personal care formulations. The Austrian company recognizes hyaluronic acid (HA) as a key component of the formulator’s ingredient toolkit,. “As it moisturizes and hydrates the skin, improves elasticity, and is a helpful anti-oxidant that smooths and plumps skin while improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” explained Hofer.
HA is found naturally throughout the body, with the highest concentrations in the joints, eyes, and skin. In the skin, hyaluronic acid attracts water, which allows it to become more hydrated. In today’s beauty space, the ingredient has become synonymous with aesthetic skin care including sheet masks and personalized products.
Hyaluronic acid-led innovation
Building its portfolio with HA at its core, Croma Pharma started life as an ophthalmic and orthopedic business. The company developed its aesthetic portfolio in 2009, becoming one of Europe’s leading HA product manufacturers. After the divestment of its orthopedic and ophthalmic business to the Canadian pharma company Valeant in 2014, Croma fully focused on its aesthetic activities.
In May 2021, Croma Pharma unveiled its latest HA-led skin care line, Croma farewell. Designed to meet consumers’ growing demands for natural, effective and individual skin care, the product portfolio will comprise five facial serums for five specific skin care types and conditions: irritated skin, puffy eyes, dry skin, aging skin and oily skin.
The formulation process
Croma Pharma uses high molecular weight and pharmaceutical grade HA, derived by bacterial fermentation, which is of non-animal origin. The HA goes through the company’s proprietary macro technology which consists of three steps: HA pretreatment, crosslinking and purification.
Following this process, Hofer explained that the result is a “stable 3D HA matrix”. Once produced, it then goes through filling, inspection, sterilization and packaging—which is capable of producing up to 5,000 products per hour.
Chemically, HA is a long chain consisting of repeated sugar molecules. Due to its chemical structure, HA has a very high-water binding capacity which is responsible for helping to maintain moisture, firmness and elasticity in the skin. It is these properties that make it desirable for personalized skin care and products such as sheet masks.
The role of HA in promoting beauty biotechnology
“HA is, besides botulinum toxin, the most important and heavily investigated compound in aesthetics,” said Hofer, before adding that HA is playing an important part in supporting and promoting biotechnology in the industry.
However, while increasing numbers of companies are striving to gain a foothold in the market and a lot of research is being done on HA products, Hofer explains: “[HA] is not showing any disruptive technological evolution so far.”