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Better together: smart combinations of different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid deliver the ultimate beauty boost

The age of Instagram and the selfie brings personal appearance (and personal care) front and center. This phenomenon has sparked a number of trends, among them a booming interest in ‘medical beauty’. Cosmetic procedures, minimally invasive options, fillers and peels are all increasingly sought-after by consumers, which in turn is driving impressive growth in the global cosmeceuticals market (set to almost double between 2017 - 2023[1]​).

Sheet masks, high concentration/pure form vitamins and topical formulations with active ingredients are just some of the non-invasive alternatives growing in popularity. One of the most buzz-worthy active ingredients is hyaluronic acid (HA) which – despite its presence in the market for several years – continues to feature in an ever-expanding range of products from the industry’s most popular brands. Product launches with hyaluronic acid jumped by 50% between 2017 and 2021[2]​, and it’s also among the top five ingredients recognized by users of beauty and personal care products[3]​. Along with retinol, hyaluronic acid benefits from an established history of clinical trials and evidence to support product claims[4]​.

Does it live up to the hype?

As a water-loving polysaccharide, hyaluronic acid is already present in the skin. So why are consumers clamoring for it? As we age, the amount of hyaluronic acid decreases – quite dramatically, in fact. Between age 40 and 60, the concentration of hyaluronic acid in the skin is cut in half[5]​. This triggers a loss of hydration, volume and plumpness, often followed by the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

When added to skincare products, hyaluronic acid’s humectant properties draw moisture into the skin, fighting off dryness and dullness. These hydration benefits in turn promote volume and elasticity in the skin.

Depending on the concentration and form, hyaluronic acid’s presence in beauty products promises a wide range of benefits – instant or intense hydration, plumpness, firmness, anti-wrinkle properties and a natural glow, to name just a few.

Innovative new products featuring hyaluronic acid continue to enter the market, including serums, lotions, cleansers, balms and more. Many are rapidly developing a loyal consumer following; ampoules, for example, are an on-trend consumer sensation, containing super concentrated hyaluronic acid deliver a powerful beauty boost to skin – quickly and effectively. They meet the need for trusted products consumers can easily take on-the-go, and with no chemicals or preservatives, they also appeal to consumers seeking clean beauty solutions.

There’s more than meets the eye

It’s interesting to note though that not all hyaluronic acid is created equal. It exists in various molecular weight forms that vary in the way they penetrate the skin. As such, the different forms offer different benefits. The most common is medium/high molecular weight, which sits on the skin and acts as a sponge to deliver immediate hydration to the surface. Low molecular weight passes through the skin barrier and hydrates from within. Very low molecular weight hyaluronic acid penetrates even further, moisturizing from the inside while also filling gaps to deliver plumpness and anti-wrinkle properties.

Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid is showing up in beauty products, particularly anti-aging solutions. Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid is a fragmented form of HA with a smaller molecular size. Often used in anti-aging creams and moisturizers, it can effectively hold water and fill wrinkles from the inside. The pace of recent product launches with hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid – an increase of 62% in 2019 (Mintel GNPD 2021) – confirms its growing appeal.

Seeing the potential of hyaluronic acid in its many forms, leading brands are developing products that combine different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid for multifunctional benefits. These smart combinations can boost efficacy and deliver on-trend claims that are sought-after by consumers.

We know how skin works

As skin biology experts, DSM has been exploring the benefits of hyaluronic acid for decades. Starting in 1978 with an entrepreneurial team committed to revolutionary beauty breakthroughs, DSM advanced the industry’s understanding of hyaluronic acid through investment and exploration. Combined with our biotechnology expertise, we unlock the full potential of hyaluronic acid. We later brought a peptide molecule that stimulates hyaluronic acid synthesis in the skin. Our formulation experts use this knowledge, along with our understanding and research on the latest market trends, to develop solutions that the market demands.

The full potential of hyaluronic acid, unlocked

DSM recently expanded its hyaluronic acid portfolio with the HYA-ACT line, offering three different molecular weights that can drive on-trend formulations. All are microbiome-friendly and vegan. Medium weight HYA-ACT M strengthens skin’s barrier, with a single application enhancing hydration after only one hour. HYA-ACT S is a calming hydration boost for thirsty skin, with small molecules that lock in moisture. Paired with HYA-ACT M, it delivered a 77% hydration boost in an in-vivo study. With HYA-ACT XS, skin’s elasticity improves in 15 days. This smallest form retains moisture from deep within, delivering a steady burst of intense hydration and plumping fine wrinkles.

Customers eager to embrace the trend of combining different hyaluronic forms in one product will find powerful possibilities in the HYA-ACT portfolio. Formulating products that deliver the efficacy customers need and the beauty boost consumers seek, all with an ideal sensory profile, is now in reach.

Given the staying power of the medical beauty trend and booming demand for cosmeceuticals, the personal care industry has a key opportunity to offer innovative, non-invasive solutions that feature the best and most trusted skin care ingredients.

 [1] http://www.mintel.com/press-centre/beauty-and-personal-care/cosmeceuticals-see-emergence-in-china; https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/global-cosmeceuticals-market-industry

[2]​ Mintel GNPD 2021

[3]​ Base: 1,893 internet users aged 18+ who have use BPC products in the past 12 months; Mintel, “Ingredient Trends in Beauty and  Personal Care: Incl Impact of COVID-19,” October 2020

[4]​ Mintel, “Ingredient Trends in Beauty and Personal Care: Incl Impact of COVID-19,” October 2020

[5]​ Longas et al, Carbohydr Res. 1987: 159: 127-36

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