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Hoora! You finally learned how to pronounce Hyaluronic acid (Thanks Eva Longoria in that one commercial). Did you know you are probably talking about this? sodium Hyaluronate? Here are the deeds:
Sodium Hyaluronate Quick Facts
Turn over your favorite hyaluronic acid serum – there’s a good chance you’ll find sodium hyaluronate on the ingredient label instead.
It is true that these sister ingredients can be considered interchangeable in the beauty industry, but some people (regarding the internet) are aware of the important differences between the two.
Read on for all the details, expert comments, and our shopping tips.
Sodium hyaluronate (HA) is essentially a water-soluble salt form of hyaluronic acid. It occurs naturally in the body and acts as a lubricant and moisturizer for joints, hair, eyes, skin, and nerves. HA is the holy grail of hydration and can absorb 1000 times its weight in water.
Both sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid bind to water molecules and draw water into the cells, leaving your skin looking plump and hydrated.
Why is sodium hyaluronate a big deal?
According to a 2012 study, the most dramatic change scientists observe in aging skin is the disappearance of sodium hyaluronate, especially in the top layer of skin. This is why you might notice your skin getting drier and losing that youthful fullness over the years.
Okay, if they’re so interchangeable, why are they different at all?
“That difference is in the size of the molecules,” explains David Petrillo, chemist and founder of the skin care company Perfect Image.
“Sodium hyaluronate has smaller molecules than hyaluronic acid, which is why it is sometimes better for topical use as it penetrates the skin more easily and takes advantage of the ingredients in your beauty product, be it a serum, moisturizer or mask,” he says.
And because sodium hyaluronate is literally the salt equivalent of HA, it is more stable when used in beauty products. “The key factor,” summarizes Petrillo, “would be how deep you want the product to penetrate.”
The lighter weight of the sodium hyaluronate molecules inevitably penetrates deeper into your beautiful skin, while the larger hyaluronic acid just sits on the surface. And that’s not always bad – your top layers of skin need love too.
You can also see hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid on ingredient labels. This is a low molecular weight form of hyaluronic acid that falls somewhere between normal HA and sodium hyaluronate.
Brief review …
Hyaluronic acid sits on the surface of the skin to smooth and moisturize the skin. The lighter molecules of sodium hyaluronate penetrate deep beneath the surface of the skin to do the same and reduce fine lines.
This skincare superstar’s claim to fame is definitely moisture. But believe it or not, so many common skin problems are due to a lack of moisture. How Sodium Hyaluronate Can Help:
- Goodbye dry skin. Unlike moisturizing ingredients that add moisture, such as coconut oil or shea butter, sodium hyaluronate is a humectant that draws water from the air for maximum hydration.
- A plaster for your moisture barrier. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is when water flows out of your body through the skin and get out in the air and evaporate. NOT POLITE! Sodium hyaluronate can restore and maintain your skin’s moisture barrier, keeping moisture where you need it.
- Plump it up. Sodium hyaluronate gives your skin an almost instant drink that can temporarily cause a plump. Don’t be mad at it. Fun fact: hyaluronic acid is also used in injectable fillers. So, check this out.
- Keeps your skin youthful. Not a fun fact: we lose about a third of our hyaluronic acid reserves every day. And as we get older, the rate at which our bodies replace them slows down (… like everything else). Not only does sodium hyaluronate replace the lost moisture, it also smoothes out fine lines and wrinkles with that sweet, plump effect.
- Good for pimple-prone faces. Adding moisture deep into the layers of the skin can help balance overactive sebum glands that may overcompensate due to excessive dryness. The right amount of oil = fewer breakouts. Yass!
To get the most out of this hydration superstar, find him in serums and moisturizers. First, check the ingredients list. “Many products have hyaluronic acid on the label, but they are really sodium hyaluronate,” says Petrillo.
Then choose the right concentration. Petrillo recommends a concentration of 2 percent. “Look for products with additional benefits like vitamin C or niacinamide,” he adds.
If you’re going for a serum, be sure to include that moisturizing effect with a moisturizer right afterward – sodium hyaluronate needs that extra step to really reap the benefits.
Unfortunately yes. “Both hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate attract water so strongly that if there is too much in a product it can have the opposite effect and dry out the skin,” warns Petrillo.
Start using your new sodium hyaluronate product in the morning. If your skin stays soft and plump and doesn’t dry out, update your routine for the morning and Night.
If you’ve used sodium hyaluronate in the past and haven’t seen any results, this might be your area. If you live in a super dry climate, you may not have enough moisture in the air to be able to pull the sodium hyaluronate off.
$ = under $ 20
$$ = $ 20- $ 35
$$$ = over $ 35
Buy sodium hyaluronate products
Neutrogena Hydro Boost water gel
Perfect example of a product that says “Hyaluronic Acid” on the front of the jar but which actually contains Sodium Hyaluronate. The super light, oil-free moisturizer is affordable but looks like a prestige product. It’s also kind of a cult favorite. 20K Amazon reviews (probably) don’t lie.
Buy Neutrogena Hydro Boost.
SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel
If heavy, creamy moisturizers are your kryptonite, this super-simple 4-ingredient gel is for you. This is perfect for vitamin C treatments, and we love the addition of soothing B5.
Buy SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel online.
Kylie Skin Face Moisturizer
Say what you want, but this moisturizer has a pretty impressive list of ingredients – including sodium hyaluronate, obviously – and is surprisingly fragrance-free.
Buy Kylie Skin Face Moisturizer online.
Buy sodium hyaluronate * and * hyaluronic acid products
The common hyaluronic acid 2% + B5
For less than seven dollars, you can get it three different weights of hyaluronic acid to keep your skin hydrated at every level. What else is there to say?
Buy the common hyaluronic acid 2% + B5 online.
Glossier bubble wrap
This fan favorite gives your skin a double victory in terms of moisture with both forms of hyaluronic acid. It absorbs super quickly and isn’t greasy, but kind of gives you a little shine. Genius.
Buy Glossier Bubblewrap online.
Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer
This clean sweetness is like the Oprah of humectants – she just dispenses it in all forms, including a honey blend that helps the hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate (two types!) At work.
Buy Farmacy Honey Drop Lightweight Moisturizer Online.
Sodium hyaluronate is a water-soluble salt form of hyaluronic acid. One isn’t necessarily better than the other – it depends on how deep you want your product to penetrate your skin.
The heavy molecules of hyaluronic acid sit on the surface of the skin and treat the top layer, while sodium hyaluronate has a lower molecular weight that goes deeper.
It is used in serums and moisturizers for hydration, replenishment and toning. It also helps your skin repair and maintain its moisture barrier to prevent water loss.
Some products say “hyaluronic acid” on the packaging, but the ingredient label says sodium hyaluronate. Look for products with a concentration of 2 percent. Or better yet, choose a product with both types for a double shot of moisture.
Warning: both hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate attract water so strongly that if a product contains too much it can have the opposite effect and dry out the skin.
Start slowly by applying a moisturizer or serum containing sodium hyaluronate in the morning and work gradually through morning and evening.