Should You Be Ingesting Hyaluronic Acid For Dewier Skin?
Experts weigh in on what’s real & what’s hype.
The Hailey Bieber Effect is very real. She’s not only inspiring people to get pearlescent nude manicures but also to add hyaluronic acid to their smoothies. Yup, the same ingredient in your favorite serums and moisturizers can come in a hyaluronic acid supplement form, and is also a part of the recipe for Hailey Bieber’s Strawberry Glaze Skin Smoothie at Erewhon Market in Los Angeles alongside strawberries, coconut cream, and sea moss gel. (I’ve heard it tastes like a strawberry milkshake.)
Before you even think about it, allow me to clarify that Erewhon isn’t pouring pure hyaluronic acid serums directly into the $17 smoothie. Instead, the beloved natural food market uses Neocell’s Hyaluronic Acid Liquid, which is formulated to be safely added to drinks. It’s among an influx of gummies, drinks, and drops infused with HA to hit the market, like Hum Nutrition’s Glow Sweet Glow, the RESET Beauty Shot, and Murad’s Youth Renewal Supplement. All of these ingestible options promise to hydrate, plump, and smooth skin from within, rather than function topically.
When you think about the likes of vitamin C, collagen, ashwagandha, and probiotics, for example, the idea of taking hyaluronic acid orally isn’t that strange at all. Every one of them is both a popular supplement and a skin care ingredient these days. Could hyaluronic acid possibly have the same legacy, and give you impossibly glowy skin?
Well, I asked board-certified dermatologists if we should be eating and drinking our daily dose of hyaluronic acid to attain the dewy, glazed donut skin of Hailey Bieber. Here’s what the experts had to say about hyaluronic acid supplements and ingestible products.
What’s the Deal With Hyaluronic Acid?
For those unfamiliar with what exactly hyaluronic acid is, it’s a glycosaminoglycan, which is a sugary carbohydrate that structures and plumps your skin, New York City board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss tells TZR. “Think of it as a moisture magnet,” she adds. “It grabs onto moisture.” Our bodies naturally produce hyaluronic acid, and other than skin, it can also be found in your connective tissues, joints, and eyes.
“As we age, the levels of HA in our body diminish, and it can show on our skin by making it drier and more prone to wrinkling,” according to Ron Robinson, a cosmetic chemist and the founder of BeautyStat Cosmetics. That’s why many consider hyaluronic acid to be a superhero anti-aging ingredient and a necessity for any and all skin care routines.
Hyaluronic Acid in Topical Form
Dermatologists have long praised the benefits of adding topical products spiked with hyaluronic acid to your skin care routine. (My personal favorites are the Superegg Tonal Scenery Reparative Serum and Cosrx Hyaluronic Acid 3 Serum.) In topical form, it is a humectant, “meaning it pulls water in from the environment and skin to plump and hydrate,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara tells TZR.
HA is also the primary ingredient in lip fillers. “Because it is already a biocompatible chemical, one that the skin recognizes and knows, there is [a minimal] chance of reacting badly to hyaluronic acid fillers,” American and European board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Yannis Alexandrides previously told TZR.
But there’s a catch: Having too much hyaluronic acid in your skin care routine can actually increase transepidermal water loss, Dr. Idriss points out. If it’s not applied to damp skin or sealed in properly with an oil or moisturizer, all that hyaluronic acid can also start sucking up moisture instead of boosting it. HA can also make your skin pro-inflammatory and can lead to redness in the long run, she adds.
Hyaluronic Acid in Ingestible Form
In theory, ingesting HA is a worthy alternative to take advantage of its hydrating benefits without some of the issues that accompany a topical product. On the other hand, ingestible hyaluronic acid has to be broken down through absorption and digestion, so it’s not going straight to your skin to make it look bouncier and glowier, Dr. Idriss says. During this process, your body is tricked into believing it needs to produce more HA, though. “That is how it is believed to be helpful in a systemic way,” she adds.
However, the jury is still out on the skin care benefits of ingestible HA. And as TZR previously reported about beauty supplements in general, experts haven’t really come to a consensus about their efficacy. “We know that antioxidants are helpful when ingested, but the same science isn’t yet corroborated for HA,” Dr. Gohara says.
Dr. Idriss agrees. Large-scale double-blind randomized control studies to test its effectiveness need to be done to completely prove the benefits of ingesting hyaluronic acid, she notes. However, small studies over the past 10 years have been published in the Nutrition Journal and Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, and both found HA safe to consume as a skin care supplement. (After all, it does naturally occur in our bodies and is used in facial fillers.) The latter journal stated that the oral intake of hyaluronic acid leads to a “statistically significant increase in skin hydration and elasticity,” and a “significant decrease in skin roughness and wrinkle depth could be demonstrated.”
Another major caveat of ingestible HA is a “hard set dosage” has yet to be decided, Dr. Idriss says. As a result, the ingestable options on the market have inconsistent amounts of HA, and some brands don’t even disclose the dosage per serving. For example, The Nue Co.’s Skin Hydrator supplements include 5 milligrams of hyaluronic acid per capsule, while the Vital Proteins Skin Hydration Boost ones pack 120.
The Bottom Line
Although it doesn’t hurt to eat and drink hyaluronic acid in supplement form, Dr. Idriss tells me she probably won’t recommend ingestable HA to her patients. “I believe in more of a well-balanced diet,” she admits. “You can just drink a really healthy bone broth, which is essentially also rich in hyaluronic acid.”
Dr. Gohara echoed her sentiments. “Unsubstantiated supplements are usually not a great idea,” she says. “Hyaluronic acid is in many foods that we may be ingesting already. This would be the safe way to take it orally.” Plus, eating foods with naturally occurring HA or ones that support your body’s natural production of it, like oranges, tofu, kale, sweet potatoes, and chia seeds, are “more compatible with your body and more readily absorbed than their supplement counterparts,” according to nutritionist Kimberly Snyder.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t ditch your favorite hydrating skin care products in favor of hyaluronic acid supplements. Feel free to take them, but superfood-rich meals and an efficient skin care routine are more likely to give you the glowing Hailey Bieber-inspired complexion of your dreams.