Hyaluronic Acid for Acne: How It Works 

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Ah, acne. 

This stubborn nemesis loves to show up uninvited and wreak havoc on our faces. We’ve all experienced the frustration of dealing with those pesky pimples and their impact on our self-confidence.

But fear not; in the world of skin care, hope shines bright in the form of hyaluronic acid.

In pursuing effective acne solutions, the intriguing potential of hyaluronic acid shouldn’t be ignored. That’s right; this humble compound shows promise in the battle against acne.

Blonde woman with acne on face holding a dropper with moisturizing serum against a turquoise background

Could this be the secret weapon you’ve been desperately seeking?

Should you start using hyaluronic acid for acne? Is hyaluronic acid good for oily and acne-prone skin, or will using it cause you to break out?

These are the questions that we are going to answer today. We will delve into the fascinating realm of hyaluronic acid and its role in acne treatment.

Together, we will uncover whether hyaluronic acid truly lives up to its reputation as a skin-saving superhero in managing acne and acne-prone skin. 

Understanding Acne and Its Causes

Before we answer whether or not hyaluronic acid works on acne, let’s take a closer look at this perplexing skin condition first.

Acne comes in various shapes and forms, from those pesky blackheads that dot our nose like confetti to those angry red pimples that seem to have taken up permanent residence on our chin.

It not only affects our skin but also takes a toll on our self-esteem, leaving us feeling less than fabulous.

But what causes this skin issue? 

Well, it’s simple. The production of excess sebum — those oils that can turn our face into an unwanted slip ‘n’ slide — combined with clogged pores, a breeding ground for bacteria, create the perfect recipe for acne. 

Acne emerges like a mischievous party crasher, leaving us wondering how to get rid of it once and for all. 

Additionally, dryness or lack of moisture can play a role in the formation of acne. When the skin is dry, it’s more likely to overproduce sebum as a compensatory mechanism. Again, this can lead to acne. 

Now here’s the thing about acne: there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue. Each skin type and individual may require a personalized approach to tackle or, at the very least, manage this stubborn foe. 

But what you need to remember is that it’s important to find solutions that address the causes laid out above to help prevent breakouts and manage them effectively. 

One such solution is using hyaluronic acid. 

Let’s learn more about the benefits of hyaluronic acid for acne and discover how it can help in your journey to clearer, smoother skin. 

What Is Hyaluronic Acid? 

Hyaluronic acid, commonly called HA, is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies. 

Found in abundance in our skin, eyes, and connective tissues, hyaluronic acid plays a vital role in maintaining hydration levels throughout the body. 

This clear substance has a unique ability to attract and retain moisture. It is known as a humectant, drawing in water from its surroundings like a magnet.

Remarkably, hyaluronic acid binds with water molecules and holds up to 1000 times its weight in water, ensuring the skin stays well-hydrated, supple, and plump.  

It also supports the skin’s natural barrier function, helping protect it from environmental aggressors like pollution and dry air. 

It forms a hydrating barrier on the surface of your skin, locking in moisture. Even in the driest of climates or during harsh winter months, hyaluronic acid allows the skin to stay happily moisturized and radiant.

Because it provides intense moisturization deep into your skin cells, it can help you achieve the glowing complexion associated with healthy skin and address various skin problems, from fine lines and wrinkles to acne or breakouts.

Why Do We Need Hyaluronic Acid Products?

As we age, our body’s ability to naturally produce HA lessens.

Additionally, various external aggressors, such as exposure to the sun, pollution, and dirt, surely deplete our HA reservoir and damage our skin barrier. 

The result? You guessed it. Dullness, roughness, blocked pores, and even breakouts.

As such, it’s important to replenish our body’s hyaluronic acid supply through the topical application of hyaluronic acid serums and creams.  

The good news is hyaluronic acid products are suitable for all skin types. Whether you have oily, combination, or dry skin, HA can adapt to your skin’s needs and provide the necessary hydration without feeling heavy or greasy.

What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do for Acne?

Hyaluronic acid, with its exceptional moisturizing properties, can address some of the underlying factors that contribute to acne breakouts.

As a matter of fact, it plays a significant role in addressing acne-related concerns by performing the following functions:

Regulates Sebum Production

The most common culprit behind breakout and acne formation is excess sebum production. This happens especially when your skin lacks moisture and compensates for it by overproducing oil. 

Now, HA’s hydration ability can help control sebum production, reducing the oiliness of the skin. A 2017 study revealed that hyaluronic acid is a significant component in controlling sebum and preventing acne. 

By balancing the skin’s sebum levels, it can help prevent acne and allow you to achieve a clearer complexion.

Retains Moisture and Supports the Skin Barrier 

People with acne may have a skin barrier dysfunction that leads to dryness and breakouts. 

Additionally, acne treatments often have ingredients that can dry out the skin, making the skin produce more sebum.

Here’s where hyaluronic acid comes in. 

It’s a moisture-binding powerhouse that ensures optimal hydration of the skin and supports the skin barrier, preventing the production of excess oil and reducing the redness, irritation, and inflammation associated with acne.

Prevents Clogged Pores

Some skincare ingredients can clog your pores, resulting in the formation of new acne lesions. But hyaluronic acid isn’t one of them. 

Hyaluronic acid is beneficial for acne-prone skin because it is non-comedogenic, meaning it does not clog your pores. 

By using hyaluronic acid as part of an acne treatment regimen, you can hydrate and nourish your skin without worrying about it exacerbating breakouts.

Important note: While hyaluronic acid does work well for acne, it may not be as effective as more potent ingredients in targeted treatments like salicylic acid or azelaic acid in treating acne, especially severe cases of it. 

What it can do is complement these treatments by restoring the skin’s moisture levels and regulating sebum production. This, in turn, can lead to fewer acne breakouts and a more balanced complexion.

Is Hyaluronic Acid Good for Acne Scars?

Yes, hyaluronic acid can work wonders for acne scars.

Its effectiveness lies in its ability to support the skin’s natural healing and regeneration processes.

Let’s take a closer look at how it helps improve acne scarring:

Stimulates the Production of Collagen

HA reduces the appearance of acne scars by stimulating the production of collagen, the protein responsible for the skin’s structure and firmness. 

As acne heals, the skin naturally attempts to repair itself by producing collagen. But if it produces insufficient amounts of collagen, depressions or indentations in the skin can form, which are known as atrophic or pitted acne scars. 

Cue in hyaluronic acid. It helps collagen synthesis, promoting the formation of new collagen fibers that can fill in these indentations and improve the overall texture of the skin.

Reduces the Appearance of Scarring

Additionally, HA’s hydrating properties contribute to scar reduction. If you have noticed, acne scars are more noticeable in dry or dehydrated skin, as lack of moisture can accentuate their appearance.

By enhancing skin hydration, hyaluronic acid plumps up the surrounding tissue, making scars appear less pronounced for an overall smoother complexion.

Combats Inflammation

Another attribute of HA that helps in scar reduction is its ability to support the skin’s natural healing process. Acne scars often result from the body’s response to inflammation caused by acne breakouts. 

With its anti-inflammatory properties, hyaluronic acid helps calm the skin. By reducing inflammation, it promotes a more efficient healing process and minimizes the risk of further scar formation.

However, take note that while using hyaluronic acid for acne scars is beneficial, using a hyaluronic acid serum or gel alone may not be enough for severe or deeply indented scars.

In such cases, combining its use with treatments or procedures like chemical peels, microneedling, or laser therapy may be recommended to enhance and achieve maximum results.

How To Use Hyaluronic Acid for Acne and Breakouts

Hyaluronic acid, with its hydrating and moisturizing properties, can be a valuable addition to your acne treatment and management routine to maintain your skin’s health and hydration.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use hyaluronic acid effectively and prevent breakouts for people with acne-prone skin.

Cleanse Your Skin 

Start by cleansing your skin with a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser or face wash to remove dirt, oil, and impurities that can contribute to breakouts.

Look for a cleanser specifically formulated for acne to ensure it is suitable for your needs.

Tone Your Skin 

A woman is holding a bottle of toner.

After cleansing, apply an alcohol-free toner that contains soothing and balancing ingredients. This step helps restore the skin’s pH balance and ensure maximum absorption of nourishing ingredients in your other skincare products.

Apply Hyaluronic Acid

Take a few drops of your hyaluronic acid serum and apply it to your face. Gently massage it into your skin using upward motions to ensure even distribution. 

Start using a product with a low HA concentration (such as 1% to 2%) and gradually increase it if your skin responds well to it. 

We recommend starting with The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, which moisturizes the skin and prevents breakouts. 

Another excellent choice is the La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, which hydrates the skin and locks in moisture to target skin issues like acne and signs of aging

Seal in Moisture With a Lightweight Moisturizer

Follow it up with a lightweight, oil-free, and non-comedogenic moisturizer to lock in the benefits of hyaluronic acid and provide an additional layer of hydration.

Choose a moisturizer specifically formulated for acne-prone skin and avoid heavy formulas that may contribute to pore congestion.

Don’t Forget Spot Treatments

If you have active acne breakouts, consider incorporating spot treatments with acne-fighting ingredients into your routine.

Spot treatments containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or tea tree oil can help target and reduce acne blemishes. Apply them directly onto the affected areas after your hyaluronic acid serum and before your moisturizer.

Monitor Your Skin’s Response

Pay attention to how your skin responds to hyaluronic acid. While it is generally well-tolerated, individual reactions can vary.

If you experience any adverse effects, such as increased breakouts or skin irritation, discontinue use and consult a dermatologist or skincare professional for guidance.

Remember, hyaluronic acid is just one component of a comprehensive skincare routine for acne-prone skin. 

It works synergistically with other acne-fighting ingredients and practices, such as regular exfoliation, a balanced diet with nutrient-rich foods and acne-fighting supplements and probiotics, and proper stress management.

By combining these elements, you can create a holistic approach to skincare that promotes a clearer, healthier complexion.

When Not To Use Hyaluronic Acid for Acne

While hyaluronic acid can provide plenty of benefits for acne-prone skin, here are some instances when it may be advisable to refrain from using hyaluronic acid for acne:

Open Wounds or Active Infections

If you have open wounds, cuts, or active infections on your skin, it’s important to avoid applying hyaluronic acid.

While hyaluronic acid is generally safe, applying it to compromised skin can potentially exacerbate the condition or delay the healing process.

It’s best to let the wounds or infections heal before incorporating hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine.

Allergies or Sensitivities

Individuals with known allergies or sensitivities to hyaluronic acid should avoid using products that contain this ingredient. Although rare, some individuals may develop allergic reactions or skin irritations when exposed to HA. 

Severe or Cystic Acne

A woman with acne on her face.

While hyaluronic acid can benefit mild to moderate acne, it may not provide the same significant benefits for severe acne or cystic acne.

These types of acne require more targeted and intensive treatment approaches, such as prescription medications or professional interventions. 

Underlying Medical Conditions

Individuals with certain underlying medical conditions, such as autoimmune disorders or compromised immune systems, should exercise caution when using hyaluronic acid.

While it’s generally safe, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before adding hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine to ensure it won’t interfere with any existing medical treatments or conditions.

Remember, everyone’s skin is unique. If you’re unsure about whether hyaluronic acid is suitable for your acne-prone skin, it’s always wise to seek professional advice.

A dermatologist or skincare specialist can evaluate your skin type, specific concerns, and medical history to provide personalized recommendations.

FAQs

Is Applying Hyaluronic Acid for Acne Every Day a Good Practice?

Yes. Applying hyaluronic acid for acne every day can be a good practice for many individuals, as it helps maintain hydration and support overall skin health. 

However, individual factors should be considered, and it’s important to monitor your skin’s response to determine the optimal frequency of use.

Does Hyaluronic Acid Cause Breakouts?

It depends. While hyaluronic acid is generally considered safe for most skin types, including acne-prone skin, it may cause a breakout, especially if you introduce HA as a new product to your skincare routine. 

Our advice is to always do a patch test before applying a new product to your skin. If you have sensitive skin, try introducing HA gradually to see how your skin adjusts to the product. 

Also, breakouts or skin irritations occur after using products that contain hyaluronic acid combined with other ingredients such as fragrances, preservatives, or oils. 

So be mindful of any known sensitivities or allergies you may have and read product labels to ensure you are not buying a product with potential irritants. 

As with any skincare ingredient, individual reactions can vary, and it’s essential to choose suitable products and tailor your skincare routine to your specific needs.

Does Hyaluronic Acid Cause Skin Purging?

Hyaluronic acid itself is unlikely to cause skin purging due to its lack of exfoliating properties. However, if hyaluronic acid products are combined with other active ingredients that promote cell turnover, skin purging may occur.

Skin purging is a temporary reaction that manifests as an increase in breakouts or the appearance of small bumps. It typically resolves itself within a few weeks.

It usually occurs when you use new skincare products that exfoliate the skin and facilitate the shedding of dead skin cells to replace them with new ones.

Now it’s crucial to note that hyaluronic acid doesn’t have exfoliating properties, so it usually doesn’t cause skin purging. But hyaluronic acid may be formulated alongside other active ingredients that can trigger this reaction. 

For example, if an HA serum contains additional exfoliating ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or retinol, it’s possible that these ingredients, rather than hyaluronic acid itself, could cause skin purging.

It’s important to carefully review the ingredient list of your chosen product and consider any other active ingredients in it to identify the culprit behind skin purging.

Is Hyaluronic Acid Good for Acne? Our Final Thoughts 

When it comes to treating acne, hyaluronic acid can indeed be a valuable ally in your skincare journey.

By incorporating hyaluronic acid into your everyday skincare routine, you can replenish your skin’s moisture levels, support its barrier function, and minimize the potential for irritation.

Additionally, hyaluronic acid possesses soothing properties that can help calm inflammation and promote the healing of acne scars.

Its ability to aid in skin regeneration and repair can contribute to a faster recovery from acne breakouts.

Even better, it plays a crucial role in maintaining skin hydration and preventing dryness. This is particularly important if you’re using acne medications or treatments that may cause dryness or flakiness.

Dermatologist dropping serum medicine to recover an Asian woman's acne problem

However, it’s important to note that while hyaluronic acid can be beneficial for acne-prone skin, it should not be considered a standalone miracle solution.

Addressing acne requires a holistic approach that includes proper cleansing, exfoliation, and, in some cases, targeted treatments prescribed by a dermatologist. 

Hyaluronic acid should be a complementary ingredient that enhances the effectiveness of a well-rounded skincare routine.

With hyaluronic acid, you can navigate your skincare journey with confidence and achieve the healthy, radiant, and blemish-free complexion you desire.

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Author

  • Stephanie Martin

    Stephanie Martin blends her beauty industry background with expertise in communications to lead in the fashion and beauty world. As a fashion and beauty editor, she is known for engaging and informative articles. Her lifelong passion for fashion, makeup, and hair shines through her work, earning her widespread respect among readers and clients. Stephanie's style, a mix of classic and contemporary, makes her a dynamic and influential figure in the industry, inspiring others with her knowledgeable and approachable insights.

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