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Where does hyaluronic acid come from?

Where does hyaluronic acid come from?
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Hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient in skincare, but where does it come from? Here we discuss the natural and synthetic sources of hyaluronic acid and how it functions inside and outside of the body.

Hyaluronic acid in the body


Hyaluronic acid is found throughout the body and is present in all tissues and fluids, serving vital functions while keeping cells hydrated. It is biologically synthesized by cells in the body[1].

Hyaluronic acid is more concentrated in certain areas of the body, however its location does not change its role. 50% of the body’s hyaluronic acid is found in the skin, where it facilitates hydration, metabolic processes and skin repair. 

The skin
concentrates50%of the body’s hyaluronic

Hyaluronic acid has a dynamic turnover rate, lasting less than a day in the skin[2]. Throughout the body, hyaluronic acid plays a vital role in the maintenance of healthy connective tissue, governs skin elasticity, involved in cell migration, wound healing and inflammation[3]. Its other functions include lubrication of joints, blood vessel formation and fibroblast migration- a type of cell that plays a vital role in wound healing[4].

Hyaluronic acid has a dynamic turnover rate, lasting less than a day in the skin

The origin of the hyaluronic acid in your skincare cream


Hyaluronic acid is an excellent moisturizer because of its unique capacity to retain water and hold onto moisture, while improving skin hydration and elasticity[5].
Because of this, it is an immensely popular ingredient in skincare and makeup, and is often referred to as “nature’s moisturizer”[6]. It is known for its hydrating abilities and can come from synthetic or natural origins. It hydrates skin, and reduces the symptoms of dehydrated skin- fine lines and wrinkles- making skin look smoother and plumped up.

How do biological, natural and synthetic sources of hyaluronic acid compare?


The quality of hyaluronic acid depends on its form and purpose of use, but whatever the source, its molecular structure is always the same- a sugar with hygroscopic (water attracting and retaining) properties. Hyaluronic acid can be obtained in different ways. Biologically through the synthesis by fibroblasts, synthetically and naturally from plant and wheat fermentation. In the case of fermentation, wheat is fermented with specific bacteria, then purified and  precipitated. This process extracts the hyaluronic acid naturally present in the wheat, giving a naturally-derived hyaluronic acid.

[1] Fakhari, A. et al, 'Applications and Emerging Trends of Hyaluronic Acid in Tissue Engineering, as a Dermal Filler, and in Osteoarthritis Treatment' in Acta Biomaterialia 9.7 (2013) pp. 7081-7092 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3669638/]
[2] Papakonstantinou, E. et al, 'Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging' in Dermato Endocrinology 4.3 (2012) pp. 253-258 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583886/]
[3] Gold, M.H, et al. 'Human Growth Factor Cream and Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Conjunction with Micro Laser Peel- An Efficient Regimen for Skin Rejuvenation' in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 3.12 (2010) pp. 37-42 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3013551/]
[4] Papakonstantinou, E. et al, 'Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging' in Dermato Endocrinology 4.3 (2012) pp. 253-258 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583886/]
[5] Papakonstantinou, E. et al, 'Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging' in Dermato Endocrinology 4.3 (2012) pp. 253-258 [Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583886/]
[6] Necas, J. et al, "Hyaluronic acid (hyaluronan): a review" in Veterinarni Medicina 8 (2008) pp. 397-411 [Accessible at: https://www.vri.cz/docs/vetmed/53-8-397.pdf]

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