Hyaluronic Acid

What is it? Hyaluronic Acid is an incredible humectant and moisturizer that we include in our products for incredible hydration and skin plumping. You can learn a lot more about it here! The Hyaluronic Acid we use in our products is made by fermentation and is vegan.

Hyaluronic acid is available in a wide variety of weights, far beyond just “high” and “low”. Lotion Crafter sells five different weights, ranging from ultra-low molecular weight (ULMW), which is less than 6k daltons, all the way up to high molecular weight, which is 1–1.5 million daltons. I use what is generally sold as low to medium molecular weight hyaluronic acid, right around 1 million daltons. The distinctions between “ultra-low”, “extra-low”, “super-low”, “low”, “high”, etc. are not terribly well defined, so I recommend going by daltons rather than the title wherever possible. When it comes to irritation potential, according to Simple Skincare Science, “the hyaluronic you want to use should be between 80,000 to 1,000,000 daltons (80 – 1,000 kDa). This seems to be the sweet spot according to studies. Anything higher won’t do much good. Anything lower might cause inflammation.” (That is what I use in my formulations).

INCI Hyaluronic Acid
Appearance Fine white powder
Usage rate 0.01–2%. I typically use the 1% solution at 20%; which works out to hyaluronic acid being present at 0.2% in the overall formulation.
Texture Once made into a solution with water it is very slippy, leaving the skin soft and hydrated with no sticky after-feel.
Scent Nothing noticeable
Absorbency Speed Fast
pH 6–7.5
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? Hyaluronic Acid is a fantastic humectant and moisturizer; I typically include a 1% low molecular weight solution at 20% in recipes for a 0.2% concentration of hyaluronic acid to seriously boost the hydration power of a recipe. At this usage rate, I don’t find the hyaluronic acid noticeably thickens products at all; if you’re making a watery thing with hyaluronic acid and you want it to be viscous I’d recommend a gelling ingredient like hydroxyethylcellulose or Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) to thicken your formulation; they’re very effective and a fraction of the cost of hyaluronic acid! Thickening a formulation with hyaluronic acid can get very expensive very quickly.

Learn way more about Hyaluronic Acid here!

Do you need it? It’s definitely a luxury ingredient, but if you have very dry skin I would recommend it.
Strengths It is an unbeatable humectant and moisturizer.
Weaknesses It is pretty expensive—typically at least $5/g.
Alternatives & Substitutions There really isn’t anything that performs like Hyaluronic Acid. “VEGELURON” is supposed to be a viable alternative, but I haven’t worked with it yet. If you don’t have Hyaluronic Acid for a recipe I’d probably swap it out for more water or aloe vera juice, and see if you can also include extra non-sticky humectant, like propanediol 1,3.
How to Work with It You’ll want to make a stock/solution with your dry hyaluronic acid powder. It’s a very concentrated ingredient that takes a while to dissolve; making a stock with it makes it easier to use.

Dissolve 1% in water with a sufficient preservative to create a solution (click here for instructions), and include that in the heated water phase of your recipes or cold-process it. Hyaluronic acid is effective at low amounts, so you shouldn’t need a lot.

Hyaluronic acid is about as heat sensitive as many of the carrier oils we work with, so it’s perfectly fine to heat it for 20–30 minutes for inclusion in an emulsion. It takes multiple hours of exposure to heat (at the levels we use for formulating, at least) for hyaluronic acid to start to degrade.

Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, Hyaluronic Acid powder should last two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Different weights of Hyaluronic Acid will create different viscosities when made into a solution. Low molecular weight (LMW) makes a fairly thick gel. Higher weights will make thicker gels, the lower weight versions will make thinner solutions.

Precisely what “low” or “high” molecular weight means can vary quite a lot between suppliers, so look at the daltons to know what you are getting. I use what is generally sold as low to medium molecular weight hyaluronic acid, right around 1 million daltons. If your hyaluronic acid is a smaller dalton size, your solution will be less viscous, and vice versa, even if what you purchased is also called “low molecular weight”.

Keep in mind the potential viscosity boost (depending on concentration and weight of the hyaluronic acid) if attempting to incorporate hyaluronic acid into a mist; even tiny amounts of viscosity can mean a formulation doesn’t mist, but instead squirts/jets straight out, which isn’t the same experience (lovely relaxing mist vs. being shot in the face with a small water pistol).

Resist the temptation to make a high concentration solution (above 1%) right off the bat! You risk the Hyaluronic Acid not hydrating into the water and remaining as wasteful clumps.

Hyaluronic Acid is not an acid like citric acid or lactic acid and will not dramatically reduce the pH of your formulations.

Recommended starter amount 10g (0.35oz) if the price is decent. This will make 1L of 1% stock. You can definitely buy less, every 1g = 100mL of 1% stock.
Where to Buy it Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier. Mine is from Pure Nature (NZ). In the USA, Lotion Crafter has it. For Canadians, YellowBee sells both low molecular weight and high molecular weight hyaluronic acid. I recommend purchasing the dry powder rather than a pre-hydrated stock for the best value and versatility.

Some Formulations that Use Hyaluronic Acid


Posted on

November 27, 2018