Hy-a-lu-ro-nic acid. An esoteric mouthful. But if you’ve ever been spotted on the opposite end of a ‘what’s trending in skincare’ conversation over cocktails, and silently wondered to yourself why people would volunteer to douse acid on their faces (anti-aging treatments can get shockingly barbaric, we know), fret none. And no, we promise to not endorse experimenting with a do-it-yourself chemistry kit in the sanctity of your glam room.

Let’s start by breaking it all the way down to this obscure ingredient’s ultimate superpower: H2O. Yup, water — mother nature’s ultimate superfood. Best part is, hyaluronic acid doesn’t simply strip your pristine visage of dead skin cells the way other dermatologist-approved corrosive acids (we’re thinking the notorious trio: glycolic, salicylic, and lactic), but it pumps in a much-needed boost of hydration with major staying power, which is absolutely essential for optimal skin health. Hyaluronic acid (aka, HA) stands out as a humectant, a naturally occurring substance that bio-actively reduces the loss of moisture. By preventing moisture loss, the benefits of hydration help your skin maintain a luminous, plump, and smooth appearance.

HA supercharges your skin’s moisture barrier — the outer layer of your face that locks in hydration and acts as the first line of defense against attacks from environmental aggressors. The modern-day vanguard isn’t just bombarded by the unending demands of trailblazing, but environmental toxins are wreaking havoc on beauty’s most vital trademark: the face. When hyaluronic acid keeps moisture on lockdown, it also protects and preserves everything beyond the skin’s barrier, deep into the remaining dermal layers and into the rest of the body. A scientifically backed metabolic process targeting the outermost layers of the skin, HA penetrates deep into soft tissue, creating a balanced, innate glow all-around. Pretty impressive for a little bottle of hydrating cream, huh? In essence, the drier and more damaged your barrier, the more likely the irreversibility of wrinkles, breakouts, and hyperpigmentation.

Hyaluronic acid acts as your skin’s food source, as well as a sealant, filling in the gaps between the skin’s support structures, keeping your moisture barrier fortified and cushioned to reveal supple, soft skin. Sort of what oil is to a car engine, and what a caulk is to a leaky roof (cue the apt maintenance references). Nature’s smart cream, the acid naturally regulates moisture within the dermal cells, with just a single gram reaching an equivalency of a whopping six liters of water. Offering safe, gentle hydration for absolutely all types of skin (from acnegenic skin to obstinate, oily ones), naturally moisture-binding HA doesn’t exfoliate the way other abrasive acids do when applied topically. If you’re worried about aging, HA offers not only anti-oxidative benefits against environmental stressors, but it helps to enhance cell turnover, which significantly improve skin elasticity, prevents (and even reverses) wrinkling, and alters texture by adding that youthful bounce ’n plump back to your moisture-starved skin.

This miracle substance will not only continue to be a staple in skincare, but its reach and uses stand to be multifarious. Since it can measurably quench the dehydration off anything it comes into direct contact with, its scientifically-backed ability to visibly reverse signs of aging means that its impact lies not only in the purely aesthetic sense, but its myriad benefits also extend to more invasive, penetrable ways. A little known fact about HA is its ingestible value, that when consumed in specific doses (or injected into particularly problematic areas), it poses both a short-and long-term effect on regulating inflammatory responses, curbing degenerative osteoarthritis, inhibiting osteoporosis, speeding up wound healing processes, relieving dry eyes syndrome, and even significantly soothing acid reflux, all through naturally replenishing inflamed or eroded tissue by encouraging healthy cell rejuvenation and turnover. Although alternative uses of hyaluronic acid on human health are still in preliminary trials, early animal and test-tube studies are highly promising.