Sodium hyaluronate is a water-soluble salt that’s derived from hyaluronic acid, which can be found naturally in the body. Like hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate is incredibly hydrating, but this form can penetrate deeper into the skin and is more stable (meaning it will last longer) in cosmetic formulation. Weinstein describes sodium hyaluronate as a fiber- or cream-like powder, which can be found in moisturizers and serums. As a humectant, sodium hyaluronate works by pulling in moisture from the environment and the underlying layers of your skin into the epidermis.
Benefits of Sodium Hyaluronate for Skin
Sodium hyaluronate has incredible hydrating benefits that address a number of skin concerns caused by a lack of moisture in the skin.
Combats skin dryness: As a humectant, it pulls in water from the air and helps to retain moisture to keep your skin hydrated and flake-free.
Repairs a compromised moisture barrier: It’s essential for restoring and maintaining a healthy barrier to prevent trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), which can lead to inflammatory conditions.1
Improves signs of aging: Sodium hyaluronate works to replace lost moisture and hyaluronic acid naturally found in the skin that lessens with age.2 This added hydration, in turn, may smooth texture created by fine lines and wrinkles.
Improves breakout-prone skin: According to Shah, it could help your acne by rebalancing the skin if you are overly drying it with harsh exfoliants, cleansers, and treatments. It’s also generally considered to be non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores.
Plumps: Sodium hyaluronate provides structure and volume and can create temporary but instantaneous plumpness in the skin.
Leaves a non-greasy glow: It has a lightweight feel and imparts a dewy finish without leaving a thick, greasy residue.
Helps eczema: Since the ingredient is so gentle, it’s safe to use on sensitive skin and can be beneficial for severely dry skin types.
Restores skin post-procedure: Weinstein and Shah both recommend the use of sodium hyaluronate to hydrate after in-office procedures, such as lasers or micro-needling, which make the skin vulnerable.
Sodium Hyaluronate vs. Hyaluronic Acid
On the front of a skincare product, you might see the term “hyaluronic acid” used, but flip over to the ingredients label, and you’ll likely find it listed as “sodium hyaluronate.” The reason for this discrepancy is because the terms are often used interchangeably in the beauty industry. They are technically different things, but they are meant to do the same thing. So what makes them different? Two main factors: stability and ability to penetrate. Because it’s in salt form, sodium hyaluronate is a more stable version of hyaluronic acid. Additionally, sodium hyaluronate has a lower molecular size. What this means is while hyaluronic acid hydrates the surface of the skin, sodium hyaluronate is able to absorb more effectively and penetrate deeper.