Sodium hyaluronate is a derivative of hyaluronic acid. It has many uses, including the treatment of arthritis, dry eyes, ulcers, and wounds. It is also present in skin care products and cosmetics.
Sodium hyaluronate is a humectant, which means that it attracts moisture. People can use it topically in creams and serums to hydrate the skin.
In this article, we explore what sodium hyaluronate is, what it does, how people can use it, and whether there are risks.
Sodium hyaluronate comes from hyaluronic acid, a substance that occurs naturally in the synovial fluid of the joints, eyes, and skin. The “sodium” component reflects that sodium hyaluronate is a salt.
Sodium hyaluronate has a number of uses, including in skin care, cosmetic procedures, and medical treatments.
Sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid have similar properties. Both attract and bind to water, making them useful for hydrating the skin.
There are some differences. For example, hyaluronic acid works better at hydrating the surface of the skin, whereas sodium hyaluronate can reach deeper layers, due to its lower molecular weight.
Sodium hyaluronate is also more stable than hyaluronic acid and less prone to oxidation, which is why it often appears in skin care products.
Companies do not always distinguish between hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate on product labels. Because “hyaluronic acid” is a more recognizable term, they may use this on the label when the product actually contains sodium hyaluronate.
Products that can contain sodium hyaluronate include:
- face washes
- makeup removers
- eye drops
- toners and astringents
- body lotions
- anti-aging treatments
- makeup, such as foundation or setting spray
Some of the benefits of using sodium hyaluronate or hyaluronic acid on the skin include:
- Hydration: Sodium hyaluronate attracts and binds moisture to the skin, which can help reduce dryness. Because it is not an oil, it can hydrate oily and acne-prone skin without blocking pores or causing greasiness.
- Active ingredient enhancement: Because it penetrates into the skin, it can
enhance the effectsof other active ingredients in skin care products, allowing them to get through the outermost layer of the skin.
- Tissue repair: Doctors can use topical treatments containing sodium hyaluronate to help wounds heal and tissues repair. Surgical incisions, skin grafts, and ulcers may benefit from this.
- Eye moisture: Hyaluronic acid-based eye drops
can reducethe symptoms of dry eyes by increasing tear production and stabilizing the surface of the cornea.
And if a person wishes to reduce the appearance of fine lines, topical sodium hyaluronate can plump the skin and increase elasticity by attracting moisture.
These injections are a popular cosmetic treatment called a dermal filler. The aim may be to:
- reduce the appearance of wrinkles
- add volume to areas where it has decreased with age, such as the cheeks
- fill in scars from acne, surgery, or injuries
The procedure appears to be well-tolerated. In the study, when injection-related reactions occurred, they generally lasted 1–7 days.
Dermal fillers are quick to administer. During an appointment, a dermatologist:
- assess and maps out the face, marking areas to inject
- cleanses the injection sites with antiseptic
- applies either a cold tool to chill the skin and reduce pain or an anesthetic ointment
- administers the injections
Once the filler is in the skin, the doctor massages it into place, then evaluates the appearance. If necessary, they may add more. Afterward, a healthcare professional washes the markings off the face.
Having a dermal filler can take 15–60 minutes, depending on how many injections there are. The injection sites may be tender for a few days, but the pain is usually fairly mild.
Unlike some other types of cosmetic surgery, sodium hyaluronate injections are not permanent. To maintain the results, a person has “top-up” injections.
Topical sodium hyaluronate is associated with few or no side effects. But if a person has any irritation after using a product containing sodium hyaluronate, they should stop using it immediately.
Dermal fillers are more likely to cause side effects. Many are temporary and resolve within a week of the procedure. They may include:
- a temporary “overfilled” look
- hard lumps at the injection site
Gently applying ice may help. Ask the doctor about the best ways to alleviate any side effects.
According to the Environmental Working Group, topical sodium hyaluronate is safe. It does not increase the risk of cancer and is not associated with any reproductive or developmental risks during pregnancy.
However, as with other invasive treatments, there are some risks to dermal fillers, such as:
- an asymmetrical appearance
- an infection
- visual disturbances
These are uncommon, and some may improve on their own with time. Because sodium hyaluronate fillers eventually fade away, any asymmetry or undesirable results are likely to be temporary.
Before having the procedure, make sure the doctor is trained and licensed to perform it. Doing so can reduce the chances of adverse reactions and unsatisfactory results.
Sodium hyaluronate is the sodium salt form of hyaluronic acid, a substance that occurs naturally in the body.
Because of its hydrating properties, many skin care products contain sodium hyaluronate. It also has medical uses, in wound healing and eye care, for example.
Overall, sodium hyaluronate is well-tolerated and carries no known risks. But if any product containing sodium hyaluronate causes irritation, rinse it off and stop using it.