Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring substance found in the body, particularly in the skin, eyes, and connective tissues. In the skincare and medical industries, HA is used in various forms, including high molecular weight (HMW) and low molecular weight (LMW) versions. Here’s a comparison of high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid.

High Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid (HMW-HA):

  1. Molecular Size: HMW-HA has a larger molecular size, with a higher molecular weight. This means the individual HA molecules are relatively large and form a dense network on the skin’s surface when applied topically.
  2. Surface Hydration: HMW-HA primarily works on the surface of the skin. It forms a film or barrier that helps to lock in moisture, preventing water loss from the skin.
  3. Hydrating and Smoothing: HMW-HA is excellent at hydrating the skin’s outermost layer, providing a temporary plumping effect that can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also gives the skin a smoother, more radiant appearance.
  4. Protective Barrier: Because of its ability to form a barrier on the skin, HMW-HA can provide some protection against environmental pollutants and UV damage.
  5. External Moisturizer: It is often used in skincare products like moisturizers and serums to improve skin hydration and texture.

Low Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid (LMW-HA):

  1. Molecular Size: LMW-HA has smaller molecular sizes and lower molecular weight. These smaller molecules can penetrate deeper into the skin.
  2. Deeper Hydration: LMW-HA can reach deeper layers of the skin, where it promotes hydration and helps stimulate collagen production. This can result in longer-lasting hydration and potential improvements in skin elasticity.
  3. Anti-Aging Benefits: LMW-HA is often used in anti-aging products because of its ability to reach deeper layers of the skin. It can help reduce the appearance of deeper wrinkles and fine lines.
  4. Inflammatory Response: Some studies suggest that LMW-HA may have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for individuals with sensitive or irritated skin.
  5. Wound Healing: LMW-HA has been studied for its potential in wound healing due to its ability to penetrate the skin’s deeper layers.


In skincare products, it’s not necessarily a case of one being better than the other, but rather they serve different purposes. HMW-HA is excellent for surface hydration and maintaining the skin’s barrier, while LMW-HA can provide deeper hydration and offer potential anti-aging benefits. Some skincare formulations may even combine both HMW and LMW-HA to target multiple aspects of skin health and appearance. The choice between the two often depends on an individual’s skin type, concerns, and the specific goals of a skincare regimen.

Stanford Chemicals Company (SCC) is a leading supplier of hyaluronic acid. Both high and low molecular-weight hyaluronic acids are available. For more information, please check our homepage.

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