Please bring me the science of skin care for different body parts
March 13, 2019 4:43 PM   Subscribe

After spending the weekend visiting my BFF which of course included rummaging through and using all of her hair and skin products, I am sold on Hyaluronic Acid for my dry skin. But I don't understand if there is an actual difference between HA sold for one's body vs HA sold for one's face.

I accidentally used The Chemistry Brand's Hyaluronic Concentrate on my face one night and not only did I love the moisture, it didn't make my face fall off or anything. On another night I correctly used The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 for faces, and it seemed the same.

Since the Concentrate is about 8x less expensive per ml, I'm left wondering if there is any scientific, chemistry-based reason not to use the body product on my face. I mean skin is skin, and I don't think face pores are smaller, but face skin is thinner so there's that?
posted by DarlingBri to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Face skin tends to produce more sebum too. But basically, if it doesn’t make your face break out or have a reaction, go nuts. You could also consider cutting the former with the latter with a gradually transitioning proportion, if you wanted to ease into it and see how well your face tolerates it.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:53 PM on March 13

Both those products are made by the same parent company, so they very well might be the same.

Body products can sometimes have ingredients that are too harsh (e.g. stronger detergents, higher concentrations of acids) or pore-clogging (more common on the face due to greater sebum production), but HA is a pretty gentle moisturizing ingredient and should be totally fine.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:10 PM on March 13

I'm an emergency physician/medical toxicologist. As the latter, I know a fair about skin care products and cosmetics because I have to know how their ingredients affect humans

"HA" can refer to any of three molecules used interchangeably by the makers of OTC (read: available w/o a prescription) skin care products:

Hyaluronic acid
Sodium hyaluronate
Potassium hyaluronate

Though structurally different, all are functionally identical at concentrations of up to 2%, which, per the FDA, is the statutory maximum concentration of HA allowed in any skin care product or cosmetic.

I don't understand if there is an actual difference between HA sold for one's body vs HA sold for one's face.

The three "flavors" of HA differ in the formal sense of being three different molecules, but, again, don't differ functionally, regardless of where used on the body.

So no--there's no difference b/tw "head" and "body" HA
posted by BadgerDoctor at 7:53 PM on March 13 [16 favorites]

Everyone’s skin is different. Even face specific stuff can cause bad effects. I used to use body lotion on my face all the time. The important thing is how your skin reacts.

You basically did a patch test with The Chemistry Brand one, with a patch the size of your entire face. If it turned out fine, I’d say you’re fine.
posted by like_neon at 1:40 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]

You can charge more for products intended for the face.

My brother worked for a marketing company that represented a couple cosmetics firms. The ingredients are extremely similar from product to product, brand to brand. The differences are in packaging, fragrance, marketing.
posted by theora55 at 7:30 AM on March 14

I'm a biochemist with experience working in a compounding pharmacy environment where I've seen different formulations of cosmetics being made. I agree with BadgerDoctor above that the HA, the active ingredient, in these products has no difference.

However, it's the relative percentages of the inactive ingredients in the formulations for body and face products that are different. Formulations of products for the body tend to have higher percentage concentrations of things that you wouldn't normally slather... well, anywhere on your body, but you can't really make some products without those. In general, that's the main difference between body and face products, and usually the difference is negligible.

If using the body product on your face does not irritate your skin long-term, you'll be fine.
posted by Everydayville at 11:11 AM on March 14 [1 favorite]

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