The Fallacy of Hyaluronic Acid Binding a Thousand Times Its Weight In Water

18 July 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


This study re-examined experimental reports and past literature of water binding by the humectant hyaluronic acid, in comparison with another common humectant, glycerol, to critically evaluate the common claim that hyaluronic acid binds a thousand times its weight in water, which makes it especially suited to be a cosmetic moisturizer. Thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) were used to study aqueous solutions of glycerol and hyaluronic acid. A 0.1 weight % aqueous solution of hyaluronic acid is a clear, flowing liquid, comparable to a 10 weight % aqueous solution of glycerol. The melting point and melting heat of fusion for the hyaluronic acid solution were effectively the same as pure water, while both were reduced for the glycerol solution. There is imperceptible freezing point depression by HA, whereas that by glycerol is as expected. No experimental evidence was found for any special ability of hyaluronic acid to bind water at the claimed level of a thousand times by weight. The origin of the fallacy that it binds water at that level can be traced to older literature that has been misunderstood for the meaning of binding, as compared to other physical properties such as hydrodynamics.


colligative properties
carbohydrate polymer


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