The better alternative to vegan Hyaluronic Acid

18 April 2018

If you believed all the hype on the internet, you’d think Hyaluronic Acid was a miracle moisturiser.

In reality, the opposite is true.

 It can’t be absorbed and contributes nothing beneficial to skin’s well being. So if it's younger looking skin you're after, forget about using Hyaluronic Acid.

That’s why you’ll never find Hyaluronic Acid in a Simplicité product, not even so called vegan Hyaluronic Acid.

Simplicité founder, naturopath and herbalist David Lyons, sees beyond the hype - his more than 30 years of clinical experience tells him Hyaluronic Acid will not give lasting results for skin.

He explains why in this article.

But first, what actually is vegan Hyaluronic Acid made from?

There isn't a 'plant based' Hyaluronic Acid

Many organic and natural skin care brands claim they use a vegan version of Hyaluronic Acid. What does vegan mean in this case - is the Hyaluronic Acid made from plants? If not, what?

Some internet sites claim their vegan Hyaluronic Acid is extracted from wheat through a fermentation process. Sounds wholesome enough.

But when you look into details of this manufacturing, it’s not wholesome at all.

The fermentation process involves bacteria - not plants.

Hyaluronic Acid made from bacteria

Consider, for example, one vegan version of Hyaluronic Acid that is made using genetically manipulated Bacillus.

Bacillus subtilis is a bacteria that is found in soil and the gut of humans and some types of animals. This is modified (mainly in Chinese factories) by deleting certain genes, then inserting a gene from Streptococcus equisimilus, then cloning.1.

Another vegan Hyaluronic Acid is made (again mainly in Chinese factories) through the fermentation of Streptococcus zooepidemicus, a bacteria commonly found in the bowels and lungs of horses with influenza.2. 

Does anyone really want to put this stuff on their skin?

What's really in vegan Hyaluronic Acid
One version of HA is made from Streptococcus zooepidemicus (horse flu) bacteria. 

Is any Hyaluronic Acid made from plants?

The answer is no.

There can’t be.

Hyaluronic Acid (Sodium Hyaluronate is another name for it) exists ONLY in the tissues of mammals, or the exterior wall of Streptococcal bacteria.

Natural and organic skin care claims that Hyaluronic Acid is made from the Cassia/Senna plant are untrue.

Polysaccharides from the Cassia/Senna plant are not Hyaluronic Acid/Sodium Hyaluronate. These polysaccharides are merely claimed to mimic the action of HA.

The Cassia/Senna plant has a long history as being used as a laxative. It’s also a known sensitiser to human skin.

Alleged ‘proven science’ about Senna polysaccharides on manufacturer’s websites is nothing more than a simple self-run test. These tests are not properly controlled, independent studies. They are not published on any recognised reference websites such as NCBI.

Animal sourced Hyaluronic Acid

In our view, whether vegan Hyaluronic Acid is made from one or the other types of bacteria fermentation methods explained above, both are as off putting as non-vegan Hyaluronic Acid, which is made from rooster combs, animal eyeballs and giblets.

Doesn’t bear thinking about, really.

Hyaluronic Acid is is made from boiled up roosters' combs or other animal tissue
Non-vegan Hyaluronic Acid is made from rooster combs and other animal tissue.

Whatever its source, Hyaluronic Acid can't help skin

Surely no self-respecting vegan would use this stuff if they knew its true origins - whether that's from bacteria or animal tissue?

However, even ignoring its origins, our point is that man made Hyaluronic Acid is of no use to skin.

By contrast, Hyaluronic Acid as a naturally occurring molecule in our epidermis is a marvellous thing.

It can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, promote collagen production and give skin that delightful plumpness we all associate with youth.

But, sadly, once our body’s naturally occurring HA is lost through ageing, it is gone forever.

Skin can't absorb Hyaluronic Acid

Using products that contain Hyaluronic Acid (however this is sourced) in the hope it will draw moisture to the skin, or replenish our natural stores, is wishful thinking.

This applies equally to Hyaluronic Acid supplements and Hyaluronic Acid skin care.

Due to the very large size of its molecules 5., Hyaluronic Acid has a hard time penetrating the epidermis. Users of Hyaluronic Acid skin care products frequently complain of the product “pilling” on their skin, which is all the evidence you need that it is not being absorbed.

The worst (and ironic) part of the false marketing of Hyaluronic Acid is that, as it sits on the surface of the skin, Hyaluronic Acid – with its great affinity for water – actually draws moisture out of the epidermis where it is most needed.

Using Hyaluronic Acid will deplete your skin 

Yes, despite claims to the contrary, Hyaluronic Acid will actually dehydrate your skin over time.

Not only that, but Hyaluronic Acid has been shown to promote the build-up of keratin cells. These are the cells responsible for the flakiness you see on sun-damaged skin. So even if you think you see some improvement initially, it will soon be all downhill from there.

The better alternative to using Hyaluronic Acid

Our hope is that anyone who chooses to use the various forms of hyaluronates in skin care products will back up their regime with true plant sourced nutrients.

It's our choice to avoid any sort of Hyaluronic Acid (Sodium Hyaluronate).

At Simplicité, when we say our products are ‘natural’, we mean handcrafted from plant extracts that are easily absorbed, of highest quality and used in concentrations designed to resist damaging effects of sun and ageing.

We don’t use dubious factory-made 'plant extract' powders or liquids. We don’t bulk up our products with unnecessary fillers or use fragrance to pretend there is more than a tiny percentage of plants in a product.

We certainly would never use cheap ingredients, such as Hyaluronic Acid, that promise results but don’t deliver.

Instead, we are meticulous in creating the concentrated, medicinal-grade plant extracts that go into our certified organic products.

We are a cruelty-free and vegan brand accredited by both PETA Beauty without Bunnies and Choose Cruelty Free.

And most importantly, for 25 years now, our products have given consistently stunning results for perfectly hydrated skin.

Avoid Hyaluronic Acid if you want great skin

Skin care products that contain effective, concentrated nutrients will give you youthful looking skin at any age.

The best way to start with our Basic Six Trial Pack. Take this simple Skin Test to determine which pack to choose.

Our Results Lift Gel is a lightweight, natural vitamin C formula that helps to hydrate and refresh dull, tired skin. (It's double collagen promise delivers naturally firmer skin at any age.)

Simplicité Face Oils are especially formulated for deep rehydration and leave your skin feeling soft and supple, never oily. Apply as a nourishing primer before makeup and under moisturiser before bedtime.

You’ll sleep easier, knowing you’re properly hydrating your skin with products that aren’t made from a horse flu pathogen.

What are your experiences with Hyaluronic Acid?

Please leave your comments below.


1. Vegan Hyaluronic Acid made using genetically manipulated Bacillus

2. Vegan Hyaluronic Acid is produced from a pathogenic substance.

3. 13-Aug-2010 - Novozymes Biopharma attempted to produce vegan Hyaluronic Acid using a non-pathogenic method by fermentation of production strain, Bacillus subtilis.

4. 14-Jan-2008 - Novozymes closes Hyaluronic Acid manufacturing plant because the above attempt to produce using a non-pathogenic method failed commercially.

5. Skin can't absorb Hyaluronic Acid because of its very large molecular weight.

Comments (12)

Dyan McMiller on January 14, 2020

I actually did a positive blog on my FB about HA and the great benefits. I took it off! Not just from reading about this, but also reading a lot more about HA on my own. I don’t like that it is in just about every product out there. I guess it makes a cheap humectant base. It’s the big hype of the decade just like so many others before this, but this one, especially in the low & even medium molecular weight form (which they have engineered to absorb thru the skin) can promote tumor growths and inflammation. So glad I happened to come across your sight.

Simplicite Skin on November 30, 2018

Replying to Jamie, below, who asked: Is it 100% accurate that vegan HA comes from horses?"

Yes Jamie, our information in the article is accurate about the source of Ha.

Jamie on November 30, 2018

I was under the impression that botanical hyaluronic acid is derived from a yellow flower called cassia angustifolia native to Eygpt. Is it 100% accurate that vegan HA comes from horses?

Simplicite Skin on July 02, 2018

Replying to Desiree who asked: HA has damaged the skin around my eyes. Do you have a eye product? I need to find something to super moisturize this area.
Hi Desiree
The darkness under the eyes is likely due to your over-response/sensitivity to the HA (Hyaluronic Acid/Sodium Hyaluronate). The effect of HA in the thin skin under the eyes may, in some people, even at low doses, produce loosening of the cellular bonds in the tissues.
Non-animal HA and its salts are produced from Streptococcus fermentation . There is ’growing concern due to the fact that streptococci are pathogenic. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3239841/#!po=75.0000

What to do? How to restore firmness and elasticity? Use our Instant Help Eye Gel three times daily, apply very thinly. And apply our Firming Rehydration Eye Creme three times daily as well, over the top of the Instant Help Eye Gel.
Both of these products contain important ACTIVES…compounds found in medicinal quality citrus extracts (and other plants), inhibit the breaking down of collagen and elastin in the skin. Pharmacognosy Res. 2016 PMCID: PMC4908842 Evaluation of Skin Anti-aging Potential of Citrus reticulata Blanco Peel

Compounds found in the essential oils of Lemon, Orange, Lime, Mandarin, and Rose Geranium, have been shown to display remarkable rejuvenating properties for the skin. A study showed a significant decrease in the number and length of wrinkles around the eyes. 84% of the subjects considered that the treatment had a positive effect on fine wrinkles. The size of open pores was also significantly reduced.
Anti-inflammatory and skin repair treatments with d-limonene

Published evidence says compounds found in the essential oils of Rose Geranium, Cinnamon, Vietnamese Rosewood, Birch leaf (OneStep Exfoliating Cleanser) is an active antioxidant (slows ageing), it’s also anti-inflammatory, and for those with sensitive skin it relieves pain.
Linalool in Essential Plant Oils: Pharmacological Effects Chapter DOI: 10.13140/2.1.1015.2963
It’s important to act early and apply the products frequently to get the best restoration results.

Simplicite on June 21, 2018

Heather – yes, our sources for the information about Hyaluronic Acid and its manufacture etc are credible and are hyperlinked throughout the article. They are also listed below it.

heather on June 16, 2018

Do you have any sources for your information? I’d like to quote your article but I need to know this information is from a credible source, thanks

Desiree on July 02, 2018

HA has damaged the skin around my eyes. Do you have a eye product? I need to find something to super moisturize this area.

Simplicite Skin Care on May 09, 2018

LESLI – to answer your question,’What about supplementing internally??
A. Using products that contain Hyaluronic Acid in the hope it will draw moisture to the skin, or replenish our natural stores, is wishful thinking.
This applies just as much to Hyaluronic Acid supplements as to Hyaluronic Acid skin care.

Lesli on May 09, 2018

What about supplementing internally??

char on April 19, 2018

I’ve tried using HA skincare proucts on and for the past 3 years and every time within 3-4 days my skin sags and the wrinkles get worse! It damaged the structure of my skin on a cellular level. I tried these HA products to improve the appearance of my hooded eyes which appeared to improve it initially. Only to have the effects wear off after using the product 3 days. I woke up in the morning after using the H A products only to find my hooded eyes had become worse. The skin had lost the firmness that I originally had prior to using the h a product leaving the skin sagging over my eyelashes. Hyaluronic acid is very dangerous and should not be used in any topical or injectable product. I’ve also read in some research reports that HA accelerates the growth of cancer cells as well as causes ischemia to dermis tissue tissue. With so many products on the market containing ha currently it’s become difficult to find products that don’t contain it. I live in the u.s. if anybody knows where I can find good anti age products here in the US that don’t contain hyaluronic acid please let me know. Thank you!

Kim London on April 19, 2018

Wow – thank you for explaining the origins of this nasty ingredient. I am vegetarian and had absolutely no idea how hyaluronic acid was made. Safe to say I will not be using any products that include this and will be steering clear of any salons or spas that also use products that feature this. When is Simplicite going to open their own say spa? ; )

Annalies Nutley on April 19, 2018

I’ve used so many products in the past that contained hyaluronic acid yet it never gave the results it promised. After reading this I am definitely shocked at the truth behind this fake miracle for the skin. Thank you for revealing how this crap is made…I’ve shared this on my FB page for others who probably don’t know anything about this!

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