Hyaluronic Acid 101: What It Is, The Benefits, & Best Product To Use

So when it comes to the topic of the state of your skin, especially during the cooler season, you ask is it itchy, dehydrated, or if it feels tight. Well, Hyaluronic acid can help with all that and more. It might’ve been a common ingredient you’ve heard before in serums or facial sheet masks but you’ve probably only scratched the surface. Well, here’s the scoop on the moisturizing powerhouse that all dermatologists swear by – and the stuff you’ll soon be telling everyone you know about.

What is Hyaluronic Acid?

Just because Hyaluronic Acid is an ‘acid’, doesn’t mean it will burn like alpha or beta hydroxy acids, that exfoliate the skin. Instead, H.A. is a substance that occurs naturally in your body -in your joints, eyes, and yes, skin.

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So what purpose does it serve in the latter? Neal Schultz, M.D., NYC dermatologist and founder of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz, says, ‘It’s produced by fibroblasts, the same cells that make collagen, in the dermis, the second layer of skin. It’s the key molecule involved in skin moisture because it absorbs up to 1,000 times its weight in water.’ Think of hyaluronic acid as a sponge in your skin that holds on to moisture and keeps your face looking plump and dewy.


What are the benefits of Hyaluronic Acid?

‘Hyaluronic acid does not occur naturally on the surface of your skin, but when applied [via skin care], it’s a wonderful moisturizing ingredient,’ says Schultz. When you apply an H.A. product, it works as a balm or lotion. Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Skincare Collection, says, ‘Humectants basically pull water from the environment into your skin and are very hydrating.’ H.A. basically hydrates the face softening fine lines, making skin look firmer, and smoothing out rough dry patches.

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Jessica Weiser, M.D., a dermatologist at New York Dermatology Group also reiterates that H.A. also ‘plumps and adds volume to your skin cells to make your skin more radiant and smooth.’ H.A. is also a popular ingredient for facial fillers. ‘We use hyaluronic acid fillers to replace volume, create lift, and make the contours of the face more youthful,’ says Weiser.


How do use Hyaluronic Acid?

Humectants like hyaluronic acid have a watery texture (watery serum) and absorb quickly whereas emollients (creams and oils) are thicker, stay on your skin’s surface, don’t absorb as quickly, and work to lock everything in. Hyaluronic acid is often combined with other runny humectants (like glycerin and urea) and water. This is important: ‘It gets bound by the hyaluronic acid and then delivered to your skin,’ says Schultz. ‘This is one of the ways hyaluronic functions as the greatest moisturizing ingredient ever.’

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A good background info to know about humectants: It’s important to combine or layer them with more emollient textures, as the thicker products will work to maintain the moisture the humectant provides. So top or layer off an H.A. serum with an oil or cream to make the results last. ‘They seal in moisture that is already there so it doesn’t evaporate,’ says Schultz. Most creams, though, already have both humectants and emollients so they’re okay to apply alone. (Or, if your skin is super oily, a serum may be enough.) Vargas also points out that regular exfoliation is a crucial step in skincare. Hyaluronic acid absorbs so much better if you don’t have a layer of dead skin cells sitting on the surface.


Hyaluronic Acid Serum Recommendations

Below are all the top-recommended products that deliver H.A. that will work best for your skin types or concerns.

1. If your skin is looking a little tired..

SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier – skinceuticals $100.00

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Skinceuticals

H.A. Intensifier is a multi-beneficial corrective serum proven to amplify skin’s hyaluronic acid levels. This unique formulation contains a high concentration of pure hyaluronic acid, proxylane, and botanical extracts of licorice root and purple rice to support skin’s hyaluronic acid levels and deliver surface hydration, helping improve the visible appearance of firmness, smoothness, and facial plumpness.


2. If you have very dry skin..

Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Bi-Phase Serum – Ulta $59.00

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Ulta

Refreshing bi-phase serum quenches thirsty skin that feels tight, lacks radiance and is prematurely lined due to dehydration leaving it plump, radiant and intensely hydrated. Organic Leaf of Life extract a resilient succulent plant from Madagascar boosts the skin’s natural hydration for hours of multi-level protection, comfort and radiance. Pair Bi-phase Serum with your Hydra-Essential moisturizer for maximum hydration.


3. If you prefer clean products..

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum – Sephora $52.00

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Sephora

B-Hydra is a cool drink of water for your thirsty skin. This ultra-hydrating vitamin B5 serum replenishes nutrients while delivering hydration throughout the day to improve the look of skin texture and tone. It’s great for improving dryness, dullness, uneven texture, and uneven skin tone. And although this serum doesn’t contain hyaluronic acid, it does have sodium hyaluronate crossploymer, which is functionally the same as H.A. So this will also work to rehydrate parched skin and since it is a smaller molecule size than naturally occurring H.A., it can penetrate deeper into the skin.


4. If you want to treat fine lines..
Kate Somerville Wrinkle Warrior 2-in-1 Plumping Moisturizer and Serum – Sephora $95.00

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Sephora

An all-in-one plumping moisturizer and serum to attack visible wrinkles by providing essential hydration. This serum will treat fine lines and wrinkles, dryness, and loss of firmness and elasticity of the skin. It packs three different sizes of hyaluronic acid -large, medium, and mini -to penetrate skin at various levels. Whereas some hyaluronic products can leave skin a bit tacky, this gel leaves your face completely soft and matte, minimizing lines and doubling as a makeup primer.


5. If you prefer a cream texture..
Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment Mask – Sephora $59.00

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Sephora

A non-drying hydration mask to deliver instant, extreme moisture. It will treat dryness, dullness and uneven texture of skin, and redness. It moisturizes, restores, replenishes, and calms the skin. Hyaluronic acid helps deeply hydrate skin for a dewy, glowing complexion, while HydraPack leaves skin with an instant silky, soft, and supple feel. GreenEnergy smooths and energizes the skin, giving you a healthy-looking, glowing complexion.

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