Is your skin begging for moisture lately?
Welcome to winter. The low temperatures, freezing cold winds and indoor heating all plot together to suck all the moisture out of your skin.
All of a sudden, your skin feels tight in the middle of the day. It gets a little red. It flakes, even.
That’s your cue to add a hyaluronic acid serum to your skincare routine. A nice addition in the summer, it becomes an absolute must-have in the winter months. It doesn’t matter what skin type you have – hydration is the foundation of happy skin.
- What Is Hyaluronic Acid?
- Best For Very Dry Skin: NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex (£25.00-£38.00)
- Best Breakthrough Formula: Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier ($100.00)
- Best On A Budget: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£5.90)
- Best For Versatility: Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster ($46.00)
- Best For Sensitive Skin: Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster ($29.50)
What Is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant. In plain English, a moisture magnet.
Humectants attract moisture from the air and drop it into your skin. That extra moisture is a godsend for skin: it plumps it up so wrinkles look smaller, it makes it as soft as a baby’s, and gives it a radiant glow.
Hyaluronic Acid does the job particular well: it can attract and bind to the skin up to 1000 times its weight in water!
Oh, by the way, Hyaluronic Acid comes in many forms. Some are so big, they can’t penetrate skin. They just stay on the surface and hydrate the superficial layers. Others are smaller and can penetrate skin, hydrating it from within.
If your skin’s oily or normal, you may get away with using only one form. But the drier your skin gets, the more forms of hyaluronic acid your serum should include.
Related: The Complete Guide To Hyaluronic Acid In Skincare
Need help creating the best skincare routine for you dry skin? Sign up to the newsletter below to receive the “Dry Skincare Routine Cheatsheet” (it includes product recommendations, too!).
Here are the best hyaluronic acid serums out there, in my humble opinion:
Best For Very Dry Skin: NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex (£25.00-£38.00)
If you can only try one hyaluronic acid serum, make it NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex. It has a whopping 15 different forms of hyaluronic acid and hyaluronic acid precursors. 15, ladies! I’ve never seen a serum that has this many. Some of these forms stay on the surface of your skin, hydrating the superficial layers, while others get deep into your skin, hydrating it from within. Add a few amino acids to the mix and you’ve got one of the most hydrating formulas on the market today. It’s a keeper.
Available at: Asos, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Escentual, Feel Unique, and Net-A-Porter
Related: My Full Review Of Niod Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex
Best Breakthrough Formula: Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier ($100.00)
I wasn’t sure about including Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier here because it contains alcohol, which can be problematic for some skin types. But as it didn’t bother my skin and contains a cool new technology, I had to. What’s special about this serum is the inclusion of 10% Pro-Xylane, an ingredient developed by L’Oreal, that can boost hyaluronic acid in your skin by 30%. OK, I don’t know if the 30% figure is correct but it definitely made my skin feel a lot more hydrated and plumped it well up. And yep, it has hyaluronic acid, too. 😉
Available at: Dermstore and Look Fantastic
Related: My Full Review Of Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier
Best On A Budget: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£5.90)
If you love Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel, wait until you try this. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is an improved dupe. They both contain vitamin B5 but Skinceuticals only has one form of hyaluronic acid while The Ordinary serum managed to sneak in two. Not much else to say. It’s a pretty basic formula but it works.
Available at: Asos, Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty
Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin
Best For Versatility: Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster ($46.00)
Don’t know where hyaluronic fits into your skincare routine? With Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster you can make it fit wherever you want. A booster is something you can use alone or mix with your fave serums and moisturisers to supercharge their hydrating powers. This booster features two forms of hyaluronic acid + other humectants like glycerin and moisturising agents like ceramides – everything thirsty skin needs.
Available at: Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Paula’s Choice, and SpaceNK
Related: The Complete Guide To Skincare Boosters: What They Are, What They Do, And How To Use Them
Best For Sensitive Skin: Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster ($29.50)
Vichy Mineral 89 Hylauronic Acid Booster has a lightweight gel texture you wouldn’t think of as hydrating, and yet it packs a huge moisture punch. The combination of Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin (a fellow humectant) draws a waterfall of water to your skin, helping it to stay soft and supple. But it’s the mineral water base that makes it such a good option for sensitive skin. This water is enriched with minerals and nutrients that soothe irritants and help keep skin in top shape. Did I mention it’s fragrance-free, too?
Available at: Dermstore, Escentual, Feel Unique and Ulta
Related: My Full Review Of Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Booster
I’m a big fan of Hada Labo’s hyaluronic acid toners! Sooo hydrating, and you get heaps (170ml), instead of a serum size (30ml)
Alexis, thanks for sharing. They make some great toners indeed.
Thank you for the considerable information you share; it’s a veritable gold mine of factual information.
I’ve just purchased the NOID Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid you recommended. I look forward to replacing my existing product which does not provide as much hydration as I hoped for despite applying it to damp skin and allowing to air dry.
Many if not most of my skin care products (cleanser, toner, multiple serums & moisturizers) have hyaluronic acid as part of their ingredients as well …. is it possible to overdo hyaluronic acid?
I have 60yr old dry, sun damaged skin which I have only gotten serious about improving recently. It must also be TUFF skin; thus far I have minimal irritation only on neck area despite using tretinoin and 20%C+E+Ferulic. 🙂
Dollie, my pleasure and thank you for your kind words.
Congrats on having such tough skin. It means that, whatever you’re dealing with, you can choose between plenty of options to fix it. 🙂
In my experience, your skin can never get enough humectants/hyaluronic acid. But, if you find the NIOD MMHA gives you all the hydration you need, using something else with hyaluronic acid may be redundant.
Question, have you tried Peter. Thomas Roths hyaluronic acid serum? I’m wondering how that compares. Thanks so much for article!
Jen, that’s another good serum. I actually debated whether I should have included it or not in this list but I didn’t want to make it too long.
I’m a recent subscriber to your blog and read with much interest your antioxidant review of Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant. I ordered the travel sizes of superoxidant and regular antioxidant from the company so just in case they did nothing, I’d only be out a few bucks. That said, I have used the Paula’s Choice Resist Superoxidant twice at night after my Mad Hippie Vitamin A and Mad Hippie exfoliating serums and before moisturizer. I use those serums on alternate nights and occasionally substitute the exfoliating serum for Maelove Night Renewer glycolic. As I said, I’ve only used the PC super antioxidant twice at night so far and TOTALLY blown away. I can’t believe how soft my face is! It appears a bit brighter too. I like my morning regimen (Maelove Vitamin C serum, Timless coenzyme q10, Mad Hippie and Cerave lotions combined). I’m not sure where to squeeze in the super antioxidant but I love it! Presently, reading your review on Inkey products! Thanks for the great PUla’s Choice review. A real learning experience!! Maybe I’ll do your basic consult for my mature skin.
Gio, I just received The Ordinary’s Hyaloronic Acid 2% + B5. I noticed the bottle also says witch hazel. I have rosacea, so is this ok to use?
Tracy, that’s odd. I checked both my bottle and The Ordinary website and there’s no mention of witch hazel anywhere. Where did you get it from?
I tried the Ordinary serum but I like Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence better. As with many Korean products, it is very lightweight, which might put some people off. But it leaves my skin really plump and smooth-feeling.
Rebecca, the Koreans know how to make hydrating products, don’t they?
Yes, it’s a big part of their regimen along with the “brightening” products I’ve been a bit leery of, since a friend who lived in South Korea said they can be rather bleaching to your skin. But they have been on the cutting edge of some interesting things like the BB creams. I currently have a moisturizer in my cabinet called Repair Control Renewal Moisture from Easydew, and its shtick (US-speak for gimmick!) seems to be EGF. But I’ve read some some things about EFG that sound a bit concerning, so I’ve set it aside in favor of the Ordinary’s Moisturizing Factors. But maybe EGF is the next great thing that the Koreans always seem in search of!
Rebecca, you’re smart to be wary of fads. 🙂 I believe brightening products can help if you have hyperpigmentation but everyone else should steer clear of them. If you don’t need them, why waste the money and risk an irritation?
I’ve written about EGF here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/guide-to-growth-factors-skincare/
They sound awesome, don’t they? But we have no data on their safety and, given the potential concerns, I’m using them.
Gio, sorry if this comment posts twice, but I left this yesterday but don’t see it on here. I was just wondering if you have ever tried the Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence. I used it for awhile and then decided to try the Ordinary product, but I like the Hanskin one better. It is extremely lightweight, and some people might not care for that, but I love how it doesn’t feel sticky or heavy and it just plumps my skin and leaves it very soft. I looked at its ingredient list versus the ingredients on the Ordinary, and they are pretty different, so maybe the Ordinary is better from an ingredient standpoint. But from a personal standpoint, the Hanskin works well for me.
Rebecca, Hanskin has more hydrating ingredients so if that’s what you’re after, it’s the best of the two. 🙂
Hi Gio! First, thank you kindly for all the scientific information and hard work you have done on your site. It is sincerely a gem among many blogs. I found you when doing some research to find out what I could add to my skin care routine that has actually been scientifically proven. I feel grateful as I have generally good skin, always used sunscreen and moisturizer throughout my life, but I’m now in my late 40’s and looking to give it some more help – your site has been a wealth of info. More recently, I’ve added TO’s hyaluronic acid serum to my routine. I live in northern New England and in addition to heating with a wood stove (we run humidifiers but they can only do so much) it’s been extremely cold and dry. I was wondering if there is any substantiative evidence to support that in very dry environments HA can actually pull hydration away from your skin? I’ve read this in a few places, but couldn’t find any studies to confirm. If this is true, what products would you recommend using instead?
Hi Lynn, thank you for your comment and welcome to the blog. So glad to hear my posts have helped you. 🙂
I’ve read about this claim from several places but oddly enough, no one ever links to any sources. I haven’t been able to find any study or proof showing this can happen either, so don’t worry about it. Keep using your hyaluronic if it helps you.
What do you think of the new L’Oreal Hyaluronic Serum? How does it compare ingredient wise to these recommendations?
Beth, you mean 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum? I usually don’t pay much attention to L’Oreal skincare because it’s nothing special, but this serum sounds very hydrating. So, yes it’s a good alternative.
I usually use IMAGE hyaluronic filler. And find that works amazingly well under a Vit c serum/moisturiser