Skinceuticals HA Intensifier review

I didn’t take any chances this year. As soon as the temperatures turned a little chilly (almost a month ago here in London!), I popped Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier back into my skincare routine. I learned the hard way hyaluronic acid is a must for me in winter: harsh weather loves to suck all the moisture out of your skin and if you don’t replenish it pronto, you’re gonna sport a red and flaky complexion all winter long. Guess how I know?

There are many hyaluronic acid serums on the market – and almost all of them are cheaper than this Skinceuticals gem. So why am I going for it when I can get the same thing for less money? This has an advantage over other hyaluronic acid serums. Here’s what makes it work so well:

About The Brand: Skinceuticals

Skinceuticals kinda started before the company’s founding in 1997, thanks to the breakthrough antioxidant research performed by scientist Dr. Sheldon Pinnell. In 1992, he filed the very first vitamin C patent. His research led to the birth of the first CEF serum, i.e. a serum that contains the combination of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Ferulic acid to fight wrinkles and brighten skin.

Although Skinceuticals is known for its Vitamin C serums, that’s not all the brand offers. To this day, they perform research in all areas of skincare to bring you ever innovative, more effective formulas – and that’s why the hefty price tag. You’re paying both for high quality ingredients AND all the research that went into developing them.

Key Ingredients In Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier: What Makes It Work?


That’s the hyaluronic acid. It’s a little moisture magnet that attracts moisture from the environment into the skin and binds it there. It’s so powerful, it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. That’s a lot of moisture, ladies!

All that moisture makes your skin a very happy bunny: it plumps it up, which in turn makes your fine lines and wrinkles look smaller; makes it silky soft to the touch; and gives your complexion that dewy, wet-like glow we all love so much.

Before you get too excited, hyaluronic acid is too big to penetrate skin. It stays on its surface, hydrating only the most superficial layers. That’s why Skinceuticals has brought in reinforcements…

Related: Why You Should Add Hyaluronic Acid To Your Skincare Routine


Did you know that hyaluronic acid is part of your skin? It’s part of the “glue” (together with collagen, elastin and other stuff) that holds your skin together and gives it firmness. Pro-Xylane, a new ingredient developed by L’Oreal, can boost the skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid, which in turn helps keep your skin firm. This makes it a bit more powerful than your average hyaluronic acid serum.

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And here’s the catch…

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I try to avoid anything that has a huge dollop of alcohol in it. In high concentrations, alcohol can be irritating and dry out the skin. There’s a workaround: if you use it with serums and moisturisers that are very emollient (and this serum is), they can counteract the dryness of the alcohol.

It worked for me: I slather on a rich moisturiser after the serum and got no side effects at all. BUT, my skin has never been sensitive. If yours is, it may be best to leave anything with this much alcohol on the shelf anyway. In case you’re wondering, alcohol here is a penetration enhancer: it helps other ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, to better penetrate your skin, so they can work even better.

Related: What Does Alcohol-Free In Skincare Really Mean?

The Rest Of The Formula & Ingredients

  • Aqua/Water: The main solvent in the formula, it helps to dissolve other ingredients.
  • Cyclohexasiloxane: A volatile silicone that creates a silky texture and a smooth feel on the skin. It evaporates quickly, so it doesn’t suffocate skin.
  • Glycerin: A humectant that attracts and binds water to your skin, boosting its hydration levels. It makes skin softer and suppler.
  • Propylene Glycol: A solvent with hydrating properties that makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate: Found in licorice, it has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe redness and irritations.
  • Polysilicone-11: A synthetic silicone used with other silicones to create silky soft texture and a finishes.
  • Polymethylsilsesquioxane: A silicone that acts as a film-former to create a silky soft finish on your skin.
  • Dimethicone: A silicones that creates a protective barrier on the skin that prevents water loss. It’s made up of big molecules with wide gaps in between, so it keeps moisture in without suffocating skin. It also makes skin silky soft to the touch and fills in fine lines and wrinkles so they look smaller.
  • Tocopherol: A form of Vitamin E with powerful antioxidant properties to fight the free radicals that cause premature aging.
  • Phenoxyethanol: A preservative that inhibits the growth of bacteria, helping the serum last and be safe for longer.
  • Capryloyl Salicylic Acid: A derivative of Salicylic Acid developed by L’Oreal. It has exfoliating and soothing properties but, due to its big molecular size, it doesn’t penetrate skin as deeply as pure Salicylic Acid. It works, but more slowly.
  • Octyldodecanol: A texture enhancer that adds stability to formulation and makes sure the ingredients don’t separate.
  • Bis-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG 16/16 Dimethicone: A derivative of Dimethicone that fills in fine lines and wrinkles and gives skin a softer and smoother appearance.
  • PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate: This multitasker acts as an emollient to make skin softer and smoother and an emulsifier to prevent the oily and watery parts of a product from separating.
  • Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate: It helps stabilize emulsions by controlling their viscosity and creates a soft finish on the skin.
  • Caprylyl Glycol: It moisturises skin and has preservative-like properties that prevent other ingredients from spoiling.
  • Xanthan Gum: It thickens the texture of skincare products.
  • Dextrin: It has water-binding properties that keep moisture in the skin, hydrating it.
  • Oryza Sativa Extract/Rice Extract: It makes skin softer and smoother. It also neutralises the metal ions in the water so they don’t spoil the formula.
  • Disodium EDTA: It’s a chelating agent that enhances the stability of skincare formulas by neutralising the metal ions in the formula.
  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride: It moisturises skin and helps thicken the formula.
  • Sodium Hydroxide: It helps balance the pH of skincare products.
  • Adenosine: A water-soluble yeast-derived ingredient that soothes skin and helps minimise the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Citrus Nobilis Peel Oil/Mandarin Orange Peel Oil: An essential oil that makes the serum smell good, but can irritate sensitive skin.
  • Limonene: The fragrant component that makes mandarin orange peel oil smell divine. It must be listed separately on the ingredient list because it’s a common allergen.
  • T-Butyl Alcohol: A clear liquid with a camphor-like odor that makes skincare products smell good, but can cause irritations.
  • Cellulose Acetate Butyrate: It increase the thickness of the water portion of skincare products.
  • Polyphosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate: It moisturises skin.
  • Polyvinyl Alcohol: A synthetic polymer of vinyl alcohol that thickens formulas.
  • Sodium Chloride: A.k.a. common table salt, it thickens the texture of skincare products.
  • Butylene Glycol: It’s a solvent that dissolves other ingredients in the formula.
  • Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate: A synthetic antioxidant that enhances the effectiveness of other antioxidants.


This serum has a watery texture that feels a little tacky, yet absorbs quickly into your skin. It’s silky soft to the touch and dries to a matte finish. All in all, quite pleasant to use.


Technically it’s fragrance-free. Skinceuticals added no separate fragrance so what you’re smelling is the odour of the ingredients. Despite the addition of a citrus oil to make the serum smell like an orchard, in reality the formula has a slightly vinegar vibe. I don’t know about you, but that’s not exactly to my taste. Still, I’d rather put up with an unpleasant smell for a few seconds than with the risk of irritation from an artificial fragrance. But, if your skin reacts badly to citrusy oils and extracts, stay away from this.

How To Use It

It’s a hyaluronic acid serum, so you can use it either morning or night (or both). Like all hydrating serum, it goes right before moisturiser. If you’re using anti-aging serums with retinol, Vitamin C, or antioxidants, apply them first and the hyaluronic acid serum second.


This serum comes in a dark bottle with light blue accents that evoke the image of water and extra moisture for your skin. It has a dropper applicator for ease-of-use. It’s ideal for this kind of runny texture and keeps the contents inside safe from light and air that may spoil them.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier is purplish. I know the colour doesn’t do anything special but it’s so cool. I like unusual details like this (FYI, apparently, it’s the purple rice extract that gives the serum its colour). The texture is a little tacky, which surprised me. I thought the alcohol would have thinned it so much, you could barely feel it on your skin. But, it absorb into my skin fast, so I can’t complain about it.

Especially because it works. My skin is still pretty firm on its own, so I didn’t see a big improvement in this department, but it definitely turned my skin’s hydration levels up a notch or two. Even on the chilliest days (and yes, we’ve had cold, sweater days here in London), my skin stays soft and plump all day. There’s no tightness, that tell-tale sign that the cold is winning the battle.

One more thing: Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier works well with the rest of your skincare routine and makeup. It doesn’t ball or cause any problems. I still wouldn’t recommend it to sensitive skin, but if your skin reacts well to alcohol (I know plenty of women who don’t mind using it), I think you will like it.

Related: What To Do If Your Skincare Pills (Or Balls Up)

skinceuticals ha intensifier

How Does Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier Compare To The Other Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Serums?

I’m not sure why a brand needs to release more than one hyaluronic acid serum – unless it’s confuse us customers… But in case you’re wondering which Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid serum is best for your skin type and needs, here’s how they compare:

  • Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel ($86.00): A simple, no-frills formula with hydrating hyaluronic acid and soothing Vitamin B5 to plump up skin and calm down irritations. All skin types can use it, but it’s particularly suitable for sensitive skin. Available at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, and Skinceuticals.
  • Skinceuticals Photo Corrective Gel ($70.00): A hyaluronic acid serum with botanical ingredients, like cucumber and olive oil, that claims to hydrate skin and soothe irritations. Unfortunately, it also contains fragrance and essential oils that may irritate sensitive skin. I personally don’t recommend this formula, just because the other options are better.

What I Like About Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier

  • Lightweight, fast-absorbing texture.
  • Beautiful and practical packaging.
  • Very hydrating, makes skin softer and smoother.
  • Plumps up fine lines and wrinkles, so they look smaller.
  • Gives skin a dewy look.

What I DON’T Like About Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier

  • Texture is a little tacky.
  • Fragrance may irritate sensitive skin.
  • The price.

Who Should You Use This?

Almost everyone can use it, but it’s best suitable for dehydrated skin. It’s also great to hydrate oily skin without adding more oil to it and to add extra moisture to dry skin. I only hesitate to recommend it to sensitive skin because the fragrance can be irritating.

Does Skinceuticals H.A. Intensifier Live Up To Its Claims?

Powerful corrective serum that helps amplify skin’s hyaluronic acid levels to improve appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and skin texture. True.
This new serum effectively delivers surface hydration to the skin, whilst improving the appearance of crow’s feet area, nasolabial folds and marionette lines for a more refined complexion. True. It improves the appearance of wrinkles by plumping up skin. Once the hydrating effect is over, your wrinkles look as deep as before.

Is Skinceuticals Cruelty-Free?

Unfortunately, Skinceuticals is NOT cruelty-free. They’re owned by L’Oreal and they sell in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law. This means they test on animals, either themselves or through a third-party.

Price & Availability

$100.00/£90.00 at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, and Skinceuticals

The Verdict: Should You Buy It?

I wouldn’t say you “need” this. No one needs a super expensive hyaluronic acid serum. There are many other hyaluronic acid serums out there that do the same thing at a fraction of the cost. But if you want to try it, this stuff works.

Dupes & Alternatives

  • La Roche Posay Heal B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum (£27.75): A simple, no-frills Hyaluronic Acid serum with Vitamin B5 to soothe redness. Available at Boots, La Roche Posay, and Sephora.
  • Niod Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid (£25.00): The most hydrating and plumping serum I’ve tried, it has 13+ forms of Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate every layer of skin. Available at Beauty BayCult Beauty, and Niod
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster ($34.00): A hyaluronic acid serum with ceramides to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and heal dry skin. Available at Dermstore, Net-A-PorterPaula’s Choice, SpaceNK.
  • The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (£5.90): A simple formula with Vitamin B5 to soothe and hydrate skin. It’s fragrant-free and suitable for sensitive skin too. Available at Beauty Bay, BootsCult Beauty, Sephora, SpaceNK, The Ordinary, and Ulta.
  • Vichy 89 Mineral ($29.50): A lightweight formula with thermal water and Hyaluronic Acid to deeply hydrate every skin type. Available at Dermstore and Sephora.


Aqua/Water, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol (Pro-Xylane), Propylene Glycol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Polysilicone-11, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dimethicone, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Octyldodecanol, Bis-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG 16/16 Dimethicone, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Dextrin, Oryza Sativa Extract/Rice Extract, Disodium EDTA, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sodium Hydroxide, Adenosine, Citrus Nobilis Peel Oil/Mandarin Orange Peel Oil, Limonene, T-Butyl Alcohol, Cellulose Acetate Butyrate, Polyphosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Sodium Chloride, Butylene Glycol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate.