By now, you’ve heard all about the skin-plumping and hydrating properties of superstar ingredient hyaluronic acid. It’s a miracle worker for dehydrated skin, boosting moisture by drawing in water. It’s been a staple in skincare routines for years, but lately, people have been applying the buzzy ingredient to their hair.
Since hyaluronic acid is known for smoothing and plumping skin, logically, it makes sense to put the ingredient on your hair. In fact, hyaluronic acid has been touted as helping boost hair growth and even preventing hair loss. To get the facts on putting hyaluronic acid in your hair, we reached out to the experts, who shared what HA is, how it works, and if you should be putting it in your hair.
How does hyaluronic acid work?
Hyaluronic acid is actually found naturally in our skin’s collagen, according to Nikki Hill, MD, dermatologist, hair expert, and founder of Skin of Culture and Hair (SOCAH) Center. “It acts as a humectant by pulling moisture from the surrounding environment and holding it close to the skin,” she explains. “Hyaluronic acid can absorb more than its weight in water, which is why it’s commonly found in beauty products geared toward alleviating dryness.” When applied to hair, HA works the same way, drawing more moisture into strands.
What are the benefits of putting hyaluronic acid in your hair?
“Hyaluronic acid helps decrease and manage frizz and seal split ends, resulting in fuller and overall shinier hair and a balanced and hydrated scalp,” says Shab Reslan, a trichologist, hair expert, and hairstylist based in New York City.
Hill explains that by soaking moisture into the hair, hyaluronic acid can also improve the porosity of hair (or its ability to absorb water). Damaged hair usually has a high porosity, which means that water exits too quickly from the hair to maintain hydration. With hyaluronic acid, “improving the hydration can help improve the porosity of the hair,” says Hill.
What about hair loss? While Reslan and Hill both agree that hyaluronic acid won’t prevent or curb hair loss, it can help make sure hair is healthy. “It can, however, potentially alleviate breakage because dry hair is frizzy and fragile,” says Hill.
What hair types and concerns is hyaluronic acid best for?
Just like when it comes to skincare, HA is well-tolerated by almost everyone, so it’s great for all hair types (and skin types!). Since it specifically targets dehydration, however, it is perfect for hair that’s on the drier side. “The hair types that may see the most benefit are damaged, processed and overprocessed, dry, dull, and frizzy hair,” Hill says.
You can use hyaluronic acid at any time, but Reslan says that as the weather starts to cool down, it’s a great time to consider mixing HA into your haircare routine. “The harsh winters and indoor heating can dry out the scalp and cause flaking by throwing off the scalp’s microbiome,” Reslan explains. “Hyaluronic acid can provide relief and moisture as seasons change.”
The 9 Best Hair Products With Hyaluronic Acid
1. The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Treatment
This light, hydrating serum sinks in instantly. Reslan calls it "ideal for applying on your roots to ends to provide a layer of moisture protection." Apply right out of the shower so your hair can soak in the most moisture.
Pair With: The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum
Give your face the same treatment as your strands by smoothing on this hyaluronic acid treatment to skin for a boost of moisture.
2. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum
While it might be formulated for skin, this hydrating serum does double duty. Try applying it to trouble areas on your scalp to moisturize and soothe.
Pair With: The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Serum for Hair Density
If you could also use a boost of volume and thickening, try mixing this serum with The Ordinary's hyaluronic acid. Redensyl, Procapil, and Baicapil work together to increase blood flow to the scalp and help hair appear thicker and fuller.
3. Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
Not only is this conditioner super hydrating (thanks to hyaluronic acid), but it also works to repair broken bonds and mend split ends. You'll notice stronger, smoother hair after you start using it.
Pair With: Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil
Seal in the moisture with Olaplex's No. 7 Bonding Oil, which is packed with nourishing oils like sunflower, moringa, and pomegranate seed.
4. Oribe Power Drops Hydration Anti-Pollution Booster
Consider every drop of this oil liquid gold for saving damaged hair. Hyaluronic acid soaks in much-needed moisture while moringa-seed oil boosts shine and softness.
Pair With: Oribe Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray
After prepping your hair with a dose of hydration, use this blowout spray before styling. Spritz on before blow-drying for heat protection and smoothness. Bonus: It also claims to cut down on drying time.
5. NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Shine Oil Mist
Consider this your ultimate one-step finishing spray. This mist protects hair from environmental damage, imparts a glistening sheen, and adds tons of moisture.
Pair With: NatureLab Tokyo Perfect Shine Clarifying Scalp Scrub
Before misting on NatureLab Tokyo's Perfect Shine Oil Mist, remove buildup on your scalp with this scalp scrub. Sake water full of probiotics balances pH levels while sugar crystals help gently exfoliate.
6. Living Proof Scalp Care Dry Scalp Treatment
Dry, itchy scalps, rejoice. This treatment was made to soothe even the most irritated scalps. B3 and hyaluronic acid work in tandem to moisturize and nourish.
Pair With: Living Proof No Frizz Intense Moisture Mask
Don't just focus on your scalp—give your hair a boost of moisture too with this deeply hydrating mask. Shea butter helps make hair touchably soft.
7. IGK Thirsty Girl Coconut Milk Anti-Frizz Leave-In Conditioner
A leave-in conditioner is dry, damaged hair's best friend. This one is packed with hyaluronic acid to nourish, hydrate, and keep hair smooth all day long.
Pair With: IGK Good Behavior 4-in-1 Prep Spray
After dousing your hair in hydration, get it ready for styling with this multitasking prep spray. It detangles, works as a heat protectant, adds shine, and fights frizz, creating the perfect canvas for any hairstyle.
8. Kérastase Blond Absolu Overnight Recovery Treatment for Lightened Hair
Anyone who's ever gone blonde knows that it might leave your hair brittle, stressed-out, and straw-like. By harnessing the power of hyaluronic acid and edelweiss flower, this treatment works overnight to make sure your blonde hair stays smooth and soft.
Pair With: Kérastase Elixir Ultime Oil Serum
After using the Blond Absolu Overnight Recovery Treatment for Lightened Hair at night, maintain moisture before you style with this oil serum. Maize, pracaxi, and argan oils help strengthen and protect strands.
10. Neutrogena Healthy Scalp Hydro Boost Shampoo and Conditioner With Hyaluronic Acid
Start your haircare routine off on the right foot with this ultra-moisturizing duo. This shampoo-and-conditioner combination will allow your hair to start soaking in hydration before you even leave the shower.