Hyaluronic Acid Should Be Your Desert Island Skincare Ingredient—Here's Why

I love all skincare ingredients, but above all, I love hyaluronic acid. If you ask me, this superstar ingredient deserves to be at the top of everyone's shelves—it's genuinely one of the best skincare ingredients for dry, flaky skin. I talked with top derms to get the lowdown on this powerhouse hydrating ingredient and learn why it deserves a place in your routine.


(Image credit: valerialipovetsky)

What exactly is hyaluronic acid?

"It is a substance that your body naturally produces to keep your joints and skin lubricated, hydrated, and flexible," says Michael Jacobs, M.D., medical technology director at Cortina and clinical associate professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. "Hyaluronic acid binds to water molecules already present in your skin to lock in the hydration."

Since it binds to water and helps skin retain moisture, it's classified as a humectant, according to Reid Maclellan, M.D., M.M.Sc., founder and CEO of Cortina, adjunct faculty at Harvard Medical School and director of Proactive Dermatology Group. Maclellan notes that your body stops producing as much hyaluronic acid as you age.


(Image credit: emmahoareau)

What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid, and who is it best for?

Everyone can use hyaluronic acid. It's one of those rare universal skincare ingredients. "No matter your skin type or age, hyaluronic acid can lead to healthier and dewier skin," says Maclellan. "It helps keep our skin plump, voluminous, hydrated, and healthy-looking." If you have dry skin, however, hyaluronic acid will be especially beneficial.

Hyaluronic acid is also an incredibly effective anti-aging ingredient, according to Jacobs. "Skin aging is associated with the loss of elasticity and moisture, which are two things that hyaluronic acid can combat," he says. "[Its] plumping properties can decrease the appearance of wrinkles and lines and tighten and brighten the skin." Hyaluronic acid is found in injectables, serums, creams, and even supplements.


(Image credit: peonylim )

Is there anyone who should avoid using hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid has gotten a bad rap over the years, with some people saying that it can dry out your skin more. The trick is using hyaluronic acid correctly. Maclellan advises that you need to make sure your skin is already damp if you're using hyaluronic acid in serum form so that it has water to retain. He also recommends doing a patch test and reading the ingredients to ensure there are no other potential irritants added. 

The best hyaluronic acid products:


(Image credit: peonylim)


(Image credit: emmahoareau)

Next: 15 Moisturizers That Won't Clog Your Pores at All

Associate Beauty Editor

Katie Berohn is the associate beauty editor at Who What Wear. Previously, she worked as the beauty assistant for Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and Prevention magazines, all part of the Hearst Lifestyle Group. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a major in journalism and minor in technology, arts, and media, and earned her master's degree at NYU's graduate program for magazine journalism. In addition, Katie has held editorial internships at Denver Life magazine, Yoga Journal, and Cosmopolitan; a digital editorial internship at New York magazine's The Cut; a social good fellowship at Mashable; and a freelance role at HelloGiggles. When she's not obsessing over the latest skincare launch or continuing her journey to smell every perfume on the planet, Katie can be found taking a hot yoga class, trying everything on the menu at New York's newest restaurant, or hanging out at a trendy wine bar with her friends.