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.

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.



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.



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. 

Try misting this on before applying hyaluronic acid for the most hydrated skin.

The best hyaluronic acid products:

"One of my favorite products is the Hydro Boost Water Gel by Neutrogena," says Jacobs. "It is an oil-free, non-comedogenic formula containing hyaluronic acid that helps to quench dry skin without clogging pores or feeling heavy. Because it's oil-free, it's also great for people with acne or oily skin, and it's great to use under makeup because of how lightweight it is."

With hyaluronic acid, vitamin B5, and centella asiatica, this serum is like a skin-soothing smoothie. It helps plump skin nearly instantly.

If you have extra time and want to restore your skin with a sheet mask, this rubber mask helps attract moisture to your skin to give it a major plumping effect. This mask also contains allantoin, a key ingredient for supple, soothed skin.

Five different types of hyaluronic acid that both immediately hydrate and provide hydration over time make this serum a major skincare powerhouse. Once you smooth this into skin, it will provide hydration for up to eight hours. It's also infused with peptides and vitamin E to smooth fine lines and wrinkles and nourish skin. It might be on the pricier side, but it's 100% worth the investment.

This bouncy cream is like a drink of cool water for your skin. Blue hyaluronic acid, squalane, and ceramides give a boost of long-lasting hydration. 

Cactus and rambutan peel work as moisture-binding agents to help your skin hold onto hydration longer. A triple peptide blend also works to smooth fine lines and wrinkles while four different kinds of hyaluronic acid plump skin. 



This Skinceuticals serum boosts your skin's natural levels of hyaluronic acid levels by 30%. It also contains proxylane, a compound that helps prevent water loss in the skin. 

For just $7, this hydrating serum packs a major punch. It has three different weights of hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 for deeply moisturized skin.

This lightweight gel moisturizer sinks into skin instantly. With 30% hyaluronic acid, it floods skin with moisture while an ingredient called pentavitin helps skin stay moisturized for up to 72 hours after application. 

Allow me to introduce you to the original glass skin serum. This radiance-boosting serum is also bolstered with niacinamide and peach extract for the dewy skin of your dreams. 



Not only is this serum packed with hyaluronic acid, but it contains Vichy's proprietary volcanic water, which is filled with good-for-your-skin minerals. The gel goes on like a second skin. 

The star of this serum is sodium hyaluronate, which is a smaller version of hyaluronic acid that's able to penetrate deep into the skin. Ceramides and vitamin B5 also help strengthen the skin's barrier and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. 

Immediately after you step out of the shower, smooth this over your entire body to lock in hydration. It has hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide, so you can count on a major hydration boost all over. 

Hyaluronic acid works in tandem with cocoa and shea butter to give skin major moisture. Pro tip: Apply this on top of the Nécessaire body serum for the softest skin you've ever had.