How to Use Hyaluronic Acid to Make Every Step of Your Skin-Care Routine More Effective

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Photo: Getty Images/Uwe Krejci
When you're spending over a hundred dollars—or any amount of money, really—on a skin-care serum (ILYSM Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, and I would give 166 bucks plus one of my organs for you), you want to be damn sure the stuff you're using is actually working to the best of its ability. And how can you make sure that happens? By prepping your skin with hyaluronic acid.

As any beauty geek worth their product stash knows, hyaluronic acid is the ingredient when it comes to hydration. It holds four times its weight in water, which helps to plump and moisturize your skin all at once. Because of this, when you use it before your other products, it acts as a sort of vacuum—drawing them into the surface of your skin so that they can penetrate your pores. "This is the tip, as hyaluronic acid will help every other active ingredient get deeper into your skin by drawing it in," explains Mark Curry, founder of The Inkey List.

Experts In This Article
  • Ted Lain, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology

"It’s important to apply HA before your other serums because it helps to seal in the moisturizer you’ll be putting on top," confirms board-certified dermatologist Shari Sperling, DO. She adds that it works great as a moisturizer because of how well it binds to water, plumping and hydrating your face. Pro tip: In the morning, use it before a few drops of a vitamin C serum, then seal it all in with moisture. And at night, swap your vitamin C for a retinol.

So there you have it. Now just make sure you're applying the rest of your routine in the right order, too—peep our handy dandy guide for more on that—and you'll be well on your way to smooth, hydrated skin... and can sleep better knowing that every single penny you spent on those serums is going to good use.

Shop hyaluronic acid

1. The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum, $8

Photo: The Inkey List

With a combination of 2 percent hyaluronic acid and collagen-boosting peptides, this serum will plump and hydrate your skin for only $8.

Shop now: The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum, $8

2. Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum,  $48

Photo: Drunk Elephant

Thanks to small molecules of hyaluronic acid, this serum is able to get way deep down into your skin. It's also got vitamin B5, another humectant that will draw moisture into your skin, plus ceramides to help strengthen its barrier.

Shop now: Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum,  $48

3. L'Oréal Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $38

Photo: L'Oréal

“This serum contains both short chain and long chain HA.  The short chain tends to immediately plump the skin, quickly improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and giving the skin an immediate glow,” Ted Lain, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Texas previously told Well+Good. “The longer chain HA tends to deliver longer acting results, drawing water into the deeper layers more slowly with results that last well past those of the short chain HA.” In other words? It will leave your skin hydrated from the inside out.

Shop now: L'Oréal Revitalift Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $38

4. Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $42

How to use hyaluronic acid serum
Photo: Glow Recipe

Because this serum uses multiple different weights of hyaluronic acid molecules, it adds moisture to your skin at every level. That, along with antioxidant-rich plum and vegan collagen proteins, will leave your skin with a much-appreciated boost of hydration and firmness.

Shop now: Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $42

5. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster, $68

Photo: Dr. Dennis Gross

Dr. Dennis Gross may be known for his exfoliating peel pads, but his hydrating serum is just as good. It smooths and softens skin using a combination of hyaluronic acid, watermelon extract, and a plant called centella asiatica, and is the perfect product to layer on ahead of your moisturizer.

Shop now: Dr. Dennis Gross SkincareHyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster, $68

Curious about which hydrating ingredients are best for your skin? Check out the video below. 

Want even more beauty intel from our editors? Join Well+Good's Fine Print Facebook group (and follow us on Instagram) for must-know tips and tricks.

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