This $9 Hydrating Serum Plumps, Hydrates, and Softens Skin in One Application—It’s So Good, I’ve Used It for 6 Years

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from dehydrated skin. I chug glass after glass of water, I slather on rich creams, I get facials. You name it, I’ve tried it. And, while these tactics may help the dehydration disappear momentarily, it always sneakily returns, taunting me with unsightly, flaky patches on my cheeks and chin. It seemed I was forever on the hunt for the product that would finally make this dryness go away for good. But luckily I finally found it in The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum. And, even better, it clocks in under $10.

Hyaluronic acid is definitely my go-to skin-care ingredient. This unassuming little bottle has been a mainstay in my daily skin-care routine for the past six years—without it, my skin returns to its aforementioned Sahara-like state, so it’s an imperative step in my daily routine.

How it works: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum

This serum by The Ordinary is formulated with three weights of ultra-pure, vegan hyaluronic acid—low, medium, and high—plus a hyaluronic acid crosspolymer with a two-percent concentration that helps provide even more hydration. “The goal of hyaluronic acid topically is to increase and improve skin hydration and elasticity, and decrease wrinkle depth,” says board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD. “Hyaluronic acid can attract and retain moisture in the skin. It has lubricating properties, hydration, cushioning, and wound-healing effects.”

Hyaluronic acid can actually hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water—so if your goal is happy, supple skin, not to mention being more glow-y and hydrated—this is the solution for you. It’s also non-irritating, and suitable for every skin type.

This serum also contains vitamin B5 (also known as panthenol), ”a well-known ingredient that adds hydration to the skin,” says Dr. Ilyas. This powerful antioxidant not only enhances nourishment, but helps skin attract and retain moisture, so the combination of hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5 adds to skin’s overall hydration. (Certainly a welcome outcome for me!) Plus, this serum is ideal as we head into the spring and summer months, since “lighter-weight products are able to penetrate the surface of the skin more easily,” says Dr. Ilyas.

My honest review

After years of using this serum, I can safely say it more than carries its (hyaluronic acid) weight. I use it every morning, as soon as I get out of the shower and while my skin is still damp (an esthetician once recommended this to me as a way to ensure maximum moisture and hydration, and I’ve done it ever since). I tap equal amounts of one dropper-full of the product onto my cheeks, forehead, and chin, and then massage in gently for about 15 seconds. Sometimes I follow up with a moisturizer, other times my skin is so hydrated that I honestly don’t need anything else on top. Regardless, it plays well with all the other products in my routine, so I never break out, nor do I pill.

See below for what my skin looks like before and after application (it really does immediately leave skin looking plumper and smoother!).

the ordinary serum
Photo: Author

I love that the formula sinks into my skin immediately, never feeling sticky or heavy. My skin feels immediately soft, plumped and nourished, and the hydrated glow stays all day long. The price has gone up a bit since I started using it (it used to be only $6!), but that doesn’t deter me. Over the years, I’ve convinced everyone from former coworkers to my best friend to try this stuff, and I’ve only heard raves from every single one of them. As long as this serum is in my daily rotation, the former dry patches are kept at bay—and that’s more than enough reason for me.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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