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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best hyaluronic acid serums for skin

Last Updated April 2019

At some point, every human looks in the mirror and sees fine lines and wrinkles. While there is a whole industry built around anti-aging treatments that range from creams to injectables, your body naturally produces a wrinkle-diminishing substance called hyaluronic acid. It keeps your skin hydrated and looking plump and young. Your natural level of hyaluronic acid decreases as you age. Applying a hyaluronic acid serum is a gentle, noninvasive way to maintain this anti-aging element in your skin.

For those scared of the word “acid,” rest assured that hyaluronic acid is quite gentle. It moisturizes skin rather than strip or exfoliate it. Think of the serum as as a tall glass of water for your skin, an excellent solution for dry, dehydrated skin.

Hyaluronic acid is in many different anti-aging and moisturizing products for skin. We’re here to help narrow down the dizzying array of choices so that you can select a top-quality serum that’s right for you. For a quick selection, check out our top five product picks. For a more in-depth look at hyaluronic acid serums, read our shopping guide below.

One gram of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six liters of water, making it a superior humectant. Other skin care ingredients just can’t compete.

Benefits of hyaluronic acid serum

Using a hyaluronic acid serum as an integral part of your skin care routine has three main benefits.

Humectant

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is an outstanding humectant, which means it helps your skin hold onto moisture and reduces the loss of moisture from your skin. In fact, HA has the exceptional ability to hold 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a moisture “magnet.” For dehydrated, dry, dull-looking skin, hyaluronic acid is a game changer by helping the skin replenish and retain moisture.

Wrinkle and fine line reducer

Skin hydrated with hyaluronic acid is plumper, smoother, and more radiant. On plumper skin, fine line and wrinkles appear diminished or “filled.” In fact, a common ingredient in injectable fillers is hyaluronic acid because of its plumping effect on fine lines. Although you won’t get the same results with a serum, it will save you a trip to a medical professional, a significant amount of money, and scary needles in your face.

Antioxidant

Hyaluronic acid boasts antioxidant properties to protect your skin from free radicals. Free radicals are toxins like pollution. When serum is applied in the morning, it acts as a protective shield between your delicate skin and the environment all day.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some skin care products list hyaluronic acid as “HA” in the ingredients label.

DID YOU KNOW?

UV exposure degrades the skin’s naturally occurring hyaluronic acid.

Key considerations

Dropper vs. pump: Serums have a thick, liquid consistency. Because they are so concencentrated, serums tend to come in a small bottle (generally one to two fluid ounces). The serum itself is dispensed either through a pump at the top of the bottle or a dropper that doubles as the bottle’s cap. Both methods help control the small amount needed for application, generally two drops.

While a dropper might make the product seem more “professional” or “medical,” some serum ingredients, such as vitamin C, are sensitive to oxidation. Repeated exposure to the air via the dropper may degrade the serum’s efficacy more quickly.

Concentration: Not all HA serums list the concentration of the acid on the packaging, but a higher concentration works better. We recommend 75% concentration for optimal results.

Powerful yet light as air

An oil-free, fragrance-free, and alcohol-free HA serum with the highest concentration of hyaluronic acid we’ve found at a whooping 75%. A little goes a long way with this lightweight serum. Added silk proteins help make skin baby soft, too.

Hyaluronic acid serum features

Some products contain hyaluronic acid as the primary ingredient (along with water), while others have added anti-aging and beautifying ingredients and qualities, such as the following.

Vitamins: For an extra boost, look for a serum that contains vitamins. Vitamin C is a common antioxidant found in serums that helps shield skin from pollution and brightens and evens skin tone, in addition to other anti-aging benefits. Vitamin B5 (panthenol) is added to HA serums because of its humectant properties. Vitamin E is another antioxidant that protects the skin and reduces UV damage.

Green tea: Green tea is beneficial to drink, but when applied topically it has powerful anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. It contains effective antioxidants called catechins, specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which promotes DNA repair to help prevent skin cancer.

Paraben-free: If your skin is sensitive, especially to chemical formulations, look for a serum free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. Hyaluronic acid serums tend to be gentle on easily irritated skin, but if you have very sensitive skin, its best to find a product that’s labeled as hypoallergenic.

Oil-free: Some HA serums have an oil-free formula, but even serums that aren’t labeled as oil-free don’t feel greasy or irritate acne-prone or oily skin. Remember, even oily skin needs moisture.

EXPERT TIP

Use a serum after you cleanse and use toner on your face but before applying moisturizer and/or sunscreen.


Staff  | BestReviews

Hyaluronic acid serum prices

Because serums are made of concentrated doses of active ingredients, in this case hyaluronic acid, they tend to be pricey. However, there are definitely affordable options out there.

Inexpensive

You can find entry-level serums for a few dollars up to about $40 that have a lower concentration of HA (1% to 2%). However, it’s possible to find one at this price point with a higher concentration (over 50%).

Mid-range

For a higher concentration of HA, expect to pay around $50 to $70.

Expensive

High-end formulas from luxury skin care lines are priced from $70 to $300 and more.

Budget-friendly and pure

There’s a generous four ounces of serum in this bottle of organic hyaluronic acid serum. If you’re looking for a pure HA serum with no extra fluff that could potentially irritate your skin, this is the route to go. It’s a highly affordable anti-aging product to boot.

Tips

  • Apply HA serum twice daily to both face and neck for maximum anti-aging results.

  • Don’t mix the serum with moisturizer. Doing so decreases the ability of the serum to absorb properly into your skin. Apply skin care products one at a time.

  • Use a hyaluronic acid serum as a stand-alone moisturizer. Do this if your skin isn’t super dry.

  • Wait about six weeks to see results. Use HA serum consistently once or twice a day (or as directed on the bottle) to reap the full benefits.

Other products we considered

We love low-cost skin care that delivers results. That’s why Herbal Dynamics Beauty Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum is well worth mentioning. At just $20, this HA serum delivers a higher concentration of hyaluronic acid (62%) than some more expensive brands. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll love the soothing, nongreasy effects of its organic aloe vera. It’s also free from parabens and other irritating chemicals. A popular, affordable skin care line containing hyaluronic acid is dermatologist-recommended Neutrogena. Its Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum is priced under $20 and delivers serious hydration with a lightweight feel. It gets bonus points from acne-prone folks for not clogging pores and being oil-free.

Hyaluronic acid is helpful for all skin types, including acne-prone, oily, and sensitive.

FAQ

Q. What’s the difference between a hyaluronic acid serum and a moisturizer?

A. If you’re looking to seriously hydrate your skin, hyaluronic acid is a superior ingredient than any found in emollient moisturizers (lotions, creams, and oils). Moisturizers tend to sit on the surface of the skin and don’t absorb quickly. Hyaluronic acid absorbs quickly into the skin. In serum form, it’s combined with water and sometimes other humectants like glycerin and urea. The hyaluronic acid binds with the water and pulls it into the skin. Emollient moisturizers are recommended to layer on top of an HA serum to seal in the moisture and keep it from evaporating. If your skin is very oily, you may not need to add a moisturizer.

Q. How do I apply a hyaluronic acid serum to my skin?

A. These serums are designed to be used on your face and neck (some brands also recommend them for your décolletage). Before applying, cleanse your skin and pat dry with a clean towel. If you use a toner as part of your routine, use that first as well. Be sure your skin is dry before applying an HA serum. Dispense one or two drops onto clean fingertips and pat into your skin, avoiding the eye and lip areas (there are separate lip and eye treatments available containing hyaluronic acid that are safe for those delicate areas). Wait for the serum to absorb before applying a moisturizer and/or sunscreen.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ana
    Ana
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kailey
    Kailey
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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