20 Best Hyaluronic Acid Serums of 2022 – WWD


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If you’ve been hearing a lot about hyaluronic acid these days, that’s because the ingredient is seemingly everywhere, from your TikTok feed to the skincare aisle. Many beauty and skincare products are using hyaluronic acid in more of their formulas, from the best facial serums to eye creams and moisturizers, so you’re probably wondering what the hyaluronic acid hype is all about. And, moreover, is it actually legit? Read on to find out everything you need to know about hyaluronic acid and its soothing benefits, along with the products that dermatologists recommend for every skin type.

What is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid already exists in your skin. “Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring carbohydrate produced and found in our bodies,” explains Lian Mack, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Glam Derm in New York City. “It is the molecule responsible for pulling and retaining water in the skin. Hyaluronic acid is found primarily in the eye and connective tissue, where it acts as a lubricant and cushioning agent.”

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Hyaluronic acid is a humectant and can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. But not all hyaluronic acid molecules are identical, and hyaluronic acid can vary in strength and size. In terms of concentration, most over-the-counter formulations have an HA concentration of 2% or less. Various molecular forms of hyaluronic acid (low and high molecular weight) in small amounts are best to ensure continuous and optimal hydration.

  • Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid works at the surface level to smooth and hydrate. 
  • Sodium acetylated hyaluronate, compared to traditional hyaluronic acid, has a higher ability to bind moisture, improve skin’s elasticity, and repair skin barrier.
  • Sodium hyaluronate has a lower molecular weight than hydrolyzed HA, which means it goes deeper into the skin. Low molecular weight hyaluronic acid can have a pro-inflammatory effect on the skin, so some may develop irritation and rashes as a result.

What does hyaluronic acid do?

Although hylauronic acid isn’t an anti-aging ingredient on its own, the plumping effect that can happen when a hyaluronic acid product is applied to skin may make fine lines and wrinkles less noticeable. “Hyaluronic acid acts as a moisture magnet for the skin,” Dr. Mack says. “It creates an effective barrier allowing the skin to retain moisture. The added moisture results in a smooth plump appearance. When used as a filler, it can add volume to areas that are volume depleted.” 

The benefits of hyaluronic acid serum

Generally, the main benefits of hyaluronic acid serum include increased hydration and skin elasticity by forming a barrier to prevent transepidermal water loss. You’ll be able to feel a difference in your skin’s moisture levels pretty quickly after applying, and even more so if you suffer from dry skin, it won’t feel nearly as taut as before. It also continues to work over time behind the scenes to strengthen the barrier, leaving your skin softer and hydrated for longer stretches of time.

“Because it helps the skin retain water, hyaluronic acid is also an effective active ingredient in treating or preventing eczema,” Dr. Mack says. “Since it is a naturally occurring substance, it is well tolerated by all skin types and is non-irritating.” 

Now, you can find hyaluronic acid in hair products, too. Since HA has moisture-binding properties, it can work wonders on the scalp to help it retain the moisture it needs to produce a head of healthy locks.

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Top Hyaluronic Acid Serums of 2022

Are there any side effects to using hyaluronic acid serum?

Side effects are often due to overuse of hyaluronic acid, says Azadeh Shirazi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in La Jolla, California, who says that using too many hyaluronic acid products will start to draw water from your skin cells, thereby dehydrating them. “It’s like when your lips are chapped and you lick them, and it feels hydrated for a second only to be even drier minutes later,” Dr. Shirazi says of the tell-tale sensation that serves as a red flag. “Over application can have a compounding effect as it starts to look for water from the closest source, the skin.” 

What to look for in the best hyaluronic acid serums

Dr. Shirazi favors hyaluronic acid formulated with other ingredients, such as vitamin C or niacinamide, rather than purely on its own. “Chances are, many of your products already have hyaluronic acid in them, so opt for moisturizers without HA to prevent throwing your skin off balance and disrupting your natural microbiome,” she advises. “Those with oily skin have better responses to hyaluronic acid since oil inhibits the HA from disrupting the microbiome and protects it from inflammation.”

Also, be sure to identify just how much hyaluronic acid is in the serum by giving the ingredients label a careful read, cautions Kemunto Mokaya, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Houston. “Look at the ingredients to see what type of hyaluronic acid is used,” Dr. Mokaya says. “Some products use both sodium hyaluronate and sodium acetylated hyaluronate.”

How to use hyaluronic acid serum

Apply it on clean skin right after washing, says Lily Talakoub, a board-certified dermatologist and founder and CEO of Derm to Door. “Because it needs to penetrate into the skin and have water to hold onto, the skin must be damp,” she says. “Also, applying a moisturizer on top allows the hydration to be trapped into the skin. If used on dry skin, it will not have any water to bind and will not help lubricate the skin.”

Below, check out the best 20 hyaluronic acid serums for every skin type and skin care routine.

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Elizavecca Hyaluronic Acid 100% Face Serum

Best K-Beauty Hyaluronic Acid Serum

It doesn’t get more straightforward than this moisture-absorbent serum from Elizavecca, which was formulated without parabens, artificial colorants, fragrances, oils, or alcohol. “This contains only one ingredient, 100% hyaluronic acid,” Dr. Mack says. The purity is part of the appeal, making it a top-seller on Amazon, boasting an average of 4.6-stars. Reviewers especially love that it doesn’t leave your face feeling oily or sticky.

Elizavecca Hyaluronic Acid 100% Face Serum



Elizavecca Hyaluronic Acid 100% Face Serum


$22



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The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum

Best Serum for Acne

Use this serum from The Ordinary in conjunction with a retinol cream for a hydrating, soothing experience. “This is a superstar hyaluronic acid serum that features three types of hyaluronic acid with different molecular weights: low, medium, and high,” Dr. Mack says. “These varying molecular weights are what allow the molecules to penetrate your skin at different depths. This product is also infused with pro-vitamin B5 (Panthenol), a powerful humectant that can help heal dry and damaged areas.” 

 

The Ordinary



The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum


$7.50



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Catrice Hydroplumping Serum

Best Budget Hyaluronic Acid Serum

At $10 a bottle, Catrice’s budget-friendly serum glides on smoothly and serves as a solid base before applying makeup. Just one drop helps products stay in place and gives a glowy, not greasy, finish. This formula also contains panthenol to provide a plumping effect. Some Amazon reviewers like the serum’s subtle scent, but it may not be for everyone, especially those sensitive to fragrances. 

Catrice’s Hydroplumping Serum



Catrice’s Hydroplumping Serum


$10



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Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster

Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Dry Skin

Are you a seasoned hyaluronic acid user? Then this Hyaluronic Acid Booster serum may be just what you need to mix up your routine without buying a bunch of new products. This serum is “perfect to use solo or adding to your moisturizer or another serum,” says Dr. Mack.

Paula's Choice serum



Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster


$35



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Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum

Best Anti-Aging Hyaluronic Acid Serum

“With a minimalist formula of only 11 ingredients, this is the perfect addition to your daily anti-aging routine,” Dr. Mack says of Vichy’s vitamin C serum. Amazon reviewers claim that this serum helps reduce redness as well as the appearance of dark patches. Although the bottle is on the small side, daily use doesn’t mean you’ll run out right away. One reviewer used it every morning for nearly two months and still had half left.

Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum



Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum


$28.50



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L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Serum

Best Drugstore Hyaluronic Acid Serum

“L’Oreal’s lightweight serum is easily absorbed and leaves no tacky or sticky residue,” says Julia Carroll, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Compass Dermatology in Toronto, adding that it’s a great serum for layering. “This is my number-one pick for a drugstore brand; it makes skin supple and adds bounce.”

L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Serum



L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Serum


$13.25



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SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator

Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Sensitive Skin

SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator is powered by a mild exfoliating acid compound, making it “ideal for those with sensitive skin and mild acne,” says Dr. Carroll. “It gently exfoliates while replenishing moisture and as a bonus, it’s oil-free. This is a cult classic in my office.”

SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator



SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator


$82



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Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Best for Mature Skin

Celebrated for its lightweight texture and five weights of hyaluronic acid, Glow Recipe’s serum delivers serious hydration with a plumping effect. “This serum definitely has a growing number of skincare enthusiast fans,” Dr. Carroll says. Pair with a moisturizer for an optimum hydrating feel.

Glow Recipe Plum Plump™ Hyaluronic Acid Serum



Glow Recipe Plum Plump™ Hyaluronic Acid Serum


$42



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SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier

Best for Fillers

Standard HA benefits aside, this SkinCeuticals serum also comes in handy ahead of your next filler appointment. “In my office, this product is paired with all filler procedures for improved results and to increase the longevity of HA fillers,” Dr. Carroll says.

SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator



SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier


$102



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VivierSkin Ultimage Hydrating Gel

Best Kept Secret Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Looking for the next big thing? VivierSkin’s dual-action serum combines HA and neuropeptides to stimulate collagen production, effectively reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. “This brand has a long history in the skincare world and are intensely focused on products that have scientifically proven results,” says Dr. Carroll.

VivierSkin Ultimage Hydrating Gel



VivierSkin Ultimage Hydrating Gel


$140



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CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum

Best Serum with Vitamin C

“There are so many products on the market,” says Erum Ilyas, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology in Philadelphia. “CeraVe’s Skin Renewing Vitamin C serum is a product that covers your skincare needs for vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and even ceramides for added hydration.”

 

CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum



CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum


$14



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RoC Correxion Deep Wrinkle Filler 

Best Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid Serum

This serum is a longtime fave among the pros because of its dual-action wrinkle filler that contains both retinol and hyaluronic acid. “The Roc line of retinol products is a great starting point to add retinol to your skincare routine,” Dr. Ilyas says. “They tend to be well-tolerated, provide results, and are affordable.”

Retinol Correxion Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Face Serum with Hyaluronic Acid



RoC Correxion Deep Wrinkle Filler


$15



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Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Best Everyday Serum

For long-lasting moisture on the daily, reach for this best-selling water gel formula. “The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel has fast become one of the most recognizable products on drugstore shelves, and it’s well-liked by my patients,” says Dr. Ilyas, adding that he uses it himself. “The lightweight texture rubs in easily and it’s reasonable to use as a first step after cleansing but before applying other products.”

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel



Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel


$16



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Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Oily Skin

Formulated with niacinamide to regulate oil production, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the skin barrier, Drunk Elephant’s soothing serum has become especially popular among the oily skin crowd. The consistency feels somewhat thick, but skin generally absorbs it instantly without leaving a sticky residue. 

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum



Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum


$48



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Amala Skin Plumping Hyaluronic Serum

Best Splurge

Fans of Amala’s serum swear that it’s well worth the investment: Moisturizing but not greasy, lightweight but still nourishing. The unique mix of hyaluronic acid and red algae extract works to balance out any uneven texture or tone. And if you happen to be sensitive to fragrances and perfumes, rest easy: There’s no overwhelming scent here, the brand uses 100% natural plant and seed oils and extracts in its formulas. 

Amala serum



Amala Skin Plumping Hyaluronic Serum


$188



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Olay Regenerist MAX Hydration Serum with Hyaluronic Acid

Best Fragrance-Free Serum

Developed without fragrances, parabens, or synthetic dyes, Olay’s serum is beloved by dermatologists for its versatility and ability to be used on most skin types. Its fast-absorbing formula doesn’t feel sticky and very little product is needed to get the full effect, just one or two droppers will do. 

Olay Regenerist MAX Hydration Serum with Hyaluronic Acid



Olay Regenerist MAX Hydration Serum with Hyaluronic Acid


$32.99 
$23.95



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Dermalogica BioLumin-C Vitamin C Serum 

Best Serum for Brightening Skin

Winter dryness and dullness have met their match with this brightening serum from Dermalogica. Laying the foundation is a trio of hydrators: vitamin C, HA and lactic acid, which also visibly firm the skin and reduce the look of fine lines. One Sephora reviewer experienced the coveted “overall luminosity” to their face, and also thought it helped fade areas of hyperpigmentation. 

Dermalogica BioLumin-C Vitamin C Serum 



Dermalogica BioLumin-C Vitamin C Serum


$89



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Vichy Mineral 89 Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Best-Rated Serum

This serum VIP by Vichy is lauded for its formula — which is rich in vitamin C, glycerin, and volcanic waters — and its accessible price point. Suitable for sensitive skin, it’s free of oils, parabens, alcohols, and fragrances. With an average 4.6-star rating on Amazon, it remains a favorite by pros and everyday skincare enthusiasts alike. A little goes a long way, and you can make a single bottle last for several months. 

Vichy Mineral 89 Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum



Vichy Mineral 89 Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum


$29.50



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Monat Hydration Booster

Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Microneedling

Using a serum is sometimes recommended while undergoing a microneedling session because it acts as a safety buffer between the skin and needling device. “Monat’s ultra-hydrating serum for the face and neck replenishes the skin’s natural moisture barrier,” Dr. Mack says. “It is like a pitcher of water for the skin. I love to couple it after Vivace, a microneedling and radiofrequency treatment. I apply it post procedure and cover the skin with a biocellulose mask to allow it to penetrate the skin more deeply.”

Monat Hydration Booster



Monat Hydration Booster


$75



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AlumierMD Ultimate Boost Serum

Best Organic Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Dr. Carroll calls this product her absolute “go-to for sensitive skin.” Free of dyes, parabens, sulfates, and artificial fragrances, this serum from AlumierMD helps increase hydration and strengthen skin’s barrier and can be used on all skin types.

AlumierMD Ultimate Boost Serum



AlumierMD Ultimate Boost Serum


$95



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Meet the Experts

  • Dr. Lian Mack is a board-certified dermatologist at Glam Derm in New York City.
  • Dr. Azadeh Skirazi is a La Jolla, California-based board certified dermatologist.
  • Dr. Kemunto Mokaya is a graduate of Yale School of Medicine and a Houston-based board-certified dermatologist.
  • Dr. Lily Talakoub is a board-certified dermatologist and founder and CEO of Derm to Door.
  • Dr. Julia Carroll is a Toronto-based board-certified dermatologist.
  • Dr. Erum Ilyas is a board-certified dermatologist who practices in Philadelphia.



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