When it comes to moisturizing your skin, it can be challenging to achieve the perfect balance between hydrated and greasy, especially on hot, humid summer days. To the rescue: hyaluronic acid serums. Hyaluronic acid is a powerful skincare ingredient that can help retain moisture. "It's a humectant that attracts water, hydrating the skin without making it oily," explains William Kwan, MD, a San Francisco-based dermatologist. For this reason, serums that contain hyaluronic acid are ideal for those with oily skin. "Many moisturizers are too heavy or can cause acne [for people with oily skin], which is why I love hyaluronic acid gels," he says.
What's more, hyaluronic acid can deliver serious anti-aging benefits—whether or not your skin shows signs of aging. "Millennials should consider including hyaluronic acid to ensure their skin is adequately moisturized and stave off dryness and irritation," says Ted Lain, MD, a dermatologist from Austin, Texas. "Older people need hyaluronic acid not only to help moisturize, but also to delay skin thinning, itching, and the overall aging process."
How to Use Hyaluronic Acid
Compared to popular anti-aging ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid is easy to add into an established skincare routine due to its gentle, non-irritating nature.
“There is no tolerance required for hyaluronic acid and it pairs nicely with other ingredients,” explains board-certified and New York City-based dermatologist Dendy Engleman, MD, who lists vitamin C, ceramides, and peptides as examples. “It is safe to use every day and can be mixed with anything. It does not cause any irritations and has no side effects.” Dr. Engleman recommends selecting a serum that “contains hyaluronic acid at different molecular weights as it will penetrate into the layers of the skin” to ensure deeper, longer- lasting hydration.
We asked dermatologists to recommend the best hyaluronic acid serums to hydrate lackluster skin. Below, their top picks.
- Best Overall: SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator Best Long-Lasting: La Roche- Posay Redermic C Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizing Filler for Sensitive Skin
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum
- Best for Uneven Tone and Texture: Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier
- Best Budget: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
- Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum
- Best for Dry Skin: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum
- Best for Oily Skin: Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum Best for Plumping: Elizabeth Arden Hyaluronic Acid Ceramide Capsules Hydra-Plumping Serum
- Best With Vitamin C: Orpheus All-In-One Plant Stem Cell Face Serum Best Deep-Absorbing: Bliss Drench & Quench 4 Hyaluronic Acids + Amino Acids All-Day Moisture Serum
1 Best Overall: SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
It's not cheap, but this product is "the most consistent" over-the-counter hyaluronic acid serum New Jersey-based dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD, has found. "It has five different types of hyaluronic acid in it," she says. "And it hydrates the skin without making it sticky."In addition to delivering up to eight hours of hydration, the highly rated serum combines collagen-boosting peptides and antioxidant-rich vitamin E to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
2 Best Long-Lasting: La Roche-Posay Redermic C Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizing Filler for Sensitive Skin
Dr. Lain loves this hydrating serum, which he says delivers both short- and long-term benefits. "I look for products that can give an immediate plumping due to short chain hyaluronic acid, and a longer term moisturizing ability with the longer chain hyaluronic acid and other humectants," he explains. As it's pulling in moisture from the environment to hydrate and plump your skin, the multitasking serum stimulates collagen production and brightens the complexion using 5% vitamin C.
“This product seems to do what it says it can,” one shopper shared. “After almost a week of using it, I’ve noticed that my face has a more even and full appearance. I look less tired and more fresh… From a consumer who has tried 50 million products over time, I really like this one, and would recommend it to others.”
3 Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum
New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, recommends this Neutrogena serum. "It contains hyaluronic acid, it's non-comedogenic, and it's incredibly hydrating," she says. Plus, it's wallet-friendly and doesn’t contribute to breakouts thanks to its oil-free formula.
“I absolutely love these products! I have super sensitive and dry skin,” wrote a reviewer. “I feel like this is what my skin has been waiting for. It feels soft, hydrated and my skin looks great with or without makeup. I haven't broken out, knock on wood that I don't. So far, I'm super pleased.”
4 Best for Deep Wrinkles: Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier
Hyaluronic acid isn’t the only notable ingredient in this top-rated anti-aging serum, which is why it’s a top pick for Dr. Kwan. “It also has 2% licorice extract, which can help lighten and brighten the skin," he explains, adding that the potent combination helps revive the skin’s natural elasticity. It also supports the skin’s natural hyaluronic acid production, so you can see an improvement in firmness as well as tone and texture.
“I have been using this product for about a month now and was looking for something that would help with skin texture,” one shopper’s review began. “My skin was feeling a bit dry and rough and adding this product to my daily routine has helped my skin feel smooth and hydrated. I’ve seen a small difference in improvement with crow’s feet and marionette lines, so I'm looking forward to seeing the difference after a few more months of using this product.”
5 Best Budget: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
“I've been using this pretty much twice daily for a few weeks and I love it,” raved one reviewer. “The texture of my skin has improved and I am beginning to see less of my fine lines and wrinkles due to the hydrating effect.”
6 Best for Sensitive Skin: CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum
Dermatologists love this brand, which is formulated with ultra gentle ingredients that won't irritate even the most sensitive skin. And of course, their hyaluronic acid serum is no different. The fragrance-free formula is fortified with ceramides and layers beautifully under its classic Moisturizing Cream.
“This stuff is the best. I have dry/combination sensitive skin so I need products that are gentle, moisturizing and not at all greasy,” one reviewer wrote. “This checks all the boxes. I have been layering it under my moisturizer for about a month now and my skin feels noticeably calmer, more even and balanced and definitely more moisturized throughout the day.”
7 Best for Dry Skin: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum
A whopping 75% hyaluronic acid, along with other top ingredients like silk proteins and good-for-skin minerals, help make this serum a best-seller. Its plumping, intensely hydrating formula locks in moisture to keep dryness at bay, making it great for combating everything from patchy texture to fine lines. Plus: It's free of sulfates and phthalates.
“This seemed to help my dry skin better than any other serum I have tried thus far,” one reviewer wrote. “I have sensitive skin and had no issues with allergies or breakouts. Works great with Peter Thomas Roth Cloud Cream [Moisturizer]. Have purchased multiple times and will continue too.”
8 Best for Oily Skin: Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
To prevent excess oil and shine, New York City-based dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, recommends steering clear of hyaluronic acid serums that contain popular occlusives like silicones, petroleum, shea butter, and beeswax. “Hyaluronic acid is usually a safe ingredient for most people, but it depends on the formulation,” she explains. “If it is formulated with an occlusive, it may bring in too much moisture for people with oily skin.” This serum from Drunk Elephant excludes shine-exacerbating ingredients and instead harnesses the hydrating and brightening properties of pineapple ceramides to promote a more radiant and moisturized complexion. It also strengthens your skin barrier to prevent future dryness.
“A friend recommended this to me to combat my oily skin,” one shopper noted. “I have extremely oily skin and I only recently learned to fight it with more hydration rather than oil-stripping products. So far I love it. [It] lasts the [whole] day and I went from using four oil blotting sheets down to just one a day.”
9 Best for Plumping: Elizabeth Arden Hyaluronic Acid Ceramide Capsules Hydra- Plumping Serum
These innovative hyaluronic acid capsules are a favorite for Dr. Engleman for their potency. “The encapsulation ensures that the formula isn't exposed to oxygen before you use it, which means every single dose will be as effective as the last,” she notes. They also feature a skin-plumping dose of ceramides, which assist in drawing in moisture while simultaneously strengthening the skin and restoring volume and elasticity to the facial contour.
“This product provides wonderful care for an almost 60-year-old,” one shopper shared. “One capsule is enough. Sinks into your skin leaving it feeling super soft and plumped.”
10 Best for Mature Skin: Orpheus All-In-One Plant Stem Cell Face Serum
For people with mature skin looking for an all-in-one product, Dr. Engleman says this serum is a no-brainer. “It combines dual-weight hyaluronic acid for deeper skin penetration with vitamin C and niacinamide,” she explains. “Clinical studies of this product also demonstrated a 207% increase in Collagen Type I production.” In addition to firming the skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots, it uses a potent blend of antioxidants to neutralize free radical damage.
“I've used different serums in the past few years, and this one by far is one of the best,” one reviewer wrote. “In a few weeks it gave me a beautiful glowing skin, and some lines started fading. My skin doesn't look dry anymore and some of my sun spots have smoothed out... The price is a bit steep but for a product with stem cells and completely natural I think is worth it.”
11 Best Deep-Absorbing: Bliss Drench & Quench 4 Hyaluronic Acids + Amino Acids All-Day Moisture Serum
This affordable serum from Bliss comes recommended by Dr. Engleman for its strategic formula. “It combines four differently weighted hyaluronic acids to help the skin retain moisture,” Dr. Engleman says, adding that it absorbs quickly into the skin. This diverse combination ensures that every layer of your skin receives optimal hydration, resulting in a supple, dewy glow. It also has strengthening benefits courtesy of its amino acid-rich formula.