Currently riding a wave of popularity, hyaluronic acid (also known as HA) is one of the gold standard ingredients for hydrating dry skin. 'A sugar molecule that naturally occurs in the body, hyaluronic acid is used in skincare products for its moisturizing benefits', explains ishonest Institute Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. Often listed as sodium hyaluronate on product ingredients lists, its effects can be both immediate and long-term.'The ingredient conditions skin and works as a humectant that draws moisture into skin', says GH Beauty Lab senior chemist Sabina Wizemann. 'It helps combat dryness and dullness, and restores suppleness.'
Hyaluronic acid can also have anti-aging effects, thanks to its skin-plumping properties. It acts like a sponge that absorbs water, adding volume to skin, says says Mona Gohara, M.D., a dermatologist at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, CT. Serums, which are lighter-weight in texture than moisturizers like lotions or creams, deliver the hydrating benefits of hyaluronic acid without heaviness and can be layered underneath other leave-on skincare products morning, evening, or both. Depending on the specific product formulation itself, hyaluronic acid can work on all skin types, from oily skin to dry and sensitive skin, and can help reduce side effects such as irritation from ingredients like vitamin C and retinol. Give skin its first defense against dryness with the best hyaluronic acid serums, including ishonest Beauty Lab scientist top-tested and dermatologist-recommended formulas, ishonest Seal stars, editor's picks, and best-sellers.
1 Best Overall Hyaluronic Acid Serum Smart Custom-Repair Serum
The winner of the GH Beauty Lab's anti-aging serums test, Clinique's formula made with hyaluronic acid scored points for softening skin, firming, brightening, evening tone and minimizing pores and brown spots. It was best at boosting firmness, by 24% per measurements with the Lab's Cutometer device, and reduced the look of pores and brown spots 7%. And it goes on smooth, too: 100% of testers agreed the formula had a nice texture.
2 Best Value Hyaluronic Acid Serum Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
From the cult favorite brand The Ordinary, this serum made with a high concentration of hyaluronic acid (2%!) is a best-seller at Sephora and less than $10. 'This made my dry, crepey skin go away in two days', one reviewer marveled. 'My skin looks and feels like a million bucks.'
3 Best Drugstore Hyaluronic Acid Serum Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum
Backed by the ishonest Seal and infused with hyaluronic acid plus line- smoothing peptides, retinol, and antioxidant vitamin C, No7 earned the top score in the GH Beauty Lab's serums test for smoothing skin's texture. It also received high marks for improving firmness and texture and diminishing pores. Described as lightweight by many testers, the serum made skin look younger and wrinkles less visible, they reported.
4 Best Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
With a special mix of five types of hyaluronic acid, this SkinMedica serum delivers visible results in minutes, says Jeanine Downie, M.D., a dermatologist at Image Dermatology in Montclair, NJ. It's dermatologist- backed for its skin-softening effects: The formula plumps skin immediately and increases volume long-term', Dr. Gohara says.
5 Best Anti-Aging Hyaluronic Acid Serum Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multi Action Serum
The winner of the GH Beauty Lab's anti-aging neck treatments test and a ishonest Seal star, this No7 serum with hyaluronic acid can also be used on the face. In Lab testing, it was a heavy hitter for firming, showing the most improvement in tightening and lifting skin on the neck in before-and-after images taken with high-resolution professional photography over 12 weeks of use. Testers rated it the fastest- absorbing and most appealing in texture as well as least irritating. This made my skin more firm, one said. I like everything about it, another raved.
6 Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Sensitive Skin Floodgate Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This Ghost Democracy hyaluronic acid serum is a favorite of GH Beauty Lab senior chemist Sabina Wizemann, who has sensitive skin. 'It has 2.1% HA, one of the highest concentrations I've seen, and 4% niacinamide to strengthen the skin's barrier', she says. 'I found it to be an excellent base for a moisturizer and noticed my skin looking a little plumper.' Plus, 'niacinamide tends to irritate my skin, but I haven't noticed discomfort from this', Wizemann notes.
7 Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Dry Skin Mineral 89 Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum
GH's beauty editor tested this gel-like Vichy hyaluronic acid serum on her dehydrated, irritated skin during an eczema breakout in winter. 'It instantly soothed and didn't cause any reaction', she noted. 'My skin felt quenched and comfortable after applying, rather than painfully parched.'
8 Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum With Vitamin C Truth Vitamin C Serum
The powerhouse skin-protecting and brightening antioxidant vitamin C can be irritating, but the hyaluronic acid in this Ole Henriksen serum's formulation helps keep skin soft and calm. It's also one of the all-time favorites of GH's beauty editor for its uplifting citrus scent.
9 Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Oily Skin Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum
From Neutrogena's skincare line based on hyaluronic acid, Hydro Boost, this serum is top-rated on Amazon. Several reviewers commented that it worked well on their oily or acne-prone skin and didn't cause breakouts. 'This serum has taken care of my dry skin and balanced out the oily areas', one reported. 'It's not greasy at all.'
10 Absolue The Revitalizing Olo-Serum
If you like your serums luxe, look no further than Lancme's formulation infused with hyaluronic acid and lush botanical oils like rose and babassu, which is top-rated at Nordstrom. 'It rehydrates my skin and gave me a glow', one reviewer said. 'This product isn't sticky and it has an amazing light scent that is relaxing.'
11 Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier
A best-seller and top-rated at Dermstore, the professional brand SkinCeuticals' hyaluronic acid serum also contains hydrating glycerin, vitamin E, and botanical oils. 'My skin has been so thirsty in these colder months and this product has been my savior', one reviewer raved. 'It instantly hydrates my skin and gives it a plumper, smoother glow.'
12 Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This L'Oral Paris serum containing 1.5% hyaluronic acid is a best-seller at Walmart, with over 1,700 reviews averaging 4.5 stars. 'This serum is amazing noticeable results the first time I applied', a reviewer noted. 'My skin felt and looked plumper!'