Between trending ingredients, buzz-worthy acids and cult products, skincare can feel like a bit of an overwhelming area of beauty if you're a "cleanse, moisturise and go" type of person. But there's one ingredient that leads the way when it comes to performance, ease of use and the fact that it works for literally every skin type: hyaluronic acid.
Also known as HA, hyaluronic acid was the first specialist ingredient that I actively sought out to add to my skincare routine after hearing from various dermatologists and skin experts about its benefits. In fact, it's probably one of the most highly recommended ingredients in the industry. But why exactly is it so popular, and why should we all be using it?
Fun fact: One hyaluronic acid molecule can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it one of the most effective moisture-retaining ingredients (if not the most) at our disposal. It works by attracting water to improve our skin's hydration while boosting collagen production to improve elasticity and plumpness—effectively giving you healthier-looking skin for longer.
Interested? Keep scrolling for the full lowdown on all things HA and to shop the best hyaluronic acid products out there.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Technically speaking, hyaluronic acid is a protein called glycosaminoglycan that our body naturally produces and is commonly found in our skin, eyes and tissue. Hyaluronic acid's incredible ability to retain moisture helps to keep our joints working smoothly and can assist with repairing damage if we find ourselves injured.
However, as we get older, our bodies ability to naturally store hydration starts to weaken which is why adding hyaluronic acid to your skincare routine can be beneficial. By opting for HA formulations, you'll be able to combat lack of moisture and loss of firmness within your skin.
Choosing the right hyaluronic acid formula
To choose an effective hyaluronic acid, it's important to understand the science behind it. When it comes to ingredients that can actually get beneath the surface of your skin and get to work, it all comes down to molecule size—and hyaluronic acid is a big molecule. While that does mean that it can't always penetrate the skin deeply, it can definitely still do a brilliant job at improving the hydration levels of your complexion.
When choosing a skincare product that contains HA, look for formulas that state they contain two different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid for more effective results. Also, make sure that either hyaluronic acid or sodium hyaluronate are listed early on the ingredients list.
Shop the best hyaluronic acid products
Don't be fooled by its affordable price tag—this 2% hyaluronic acid serum uses s HA with both a high and low molecular weight to improve absorption as well as a complex to aid collagen production and plump the skin.
Another multi-molecular weight hyaluronic acid that also contains skin-softening panthenol to smooth fine lines and wrinkles and add an extra dose of hydration.
Dry skin types will benefit from this potent and highly concentrated hyaluronic acid serum created by celebrity facialist Dr Barbara Sturm whose clients include Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian West.
This is the first every hyaluronic acid–based serum to be created and it's still one of the best-sellers worldwide. Alongside HA, it has a whole host of skincare technology to support skin cell renewal overnight. This is ideal for more mature complexions.
Combination-oily skin types will love this gel-cream moisturiser. It uses a time-release hyaluronic acid to keep skin supple all day while glycolic acid provides gentle exfoliation to remove dead skin cells that could cause congestion.
Look in any celebrity makeup artist's kit backstage and chances are they'll a pot of this moisturiser. It's renowned in the industry for how dewy it leaves skin and that's down to a blend of moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid, comforting vitamin E and brightening rose hip oil.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is a big fan of this green beauty brand and it's easy to see why—the products are so luxurious. This HA moisturiser has a lightweight gel texture that I love and is brimming with kind-to-skin ingredients like chia seed water and samphire to naturally restore hydration levels.
Very dry complexions will benefit from this intensive blend of hyaluronic acid and shea butter that soothes dehydrated patches and provides a moisture hit for up to 48 hours.
This mix-it-yourself sheet mask contains the equivalent of an entire bottle of HA serum in one application to plump skin. It leaves the skin softer and more supple in just 15 minutes.
Turns out that dragon's blood is actually a natural plant resin that helps to plump the skin—making it an ideal partner for HA in this radiance-boosting mask.
VB swears by these sheet masks when travelling for keeping dehydration at bay. Bio-cellulose technology allows for advanced absorption of the hyaluronic acid into your skin to hydrate, plump and soothe redness.
When your skin is totally parched, apply a layer of this to clean skin before bed. It combines HA with raw honey and ginger root to soften skin while you snooze for a more supple, nourished complexion by morning.