Hyaluronic acid is still one of beauty’s biggest buzzwords, despite peaking in popularity several years back. It’s an ingredient that works for just about every skin type, and honestly, I can’t get through a single day without slathering some of it on my face. The reason the ingredient is so beloved is thanks to its incredible hydrating properties. In fact, hyaluronic acid’s claim to fame is its ability to hold 1000 times its own weight in water. So while it’s deceptively called an acid, it actually stands miles apart from other types of acids you may associate with exfoliating—such as glycolic, lactic or mandelic. Essentially, every skincare routine benefits from a bout of hyaluronic—whether it’s in the form of a serum, a moisturiser or an oil.
Hyaluronic acid has become so popular that you can really pay an arm and a leg to get your hands on the good stuff. However, brands like The Inkey List and The Ordinary have been serving up excellent alternatives that will give you change for a tenner while still delivering gold-star hydration that rivals their more expensive counterparts. I’ve tried a bunch of really amazing options—some of which are in the £100+ mark—but I have to admit I still haven’t really found anything to rival The Ordinary’s iconic Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum. Here’s why I love it so much…
It Takes a No-Frills Approach
While the name may be difficult to get your head around, The Ordinary’s serum is actually very straight-up. Simply put, it hydrates the skin, is vegan, is alcohol- and oil-free, and the addition of vitamin B5 helps to boost hydration levels even further.
It Leaves Skin Feeling Hydrated, Never Sticky
One thing I’ve found with multiple hyaluronic formulas is that they often have a bit of a sticky, tacky texture. When you apply moisturiser on top, it doesn’t matter as much, but between your serum and cream application, it can feel straight-up gross. This one doesn’t have that icky texture, however: It feels more like a watery gel rather than anything else.
The Ordinary and its umbrella company, Deciem, prides itself on its science-led formulations that have gone through rigorous testing. This serum is incredibly clever, including low-, medium- and high-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid, as well as an HA crosspolymer. The size of the molecules determine how deep the acid can penetrate the skin, so the inclusion of varying sizes ensures skin’s hydration at every level. Clever.
It's Cheap as Chips
Perhaps the biggest selling point (much like with all of The Ordinary’s products) is the price. At £6, you could buy 10 of these and still not pay as much as you would for higher-end, more expensive options. The Ordinary’s hyaluronic proves the theory that expensive isn’t necessarily always better. Yep—you can get everything you need from a hyaluronic serum and still get change from a 10-pound note.
Other Hyaluronic Products Worth Checking Out
A close contender for the best budget hyaluronic serum, this best seller does what it says on the bottle for under £5. Impressive.
At the other end of the pricing scale is Dr. Barbara Sturm’s high-tech serum, which, despite its price tag, is another undeniable favourite of mine—largely thanks to the amazing watery texture.
Hyaluronic acid isn’t just for the cheeks and neck—it’s also brilliant for eyes and lips. This light gel is excellent in the summer after being kept in the fridge for puffy, tired eyes.
A luxuriously rich oil that works brilliantly as an overnight treatment. This aids super-dry lips that are struggling.
Tata Harper’s latest clean beauty release boosts the complexion in an instant, leaving it looking radiant and feeling fresh. Plus, it comes with a handy pump.