How To Use Hyaluronic Acid: 4 Tips

Do you ever feel like no matter how much moisturizer you use, your skin doesn’t stay hydrated? You may want to incorporate hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine.

“Hyaluronic acid is a superstar ingredient when it comes to hydrated, plump, youthful-looking skin.”

  • Shani Darden

Not only can hyaluronic acid help you feel hydrated, but it can also help lift the appearance of aging skin. Read on for more information on hyaluronic acid and how it can help your skin.

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid (HA) belongs to a class of moisturizers called humectants. Humectants draw in moisture from the surrounding environment and hold it against the skin’s surface, which helps your skin stay hydrated throughout the day. Although different humectants vary in effectiveness, HA is one of the most effective humectants and can hold up to 1,000 times its own molecular weight in water.

HA is a naturally occurring substance and is actually a part of your body’s natural hydration mechanism. Your body naturally produces HA in your skin cells, although it has other uses in your body as well.

For instance, your body uses HA as a squishy buffer between bones and joints to help maintain bounce and prevent friction. Because HA is a natural part of your body’s hydration, it is gentle even on sensitive skin.

You may see hyaluronic acid listed on ingredients lists as sodium hyaluronate or hyaluronan. These are the same ingredients, but some companies and dermatologists prefer one name over the others.

Hyaluronic acid is also used in dermatology as injectablefillers, which help create the appearance of lifted and youthful skin. While these fillers are very effective, HA also comes in over-the-counter topical formulations.

What Are the Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid may naturally occur in your body, but you can also apply it in topical formulations. Skincare products may use hyaluronic acid for many reasons. Here are some of our favorite benefits of HA.

Skin Hydration

As we mentioned, hyaluronic acid is a humectant that can help your skin stay moisturized. Because of this, many skincare formulations use HA for hydration purposes. 

HA is especially helpful for dry skin. Dry skin types often have a hard time pulling moisture from the environment and tend to look red, irritated, and flaking. Hyaluronic acid products can help give dry skin what it needs to stay moisturized.

However, HA is also great for oily skin. When oily skin gets dehydrated, it responds by secreting more sebum to try and restore hydration. This reaction can be undesirable, so using a humectant moisturizer like HA can help keep oil to a minimum.

HA can also help those who live in dry environments and those with damaged skin barriers. In both cases, the skin cannot draw in adequate moisture on its own. As it turns out, hyaluronic acid is a great skincare option for all skin types.

Support for Skin Elasticity

Youthful skin is often marked by plump, firm skin, and full features. This is all thanks to skin elasticity.

Skin elasticity helps your skin retain its shape when it’s pulled or pushed. For example, if you pinch and release the skin on the back of your hand, elasticity causes that skin to snap back in place. 

Skin elasticity is comprised of three elements: 

  • Collagen, a protein located in the dermis and epidermis that provides structural support for the skin and helps it to feel more firm.
  • Elastin, a protein that helps the skin stretch. Elastin works like a rubber band and is 1,000 times stretchier than collagen.
  • Hyaluronic acid, which draws water into the skin and helps keep the skin looking plump and full.

As skin ages, it begins to slow down the production of hyaluronic acid,collagen, and elastin. Because of this, the skin is less able to retain its shape and can begin to form signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. Luckily, hyaluronic acid can help increase the skin lookplumper and improve the appearance of fine lines.


There’s a reason that dryness is often accompanied by skin sensitivity. Dry skin is more prone to signs of irritation like flaking, redness, and itching.

There are a few reasons why this happens, but one of the most prominent reasons is the loss of hydration. Dry skin cells dry out faster, which results in more dead skin cells that collect on the surface of your skin. 

This dead skin cell buildup not only appears flaky but can also prevent your skin products from adequately absorbing. This makes moisturizing even harder because your moisturizers can’t fully absorb through this buildup.

This buildup can cause your skin to feel tight, hot, and itchy, which can all also result in redness. While exfoliating can help polish away this dead skin cell buildup, hyaluronic acid can help your skin retain the hydration it needs to soothe this irritation.

Are There Any Side Effects of Hyaluronic Acid?

Because HA is a natural part of the skin, skin typically accepts it very well. HA is not known to cause irritation or any side effects.

In fact, hyaluronic acid can help improve side effects caused by other, more sensitizing ingredients. Because of this, hyaluronic acid is often paired with ingredients like AHAs and retinol.

How Should I Use Hyaluronic Acid?

I have a few suggestions if you want to start using hyaluronic acid in your daily skincare routine. Here are some top tips and tricks.

Pick the Right Type

Different skincare formulations use different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid molecules. But why are molecular weights important? 

Molecular weight determines how well skincare ingredients will soak into your skin. Formulations with a high molecular weight don’t absorb as deeply into your skin. While they typically have immediate skin-brightening effects, those effects will likely be temporary.

On the other hand, formulations with low molecular weights can penetrate your skin deeper and infuse more layers of skin. These products with lower molecular weights might not show results right away, but their results will last for much longer.

Pair With Retinol

HA is commonly paired with retinol because of its cooling and soothing properties. Retinol is a powerful anti-aging ingredient that can quickly and effectively reduce the appearance of skin aging. 

Because this ingredient is so powerful, it can also have some side effects on new users or those with sensitive skin. These side effects include sun sensitivity, irritation, dryness, and redness. While sunscreen is the only product that can help with sun sensitivity, HA can help soothe skin irritation and ultimately help your retinol be more effective.

If you’re new to retinol, I recommend my Retinol Reform. Not only does my award-winning formula come with all the benefits of retinol, but thanks to encapsulated retinol, it’s also formulated to be as easy on the skin as possible.

Support Lactic Acid

Lactic acid is a common alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that belongs to the same family as glycolic acid. Like other AHAs, lactic acid is commonly used as a chemical exfoliant to help brighten and refresh dull skin.

However, lactic acid also helps your skin stay hydrated. This is because lactic acid is an important element of hyaluronic acid production. While your lactic acid serum is helping your skin look brighter, it can also help replenish lost hydration.

To boost the effects of lactic acid, I recommend using a hydrating serum like Hydra-Cool Serum by iS Clinical. This HA serum helps calm irritated skin, soothe redness, and can help lactic acid (as well as other AHAs) work more effectively.

Hyaluronic Acid Serum, Cleanser, and Moisturizer

Common skincare products like serums, cleansers, and moisturizers can all contain hyaluronic acid. You can choose any of these products to provide your HA, or you can choose more than one. The great news about HA is that you can’t have too much.

One of our favorite ways to use hyaluronic acid is as a moisturizer. This is partially because it’s the last step in your skincare routine, partially because moisturizers tend to have other soothing agents as well, and partially because moisturizers tend to feature multiple types of hydrating ingredients.

Moisturizers can feature humectants like HA as well as emollients and occlusives, which help to smooth rough skin and seal your skin, respectively. If you have dry skin, I recommend using a moisturizer with occlusive properties to seal hyaluronic acid against your skin.

If you have oily skin, you can still use HA moisturizer – I just recommend making sure the moisturizer is non-comedogenic. For example, my Weightless Oil-Free Moisturizer uses HA to hydrate while also mattifying and keeping your pores clear.

Final Thoughts

Hyaluronic acid is an incredibly helpful skincare ingredient for all skin types. Not only does this ingredient infuse your skin with hydration, it can also help your skin look more youthful and soothe irritation.

We recommend pairing HA with retinol or other powerful ingredients to help cancel out mild side effects. This ingredient plays well with others and comes in so many shapes and sizes that it’s easier to find a formula that works for you.



Hyaluronic Acid: What It Is, Benefits, How To Use & Side Effects | Cleveland Clinic

Hyaluronic Acid: A Key Molecule in Skin Aging | Dermato-Endocrinology

Efficacy of Cream-Based Novel Formulations of Hyaluronic Acid of Different Molecular Weights in Anti-Wrinkle Treatment | Journal of Drugs in Dermatology