BREAK IT DOWN: Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot in the skincare community, but how much do we really know about it? Should I be dousing my face in a giant vat of it nightly? Should I only use products that contain Hyaluronic Acid? And why does it vary in price so much between brands?

I decided to go on a mission to learn about this magic ingredient and find out what all the fuss truly is about.


Our skin naturally contains hyaluronic acid. It’s one of the things that keeps our skin looking youthful and plump. It is able to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, meaning it is amazing for helping our skin retain moisture.

The only problem is that as we age, out skin decreases in the amount of natural hyaluronic acid that it is able to produce, resulting in dullness, fine lines and uneven tone and texture. Hence the reason so many are looking to find ways to reintroduce it into our skin through skincare.

Because of its ability to draw moisture into the skin, it is great as a hydrator and skin healer. I’ve burned the side of my face before while straightening it, and used a hyaluronic acid serum to sooth the burn.


We’re going to go back to science class for a minute. If the size of the hyaluronic acid molecule is too big, then it cannot penetrate deep enough into the skin to truly be effective. Basically, it’s a waste of time and money to be buying a product that isn’t even designed to work well. But knowing if the molecule size that a particular product is using is small enough is almost impossible to determine just by reading the label.

This is where you’re going to have to do a little digging. What we’re looking for is for the brand to say “long-chain molecule”, “small molecular weight” or “low molecular weight”. Preferably, you’d want to find a formula that contains multiple molecular weights, which will provide deep hydration across multiple layers of your skin.

The other thing you want to look for is the concentration of hyaluronic acid in the formula. While a lot of companies like to push it as a star ingredient, if you flip the box over, you’ll find that it’s one of the last ingredients in the formula. While this is by no means an exact science, I find if the hyaluronic acid is anywhere above the half way mark on an ingredients list, it’s probably concentrated enough to where you’ll be able to see results. Companies use the term “sodium hyaluronate” in their ingredients list. It’s just another term for hyaluronic acid.


*Disclaimer: Some of these I have not tried yet. However, based off the ingredients list and the research I have done, these are the hyaluronic acid products that I would start my search with.

I personally prefer a serum for my hyaluronic acid. They’re usually light, sink in quickly and are the easiest to find molecular weight information on.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum – $300 *

By far the most expensive product that I will be recommending, this serum contains two molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, short-chain & long-chain. The short-chain molecules are able to penetrate deeper into the skin, hydrating deeper down for longer term hydration. Because of this, it is able to help prevent wrinkles from forming that are caused by dehydration. The long-chain hyaluronic acid provides immediate intensive hydration of the surface of the skin.

Allies of Skin Triple Hyaluronic Antioxidant Hydration Serum – $75

This serum contains 3 forms of Hyaluronic Acid: Low Molecular Weight, High Molecular Weight and Botanical Polysaccharide to intensely hydrate and strengthen dehydrated skin. It also contains powerful antioxidants to speed up healing reduce inflammation and rebuild damaged skin. I’ve had the pleasure of using this for the last few months, and highly recommend it. It’s thin, almost gel-like texture sinks into the skin quickly, providing intense hydration that lasts all day.

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum – $39

This is one of my current favorite serums to use. It contains a proprietary blend of short-chain, medium-chain and long-chain hyaluronic acid molecules to provide hydration at every level of the skin. It also contains niacinamide to reduce inflammation and brighten the skin. Overall, if you’re looking for one serum to incorporate into your routine that can cover a lot of bases, this is the one that I would look at.

Glossier Super Bounce – $28

I have gone through probably 3 bottles of Super Bounce, Glossier’s hyaluronic acid serum, at this point. While I cannot find anything to tell me about the molecular weight of the hyaluronic acid included in this formula, I kept it in this list because of how hight up on the ingredient list it is. As one of the first few ingredients, it definitely packs a good concentration of its star ingredient. Having used this for quite some time, I can safely say that it does work beautifully. It’s soothing and hydrating. My only use with it is how little you actually get (0.5 oz) and how quickly I always end up going through it. I can go through hyaluronic acid like water, especially with this one. I have made it though the bottle in less than 3 weeks before, which is not something that made me happy. I now save this serum for when I’m traveling to use when my skin is extra irritated, stressed and dry.

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum – £4.99 *

The least expensive of all of the serums I am going to talk about today, this serum contains three molecular weights of hyaluronic acid (high, medium and low) to ensure maximum absorption at every layer of your skin. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to start incorporating hyaluronic acid into your routine, this is definitely a good place to start.

Have you tried any hyaluronic acid serums? What ingredient should I break down next?

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