The 10 Best Hyaluronic Acid Serums
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in January of 2017. As we age, our skin becomes drier as it loses its capacity to retain moisture, which is one of the primary reasons wrinkles and fine lines begin to form. An effective way to combat this process is by integrating a hyaluronic acid serum into your skincare routine, which can help to return elasticity and suppleness by delivering deep hydration and promoting collagen growth. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 18, 2020:
Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient commonly found in hydrating skin care products to act as a humectant, a substance that attracts and retains moisture. Because of its powerful moisturizing properties, it is an ideal active to look out for in your products. When choosing the best hyaluronic acid serums, we wanted to make sure our picks had high quality ingredients and didn't include too many fillers or additives.
We removed Vernal Instant Firm because it contains many filler ingredients, some of which can be irritating. In its place, we chose SeoulCeuticals Anti Aging which has a high concentration of active ingredients at a lower price point. It is also mostly made of organic ingredients. We also removed Neutrogena Hydro Boost because it contains fragrance which can be harsh for a leave-on treatment. We replaced it with L'Oreal Paris Revitalift which is still a drugstore option, but omits fragrance, dye, parabens, and mineral oil.
May 25, 2019:
Vichy Minéral combines hyaluronic acid with a thermal water that contains 15 minerals to hydrate, strengthen, and protect against environmental stressors. It's recommended by dermatologists for sensitive skin and contains no fragrances, parabens, silicones, alcohol, or oil. Unlike many other products, which use hyaluronic acid with molecules too large to penetrate the skin's surface, The Ordinary 2% is specially formulated with three different molecular weights for deeper hydration. Great for oily skin, or for layering under other products, Neutrogena Hydro Boost is lightweight and absorbs quickly, but it may not be the best choice for users who are sensitive to fragrances. A little bit of Mizon Skin Energy goes a long way, and it's affordably priced, too, so it's great for shoppers on a budget. However, the dropper is a little too short to reach the bottom of the bottle, so it can be hard to use when you start running low.
Those with easily-irritated skin may appreciate Cosmedica Skincare Pure, InstaSkincare Clinical Strength, and Yeouth All Natural, which have simple ingredient lists that contain nothing more than hyaluronic acid, water, and a preservative to inhibit bacteria growth.
Dr. Dennis Gross Marine Hydration Booster Formulated by a board-certified dermatologist, this concentrated serum is lightweight, non-greasy, and can be applied on its own or mixed in with your moisturizer or foundation. Evening primrose oil and centella asiatica help to smooth out fine lines, while watermelon extract protects against free radicals and sun damage. drdennisgross.com
Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cloud Serum Dry and dehydrated skin will love this fragrance-free formula, which contains a 75% hyaluronic acid complex for lasting hydration. It helps to increase moisture levels with bio-fermented zinc, copper, magnesium, and iron, and it's infused with silk proteins for a soft, smooth finish. peterthomasroth.com
Glossier Super Bounce It may not have a flashy ingredient list, but this serum is quite effective at plumping and hydrating skin, and it absorbs quickly without feeling sticky or tacky. Once dry, it has a silky texture that layers well under other products and provides an even base for makeup. glossier.com
How Does Hyaluronic Acid Serum Help The Skin?
Less hyaluronic acid means less moisture in the skin, which directly contributes to age lines, wrinkles, sun spots, and other skin conditions, like rosacea.
Healthy hyaluronic acid had a rather humble start. A patent from 1942 shows that hyaluronic acid was actually intended to be a replacement for egg whites in recipes. After the initial discovery of the characteristics of hyaluronic acid, many companies started researching the other potential benefits this substance could have. It turned out that hyaluronic acid is found many places in the natural world, including foods, animals, and humans themselves.
The human body creates hyaluronic acid naturally. The problem is that this supply of hyaluronic acid does not stay the same over time. As humans age, their bodies tend to produce less hyaluronic acid. Less hyaluronic acid means less moisture in the skin, which directly contributes to age lines, wrinkles, sun spots, and other skin conditions, like rosacea.
The reason hyaluronic acid has such a drastic effect on the skin is because of how it protects the skin from damage. Hyaluronic acid easily bonds to liquids like water, which then help fill out the skin and protect its elasticity. This excess moisture can also absorb the damage caused by pollution, light exposure, or toxins — all of which directly lead to unhealthy skin.
Hyaluronic acid serum is not the only treatment method required for youthful skin. Other factors like nutrition also play a big role in skin aging. Healthy food choices protect the skin, where unhealthy food choices may actually damage the skin. Hyaluronic acid is just one part of the recipe for vibrant skin; right alongside healthy eating, cleansing and exfoliation, and proper sleep. Every dietary and lifestyle choice combines to shape the healthiest skin possible.
Other Benefits Of Hyaluronic Acid Sera
Using a hyaluronic acid serum topically is one way to get more hyaluronic acid into the body, and its benefits to the surface of the skin are apparent. Yet there are a few more astounding ways hyaluronic acid and hyaluronic acid sera affect the body.
The FDA has even approved hyaluronic acid for use during eye surgeries such as corneal transplants and cataract removal.
Hyaluronic acid is also heavily marketed as a solution for joint pain caused by deterioration. Aging bodies or jobs that put a lot of stress on the joints can lead to chronic conditions like osteoarthritis. The body cannot keep up with this excess stress, which causes the joint to become worn down and damaged over time. This can cause symptoms of inflammation, pain, and disability in the affected joints. Knee osteoarthritis is the most common, and is often managed through weight loss, stress management, knee braces, and physical routines. Doctors will often inject steroids into the knee to alleviate symptoms. Researchers recently found that hyaluronic acid is an even better long term treatment option than steroids for people with knee osteoarthritis.
Some people choose to rub hyaluronic acid sera and creams directly on the joints. These people either do not like the way hyaluronic acid makes them feel when they take it internally or respond poorly to knee injections containing hyaluronic acid. Researchers need to do more extensive studies to see just how deep into the joints a topical application can go, but anecdotal evidence is good enough for some.
Hyaluronic acid is also an invaluable tool for many eye issues. Some surgeons use hyaluronic acid during eye surgeries to help replace natural eye fluids and protect the eye from further damage. The FDA has even approved hyaluronic acid for use during eye surgeries such as corneal transplants and cataract removal.
Hyaluronic acid also makes a better filler than collagen or fat in plastic surgery. People looking for plump, soft lips often get hyaluronic acid injected into their lips. The results are full lips with less bruising and bumps than other fillers. Lips filled with hyaluronic acid keep their fullness for about six months, but the results are not permanent, which is good in case the patient changes their mind. People are also much less likely to have an allergic reaction to hyaluronic acid when compared to other fillers.
How Is Hyaluronic Acid Made?
Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance in the human body. The umbilical cord has the highest concentration of hyaluronic acid in fetuses. In adults, hyaluronic acid is found in the fluid that fills the joints and spinal column, as well as the fluid of the eyes. Hyaluronic acid is also found in every bone in the entire body, though to a lesser extent than in the joints. The body produces this compound by breaking down foods that contain high amounts of it — often root vegetables like potatoes, parsnips, and carrots. The average person has about 17 to 20 grams of hyaluronic acid floating around in their body at any given point. Fortunately, the hyaluronic acid we use is not taken from humans. The hyaluronic acid in most serums is easily produced using natural sources.
Manufacturers add the bacteria to the hyaluronan and culture it until the hyaluronic acid produced is at the exact specifications needed.
Creating the hyaluronan that makes up hyaluronic acid is a two part process. First, manufacturers extract hyaluronan from a natural source. This is simple enough, as the compound is found in all vertebrates and many vegetables. The problem manufacturers face is degrading quality, as enzymes constantly seek to break down the hyaluronan. A simple extraction often delivers a low yield, even with the highest quality source. The other problem manufacturers face is contamination from toxins, like viruses and unwanted proteins.
The answer to these problems sparked the boom in the use of hyaluronic acid. Manufacturers now use a fermentation process to ensure their hyaluronic acid is of the highest quality. Early on, researchers found many different bacterial strains that could help hyaluronan multiply. Of all these strains, it was Streptococcus zooepidemicus that became the standard. Manufacturers add the bacteria to the hyaluronan and culture it until the hyaluronic acid produced is at the exact specifications needed. Controlled laboratory environments help prevent contamination and the proliferation of any toxins or pathogenic bacteria.
Many promising new microbes have recently appeared in the field, as well. These include strains like Bacillus sp., L. lactis, Agrobacterium sp., and even an engineered strain of E. coli. These strains help to increase the yield and further reduce the chances that harmful germs will infect the hyaluronic acid. After fermentation is complete, the resulting product is added to hyaluronic acid serums and other products as needed.