I started incorporating hyaluronic acid into my skincare routine a year or so ago, hearing how it hydrates like no other and even plumps skin. Enticed by the modest price and positive reviews, I began with The Ordinary's Hyaluornic Acid 2% + B5. In the beginning, I saw the results, feeling the hyaluronic acid amplifying the effects of my moisturizer. But as time went on, I felt that the benefits were inconsistent—I wasn't always getting the same boost of moisture and sometimes my skin would even become dryer after application.
Despite spending a significant amount of my time thinking and writing about skincare, I'm don't know everything. I'm always learning new tips and tricks and unmasking some commonly believed myths. One of the revelations I recently had from writing a story on skincare ingredient myths and interviewing clinical skincare specialist Jacky Banayan is that you need to use hyaluronic acid with a moisturizer in order for it to work.
Banayan explains the hyaluronic acid needs to be combined with a water-loving lipid to truly hydrate the skin. If not applied in conjunction, the hyaluronic acid could actually be drying out your skin. Hyaluronic acid works by drawing moisture into the skin through its water-attracting (humectant) properties. But without a layer of moisturizer on top to act as a barrier (especially if your skin is already dry or you're in a climate with low humidity), the hyaluronic acid can actually draw moisture from your skin—hence the subsequent tightness.
Hyaluronic acid needs to be combined with a water-loving lipid to truly hydrate the skin.
When I first started using The Ordinary's hyaluronic acid, I very likely read the bottle's application directions, which advise to "Apply a few drops to face a.m. and p.m. before creams." As time went on, I forgot this step and would apply hyaluronic acid—solo—when I felt my skin was in need of an extra dose of moisture. Without a moisturizer on top, the product ended up doing the exact opposite of what I was looking for. Now that I've started using hyaluronic acid exclusively in combination with a moisturizer (the right way to do it), I'm finally reaping the benefits again. With this corrected approach, there's been no more drying out or tightening but instead the hyaluronic acid has been boosting the efficacy of the moisturizer.
Below, find my favorite hyaluronic acid products.
Next up: Here are seven common skincare mistakes you might be making.