Hyaluronic acid is one of the most widely-favored skin care ingredients on the market. Known for its ability to retain nearly 1,000 times its weight in water, this intensely hydrating substance is essential for anyone on the quest for a healthy moisture barrier — and who doesn’t want that? To truly reap its benefits, you should apply it in serum-form, since serums can penetrate the skin deeper due to their small molecular size. Knowing that serums are the most effective carriers for hyaluronic acid, we set out on a quest to find the best hyaluronic acid serums for any budget.
As for what to look for in a product specifically?
The first thing has to do with a serum’s molecular makeup. Pure hyaluronic acid can’t penetrate the skin, so its molecules are reduced in size during the formulation process. The lower the molecular weight, the better. Even bare-bone serums should be multi-molecular, which means the formula comprises multiple weights of hyaluronic acid so it can be deposited into different layers of the skin.
Hyaluronic acid also degrades quickly, so slow-release formulas — like SkinMedica's HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator — are more expensive, but worth the splurge. Because the product lasts longer on your skin, it'll be more effective at giving you the plump, hydrated dermis you're aiming for.
Additionally, while many may think that products with higher percentages of hyaluronic acid are better, this isn’t necessarily true. Hyaluronic acid — and its counterpart, sodium hyaluronate, which has a lower molecular size and is just as effective — gets majorly diluted in the formulation process, so these percentage claims are often misleading. Two percent “pure” is the highest industry standard, so if a product claims to be using something higher, it’s likely just a solution of hyaluronic acid and water.
We know that’s a mouthful, but luckily, we did all of the research for you! We chose three products — which you’ll find below — each of which is the best in it's price range. So go on, have a scroll: with one of these top-notch hyaluronic acid serums, you’ll be on your way to your healthiest, plumpest, most glowing skin ever.
1. An Investment-Worthy Serum With 5 Different Types Of Hyaluronic Acid And A Slow-Release Formula
While I know the price tag seems a little scary, I promise that this is the absolute best splurge-worthy hyaluronic acid serum on the market. This SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenator boasts a slow-release formula and five different types of hyaluronic acid, so it can reach multiple layers of skin and deliver you long-lasting moisture all day long. Its innovative formula also stimulates the production of natural hyaluronic acid by the skin, delivering long-term benefits. SkinMedica recommends applying this serum during both your daytime and nighttime skin routines, but this product is so potent that even just once a day will give you the results you're looking for. When 96 percent of subjects reported that their skin felt immediately soft and smooth post-application, you can trust that this puppy packs an instant punch on days when your under-eye skin seem so fine, your concealer can't help but cake. In addition to being a top-notch hydrator that'll keep your skin's moisture barrier healthy and in-check, it also makes a wonderful primer for a full face of makeup.
2. A Mid-Range, Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Serum That's Vegan And Cruelty-Free
This HA formula from NIOD — whose parent company, DECIEM, is home to fan-favorite skin care brands The Ordinary and Hylamide — is vegan and cruelty-free, so you can rest easy knowing no animals were harmed in the making of your dream skin. Additionally, MMHC is free of myriad potential skin allergens like nuts, silicone, alcohol, and oil. If you're someone with sensitive skin who's never tried hyaluronic acid and is afraid of a breakout or develop a rash (and trust me, I'm right there with you my combination, acne-prone skin situation), this gentle formula is perfect for your first venture into hyaluronic acid serums. It's fast-absorbing and lightweight, too, making it another wonderful serum for layering on under makeup that won't make your skin oily or your foundation run.
3. A Budget-Friendly Hyaluronic Serum For Solid, But No-Frills Results
What's amazing about Valjean Labs is their straightforward and simple branding, which not only tells you exactly what active ingredients you're getting in their products, but also, exactly what that product is supposed to do. Their HYDRATE serum, complete with hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5, is the perfect product for folks with ultra-dry skin, as B5 is an additional humectant that'll help moisture bind to your dermis even in the harshest of conditions. Combine this hero ingredient with our holy grail hyaluronic acid, and you've got the perfect skin-soother. I use it every morning after my toner to lock in the moisture I lose from my daily hot showers (a skin care sin; don't remind me...) and it's so light and quick to dry that within seconds, I've forgotten it was there at all.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.