Hyaluronic acid is often considered to be the reigning leader of moisturizing ingredients, but the true breadth of its benefits is often overlooked. Because while hyaluronic acid plumps, smooths, and hydrates the skin on the face, it’s equally advantageous in hair care.
Hyaluronic acid for the hair is more focused on repairing and treating strands, especially those that are extra dry. “Lack of moisture is one of the main culprits of dry and brittle hair, so hyaluronic acid is unparalleled in repairing the moisture barrier of hair shafts,” Marie Mignon, vice president of research and development at personalized hair care brand Prose, tells Bustle. What’s more is that the ingredient is able to do this without weighing hair down with oil or grease — not unlike its behavior on the skin — to improve its overall look and texture.
Lavinia Popescu, chief scientist at Olaplex — a brand that also uses hyaluronic acid in its products, including the cult-favorite No. 8 — adds that the moisturizing molecule doesn’t just nourish strands, but helps to improve scalp health as well. “Hyaluronic acid helps to enhance the hydration ability of the scalp, so as to relieve the itching and dandruff situations caused by dryness,” Popescu says. Thus, as scalp care continues to become more of a major focus in the beauty world, it only makes sense that hyaluronic acid’s presence would increasingly show up in product formulations.
“As we embrace the importance of scalp health [as a culture], hair care brands are turning to commonly known skin care ingredients to provide a higher level of scalp support,” Kerry Yates, a trichologist at Colour Collective, says of hyaluronic acid’s newfound home in mainstream hair care.
Ready to incorporate the moisturizing MVP into your hair care routine? Read on for everything you should know.
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What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do For Hair?
Generally speaking, hyaluronic acid (HA) is one of many skin care ingredients found within your body that’s synthetically formulated for use in topical cosmetics — including those for both your face, body, and scalp. “The skin on your scalp is just like the rest of your skin, except it contains over 100,000 hair follicles through which the hair grows,” Mignon explains. “The deeper, dermal layer of the scalp is composed of connective tissue that has a gel-like fluid that nourishes and hydrates the deep layers of the scalp, and that gel is partially comprised of hyaluronic acid.”
As you age and produce less HA, then, the scalp can experience dryness, which trickles down to affect the appearance of your strands. “Hair fibers tend to become dry, brittle and dull over time, as the outer layer — called the cuticle — gets sensitized by external factors,” says Mignon. According to Yates, treating scalp dryness with topical hyaluronic acid helps restore your scalp microbiome’s natural balance, which creates a better environment for your overall hair health.
Experts note that hyaluronic acid works on all hair types (even oily!), though chemically treated or dry hair will likely benefit the most. “Chemically treated hair tends to look and feel brittle because chemicals dissolve the protective layer of your strands, resulting in weakened, damaged hair,” says Dr. Michele Green, M.D., a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist. “This often manifests in frizz, stray hairs, split ends, or dandruff. HA can help [with these conditions] by trapping moisture within the hair, giving it a smoother and softer appearance.”
How To Use Hyaluronic Acid In Your Hair
While it may be tempting, experts strongly suggest against grabbing the hyaluronic acid serum you already have in your skin care routine and using it on your hair. “The skin of your scalp is not the same as the skin on your face, and requires specialized care,” Yates tells Bustle. “Hair products are designed to support proper follicle health, control sebum, and provide a healthy environment for hair growth.” Applying a product formulated for the facial skin can leave your strands looking greasy or feeling sticky, says Mignon.
Once you’ve obtained your HA-spiked hair care product, you can use it as often as you’d like. “Hyaluronic acid can be applied topically daily, though products should be used as directed,” Green tells Bustle. That said, she personally suggests applying HA to damp hair every other day or using it on your wash days as you would any other hair serum or treatment product.
Shop Hyaluronic Acid-Infused Hair Care
The Scalp-Strengthening Serum
According to Yates, this scalp serum is perfect for those prone to itchiness, as it rebalances moisture to boost your hair health. Besides hyaluronic acid, it contains purslane extract to calm irritation, vitamin B5 to strengthen your strands, and nourishing camellia.
The Reparative Hair Mask
Popescu is especially fond of this Olaplex at-home reparative hair mask for delivering smooth, shiny, more mosturized hair in just 10 minutes. What’s more, she points to its high-quality ingredients, such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which help nourish your strands.
The Nourishing Hair Drops
According to Green, this is a product that “can work wonders on dry hair,” as it’s infused with grape stem cells — aka antioxidants that reduce the damage to the hair and scalp — as well as pearl extract. “This gives your hair an extra iridescence,” she tells Bustle.
The Hydrating Elixir
Green also recommends this elixir, as it contains HA and other hydrating ingredients like coconut oil and papaya extract to revitalize the hair. “Coconut oil is made up of fatty acids like lauric acid which helps tame frizz, promote hair growth, and deep conditions your hair,” she says, noting that papaya extract is rich in antioxidants, which helps combat potential damage and boost shine.
The Pre-Shampoo Mask
While this is customized to your needs, Mignon recommends opting to get it with hyaluronic acid. That way, it’ll help restore your scalp’s microbiome — just apply it before your shower for a moisturizing hair boost.
The Multitasking Cream
This versatile product contains an impressive blend of bakuchiol, niacacimide, vitamin C, algae extract, and, of course, HA, all of which hydrate, protect, moisturize, and increase elasticity for both your hair and your skin.
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Marie Mignon, vice president of research and development at Prose
Lavinia Popescu, chief scientist at Olaplex
Kerry Yates, trichologist at Colour Collective
Dr. Michele Green, M.D., board-certified cosmetic dermatologist