The Best Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizers

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by C Mandler
Originally Published: 

Hyaluronic acid is one of the buzziest skin care ingredients around, and for good reason: “[It’s] a natural sugar molecule that attracts up to 1000 [times] its weight in water, making it a great humectant, meaning it attracts moisture,” board certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick explains to Bustle. Because of its moisture-attracting abilities, it can help promote plumper, more refreshed-looking skin, and it’s great for treating dehydrated skin as well. One of the easiest ways to incorporate hyaluronic acid into your routine is via a cream or lotion, and you’ll find 10 of the best hyaluronic acid moisturizers listed ahead. But as Dr. Garshick says, “It is important to remember that because [hyaluronic acid] is a large molecule, it can be difficult to penetrate the skin barrier, so it is important to understand the formulation you are using to determine what the specific benefits will be.” Usually, the best hyaluronic acid products contain multiple molecular weights of the substance, because each size can penetrate a different dermal layer. So, the more variation in terms of molecular size, the more layers of skin that will benefit.

As for who can benefit from hyaluronic acid? “Generally, hyaluronic acid is safe for all skin types, but it is especially good for those with dry skin as it helps to boost moisture,” says Dr. Garshick. “It can also be good for someone dealing with dry or irritated hands as certain moisturizers containing hyaluronic acid can help to replenish moisture in the hands to minimize dryness and sensitivity.” In other words? Hyaluronic acid isn’t just good for your face — it’s great to look for hand creams and body lotions that contain the ingredient, too.

One thing that’s important to note is that there is a right way to apply hyaluronic acid. As Dr. Garshick confirms, hyaluronic acid products are best applied on damp skin, since the ingredient works to draw moisture in. (So basically, hyaluronic acid will hydrate more effectively when there’s already water on your skin for it to bind onto.)

Now that you’re fully informed on how to use the hydrating ingredient effectively, scroll on to shop 10 of the best hyaluronic acid moisturizers on the market right now.


The Drugstore Best-Seller

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is perhaps the most popular hyaluronic acid moisturizer out there, period. Not only does it have legions of fans on Amazon and across the internet, but even Dr. Garshick, as well as Bustle editor Amy Biggart, recommend it. According to Dr. Garshick, “This lightweight water gel-cream is a great moisturizer that can be used daily, combining the benefits of a gel as it absorbs easily and a cream as it maintains long-lasting hydration. It contains hyaluronic acid to help hydrate and lock in moisture, keeping the skin feeling moisturized.” With its lightweight texture and fast-absorbing properties, this moisturizer is an amazing solution for people with oily or combination skin looking for a quick and easy dose of long-lasting hydration. Still, because it’s so hydrating, it’s a solid choice for dry and dehydrated skin types as well. All this aside, it’s important to note that hyaluronic acid isn’t listed in the first half of the INCI list, so if you're looking a moisturizer that’s centered on the ingredient, this might not be it. Even so, it’s an incredible solution for folks looking for heavy-duty hydration without the added oiliness.

Relevant review: “LOVE this stuff!! I’ve searched everywhere to find something that will hydrate my face without making it oily and this product works SO great with my skin. Hydrates and moisturizes my skin without making it oily. I thought it wouldn’t last me long because of how little is in the jar but a little goes a LONG way! I only put a small amount on my pointer finger after I shower and I have enough to cover my whole face and neck. Works great, definitely buying again!!”


The Luxury Best-Seller

I know, I know. It’s expensive. But believe me when I say that this super-popular moisturizer from Peter Thomas Roth does not disappoint. The brand claims that this cream hydrates your skin for a full 72 hours; and with three different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, this moisturizer helps deposit the substance into multiple layers of your skin, ensuring you get the most bang for your buck if you’re on the drier side. The inclusion of ceramides also helps repair the skin’s natural protective barrier, so if you’re someone with sensitive or irritated skin, this product should work well for you, too. Plus, it’s fragrance-free, oil-free, and alcohol-free, so you can be sure it won’t irritate, clog pores, or dry your skin out. It is worth noting, however, that this formula does contain propylene glycol, which some people are allergic to. Otherwise, it has almost no downsides.

Relevant review: “Basically like slathering your face in pure arctic glacier water blessed by 1,000 angels. Feels like velvet and leaves no oily residue. You won’t dare let any other peasant moisturizer touch your glowing skin after using this product.”


Best Moisturizer With SPF

The ideal sunscreen for people who hate sunscreen, thanks to its ultra-light, water-gel formula, ISNTREE Hyaluronic Acid Watery Sun Gel also makes a great daily moisturizer, as it’s made with not two, not three, but eight different types of hyaluronic acid. Elsewhere in the formula, ceramides work to repair your skin barrier, and centella asiatica extract reduces inflammation and improves moisture retention. This is a great daily product for all skin types, and it wears beautifully underneath makeup — though it also makes your skin look amazing when worn alone.

Relevant review: “I'm almost hesitant to leave a review for this sunscreen because it may make it harder for me to re-purchase. However, ultimately, the greatest disservice would be depriving people of knowing about such an incredible product. Lightweight, scent-free, this sunscreen is my favorite I've ever used. [...] Works well under makeup (let it absorb for about 10-15 minutes) and gives a healthy glow in addition to a plump skin appearance thanks to HA. Reapplication is also easy and nice, with no pilling and no 'tacky' feeling that can often be found in products containing multiple weights of hyaluronic acid.”


Best Japanese Moisturizer

This Skin Plumping Gel Cream from Japanese beauty brand Hada Labo Tokyo is a cult-favorite among in-the-know beauty enthusiasts and Reddit’s skin care-obsessed r/AsianBeauty community. It’s a gel cream with a silky, grease-free consistency, and it’s an amazing choice for anyone with dull, dehydrated skin, as it’s formulated with three types of hyaluronic acid and collagen, which work to provide immediate hydrating and plumping effects. Considering its impressive formula, it’s a steal at just $16 on Amazon.

Relevant review: “I have dry sensitive skin and I have not had hydration issues since literally the second I put this on my skin. It's a clear gel like texture that dried down quickly and it was SO hydrating and it left a mattifying effect. I don't know how to explain it better. It's like a glowy shine but not oily...and it literally makes the moisture stay in. Like a barrier. I love it. I understand why it's wildly popular.”


Writer’s Pick: Best Lightweight Lotion

If you prefer a lighter-weight lotion over a richer cream, consider this simple moisturizer from Cetaphil, which lists hyaluronic acid as its star ingredient. It’s a great choice for sensitive, eczema-prone skin — I’ve been using Cetaphil products to soothe my eczema since I was in elementary school because, simply put, they work really well, and this lotion has never aggravated any of my other preexisting skin conditions. It’s lightweight, fast-absorbing, and super hydrating, which allows it to double as a stellar makeup primer, to boot.

Relevant review: “I absolutely LOVE this lotion. Since finding this brand I have not used any other facial lotion. A little goes a long way, and it moisturizes my face with out being sticky or oily. I usually hate lotion because I don't like the feeling of an extra layer on my face (or body) but this lotion feels light and leaves me feeling soft. I've used it consistently for two years and have suggested it to any of my friends looking for recommendations.”


Best For Very Sensitive Skin

If you have very sensitive, reactive skin, or an allergy or skin condition like dermatitis or eczema, you’ll likely want to reach for products from Vanicream. And as far as moisturizers go, their daily face cream is a very solid (and affordable) offering. It’s made with the two key ingredients dry and/or dehydrated skin needs — hyaluronic acid and ceramides (and five different types of the latter, at that) — as well as squalane, another amazing moisturizing ingredient. Even more important is what it’s made without, like fragrance, lanolin, gluten, parabens, and other common allergens.

Relevant review: “I LOVE this new product from Vanicream! I have used Vanicream products for over 15 years and this has quickly become my new favorite product in their line! I have sensitive and acne prone skin and this lightweight moisturizer works well to provide all day moisture and it does not cause any oily shine- big win in my book! The addition of hyaluronic acid and ceremides also gives it more of a high end and cosmetic application! I definitely recommend it!”


Best Face & Body Moisturizer

If your skin is dry from head to toe, pick up this big tub of moisturizing cream from CeraVe. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, just like its pricier Peter Thomas Roth counterpart, but it costs a fraction of the price — though it’s important to note that the hyaluronic acid content in this product is definitely lower. The formula is fragrance-free, oil-free, and propylene glycol-free, so it should be safe for most skin types. You can use it on your face, body, hands — wherever.

Relevant review: “After researching various skin lotions, this seems to be the REAL DEAL! The ingredients, ceramides and hyaluronic acid, other emollients work as described. Best to apply any skin cream product after showering to maximize moisturizing barrier. I cannot give a more superlative review of a skin care lotion. My dry itchy skin has found relief after one application. [...] Approved for people with certain skin disorders, e.g. eczema. Buying the large size with Prime was well worth it.”


Best Eye Cream

Obviously, your eyes can benefit from hyaluronic acid’s hydrating and plumping effects as well. If you like to use a separate under-eye product, pick up this eye cream from First Aid Beauty. Not only does it contain three different weights of hyaluronic acid, but it also contains retinol to promote smoother, firmer skin. This is a safe choice for people with skin sensitivities or allergies, as it’s free of common aggravators including synthetic fragrance and propylene glycol. And although retinol can be harsh for those with sensitive skin or beginners, the retinol in here is delivered in small amounts over time to mitigate irritation.

Relevant review: “Soft and gentle on the skin. Does not leave any greasy film on the skin. I have experienced no allergic reactions such as puffy eyes or redness. Overall, [pleased] with this product.”


Editor’s Pick: A Luxury Eye Cream By A Celebrity Facialist

“My skin is naturally sensitive, and I try a lot of skin care products, which can lead to redness, flakiness, and other irritation. When that hits, I scale back the products and use this Joanna Vargas cream because it's super soothing while feeling light and non-greasy. If I’m feeling extra dry, I’ll add a thicker cream over top, but it’s a great go-to for most days,” says Bustle editor Jen Fiegel. Hyaluronic acid is just one of the key ingredients in here; you’ll also find moisturizing glycerin, macadamia seed oil for nourishment, vitamin-rich ginkgo biloba extract, which is also an anti-inflammatory, and everyone’s favorite multitasker, niacinamide. It’s an expensive but decadent choice made by Hollywood’s top pro facialist.


Derm’s Pick: An Eye Serum Made With Mineral-Rich Volcanic Water

  • Also available on Ulta, $30

Though this is an eye serum, not a cream, it technically is still a moisturizer — and it also happens to be one of Dr. Garshick’s top picks. She says, “This face moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid and mineral-rich Vichy Volcanic Water to simultaneously help boost hydration and support the skin barrier, leaving the skin looking smoother and plumper. It can be used on its own or followed by a thicker moisturizing cream. It’s oil-free so won’t clog the pores and can be used by all skin types.” $30 is also quite a good price for this elegant French serum.

Relevant review: “This product is unreal. You can literally feel your skin absorbing it as you smooth and pat it on. Your skin instantly looks revived, calmed, and plumped. I used 1 & 1/2 pumps to completely cover the face and neck, and it absorbed 100%. Literally no residue left behind. Just unbelievably smooth skin. If you have a drier complexion, you can very easily add your favorite moisturizer on top. It will absorb quicker, more completely, and you can use less product. For oily skin, this could be all you'd need. For those who seem to break out from every cream or lotion, here is your solution. [...]”


Marisa K. Garshick, MD, board certified dermatologist


Dr. Marisa Garshick, M.D., F.A.A.D, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.

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