- Hyaluronic acid serums are a powerful source of hydration to help prevent and treat dry, wrinkled skin.
- Hyaluronic acid also possesses antioxidant properties that can protect skin from damaging environmental elements.
- DIY versions can be tailored to provide extra benefits such as exfoliative effects and reduced inflammation.
- You can make a hyaluronic acid serum at home by combining hyaluronic acid powder plus other ingredients including vitamin C, rose water or ceramides.
- If made without a preservative, this serum can lose its effectiveness after one week.
DIY hyaluronic acid serums are a wise option, as opposed to over-the-counter (OTC) options, because they are inexpensive, easy to make, and allow you to include the skin care ingredients that work best for you.
These serums improve skin elasticity, have a plumping effect, reduce the appearance of fine lines and slow signs of aging. Due to its low molecular weight, hyaluronic acid is easily absorbed into skin, where it locks in moisture and smooths out wrinkles.
Why Make Your Own Hyaluronic Acid Serum?
There are several reasons why you should consider making your own hyaluronic acid serum.
- Hyaluronic acid is a safe ingredient to work with and has limited side effects and interactions
- You have the flexibility to combine other beneficial skin care ingredients that will address your skin’s specific needs
- You can boost the efficacy of a serum by adding specific ingredients, for example, to achieve exfoliative or anti-inflammatory benefits
- A homemade serum can address issues such as blotchiness, hyperpigmentation or acne
Many ingredients can be incorporated into your DIY hyaluronic acid serum, depending on your skin type or desired treatment:
- Vitamins C offers a range of benefits: evening skin tone, reducing dark spots, improving hydration, combating the signs of aging and facilitating wound healing
- Vitamins A and E have anti-inflammatory properties, combat the effects of free radicals, foster collagen production, heal damaged skin, and can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles
- Retinoids are a form of Vitamin A and can combat acne, reduce wrinkles, stimulate collagen production and promote cell turnover
- Rose water has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties
- Peptides, or amino acids, trigger the production of key proteins within the skin, most notably collagen, which gives skin its suppleness and thickness
- Ceramides, which you can purchase at home as a ceramide complex, are similar to hyaluronic acid; they protect the skin and help retain moisture
- Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that helps reduce the size of pores, as well as improve skin tone, thinning skin, fine lines and wrinkles
The potential downside to homemade serums pertains to a lack of control over quality and potency.
It is difficult to assess the quality of purchased hyaluronic acid; it may be overly diluted with other products, or have a molecular weight that is either too high or too low to work at its best capacity. Additionally, at-home measurements can be imprecise resulting in a serum that is less potent than OTC products.
Furthermore, while side effects from using too much hyaluronic acid are not likely, added products such as retinol can irritate your skin if it is not mixed or diluted properly.
DIY Hyaluronic Acid Serum Recipes
There are many DIY recipes available, each with varying degrees of difficulty. Most important is the quality and combinations of ingredients, which will ultimately affect the efficacy and range of benefits for your particular skin type.
You should also be aware that using a preservative is important to maintain the shelf life of your product and prevent early growth of harmful bacteria. To avoid this, you can simply add a broad-spectrum preservative (such as Germall Plus or Optiphen) to any of the following recipes.
Hyaluronic acid serums should be applied to clean, damp skin. Allow the serum to absorb fully, then continue with your preferred skin care routine. If not applied to damp skin, this acid can have the opposite effect and dehydrate the skin.
Water-based hyaluronic acid serum
Water-based serums absorb more quickly into the skin. Oil-free serums have the added benefit of not clogging pores, making them ideal for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
- 1/4 cup distilled water
- 1/2 teaspoon hyaluronic acid powder
- 1/4 teaspoon glycerin (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid preservative (optional)
- In a glass jar, combine hyaluronic acid powder with water, and glycerin or preservative (if using)
- Cover the jar and shake well
- Store in the fridge for several hours until it thickens; the consistency should become smooth as the hyaluronic acid absorbs the water
Hyaluronic acid serum with vitamin C
Hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C are often paired together. Vitamin C has been proven to have an anti-aging effect when used in concentrations between 5 and 15%. Vitamin C can fight free-radicals, reduce inflammation, brighten skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots. These benefits complement the moisturizing and anti-aging properties of hyaluronic acid.
- 1 tsp pure L-ascorbic acid vitamin C powder
- 3 tsp of distilled water
- 1 tsp hyaluronic acid powder
- Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl
- Funnel into an opaque glass bottle that has a pump or dropper
Hyaluronic acid serum with rose water
Rose water is a popular ingredient in skin care due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Pairing your DIY serum with rose water can help reduce acne and inflammation while offering the benefits of the powerful effects of the hyaluronic acid.
Glycerine adds moisture, and hydrosol (a liquid distilled from flowers and other plants) provides a smooth texture and fresh scent.
- 1 tsp hyaluronic acid powder
- 1/2 cup hydrosol (rose or regular)
- 1/2 tsp food-grade glycerine
- 2 drops rose essential oil
- A glass dropper bottle
- Combine the hyaluronic acid powder and hydrosol in a glass jar
- Add the glycerine and rose essential oil; mix well
- Close the jar and refrigerate for 4 hours to allow the ingredients to combine
- Keep serum refrigerated
A Word About Storage
Preservatives keep the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast that develop in water-based skin care products at bay. Some preservatives prevent these irritants individually, but broad-spectrum preservatives such as Germall Plus and Otiphenwork can prevent all three.
Should you decide to incorporate a broad spectrum preservative, your serum can have a shelf life of up to three months when stored at room temperature.
If you forgo a preservative, you would need to store your homemade serum in the refrigerator for a shelf life of up to one week.
You should also keep your product in a tightly sealed, opaque container to avoid oxidation, which can reduce the efficacy of hyaluronic acid and some other ingredients such as vitamin C.
Some drawbacks in using a DIY hyaluronic acid serum include its short shelf life, the inability to control the acid’s molecular weight and the lack of availability of certain ingredients.
If you opt for OTC products because you want a stronger or more long-lasting product, look for serums with at least 0.1% hyaluronic acid.
If your skin needs deep hydration, choose products that have a particularly low molecular weight hyaluronic acid (also referred to as nano-sized). These can penetrate the skin more effectively.
For surface-level moisture, choose a higher-weight hyaluronic acid serum or cream. These will maintain surface level hydration, but will also create a barrier to protect from moisture loss.
DIY hyaluronic acid serums offer a cost-effective means of creating a customized, intensely hydrating skin care product. The ultimate advantage here is that you have full control of the ingredients which can be tailored precisely to your skin type and needs.
Some effective ingredients to include in a hyaluronic acid serum are vitamin A, C and E, rose water, peptides, retinoids, niacinamide and collagen. These can enhance the benefits of hyaluronic acid and provide additional benefits including anti-inflammatory and exfoliating effects, which can even and brighten skin tone, as well as reduce wrinkles, redness and sun damage.
To maintain your serum long term, store it in an air-tight, opaque bottle and add a preservative. This will prevent oxidation and delay the formation of yeast, mold and other bacteria.
- Ganceviciene, R., Liakou, A. I., Theodoridis, A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-endocrinology, 4(3), 308–319. doi:10.4161/derm.22804
- M. Essendoubi C. Gobinet R. Reynaud J. F. Angiboust M. Manfait O. Piot. (2015). Human skin penetration of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights as probed by Raman spectroscopy. Skin Research & Technology. (22)1, 55-62. https://doi.org/10.1111/srt.12228
- Pavicic, T., Gagulitz, GG., Lersch, P., Schwach-Abdellaoui, K., Malle, B., Korting, HC., Farwick, M. (2011) Efficacy of cream-based novel formulations of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights in anti-wrinkle treatment. J Drugs Dermatol, 10(9), 990-1000. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22052267