- HA is a key ingredient in combating dry, aging skin, while moisturizers are a major component in maintaining overall skin health.
- HA moisturizers are universally beneficial at hydrating all skin types, however, choosing a formula that is best suited to your skin type is key.
- Opting for a product that contains HA in low molecular weights will help ensure that the benefits of HA penetrate the skin.
- Pairing an HA moisturizer with other HA products can boost results.
Moisturizing products are a vital element of daily skin care because they help protect and restore hydration to the outer layer of the skin.
Hyaluronic Acid, on the other hand, is naturally produced by the body and is an essential component in lubricating the skin, as well as the eyes, joints, connective tissue, and organs.
Combined, HA moisturizers, are an incredibly effective means of delivering HA to the skin to hydrate and fight the signs of aging.
How Do You Know You Need A Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer?
As we age, our natural HA production depletes. This causes the skin to become dry and wrinkly. Replenishing and hydrating the skin with an HA moisturizer is instrumental in combating this natural aging process.
HA works by attracting and locking in moisture to restore the outermost layer of the skin’s surface. What makes it so effective at hydrating skin is its unique molecular weight and water-binding potential.
The unique water-drawing property of HA qualifies it as a natural humectant and contributes to its popularity as a skin care ingredient.
Humectants are added to moisturizers, creams, and cleansers to hydrate the skin by attracting water molecules. These ingredients can be naturally or synthetically formulated. Humectants pull water from the skin’s lower cell layers to the surface, and in particularly humid environments, can even water from the air to moisturize skin.
Incorporating the intense hydrating power of an HA moisturizer can improve skin elasticity, make the skin more plump, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and slow signs of aging.
Are Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizers Worth It?
The benefits of HA moisturizers are threefold. The moisturizer base formula is absorbed by the skin to restore hydration and protect the skin. Meanwhile, HA expedites the hydration process by pulling more moisture to the surface of the skin (from the skin’s lower layer or humid environment). And, unlike synthesized humectants, because HA is a natural humectant, it has the added power to enhance the overall hydrating ability of the skin.
To reap the full benefits of HA, choose a product that contains HA with low molecular weights as these are better able to penetrate the skin. The skin’s ability to absorb this ingredient is key to enhancing skin moisture and elasticity, as well as decreasing the depth of wrinkles, so look for HA in low molecular weights of 20-300 kDa.
When choosing an HA moisturizer, look for a product containing at least 0.1%. A recent study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology demonstrates a concentration of this amount can significantly improve skin hydration and elasticity.
Because HA is a natural component of the skin, allergic reactions or irritation are extremely rare. Moisturizers are not typically associated with health hazards, however, skin irritations can occur. If you have sensitive skin, choose products that are fragrance-free, as this is most often the cause of skin care product-related reactions.
When trying any product, a patch test in a discreet area is recommended prior to applying on the face.
Which Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer Is Best for Me?
Skin type plays a key role in selecting the best HA moisturizer for your face.
In addition to skin type, a general rule of thumb is to choose a light moisturizer for daytime and a thicker moisturizer for at nighttime. Similarly, light moisturizers are ideal during the summer months, whereas heavier moisturizers are preferable during the dry, cold winter months.
Moisturizers vs creams
The terms moisturizer and cream are often mistakenly used interchangeably, but there are notable differences between the two that can gravely affect whether a product is best suited for your skin type.
Moisturizer is quickly absorbed by the skin and works to restore hydration, whereas creams block and prevent moisture loss. Some products offer dual action, meaning they are moisturizing creams, which are ideal for those with normal/dry skin.
|All skin types including oily skin and acne-prone skin||Water-based, oil-free, non-comedogenic HA moisturizer||HA penetrates deep beneath the surface of the skin to attract and restore moisture; will not clog pores||Lightweight, watery texture; easily distributed|
|Normal/dry skin||Cream or oil-based HA||Creates a physical barrier that seals in moisture while HA works to pull water to the surface of the skin.||Rich and heavy with higher oil content to lock in moisture.|
|Sensitive Skin||Water-based, oil-free, non-comedogenic, and fragrance-free HA moisturizer with less than 10 ingredients.||HA penetrates the surface of the skin to attract and restore moisture. Products with fewer ingredients means fewer potential interactions.||Lightweight, watery texture; easily distributed|
|Very dry or itchy /eczema-prone skin||HA creams/ointments (added benefits if containing ceramides which help rebuild the skin’s protective barrier)||Effectively hydrates and locks in moisture, however the drier the skin more frequent applications needed.||Thicker, ointment consistency.|
When selecting the best hyaluronic moisturizer for your skin type, consider opting for products that contain one or more of the following ingredients as they can enhance hydration and anti-aging properties:
- Retinols – help accelerate cell turnover and improves skin tone.
- Ceramides – help rebuild the skin’s protective barrier.
- Sun protection – oil and fragrance-free sunscreen of at least SPF 30.
- Antioxidants – help neutralize free radicals, which are molecules that break down skin cells.
- Vitamin C – has a low molecular weight that penetrates the skin, as well as anti-aging benefits in concentrations between 5 and 15%.
- Water-based formulas – provide added hydration for HA to attract and absorb into the skin.
- Sodium hyaluronate – synthesized, low molecular version of hyaluronic acid created by scientists.
While the above ingredient combinations aren’t necessary, it is highly recommended to avoid the following ingredients:
- Mineral oils
- Dyes, colorings or perfumes
- Antibacterial agents
How To Get the Best of Your Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer
As HA works by retaining moisture, these products should be applied to damp skin.
Regular exfoliation (a maximum of 3 times/week) is also important as skin care products can penetrate better when dead skin cells blocking the skin’s surface.
In the event you want to double up on the benefits of HA, try pairing an HA moisturizer with cleansers, serums, and creams that contain at least 0.1% HA as these will supplement the effects of the moisturizer.
For those with acne-prone/oily skin, try pairing a water-based hyaluronic acid serum with an HA moisturizer during your morning skincare regime. Repeat in the evening.
For those with normal/dry combination skin, consider following the aforementioned morning routine, and then adding an HA cream to your evening skincare routine. After cleansing, toning, and applying a serum, apply an HA night cream for long-lasting hydration.
Remember that water cannot penetrate oil, so apply your lighter, water-based HA product first and then apply thicker, oilier moisturizers or creams on top to seal in moisture.
Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer Alternatives
Alternative types of humectant ingredients that attract water, and when in moisturizer form, can retain moisture include dimethicone, glycerin, propylene glycol, sorbitol, hexylene glycol, butylene glycol, urea, and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs).
When taking into consideration the overall safety and side effects, residual skin feeling, and cost of the above alternative ingredients, hyaluronic acid is superior in all facets.
Minimally invasive alternatives
HA fillers offer dramatic and instantaneous results. Unlike hyaluronic serums, moisturizers, and creams which can’t completely restore volume lost during the aging process, fillers can reduce skin depressions caused by scars, injury or deep wrinkles. This is because HA is injected into the deep dermis.
While the results are not permanent, they can last anywhere from 6 to 18 months. Their popularity also stems from the fact that they have few allergic ingredients, minimal side effects, the procedure is considerably painless, and can be reversed.
HA moisturizer is an effective vehicle for delivering HA to combat dry, aging skin.
For best results, choose a product that contains at least 1% HA in nano-sized molecular weights as these are better able to penetrate the skin and can significantly improve skin hydration and elasticity.
Consider amplifying the effects of your HA moisturizer by incorporating other products that contain HA, like cleansers, serums, and creams, to your skincare routine.
- 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
- Kuritzky, L. A., & Beecker, J. (2015). Sunscreens. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 187(13), E419. doi:10.1503/cmaj.150258
- Mark S. Nestor Emily L. Kollmann Nicole Swenson. (2015). Hyaluronic Acid Fillers.Cosmetic Dermatology: Products and Procedures, Second, 41. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118655566.ch41
- 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, Gauglitz GG, Lersch P, Schwach-Abdellaoui K, Malle B, Korting HC, Farwick M. Efficacy of cream-based novel formulations of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights in anti-wrinkle treatment. J Drugs Dermatol. 2011 Sep;10(9):990-1000. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22052267