- HA serums are a potent source of hydration in preventing and treating dry, wrinkly skin.
- Serums are unique in that they have a high concentration of active ingredients in small molecular weights that allow for better absorption.
- HA serums are effective for all skin types, particularly since they are available in both water and oil-based.
The tremendous absorbing properties and potent concentration of active ingredients of facial serums, combined with the hydrating power of Hyaluronic Acid, secures HA serums as a staple in daily skin care.
HA serum can improve skin elasticity, have a plumping effect, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and slow signs of aging.
What Is Hyaluronic Acid and Why Is It Used in Serums?
Hyaluronic Acid is naturally produced by the body and is an essential component in skin hydration, as well as in lubricating the eyes, joints, connective tissue, and organs.
As we age, our HA production depletes. This causes dry skin and wrinkles. Replenishing the skin with HA can help compensate for this loss.
HA is a natural humectant, which means it 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.
Face serums are formulated with low molecular weights and high concentrations of ingredients that are better absorbed directly into the skin. Opting for a serum containing HA makes for a very effective dry and aging skin treatment.
Is a serum what you need?
There are serums on the market designed to address a variety of skin problems. This is because serums are most effective at delivering a high concentration of ingredients to the skin, even more so than moisturizers and creams.
It is, however, recommended to begin with a serum and then apply a moisturizer or cream for added hydration or to seal in moisture. A study in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology demonstrates that applying a serum followed by a moisturizer can significantly improve skin hydration.
Hyaluronic Acid Serum Benefits
The topical application of at least 0.1% HA can significantly improve skin hydration and elasticity, which in turn combats signs of aging.
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.
Reintroducing HA topically is an effective solution in combating the appearance of fine lines and deep wrinkles. The high water content of HA contributes to firmness, resilience, and elasticity of youthful skin, due to its hydrating power.
HA also possesses antioxidant properties that can protect skin from environmental elements such as sun exposure, harsh chemicals, and free radicals, which are some of the culprits of sagging and wrinkles.
Because HA is a natural component of the skin, allergic reactions or irritation are extremely rare. However, 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.
How to Pick a Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Your Skin Type
HA is great at attracting water and hydrating skin without making it greasy. The other benefit of serums is that they are lightweight. This makes HA serum beneficial for all skin types. Choosing a product with the appropriate base and ingredient combinations for your skin’s complexion is key.
Water-based vs oil based serums
Oil-based serums provide more intense revitalization but take longer to absorb into the skin. They are better suited for evening application and for those with normal/dry combination skin.
Ingredients that pair well with and supplement the effects of HA serums are:
- Retinol – helps accelerate cell turnover and improves skin tone.
- Ceramides – help rebuild the skin’s protective barrier.
- Peptides – help encourage collagen production and reduce fine lines.
- Niacinamide – a form of vitamin B3 that helps reduce the size of pores, as well as improve skin tones, fine lines and wrinkles, and thinning skin.
- Vitamin C – has a low molecular weight that penetrates the skin, as well as anti-aging benefits in concentrations between 5 and 15%.
While the aforementioned ingredients aren’t necessary to include in your HA serum, there are ingredient lists to avoid. Look for products that are:
- Free of mineral oils
- Free of dyes, colorings
- Free of antibacterial agents
How to Use Hyaluronic Acid Serums
Begin by cleansing and toning your face. Apply a dime size amount of serum evenly over damp skin and allow to fully absorb/dry.
If not applied to damp skin, HA can actually have the opposite effect and dehydrate the skin.
Serums can then be layered with your choice of a moisturizer or cream. Remember that once you’ve applied a moisturizer or cream, a protective barrier will form on the skin that blocks other products from being absorbed.
How often should you use it?
Incorporate your preferred HA serum twice daily, morning and night, to your skin care routine.
Adding it to your skin care routine
HA pairs positively with most products. The only ingredient to look out for is low PH acids as they might reduce the effectiveness of HA.
DIY Hyaluronic Acid Serum Recipes
It is possible to create your own HA serum at home. There are a number of recipes available, each with varying degrees of difficulty. Some DIY HA serums require minimal ingredients and steps, while others entail more complicated measurements and instructions.
When creating your own HA serum, it’s important to remember that the skin’s ability to absorb this ingredient is key. Applying HA in low molecular weights of 20-300 kDa is necessary to enhancing skin moisture and elasticity, as well as decreasing the depth of wrinkles.
Your ability to source quality ingredients will play an important role in whether your DIY serum is effective or not.
DIY water based HA serum
- Small clean jar with lid
- 1/4 cup distilled water
- 1/2 teaspoon hyaluronic acid powder
- 1/4 teaspoon glycerin (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid preservative (optional)
If you opt to forgo adding a preservative, you would need to store your homemade HA serum in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Should you decide to incorporate a preservative, your serum can be stored at room temperature for up to three months.
- Mix HA powder with distilled water (and glycerin/preservative if using).
- Cover the jar and shake well.
- Keep in the fridge for several hours until it thickens. The consistency should become more smooth as the HA absorbs the water.
DIY oil-based HA serum
- 5% Xyliance emulsifier (Cetearyl wheat straw glycosides, Cetearyl alcohol)
- 6% Buriti oil
- 5% shea butter
- 2% spilanthes acmella (electric daisy) extract
- 75.5% frankincense hydrosol
- 4% Vitamin B3 (niacinamide)
- 0.8% Vitamin E
- 1% Preservative Eco (benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid, glycerine, sorbic acid)
- 0.5% hyaluronic acid powder
- 0.2% frankincense essential oil
- Weigh your oil phase ingredients (the Xyliance emulsifier, Buriti oil, shea butter, and electric daisy extract) into a bowl or beaker.
- Weigh your water phase ingredients (the hydrosol and Vitamin B3 powder) into a second bowl or beaker.
- Create a bain-marie or water bath and heat both beakers until they reach 70 degrees C.
- Once both phases reach the same temperature remove them from the heat and slowly pour the water phase into the melted oil phase stirring at the same time with a manual hand whisk.
- Do this for about 3 minutes until the mix whitens and homogenizes as it cools. Whilst it is cooling add the hyaluronic acid powder (note this could also be added to the water phase).
- Once cool, add the preservative, Vitamin E, and essential oil and stir thoroughly.
Hyaluronic Acid Serum Alternatives
Sodium hyaluronate is a synthesized, low molecular version of hyaluronic acid created by scientists. Because it is formulated based on HA’s unique water-binding properties, it is a viable alternative to HA.
Ceramides have powerful moisturizing abilities in that they help retain water and hydration on the skin’s surface, while simultaneously keeping environmental pollutants off.
Like HA, glycerin is a humectant, meaning it has the ability to pull and lock in water on the skin’s surface.
However, because of HAs natural ability to retain large amounts of water: approximately one thousand times its weight, it is the most effective at restoring hydration, reducing wrinkle depth and diminishing fine lines, improve elasticity and increase skin firmness.
Serums are lightweight and easily absorbed by the skin. They have the ability to deliver a high concentration of active ingredients that can address a plethora of skin problems.
Incorporating the intense hydrating power of an hyaluronic serum twice daily can significantly hydrate and soothe dry skin, improve elasticity, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
For best results, choose a serum that contains at least 0.1% HA with molecular weights ranging between 20-300 kDa to defend against dry and aging skin.
In the event you decide to follow a DIY recipe, remember to seek out quality products with potencies and weights that are proven to penetrate the skin. When trying any product, a patch test in a discreet area is recommended prior to applying on the face.
- 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://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/srt.12228
- Papakonstantinou, E., Roth, M., & Karakiulakis, G. (2012). Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermato-endocrinology, 4(3), 253–258. doi:10.4161/derm.21923
- 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. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22052267
- Werschler, W. P., Trookman, N. S., Rizer, R. L., Ho, E. T., & Mehta, R. (2011). Enhanced efficacy of a facial hydrating serum in subjects with normal or self-perceived dry skin. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 4(2), 51–55. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3050617/