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15 hyaluronic acid products to plump and hydrate your skin

Hyaluronic acid is a “great hydrator for pretty much all skin types,” says one expert.
Dermatologists say that hyaluronic acid can keep the skin hydrated, especially when you’re using a potentially irritating product like retinol.
Dermatologists say that hyaluronic acid can keep the skin hydrated, especially when you’re using a potentially irritating product like retinol.Kara Birnbaum / NBC

If you suffer from chronically dry skin, odds are you’re intimately familiar with hyaluronic acid. The popular substance absorbs moisture and draws it into the skin in order to hydrate it, experts told us. Though it’s especially useful for dry skin, it’s “a great hydrator for pretty much all skin types,” says Dr. Mary Stevenson, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health. “We don’t have a lot of products like that,” she adds.

SKIP AHEAD What is hyaluronic acid? | How we picked the best hyaluronic acid products | The best hyaluronic acid products in 2024 | How to shop for hyaluronic acid products

We spoke to dermatologists about what to look for and how to use it. We also got their specific recommendations for the best creams and serums to buy. Based on their advice, we rounded up top-rated products.

Selected.Our top picks

What is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring chemical your body produces that cushions and moisturizes the skin — it’s found in our skin, eyes, joints and connective tissue, Stevenson said. It acts as a humectant, which means that it “draws in water like a sponge [and] can really help in hydrating our skin,” she said.

Despite its name, hyaluronic acid should work for virtually all skin types since it isn’t actually an acid. “It’s not like salicylic acid or some of the other acids that can be more exfoliating or abrasive on our skin,” says Stevenson.

How we picked the best hyaluronic acid products

Hyaluronic acid is generally well-tolerated by most skin types and choosing one comes down to personal preference, according to our experts. They recommended looking at the following factors to determine the best products:

  • Consistency: You’ll typically find hyaluronic acid in lightweight serums, but you’ll also see it in face creams, gels and lotions.
  • Hydrating ingredients: Hyaluronic acid works well with other moisturizing ingredients like ceramides, vitamin E and aloe that offset any dryness or irritation that can come from using harsher ingredients like retinol.
  • Molecular weights: Hyaluronic acid is usually present in products at different molecular weights, which affects how it penetrates the skin. Experts told us to look for a combination of low and medium molecular weights to help it penetrate both the skin's surface and lower levels.
  • Uses: You can use it morning and night and/or alongside retinol as needed, according to our experts.

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The best hyaluronic acid products in 2024

Below, we rounded up highly rated, dermatologist-recommended products and a few highly rated NBC Select staff picks and options from notable brands.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum

For a lightweight hyaluronic acid serum, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Barry Goldman likes this serum from The Ordinary. According to the brand, it’s fragrance-free, alcohol-free and oil-free, which is beneficial for those with sensitive skin. It also has hyaluronic acid with different molecular weights, which allows the formula to hydrate more skin layers, according to The Ordinary.

Selfmade Corrective Experience Comfort Cream

This fragrance-free moisturizer is an NBC Select Wellness Awards winner and a favorite among NBC Select staff. It’s formulated with niacinamide and works as an occlusive to lock in moisture, according to the brand. NBC Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin says the moisturizer’s gel-like consistency is very lightweight on skin, and NBC Select updates editor Mili Godio appreciates how long-lasting the hydration feels after applying.

Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier

NBC Select editorial director Lauren Swanson has used this serum for years. "I became obsessed with Skinceuticals back during my beauty editor days," says Swanson. "This serum is great on its own or in additional to other hydrators." She still uses it and says it helped keep her skin moisturized while on Accutane.

Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Booster

This serum was recommended to Ashley Morris, NBC Select associate SEO reporter, by her esthetician. She says it’s especially effective during winter when her skin feels drier than normal. In addition to hyaluronic acid, this Dermalogica booster also contains ingredients that reduce the appearance of dehydration lines like panthenol, glycolipids and algae extract, according to the brand. Dermalogica recommends using the serum before moisturizer or adding a few drops into your moisturizer and applying them together.

Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum

Goldman recommends this Vichy serum because it also contains mineral water to help hydrate the skin. This oil- and fragrance-free serum is non-comedogenic and offers a non-greasy and non-sticky formula that you can wear comfortably on its own or underneath your favorite moisturizer, according to the brand. It has the National Eczema Association seal of approval too, so it’s suitable for sensitive skin.

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Mask Hydrating Gel

NBC Select editorial projects manager Rebecca Rodriguez uses this gel mask twice a day and says it works wonders on her skin. According to the brand, it contains a hyaluronic acid complex and Pentavitin (a plant extract) to moisturize, plus vitamin E and aloe to revitalize dry skin. Rodriguez recommends storing the gel in the fridge “for an added cooling effect.”

(If you prefer a serum, Peter Thomas Roth makes one.)

Cosrx Hyaluronic Acid Hydra Power Essence

Cosrx’s Snail Mucin line is arguably its most popular, but if Morris could only use one hydrating product from the brand, it would be this essence, which she’s been using for years. It’s made from a highly-concentrated natural hyaluronic acid, according to the brand, and is hydrating enough to work in both summer and winter. Morris likes massaging it into her skin twice daily — it has a lightweight feel that absorbs quickly, and it blends well with her other products.

Tatcha The Dewy Skin Cream

This Tatcha cream “couples antioxidant ingredients with deep moisture in an elegant, non-greasy formula” says Dr. Annie Chiu, a board-certified cosmetic and general dermatologist. The non-comedogenic product uses a mixture of Okinawa algae blend and hyaluronic acid to capture water and hydrate the skin, according to the brand.

Glossier Super Bounce

This popular serum from Glossier contains three molecular weights of hyaluronic acid and is formulated with pro-vitamin B5 for added hydration, according to the brand. It also has a non-sticky formula to wear underneath makeup, according to Glossier.

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

This daily moisturizer is formulated with broad-spectrum SPF to protect skin from sun damage, says CeraVe. The non-comedogenic product also contains ceramides to help restore the skin’s barrier, and niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that can calm irritated skin, according to the brand. It’s also a bestseller, and has a 4.5-star average rating from 83,284 reviews on Amazon.

Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum

Korean skin care brand Glow Recipe, which makes one of our favorite blackhead treatments, also makes a highly rated hyaluronic acid serum. It uses five molecular weights of hyaluronic acid to hydrate each layer of the skin. Plus, it’s formulated with three different antioxidant-rich plums that hydrate and rejuvenate the skin, according to Glow Recipe, and has a 4.6-star average rating from 1,177 reviews on Amazon.

Bubble Water Slide Hydration Boosting Serum

NBC Select SEO editor Nikki Brown  recommends this hydrating serum for people who want a short yet effective skin care routine. “What I love most about this serum is that it absorbs crazy fast — I just hate making the process longer than it needs to be,“ she says. Lately, she’s been using this serum to combat the dryness of New York winters and although she hasn’t been using it for very long, she says she “can already tell it’s helping to boost the effectiveness of [her] moisturizer because [my] skin feels normal again, and it looks moisturized too.”

La Roche-Posay Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Several dermatologists have previously recommended La Roche-Posay as a great drugstore skin care brand. This serum contains glycerin and vitamin B5 for added moisture in addition to hyaluronic acid, according to the brand. It’s also highly rated, with a 4.6-star average rating from 22,887 reviews on Amazon.

Ilia The Base Face Milk

Ilia’s vegan face moisturizer is designed to be lightweight and calming, according to the brand. Formulated with lipids, fatty acids and antioxidant extracts, it also addresses uneven texture and redness, according to Ilia, and can be used both day and night. It also has a 4.7-star rating from 303 reviews on Ilia.

Dewytree Hyaluronic Acid Sheet Mask

NBC Page Hannah Fuechtman loves sheet masks, and recommends this option as a quick and easy hydration treatment. It’s formulated with amino acids, and is designed to be both moisturizing and calming, making it safe for irritated or sensitive skin, according to the brand.

For best results, Dewytree recommends removing the mask with tweezers (to avoid getting any bacteria on the mask and/or your face), and applying it for 10-20 minutes for maximum absorption.

How to shop for hyaluronic acid products

Hyaluronic acid is most often found as a serum or a cream. While water-based serums typically have a higher concentration of the active ingredient and are therefore a better option, creams can be great for those who don’t have time to wait for their skin to absorb a serum, according to our experts.

“I think you get the best bang for your buck with a serum just because you’re getting the most concentrated hyaluronic acid with water and it’s going straight into your skin,” Stevenson says. “[But] sometimes you need a one and done deal [and] for those patients, I think a cream is just fine.”

Serums will often advertise what percentage of hyaluronic acid is in the product. According to Stevenson, anywhere from 1% to 2% is a “really reasonable concentration.” Some products are formulated with hyaluronic acids at different molecular weights — that’s because “different weights penetrate differently, so you want a combination,” according to Stevenson.

“In general, low and medium [molecular weights] penetrate deeper into the lower levels of skin while high molecular weights hydrate the top or surface of the skin,” she says.

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Dr. Barry Goldman is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Goldman Dermatology in New York City. He is also a clinical instructor at Cornell NY Presbyterian Hospital.
  • Dr. Mary Stevenson is a board-certified dermatologist and associate professor at NYU Langone Health’s Department of Dermatology. She is a dermatological surgeon who specializes in Mohs surgery, as well as laser and cosmetic procedures.
  • Dr. Annie Chiu is a board-certified cosmetic and general dermatologist. She is the founder of The Derm Institute in North Redondo Beach, California, and currently serves on the Dermatology staff at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Why trust NBC Select?

Morgan Greenwald is a former editor for NBC Select. Ashley Morris is an associate SEO reporter for NBC Select, covering skin care, wellness, home and kitchen and more. For this story, they spoke to board-certified dermatologists about the best hyaluronic acid products, including product recommendations and advice on how to shop for your own.

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