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The best hyaluronic acid serums of 2024 will make you believe the anti-aging hype

Hyaluronic acid serum heroes like Glow Recipe, Caudalie, The Inkey List, Peach & Lily and Naturium will make your skin dewy and plump.

The best hyaluronic acid serums of 2024 come from brands like Glow Recipe, Inkey and Peach & Lily. (Amazon)
The best hyaluronic acid serums of 2024 come from brands like Glow Recipe, Inkey and Peach & Lily. (Amazon)

Whether you have serious dryness or oily skin, you can benefit from having the best hyaluronic acid serum in your arsenal — that is if you don’t already. Even the most novice skincare user is highly likely to already own at least one product containing hyaluronic acid. The ingredient, which is known for its hydrating properties, has exploded in the beauty market in recent years. Not only is hyaluronic acid a powerful humectant, but it can hold up to 1,000 times its own molecular weight. This hydration serum also works well with many other types of ingredients like ceramides. No wonder it's everywhere we turn!

Quick overview
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Since we lose moisture and elasticity as we age, hyaluronic acid can be key in an anti-aging skincare regimen. As an over-40, longtime beauty editor, hyaluronic acid serums have become such an important part of my daily routine that I can’t imagine what life was like before I used them. (Wait, yes, I can. My skin was sad and way, way less hydrated.) In order to determine the best hyaluronic acid serums, I tested dozens of products from an assortment of brands. I graded them on feel, absorption, ingredients, benefits, molecular weight (more on that later), and how they fared for different budgets and skin types. Let’s get dewy!

Size: 1 oz | Skin Type: Oily, combination, dry, sensitive, normal | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, plum extract, polyglutamic acid, vegan collagen, silk protein, vitamin B

I'm not going to lie; I was first attracted to Glow Recipe’s Plum Plump’s good looks. That luscious, light purple bottle is divine! However, I was quickly pleased with how well the serum performed. The lightweight, soothing formula (that has a ton of antioxidants) feels incredible post-cleanse, absorbs nicely and makes my skin look fresh and dewy despite my feeling like a tired, wretched witch on the inside. (Note: You want to make sure your skin is a little bit damp when you apply for optimal absorption.)

Time for a quick lesson: Molecular weight is definitely a thing when it comes to hyaluronic acid. The smaller the molecule, the lower the molecular weight, and the further it can penetrate the skin (which is what we want). However, experts say the best thing to look for in a hyaluronic acid serum is a mix of differently-sized hyaluronic acid molecules. Glow Recipe's Plum Plump has five molecular weights: ultra-low, low, medium, high and ultra-high.

Pros
  • Good for all skin types
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Contains multi-weight hyaluronic acids
  • Antioxidant-rich ingredients
Cons
  • Some say it's sticky
  • If you're concerned with fragrance, this has a light fruit scent
$45 at Kohl's
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$45 at Sephora$47 at Amazon

Size: 30ml | Skin Type: Oily, combination, dry, sensitive, normal | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, peptides

This product has over 4,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, so it's basically the prom queen of hyaluronic acid serums. With three different molecular weight levels, you get all the hydration penetration you need. I couldn’t resist the cost of this serum. At $10, this is a solid budget HA that I like to throw in my overnight bag. Some people find the texture tacky, while others do not (you’ll find this is a common complaint overall), but once you seal it all in with your moisturizer, you’re good to go.

Pros
  • Has multi-molecular weight levels
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Suitable for all skin types
Cons
  • Some may find the texture sticky
  • Reviewers complain about the small size
  • Some reviewers say the product comes out of the bottle too quickly
$10 at Amazon

Size: 40ml | Skin Type: Dry, normal, oily, combination | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, peach extract, peptides

The idea of “glass skin" put beauty lovers in a chokehold when it first came out. We all wanted this clear, dewy, luminous complexion and still do. Hydration is the answer, obviously. But also: You can’t ever erase your pores, baby! Still, this beloved serum is the G.O.A.T. for its powerful combination of ingredients. It has a hyaluronic acid blend of short, medium and long-chain molecules, niacinamide to fight inflammation and brighten dark spots, antioxidant peach extract, and a proprietary peptide complex.

While this serum is good for most skin types, people with sensitive skin especially love it for its lightweight feel, fragrance-free formula, and effectiveness at improving hydration and giving a dewy, healthy complexion.

Pros
  • Weightless formula
  • Clean ingredients
  • Fragrance-free and alcohol-free
  • Vegan, cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny certified
Cons
  • Some reviewers say it's not worth the price
  • Too sticky for some reviewers
$39 at Amazon
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$39 at Ulta Beauty

Size: 1 oz | Skin Type: Dry, normal, oily, combination, mature, sensitive | Key ingredients: Biotech hyaluronic acid, viniferine, TET8™ Patented Technology, tightening sugars

I gave this the title of “best luxury hyaluronic acid serum,” but it actually has two superlatives — it’s also best for mature skin types! After using this Caudalie serum for a week, I noticed that the lines on my forehead (this was before I got Botox, FYI) were softer, so right away, I knew this was a great choice for anyone with wrinkle concerns. Alongside a high amount of hyaluronic acid, it has the brand’s hero ingredients like vineferine, which comes from grapevine sap and helps brighten dark spots, and TET8™ Enzyme technology, which uses extract from the magnolia plant to target eight different aging signs. It does contain a light rose scent that I find pleasant, but super-sensitive noses might want to opt for something else.

Pros
  • Good for mature skin
  • 98% natural origin ingredients
  • Dermatologically tested
  • Recyclable packaging
Cons
  • Has a light scent, so not best for fragrance-free folks
  • Complaints about how much product you get for price
$139 at Amazon
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$139 at Macy's$139 at Nordstrom

For $17, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this Naturium serum, as it contains four different molecular weight levels to hydrate and plump skin. It's also vegan, cruelty-free, derm-tested and has no fragrance, which is always important for sensitive skin types.

$17 at Amazon

This serum brought my skin back to life after PRP treatments left it angry and dehydrated. Overall, Alastin is a great post-treatment brand, but its products are also incredible for daily routine use. It contains proprietary Octapeptide-45, which helps stimulate hyaluronic acid production, as well as silver mushroom extract and Hexapeptide-11 for more hydration support.

$118 at Alastin

Newsflash: hyaluronic acid is already in our bodies! According to Ivey Rogers, Aesthetician Educator for Urban Skin Rx, hyaluronic acid is “a slippery substance produced by our bodies naturally to help keep our joints lubricated and prevent injury and bone grinding.” As I mentioned earlier, it’s also a humectant, which means it is attracted to and binds to water (and can hold a whopping 1000 times its weight in water). So, what does it do for our skin? “Because it's such a great hydrating lubricant, it helps make our skin more flexible, which improves the look of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Rogers. “It also helps wounds heal faster and reduce scarring.”

Hyaluronic acid is such a buzzy ingredient, so it must be pretty versatile, right? Indeed, HA is well-tolerated by most skin types. A strong humectant can be amazing for dry and parched skin, but many people with oily, combination and sensitive skin can usually use a hyaluronic acid serum without issues. “Hyaluronic acid works great for all skin types but in different ways,” explains Rogers. “Combination or oily skin types tend to have excess oil in some places or all over. To avoid over-moisturizing, a hyaluronic acid serum or moisturizer would be the best option to help balance the skin's moisture barrier.” Regarding dry skin types, Rogers says that it’s best to cocktail this serum with a facial oil or an occlusive moisturizer to help lock in moisture.

Of course, it’s always best to do a patch test before use, and if you have an allergic reaction, avoid the ingredient altogether.

As I mentioned, molecular weight is something to think about when it comes to hyaluronic acid. “The molecular weight of each molecule correlates to its size, and the smaller the size, the further it can penetrate the skin to provide hydrating benefits,” explains Rogers. “Smaller molecules with a lower molecular weight are more effective at absorption topically since our skin barrier is water-resistant. Although larger molecules have more difficulty penetrating as deep as smaller ones, they are great for transepidermal water loss, affecting the skin's outermost layer.”

According to Rogers, it’s beneficial to include a hyaluronic acid serum in your daily routine. “This ingredient works great with most other skincare care ingredients and should be applied to clean, damp skin, followed by a moisturizer and/or a facial oil,” she says.

"Good" vs "bad" is maybe not the best way to think about this question but a few facts may help you decide if hyaluronic acid is right for you. First, hyaluronic acid is non-comedogenic, so it won't specifically clog your pores. It's also important to note that even the oiliest skin needs moisture and these formulas boost hydration — meaning, it can make your complexion more balanced overall which may lead to fewer breakouts. Still, as with any new product, conduct a spot test over a few days to see how your particular skin reacts.

Skin experts agree that not only can you use hyaluronic acid with retinol in tandem, doing so may even be beneficial: Retinol can irritate many skin types, especially during the initial use period and the moisture from a hyaluronic acid is soothing.