When discussing dewy, hydrated skin, hyaluronic acid tends to creep up in conversation. It’s the key molecule involved in skin moisture, after all, and 50% of the body’s total amount of hyaluronic acid resides in the skin. And, of course, there’s the famous factoid that hyaluronic acid can hold 1,000 times its own weight in water: It’s referenced so much in skin care, we might as well slap the slogan on a T-shirt and send it out to the fanbase.
Hyaluronic acid is a fabulous hydrator, so it definitely deserves all the hype: “It draws water into the stratum corneum, the top layer of the skin. It is a humectant, so it gives an immediate improvement in the way the skin looks—less ashy, dry, dull,” holistic dermatologist Cybele Fishman M.D., told us about the beloved ingredient.
In the hopes of softer, plumper, more elastic skin, many flock to HA-infused serums—and because you can find an overwhelming number of these on the market, here we’ve rounded up the very best.
A quick note: On the hunt for the best hyaluronic acid serum, chances are you’ll come across some funky names, like sodium hyaluronate, sodium acetylated hyaluronate, and hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid. Don’t sweat the science jargon: All “hydrolyzed” means is breaking the chemical down with water so it’s easier for your skin to absorb (regular HA has a larger molecular weight, which can make it difficult to penetrate into pores). Sodium hyaluronate, a salt-form of hyaluronic acid, has an even smaller molecular weight than hydrolyzed HA, so it can really shimmy into the deep layers of your skin.
But enough chemistry—let’s dive into our all-time favorite hydrators.