Best hyaluronic acid serums: 10 hero hydrators to quench skin’s thirst

Find the best hyaluronic acid serums for you in our edit of the top formulas out there

pink collage image showing six of the best hyaluronic acid serums in MIL's guide in white circles, including products from CeraVe, La Roche-Posay, Vichy, L'Oreal and CORSX
(Image credit: Future)

The best hyaluronic acid serums are a game-changer for dehydrated, tight, and unhappy skin. Arguably, one of the most famous skincare ingredients, if you’re looking to add more hydration to your skincare routine (and subsequently your skin), here’s why this ingredient should be your go-to.

Hyaluronic acid is pretty nifty in that it helps to draw in moisture and boost hydration at the deepest levels of your skin. It can also hold its own weight in water, multiple times over. If used in the correct skincare product order, hyaluronic acid serums could make a huge difference in your skin's appearance, leaving you with a plumper complexion, with fine lines and wrinkles reduced..

We’ve rounded up the best hyaluronic acid serums on the beauty market right now, having been tried and tested by our expert beauty writers and editors here at My Imperfect Life. If you're after an affordable option, we found fan-favorite The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid Serum to be a brilliant choice. Or, if you have a bit more budget to spend on your new HA, look to Medik8’s Hydr8 B5 Liquid Rehydration Serum to quench your skin’s thirst. Plus, we've also got options for those who want an option that isn't sticky on your skin, and for people with sensitive skin, who need to be super-careful about the ingredients they use.

Meet the Expert

  • Daniel Isaacs is the director of research at science-based beauty brand Medik8 and is considered an industry expert in sunscreens and pigmentation. 
  • Ifeoma Ejikeme is the founder And Medical Director of Adonia Medical Clinic, with an MD and Board Certified Internal Medicine amongst other qualifications. 

How we tested the best hyaluronic acid serums

Our testers tried out each serum for a month. During tests, they assessed:

  • Texture and comfort
  • How hydrated their skin felt
  • Whether the formula was fast absorbing
  • The plumping effect on fine lines
  • How long the effects lasted

Our testers, who regularly seek out hyaluronic acid formulas for their skincare regimens, also spoke to dermatologists and skin experts to further their understanding of what they should look for in each formula in terms of texture, results and complementary ingredients. When deciding which products to test, our testers tried a range of the most popular drugstore hyaluronic acids on the market, as well as formulas from trusted brands that made exciting claims about their results.

Meet the tester
Meet the tester
What's our tester's skin like?

More often than not, my skin is on a rollercoaster ride—hormonal, sensitive to changes of season and a temperamental mix of dry cheeks and oily T-Zone. I also have quite dehydrated skin, which is why hyaluronic acid is a staple in my routine. Over the years, I’ve probably tried upwards of 30 different hyaluronic acid formulas, from high end to trusted drugstore brands, always with a view to plumping out fine lines and making my skin feel cushiony soft all day. I also love an active and lean towards functional, results-driven skincare rather than spa-like smells and textures. So any hyaluronic acid formula needs to fulfil its hydration claims, preferably have additional benefits and cut back on any unnecessary frills. 

Best hyaluronic acid serums as reviewed by our beauty experts and editors

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid serum bottle

(Image credit: The Ordinary)
The best hyaluronic acid serum overall

Specifications

Additional ingredients: Vitamin B5
Sizes available: 30ml and 60ml
Skin type: All

Reasons to buy

+
Super affordable
+
Vegan and free from alcohol and oil
+
Absorbs easily

Reasons to avoid

-
Transparent, non-airtight bottle

Containing three different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, The Ordinary’s offering is both super affordable and super effective. With tens of thousands of online reviews, the majority of which are five stars, the product is clearly very popular with the skincare enthusiast community. It sinks into the skin easily, layers well with other skincare products, and won’t leave a sticky residue (the key is not to apply too much). Apply it to damp skin for best results.

See our full The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid serum review for more information on its many benefits

La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 serum bottle

(Image credit: La Roche-Posay)
The best premium hyaluronic acid serum

Specifications

Additional ingredients: Vitamin B5 and madeccassoside, to stimulate collagen production
Sizes available: 30ml
Skin type: All—but best for mature skin

Reasons to buy

+
Has not one but two types of hyaluronic acid
+
Multi-functional—tackles volume loss, dehydration and wrinkles
+
Developed and tested by dermatologists

Reasons to avoid

-
Sticky on first application
-
One of the most pricey HA's around

At $36.99, the La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 serum is one of the more pricey hyaluronic acid serums on the list, but our tester reckons its well worth the (slight) splurge. This option has both long-term and short-term effects on the skin. Upon first application, she felt it immediately flooded our skin with moisture, plumping and ‘filling out’ dehydration lines and wrinkles. In the long-term, the ingredients madeccassoside and vitamin B5 help to boost collagen production, thereby improving firmness, elasticity, and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It's a win-win! And it's why it's one of the best hyaluronic acid serums for mature skin.

Sure, it's slightly more expensive, but La Roche-Posay's products are known for being kind to skin having been tested by dermatologists. So if you're someone who is after a gentle product that is very effective for hydrating and anti-aging, this should be your go-to, as it's one of the best hyaluronic acid serums around.

See our full La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 serum review to learn more about the clever science behind this intense skin-quencher

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Supercharged Booster Serum bottle next to its product box

(Image credit: Neutrogena)
The best budget hyaluronic acid serum

Specifications

Additional ingredients: Botanical trehalose and vitamin E
Sizes available: 30ml
Skin type: All—but best for dry skin

Reasons to buy

+
Very affordable
+
Great entry point into using HA
+
Good Vitamin E delivery

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best for mature skin

If you're keen to try a hyaluronic acid but aren't sure about your serum preferences/whether the formula is right for you yet, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Supercharged Booster Serum is a great way to try it out without spending a fortune. A simple serum that won't break the bank, it does the job well, but don't expect and extra bells and whistles.

With a slightly thicker gel consistency than other hyaluronic acid serums, the Neutrogena serum is best applied along with a jade roller (if you have the time), to ensure it really soaks into the face. It certainly hydrates the skin and softened lines around our eyes, but it's probably best suited to the skin of someone in their teens/early 20s, which may not need the extra help with hydration that skin into our 30s, 40s and 50s does.

The vitamin E delivery is probably the product’s most stand out feature. It’s dispensed via the pearls in the serum, maintaining its efficacy until the moment of use. Overall, it's an affordable product that provides a good starting point for your HA journey.

See our full Neutrogena Hydro Boost Supercharged Booster Serum review to learn why this budget option is perfect for beginners

Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Liquid Rehydration Serum bottle

(Image credit: Medik8)

4. Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Liquid Rehydration Serum

The best non-comedogenic hyaluronic acid serum

Specifications

Additional ingredients: Vitamin B5
Sizes available: 30ml
Skin type: All—but especially sensitive or acne-prone skin

Reasons to buy

+
Non-comedogenic
+
Vegan and free from alcohol and oil

Reasons to avoid

-
Semi-transparent, non-airtight bottle

Medik8 is known for its research-led, science-backed skincare products. The Hydr8 B5 is a multi-molecular weight hyaluronic acid serum, which isa real plus. 

“The smallest hyaluronic acid molecules are able to penetrate deep into the skin, drawing moisture up from the lower layers of the dermis,” explains Daniel Isaacs, director of research at Medik8. “Larger molecules of hyaluronic acid sit on the skin as a moisture reservoir, feeding the upper layers and blocking water loss to the environment. Used together, low and high weights of hyaluronic acid distribute hydration throughout the entirety of the skin for a smooth complexion.” 

This formula is very fluid, sinking into the skin brilliantly, and so layers well as your first skincare step.

SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel bottle

(Image credit: SkinCeuticals)

5. Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel

The best non-sticky hyaluronic acid

Specifications

Additional ingredients: Vitamin B5
Sizes available: 30ml
Skin type: All

Reasons to buy

+
Completely non-sticky formula 
+
Absorbs quickly
+
Alcohol and fragrance free

Reasons to avoid

-
Transparent, non-airtight bottle
-
The most expensive buy on our list

If you have the means to invest a bit more money in your skincare routine, you can't go wrong with Skinceuticals (see our edit of the best vitamin C serums next for another of their hero products).

This one is described as a gel moisturizer but it’s truly a serum and helps to hydrate and plump the skin while supporting its barrier. The best bit is that it’s not at all sticky, whether you use it on its own or under your moisturizer, and it’s a firm favorite in our bathroom cabinets. On the expensive side, but worth every cent!

Skingredients Skin Veg Serum bottle

(Image credit: Skingredients)

6. Skingredients Skin Veg Serum

The best hyaluronic acid serum for a serious glow

Specifications

Additional ingredients: Polyhydroxy acid (gluconolactone), procollagen peptide, liquorice root extract
Sizes available: 45ml
Skin type: All

Reasons to buy

+
Seriously glowy
+
Non-comedogenic
+
Airtight and opaque container

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a straight hyaluronic acid serum

Skingredients is the brainchild of Jennifer Rock, aka the Skin Nerd, and all six of the products are truly excellent. Described as a “hydrator and highlighter”, Skin Veg Serum is packed with so many fruit and veg extracts that it’s a bit like a hydrating green juice for your skin.

It also comes with the added benefit of polyhydroxy acid in the form of gluconolactone, which offers gentle exfoliation that’s suitable even for sensitive skin (read: way less harsh than glycolic acid). You’ll have a serious *glow* after applying and it plays really well with make-up as well as other skincare products. They also ship all over the world. We love it!

Vichy Mineral 89 serum bottle

(Image credit: Vichy)
The best hyaluronic acid serum for sensitive skin

Specifications

Additional ingredients: Mineral-rich thermal water, sodium hyaluronate, and hydrating glycerin
Sizes available: 50ml and 75ml
Skin type : All—but especially sensitive skin

Reasons to buy

+
Great for sensitive skin
+
Delivers all-day hydration
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Ever so slightly tacky at first

A powerful and affordable hydrator, the Vichy 89 serum had to make it onto our list because of it's intensive moisture-boosting qualities and its brilliant suitability for sensitive skin. After all, this ultra-hydrating formula has only 11 ingredients. When tested, this pick really did provide all-day hydration, thanks to the inclusion of sodium hyaluronate, which intensely plumps up the top layers of your skin.

It's also been packed with Vichy Volcanic Water, which helps to protect the skin from pollen and other pollutants, once again making it a great choice for those who suffer with allergies or any skin conditions. The Vichy HA has just 11 ingredients too, so you can rest assured that there aren't any unexpected nasties in there. Plus, the bottle looks great in a bathroom cabinet, or in your favorite mini fridge for skincare.

Overall, the soothing gel-like texture left our tester's skin feeling smooth, plump and hydrated—and it's also got the thumbs up from My Imperfect Life's deputy editor and in-house beauty expert, Aleesha Badkar, who said of the serum: "I was surprised by how quenched my skin felt after using this. I usually opt for more runny hyaluronic acid serums, as I feel they absorb into the skin better and tend to garner more visible results. However, I really enjoyed having this in my skincare routine, as left my skin feel fresh and plumped. It also helped me see even better results out of my favorite vitamin C serum, the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, as I applied it on top of the watery antioxidant formula to lock in all its goodness."

See our full Vichy Minéral 89 review to learn why it's such a crowd-pleaser among beauty experts

COSRX Hydrium Triple Hyaluronic Moisture Ampoule bottle

(Image credit: COSRX)
The best science-backed hyaluronic acid for proven results

Specifications

Additional ingredients: Exfoliating lactobionic acid and vitamin B5
Sizes available: 40ml
Skin type: Best for dry, dehydrated skin

Reasons to buy

+
A thin liquid that your skin will drink up
+
Has three different types of hyaluronic acid
+
Contains lactobionic acid, which buffs away dead cells
+
Good price for such a science-backed formula

Reasons to avoid

-
Unknown concentration of hyaluronic acid
-
Comes as a pipette, so delivery isn't pre-measures

This science backed formula from COSRX is well worth the slightly elevated price tag, given how thoroughly and expertly it ensures moisture trickles through all the layers of your skin. This is because of its use of three different hyaluronic acids; High Molecular Hyaluronic Acid (aka sodium hyaluronate), which prevents moisture loss, Medium Molecular Hyaluronic Acid, which soaks into the layer below to plump skin from the inside out, and Low Molecular Hyaluronic Acid, which reaches the deeper layers of your skin. It worked expertly, giving our tester a level of seriously deep hydration.

The formula also boasts exfoliating lactobionic acid, which buffs away dead skin, to ensure the triple hyaluronic acid can reach its destination—so it feels incredibly smooth going on.

Our tester was left with plumper and juicier skin after applying this serum, which would work for all skin types but especially those with acne-prone skin (see our guide to whether hyaluronic acid is good for acne) and dry, dehydrated skin. It's not greasy or tacky at all, and the difference is immediately noticeable, which she loved. However, she didn't love that there was no indication of the concentration of HA, but there seems to be plenty enough for it to work very well.

See our full COSRX Hydrium Triple Hyaluronic Moisture Ampoule review for a more in-depth breakdown of its benefits

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Filler serum bottle

(Image credit: L'Oreal Paris)
The best hyaluronic acid serum for a high HA concentration

Specifications

Additional ingredients: Glycerin
Sizes available: 30ml
Skin type: All—but best for those concerned about fine lines

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish, luxe packaging
+
High percentage of hyaluronic acid
+
Affordable price tag

Reasons to avoid

-
Fragranced, which may not suit those with sensitive skin

Our tester's first impressions upon testing the L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Filler were positive—it massages easily into the skin, and though it is scented (which may potentially put off some with sensitive skin), the formula wasn't overpowering, and in fact, the scent made it nicely pleasant to use.

The serum contains 1.5% hyaluronic acid, which is more than many standard drugstore formulations—one of the reasons why our tester loves this L'Oreal offering and why it had to make it onto our guide of the best hyaluronic acid serums. The fact that the HA is the sole active means you can pair this with other serums easily, such as the best retinol serums.

While this product gave our tester a great hydrating glow and plumped up her skin, the word 'filler' in its name is a bit deceptive—it won't magically improve the look of grooves like an injectable would. But the semantics can be forgiven when the price, the ingredients and the independent clinical results are this good. Studies found that after two weeks using this serum, wrinkles were reduced by 47%; after six weeks that number goes up to 60%. And after six weeks of using it, we can certainly attest to that figure!

See our full L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Filler serum review to learn exactly why this budget serum is such an industry favorite

CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum bottle

(Image credit: Cerave)

10. CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum

The best hyaluronic acid serum for a gentle formula recommended by dermatologists

Specifications

Additional ingredients : Ceramides, vitamin B5
Sizes available: 10ml, 30ml and 100ml
Skin type: All—but especially sensitive skin

Reasons to buy

+
Recommended by dermatologists
+
Non-comedogenic (doesn’t clog pores)
+
Opaque and air tight packaging

Reasons to avoid

-
Has a thick consistency—some users may prefer a fluid serum

You’ve probably seen this one doing the rounds on TikTok—CeraVe is an excellent, affordable skincare brand that has the backing of dermatologists all over the world. This serum comes with the added benefit of the brand’s signature ceramide complex, which supports the skin barrier, helps to prevent moisture loss, and protects your skin. Its consistency is more of a cream than a serum, but it sinks in so easily and leaves skin feeling soft from the get-go.

Frequently asked questions on hyaluronic acid serum

What is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid—or (C14H21NO11)n for the science fans out there—is actually a substance that’s already present in our skin. “It's one of the major components of our natural extracellular matrix, which is the framework our skin sits on,” explains Daniel Isaacs, director of research at Medik8. “This is important for maintaining a firm and supple complexion.

“Hyaluronic acid can draw moisture from the surrounding atmosphere and lower skin layers to the top levels of the epidermis. This leaves the complexion both nourished and supple.”

It also has a pretty impressive CV as a skin-benefiting ingredient. “Hyaluronic acid is able to hold 1,000 times its weight in water, so functions as a humectant,” adds Dr. Ifeoma Ejikeme, aesthetics doctor and founder of the Adonia Medical Clinic. “Its role in the skin is to help retain moisture and lubrication. It can be a helpful addition to a skincare routine used once or twice a day.” 

Together with other important skincare ingredients, hyaluronic acid serums could make a huge difference in your skin's appearance. You can also use hyaluronic acid in your hair—it's especially good for dry patches.

How to use the hyaluronic acid serums

Hyaluronic acid serums can be used once or twice per day, so it’s up to you whether you factor it into your morning or evening skincare routine. Apply a few drops to damp skin before other serums and your moisturizer so that it can really draw that moisture into your skin. Either drop your serum into your palms or directly onto the face before smoothing or pressing it into your skin.

You may be wondering, is too much hyaluronic acid bad for your skin? And it turns out, it is possible to use too much, so try to stick to one application per day, as least to start with.