What is sodium hyaluronate and how does it work in skincare?

Spotted sodium hyaluronate on skincare packaging but aren't sure what it's all about? Here's your need-to-know guide

multiple drops of serum and oil on a glass background
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

Get the 101 on sodium hyaluronate in this Skincare 101—our comprehensive skincare dictionary of every ingredient that you need to know about.

You’ve definitely heard of hyaluronic acid, but if you’ve spotted sodium hyaluronate on skincare packaging in its place you might not be sure what that’s all about. Despite their differing names, the two are actually very similar. 

Moisturizers and cleansers are often enriched with this hydrating agent and it can make a really good part of your skincare routine order.

So how does it work for skin and what are its primary benefits? We asked an expert to bring you everything you need to know about sodium hyaluronate. 

What is sodium hyaluronate?

Hyaluronic acid is known as a hero hydrator of the skincare world. It's a substance that naturally occurs in our bodies, found in our tissue, and has a unique ability to hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water and draws it into the skin. 

Sodium hyaluronate is the salt form of hyaluronic acid, but it's a more stable form and generally has a smaller molecular weight than HA.

close up of skincare formulas

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What are the benefits of sodium hyaluronate for skin?

Cosmetic products containing sodium hyaluronate hydrate your skin, giving you a plumped and smoother complexion.

“We know and love hyaluronic acid for its ability to hold vast amounts of water molecules on the surface of the skin, which increases the water content of the skin and brings us instant hydration,” says Dr Kemi Fabusiwa, aka Dr Fab, skin expert and ambassador for The INKEY List (opens in new tab). “But the salt version of hyaluronic acid allows it to be more readily absorbed into the skin.

“It works best when used alongside different types of hyaluronic acid of different molecular sizes which allows for fuller, deeper penetration into the skin,” she adds. 

How to use sodium hyaluronate in your skincare routine

Like you can use vitamin C morning or night, sodium hyaluronate or the best hyaluronic acid serums are suitable for use as part of both your morning and evening skincare routines. It can be found in pretty much every skincare product type around, but your best bet is to use it in serums—to really get it deep into the layers of your skin—and the best moisturizers for dry skin.

To get the most from sodium hyaluronate, check the list of ingredients for confirmation that it’s definitely in the formula. Then, after layering any additional serums, lock the whole thing in with your moisturizer. Here are a few formulas to inspire your shopping list...

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The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid Serum

RRP: $899./£6.99 for 30ml

The INKEY List's affordable HA serum contains different molecular weights of the hydrating hero, including both sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid, to pack a moisture punch. 


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CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Serum

RRP: $19.99/£17 for 30ml

Dermatologist-loved CeraVe is known for its ceramide and hyaluronic acid-packed formulas, and the lotion-like formula is super gentle on the skin. 


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Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier

RRP: $106/£90 for 30ml

Skinceuticals already makes one of our best vitamin C serums (opens in new tab)—the Skinceuticals CE Ferulics (opens in new tab)—so it stands to reason that they'd have a great hyaluronic acid too.

Created to amplify skin's hyaluronic acid levels, this serum contains sodium hyaluronate alongside licorice and purple rice to plump the skin and keep it hydrated. It's been found to boost HA levels by as much as 30%!


We can assure you that by using a serum containing sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid is your one-way ticket to better hydrated skin! 

Aleesha Badkar
Deputy Editor at My Imperfect Life

Aleesha is deputy editor and beauty & fashion lead for My Imperfect Life, where she heads up the beauty, fashion and eCommerce pages. Previously she was shopping writer for woman&home and gained an AOP awards nomination after working on their news team. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including, Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. When she’s not testing new products, Aleesha spends her time soaking up the newest bestsellers and Netflix releases, learning about different wines, attempting new languages and travelling as much as she can.