Is too much hyaluronic acid bad for your skin?

It's possible to love hyaluronic acid too much

Hyaluronic Acid
(Image credit: Getty / Fiordaliso)

It’s fair to say that hyaluronic acid is the ‘white t-shirt’ of our skincare regimes. It’s the every day hero humectant that attaches itself to the water in cells, making them plump up for pillowy, hydrated skin. So it’s not hard to see why, alongside retinol, we savour every last drop in our anti-ageing arsenal. 

But it is possible to love hyaluronic acid a little too much.  

Hyaluronic has an incredible capacity to draw in and hold onto moisture like a sponge. In fact, applied topically, a single gram of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six litres of water. The trouble is, it needs moisture to work in the first place so when applied to dry skin in a dry climate (thanks central heating) it can actually backfire.

"The temptation is to really slather on a hyaluronic serum at this time of year," says Dr Sophie Shotter. "But you could actually be making your skin drier. Hyaluronic acid will draw moisture from wherever it can find it to hydrate the surface of your face, including the deeper layers of your skin if there is no humidity in the air."

Which is to say, too much hyaluronic acid can leave skin thirstier and dehydration lines more prominent.

How to apply hyaluronic acid correctly

So what’s the solution? Look for a hyaluronic acid serum that contains additional emollients.

You'll find glycerin in Dr Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Acid while Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum is brimming with pineapple ceramides and vitamin B5.

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum bottle


(Image credit: Cult Beauty)

If these don’t appear on the ingredient list, bring in the reinforcements. 

Create a hydration sandwich: first spritz on a face mist like the Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater, apply your hyaluronic acid and top it all off with a ceramide moisturizer such as Paula's Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturiser

Paula's Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturiser bottle


(Image credit: Net-a-Porter)

By applying your serum to damp skin, the hyaluronic acid has a reserve of moisture to draw from. "Meanwhile, ceramides make the most of your hyaluronic acid by locking that moisture into the skin instead of letting it escape," says Shotter. 

Granted this may not speed up your morning hustle. But your skin will look so glowy, you’ll reconsider putting any make-up on top.