Here Are the Best Hyaluronic Acid Serums to Give Your Skin a Drink

We like Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum for its unique texture.

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Here are the Best Hyaluronic Acid Serums to Give Your Skin a Drink
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With all of the lotions and potions out there, it's hard to tell what you really need to add to your skin care routine, and what you can skip. If you're trying to strip your beauty products down to the bare necessities, you might want to hang on to any hyaluronic acid serums – and consider investing in some if you don't have them already.

That's because hyaluronic acid adds moisture back into your skin in a big way. InStyle spoke with Kenneth Mark, M.D., a certified dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic dermatology, to find out why this ingredient is so important. Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum claimed our top spot, because of its hydrating ingredients and lightweight texture.

Below, we've also selected the absolute best hyaluronic acid serums you can find.

Our Picks

Best Overall: Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Acid Serum
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What We Love: It leaves the skin feeling more bouncy and plump.

What We Don't Love: The sweet, fruity scent is fairly strong.

This serum could honestly be described as stretchy, and that's because such a small amount goes such a long way. Truly, a pea-sized amount will easily cover your entire face. It feels super moisturizing without being greasy and would act as a perfect lightweight primer under makeup.

It contains hyaluronic acids at lots of different molecular weights, which means that they hydrate the skin at different levels. In addition to the hyaluronic acids, this serum is rich in antioxidants thanks to three different types of plums. It also contains collagen and silk proteins, which leave your skin feeling smooth and bouncy.

Price at time of publish: $49

Sizes: 1 oz. | Best For: Combination Skin | Product Weight: Light

Best Value: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum

Acid Serum
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What We Love: The price is a great deal and the quality is still amazing.

What We Don't Love: It lacks other high-performing ingredients, like peptides and antioxidants, that many of the other serums contain.

This hyaluronic serum is packed full of the moisture-pumping good stuff. It combines hyaluronic acids with low, medium, and heavy molecular weights so that it can easily penetrate your skin. It also has vitamin B5, which is water-soluble and helps the hyaluronic acid absorb seamlessly.

This serum has a super lightweight feel, and would be perfect as one of the first stops in your nighttime skin care routine, or worn under makeup during the daytime. It leaves your skin feeling immediately more hydrated.

Price at time of publish: $23

Sizes: 1 oz. | Best For: Sensitive and combination skin | Product Weight: Light

Best Drugstore: CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Acid Serum
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What We Love: Since this is available at drugstores, it's an easy option to pick up anywhere.

What We Don't Love: It's still a little pricey for a drugstore option.

This hyaluronic serum is packed with niacinamide, which helps calm the skin, as well as ceramides, which restore the skin's protective barrier. With hyaluronic acid working to retain water in the cells, the ingredient combo is great because they all complement each other.

The best part of this product is that it has a smoothing gel texture that would work great under makeup.

Price at time of publish: $18

Sizes: 1 oz. | Best For: Super dry skin | Product Weight: Heavy

Best Splurge: Saro de Rúe Freeze-Dried Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Aging System

Acid Serum
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What We Love: The single-dose hyaluronic acid "pills" are super potent delivering 72 hours of hydration.

What We Don't Love: Along with a fancy delivery system, comes a fancy price to match.

This brand takes different forms of hyaluronic acid seriously. It includes a bottle of pure activator as well as a package of freeze-dried hyaluronic acid pills. The pure activator is a blend of mulberry and pomegranate extracts, as well as niacinamide, purslane, and adenosine, which is an ingredient that helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

The tablets are packed with 98.5-percent hyaluronic acid that has a super small molecular weight that can penetrate deep into the skin. In addition to the hyaluronic acid, the tablet contains vitamin E and squalane. The tablet dissolves under eight to ten drops of the activator serum so that you can pat it into the skin. This combo really works to reduce the signs of age and sun spots, as well as wrinkles and fine lines.

Price at time of publish: $170

Sizes: 1.69-ounces | Best For: All skin types | Product Weight: Medium-heavy

Best for Very Dry Skin: Wishful Thirst Trap Juice Hyaluronic Acid & Peptide Hydrating Facial Serum

Acid Serum
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What We Love: A little goes a long way and it makes your skin noticeably more hydrated.

What We Don't Love: This formula is very watery in texture.

Packed with peptides and hyaluronic acid, this serum is the ultimate choice for skin that's feeling super dry and flaky. It has three different types of hyaluronic acid: hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, and hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid. All of these work together to penetrate every layer of the skin.

Finally, it also has aloe vera, which is great for making skin feel more plumped and soothed. The aloe vera makes it especially great for dry, dehydrated, or sun-damaged skin.

Price at time of publish: $56

Sizes: 1 oz. | Best For: Sensitive, damaged, or dry skin | Product Weight: Light-medium

Best for Mature Skin: Dr. Lara Devgan Scientific Beauty Hyaluronic Serum

Acid Serum
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What We Love: The formula truly reduces the appearance of wrinkles without feeling too heavy on the skin.

What We Don't Love: This formula is prohibitively expensive.

This skin specifically targets aging skin that is losing firmness. It does this by being packed with ingredients that support natural collagen and elastin production. In addition to hyaluronic acids of mixed molecular weights, this serum includes vitamins B3 and B5, which work to improve texture and firmness.

This serum is very lightweight and would work great under makeup or to support your nighttime skin care routine. Using it day and night will help since this is an especially good serum for also targeting the signs of aging.

Price at time of publish: $245

Sizes: 1 oz. | Best For: Mature, dry skin | Product Weight: Light

Best for Sensitive Skin: Biossance Squalane + Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum

Acid Serum
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What We Love: The squalane is an all-natural, sensitive skin-friendly way to add moisture back into your skin.

What We Don't Love: The lightweight formula isn't powerful enough for drier skin types.

Biossance is the queen of gentle formulas, and this one is no exception. It contains hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid, and squalane – all of which work to moisturize and plump the skin. It also uses copper peptides to support collagen and elastin production.

This formula definitely plumps the skin, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This is one of those formulas that's so gentle you could definitely use it at night before bed and in the mornings under your makeup.

Price at time of publish: $68

Sizes: 1 oz. | Best For: Sensitive, combination skin | Product Weight: Medium-heavy

Best with Vitamin C: Tatcha Violet-C Brightening Serum 20% Vitamin C + 10% AHA

Acid Serum
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What We Love: The squalane is an all-natural, sensitive skin-friendly way to add moisture back into your skin.

What We Don't Love: The AHAs can be a little harsh on the skin for daily use.

Twenty percent of this formula is made up of naturally-derived vitamin C that absorbs quickly and works to protect the skin from the sun's UV rays as well as free radicals. It also contains AHAs, which are an acid that gently exfoliate away the dead skin cells.

Of course, it also contains hyaluronic acid, which works to add moisture to the skin. All of these ingredients lead to a more even texture, making this a good option for those dealing with acne scars or redness.

Price at time of publish: $88

Sizes: 1 oz. | Best For: Textured skin | Product Weight: Light

Best for Nighttime Application: SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator

Acid Serum
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What We Love: The formula feels substantial – so much so that you can still feel it on your skin when you wake up in the morning.

What We Don't Love: It's pretty pricey.

This is one of those products that you can feel the heft of when you're putting it on – and I mean that in the best possible way. It is substantial in terms of ingredients and texture. As opposed to the typical three kinds of hyaluronic acids, this one actually offers five. It's best to apply at night because it works for up to eight hours and has a tackier consistency. That said, if you want to apply it during the day, you could just put it specifically on fine lines and wrinkles, under your makeup.

In addition to hyaluronic acid, this powerhouse contains a peptide complex, vitamin, and dimethicone, all of which work to add and hold moisture in the skin.

Price at time of publish: $99

Sizes: 1 oz. | Best For: Extra dry skin | Product Weight: Heavy

Best High-Potency Serum: Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Glow Serum

Acid Serum
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What We Love: It leaves your skin feeling more moisturized for up to 120-hours after application.

What We Don't Love: The high amount of hyaluronic acid could be too much for combination with oily skin.

A hyaluronic acid complex makes up 75-percent of this formula, which really helps it pack a moisture-filled punch. It also has what the brand refers to as a "hydrafence," which locks in the moisture provided by the serum for up to 120-hours after application.

In addition to hyaluronic acid, this serum contains a ceramide complex, and a malachite complex, which gives the skin a boost of minerals. All of these ingredients work together to leave the skin looking moisturized and plumped, which definitely helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Price at time of publish: $72

Sizes: 1 oz. | Best For: Normal or dry skin | Product Weight: Medium

What to Keep in Mind

Ingredients

While you're investing in a serum, you should go ahead and scope out the other ingredients in addition to the hyaluronic acid. If you're looking to reduce the appearance of darkness or texture, prioritize formulas with AHAs and vitamin C. If you're looking for all of the moisture, go ahead and search for ingredients like peptides and squalane.

Skin Type

Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in the body, where it works to trap water inside cells. In skin care products, it's usually used as a humectant (meaning to trap in the other good ingredients). This makes it especially important for those with dry skin, or those feeling especially dehydrated.

When to Apply

Go ahead and throw on your hyaluronic acid serum at night and in the morning. Dr. Mark says people should bear in mind that "it is already one of the main components of the skin, along with water and collagen." Hyaluronic acid also plays well with other actives and steps in your skin care routine.

Your Questions, Answered

Why does the molecular weight of the hyaluronic acid matter?

Basically, the molecular weight refers to the size of the particles. The smaller the particles, the easier time they have penetrating your skin's barrier. A formula with a variety of sizes will target different levels of the skin, to hydrate the surface as well as deeper into your moisture stores.

What's the difference between a serum and a moisturizer?

Dr. Mark explains that serums and moisturizers don't refer to ingredients as much as the vehicle. Basically, moisturizers are typically thicker and in cream form while serums are more light and liquidy. Apply your products in this order: serums after cleaners and toners, but before your moisturizer.

Can all skin types use hyaluronic acid?

The short answer is yes. That said, if you have super dry skin, it's especially encouraged. It can reduce irritation and the appearance of wrinkles and, according to Dr. Mark, "binds its weight in water up to 1,000-times." This means that hyaluronic acid molecules are capable of holding up to 1,000 times their weight in water. If you have super sensitive skin, look for serums with lower amounts of hyaluronic acid in the formula, as well as options that also include gentle ingredients, like squalane or peptides.

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