The Skincare Ingredient You Should Be Adding to Your Haircare Routine

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Taking care of your skin doesn't stop at your face. Sure, you may have heard this from the dermatologists you follow on TikTok and Instagram for skincare tips. You've also probably come across articles on sites like this one about the best skincare products to use on your neck and chest. But the scalp is another area of the body that deserves some TLC, too.

It's not easy to see your scalp because you have a full head of hair covering it, but it's still skin. That's why you'll find common skincare ingredients in scalp care and even haircare products. Take hyaluronic acid for example. It's a popular ingredient known for attracting moisture to the skin for a plumper, dewier complexion. And it just so happens it has similar benefits when applied to your head.

"Hyaluronic Acid is a brilliant humectant and works wonders for anyone with dry skin or a dry scalp," says Kerry Yates, trichologist and founder of Colour Collective. "When applied topically, humectants help draw moisture back into the treated area, trapping it and rehydrating the skin."

Before you bring your hyaluronic acid serum in the shower with you, we tapped Yates, along with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group, to break down how to use the ingredient on your scalp and hair. Read on for all the details on incorporating hyaluronic acid in your haircare routine.

How Does Hyaluronic Acid Benefit the Scalp and Hair?

Just like your face, hyaluronic acid can draw moisture to the scalp to boost hydration. Yates says that humectant can help keep the scalp balanced, which is important because "a healthy scalp supports proper follicle fitness, helps keep each strand supple and soft, and assists in keeping dandruff at bay."

It can also help improve common hair hangups like dryness, which contributes to frizz. "It's often added to haircare products to improve frizzy, dry strands without weighing down hair," Dr. Nazarian adds.

Can All Hair Types Benefit from Hyaluronic Acid?

Absolutely! Hyaluronic acid is a universal ingredient, but how you use it will vary based on your hair type and texture.

Yates recommends fine/straight hair use HA weekly or bi-weekly. "Sebum production mixed with overuse of Hyaluronic Acid can weigh hair down, making it appear flat and lifeless," she cautions.

For those that fall on the medium straight/wavy/curly to coarse straight/wavy/curly spectrum, Yates says the sky's the limit — especially if hair is dry. And for fine/medium coily hair, Yates suggests using hyaluronic acid as a weekly treatment on the mid-lengths to ends. "This hair type is incredibly fragile based on the number of bends within the hair, so a topical treatment containing hyaluronic acid would work wonders for ensuring balanced hydration," she explains. "Usage on the scalp would be limited."

So, Can I Just Use My Favorite Facial Hyaluronic Acid Serum on My Scalp/Hair?

While there are no real risks or potential side effects to using hyaluronic acid on your scalp and hair, it's best to proceed with caution before using your favorite facial serum on your head, since it may contain active ingredients that can be irritating to the scalp. "Although the facial hyaluronic acid products can often be used for the scalp and hair, I would not recommend this unless you're certain the hyaluronic acid is gentle and without too many additives," Dr. Nazarian says. "Many products for the face can weigh down scalp and hair, or can even worsen or irritate the area — causing hair brittleness and breakage — especially hyaluronic acids that are combined with retinols or AHA acids."

As far as products specifically for the scalp and hair, leave-on options will provide the best results. "Wash-off products, such as shampoos and conditioners, may also offer benefits, but HA works better when left on hair/scalp and skin," Dr. Nazarian explains. "Hair masks and serums would be wonderful options to look for as products because they penetrate the scalp and hair well, and have greater effectiveness in moisturizing and drawing water into the area."

Yates adds that hyaluronic acid is a great supporting ingredient as well. "Hyaluronic acid is considered a more efficient humectant, but glycerin, for example, is a great humectant/hydrator and is commonly used in hair care products," she says. "Hyaluronic acid is an excellent support ingredient for treatments focused on the scalp."

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