Hyaluronic acid has one major claim to fame: It can hold 1,000 times its weight in water. But in order to reap the maximum benefits, you’ll want to be sure you’re using it the right way…which to one dermatologist means applying it right before you step into the shower. Cut to the glass-shattering all around you.
“Hyaluronic acid is a natural sugar molecule that is found in our skin, joints, and connective tissues to provide hydration, lubrication, and stability,” says Christine Choi Kim, MD, a Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist. When it comes to the skin, Dr. Choi Kim explains that because the molecule acts like a sponge, if you are in low-humidity conditions (which tend to be the case during the winter months, when the air is cold and dry), HA may draw water from your deeper skin layers. This can cause the moisture to evaporate, leaving your skin even drier.
“Instead, try applying a hyaluronic acid serum before you shower so that your skin can draw upon the ambient moisture from the steamy water,” says Dr. Choi Kim. This way, your skin will get an added boost of moisture simply from standing under the stream.
Plus, you’ll get even more bang for your buck from any post-shower moisturizers you apply to your skin, because the hyaluronic acid will help to draw them deeper into your complexion to hydrate you from the inside out. “If you have dry skin, choosing products with hyaluronic acid will help give your skin a boost of hydration that it needs, and will also help plump up the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says.
You can use this trick on your face, as well as on any other spots on your body that might feel a little extra thirsty this time of year (knees and elbows, anyone?). With that in mind, keep scrolling for the best hyaluronic acid serums worth slathering on all over ahead of your next shower.
Shop hyaluronic acid serums
Dr. Choi Kim names this as her HA serum of choice. “It contains hyaluronic acid in the form of sodium acetylated hyaluronate, along with powerful antioxidants,” she says. “Not only will this serum amp up your skin’s hydration, but it will also fortify your skin against environmental stressors. It is also oil-free and suitable for all skin types.”
This derm-beloved drugstore diamond is known for its ability to hydrate skin from deep within the surface. “This serum contains both short chain and long chain HA. The short chain tends to immediately plump the skin, quickly improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and giving the skin an immediate glow,” says Ted Lain, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Texas. “The longer chain HA tends to deliver longer acting results, drawing water into the deeper layers more slowly with results that last well past those of the short-chain HA.” The result? Skin that stays hydrated all day long—even during the darkest depths of winter.
Made with 75 percent hyaluronic acid, this serum really will help “drench” your skin, just as its name implies. It’s been shown to enhance hydration for up to 120 hours (aka five days). In addition to hyaluronic acid, the formula also features ceramides, which help to strengthen your skin barrier in order to lock in all of that moisture and prevent it from escaping into the environment.
With three different weights of hyaluronic acid, this serum delivers hydration into your complexion at various levels in order to ensure that it’s fully quenched—leaving it plump and bouncy almost immediately after you apply. It pairs the ingredient with three antioxidant-rich plums, which nourish and protect skin and offer what the brand calls “juicy” hydration.
For more intel on how hyaluronic acid works to hydrate skin, check out the video below.
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