So prevalent is hyaluronic acid in modern skincare that it’s easy for people like me to presume blanket awareness around the hallowed ingredient when, in fact, many people feel left behind. I get more questions around hyaluronic than ever before, from women not knowing how and where it should fit into their routines (and it definitely should). So allow me to start from an almost standing position.
In the most simplistic terms, hyaluronic acid – already present naturally throughout the body, to keep moving parts lubricated and fluids viscous – is used in skincare primarily as a humectant. It has the extraordinary ability to hold about a thousand times its weight in water, meaning it can keep skin hydrated, which both feels and looks better (imagine dropping a raisin into water and leaving it to soak, and you get the gist of what HA can do for skin texture).
What throws people, in my experience, is the word “acid”, because it’s so easily confused with skin-exfoliating acids such as glycolic, lactic and salicylic – all of which need to be added more thoughtfully and sparingly to a routine. Don’t be wrong-footed by this, because hyaluronic acid is entirely different, and it’s everyone’s friend – any skin type, any product, any time, any place. It’s so helpful and benign that it now makes an appearance in cleansers, tonics, mists, serums, lotions, creams, foundations and practically anything else you can think of – and you can double-, triple- or quadruple-dose at will.
So I thought I would highlight a handful of affordable hyaluronic favourites. Japanese brand Hada Labo centres its product line around HA in four molecular weights for differing levels of skin penetration, and it is, to be direct, fantastic. There are no duds in the line (divided crudely into under-35s in white packaging, over-35s in red or blue), but I’d pick out the Anti-ageing Super Hydrator (£17.45 for 150ml), to be applied post-cleansing for a hit of plumping, comforting and hydration; and Skin Plumping Gel (£19.99 for 50ml), an elegant day moisturiser for anyone who hates the buttery film of rich creams.
Sticking with light moisturisers, L’Oréal Paris’s Hydra Genius (£9.99 for 70ml, available in two skin types) is a similar offering, providing lasting HA hydration in a very pleasant water (apply last, before suncare). Finally, the consistently excellent Revolution Skincare’s 2% Hyaluronic Acid Plumping & Hydrating Solution (£6 for 30ml), used after cleansing, is a noticeably effective and cheap way to join the cult.