Regardless of the season, you’d be hard-pressed to find a complexion that couldn’t use a little boost in hydration. When skin is moisturized, it looks smoother, brighter, healthier — and yes, younger, especially when hyaluronic acid (HA) is part of your routine. This ingredient (a sugar that is naturally found in our bodies) is a water-loving molecule, and can attract and hold up to 1,000 times its weight in H₂O. When applied topically, HA can immediately help plump up the look of skin, improving the appearance of fine lines. Here, our editors share their favorite HA-infused serums to amp up their hydration levels year round.
Who: Lauren Levinson, Editorial Director
What: OSEA® Hyaluronic Sea Serum ($88)
Why: As I cleaned up my beauty routine during pregnancy, I swapped in this non-toxic HA serum. Both the unscented formula and no-fuss texture has made it a staple in my daily routine since the first trimester. It pumps into hand as a dewy droplet before spreading onto skin as a light serum, absorbing within seconds. It layers easily with other products (over essence and under moisturizer and SPF, for me), while adding hydration to my often-dehydrated skin. In addition to HA, it contains three types of organic seaweed for the added benefit of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Who: Joslyn Winkfield, Senior Visuals Editor
Why: I’ve struggled with uneven skin tone my whole life, but haven’t loved some of the harsh ingredients I’ve been advised to try. Whenever I can go natural with my skincare solutions, I feel extra accomplished, so I jumped for joy at the launch of the new version of Herbivore’s much loved Prism serum. This one sloughs away dead and dull skin with naturally derived willow bark extract, as well as bilberry lactic, sugar glycolic, and malic acids -- but then immediately soothes my skin with vegan hyaluronic acid and a lovely dose of rose water.
Who: Emily Orofino, Senior Beauty Editor
Why: I have one rule for hyaluronic acid serums that deign to be a part of my regimen: they must feel immediately hydrating on contact, and leave my skin feeling moisturized once absorbed. (Sounds pretty basic, but you’d be surprised.) This formula combines the water-loving molecule with soothing honey peptides and redness-relieving glucosides to deliver comfortable, complexion-quenching hydration without any heaviness or residue. I also happen to love the packaging: the “click-pen” style tube features a precision tip that I’d call “medi-chic.”
Who: Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
What: SkinMedica® HA⁵® Rejuvenating Hydrator ($178)
Why: This lightweight serum has become one of my skincare staples for a few reasons. It’s packed with not one, but five different forms of hyaluronic acid. As a result, my skin feels fresh both instantly and throughout the course of the day. I also love that HA⁵® doubles as a makeup primer; it has a velvety finish that plays well under foundation.
Who: Thia Laurain, Social Media Editor
What: Fresh® Rose Deep Hydration Face Serum ($48)
Why: A rose is a rose is my favorite hydrating serum. Infused with hyaluronic acid, soothing rose extracts, and moisture-binding angelica leaf extract, this lightweight gel-textured serum absorbs into my skin quickly, leaving no filmy residue behind. I use it as a pre-foundation primer step in the morning (yes, it plays well with makeup!), and find my combination skin looks consistently less oily, yet somehow more dewy by the time happy hour hits.
Who: Madisen Theobald, Social Media Editor
Why: When I started working at SpotlyteTM, I soon found out that Barbara Sturm, MD was like a household name to these women. Dr. Barbara Sturm is famous for her blood face creams (not as scary as it sounds) and her molecular cosmetics skincare line. This month, I decided to break my Dr. Sturm virginity. (Yes, I know I probably waited far too long.) The latest edition to my skincare stash is the Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum. I am always looking for a slippery HA to add to my routine, and her hyaluronic drops have the perfect mix of intense hydration and visible freshness. I splash a full dropper on my forehead and cheeks, and lightly pat in the formula with my fingertips. The formula smells like luxury – if luxury had a smell. These little drops of replenishment instantly revitalize my tired, dull skin all while leaving me with plump, hydrated complexion. Moral of the story: I am now naming my first child Barbara.
Who: Sophie Wirt, Beauty Editor
Why: Sometimes moisturizer simply isn’t enough. For those days, I slick on a layer of this HA-rich serum, which is also spiked with skin-smoothing silk extract. Instantly, the cool, gellike formula makes my skin glow like I’ve downed a gallon of water — and slept a solid 8 hours to boot. And, unlike other serums I’ve tried, it doesn’t leave a sticky, oily, or otherwise tactile residue.
Who: Cat Matta, Copy Editor & Fact-Checker
What: PCA Skin® Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum ($115)
Why: Hyaluronic acid is my chronically dry skin’s hero ingredient; and, whenever I hear those two words, I can’t help but picture a tiny molecule bench-pressing 1,000 beads of water over its head as it comes to my rescue. This serum features an army of saviors, as it has three different types of HA: one for instant hydration, a proprietary blend that stimulates your body’s natural production of HA, and one that draws your own HA from deep within the skin to help plump fine lines from below the surface. In my experience, many other HA serums work best when blended with other moisturizers. However, this one works so well, it can fight the battle of my dry skin entirely on its own.