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Exactly How To Choose The Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum

The phrase "hyaluronic acid" may sound scary — like one of those super-intense acid peels from the '90s that practically melted your face clean off — but the truth is, hyaluronic acid is so natural, it's produced by our own bodies to help with moisture retention. It's incredibly effective for retaining skin moisture — so much so that we can't think of another skincare ingredient as beloved by skincare experts, dermatologists, and beauty bloggers as a good-quality hyaluronic acid serum.

Hyaluronic Acid Benefits

When it comes to skin moisture, hyaluronic acid is exceptional because it's fantastically effective at binding water molecules, resulting in plumped, hydrated, happy skin. And when we say "fantastically effective," we mean that one single molecule of hyaluronic acid can retain up to 1,000 times its weight in water—that's a genuinely incredible amount, and is the primary reason we believe in hyaluronic acid for skin.

What all that boils down to is this: hyaluronic acid serum is a double-whammy: because it can both penetrate our skin and rest on the surface, it makes our skin look healthier and happier the moment we apply it, but it also makes our skin healthier and happier down the line.

So What Should I Look For In The Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum?

Hyaluronic acid can be amazing stuff, but not all hyaluronic acid serums on the market are made the same way—which means they won't do the same job. Here are three of the key components of a quality hyaluronic acid serum you should be looking for:

1. A Perfectly-Balanced Concentration

A lot of hyaluronic serums contain only 0.25%-1.75% hyaluronic acid. These may be somewhat hydrating for your skin, but they're not going to be that effective because the concentration is so low. However, because hyaluronic acid attracts all those water molecules, if the concentration is too high, it can actually take water from your skin — which really defeats the purpose of using a hydrating serum.
But when a hyaluronic acid serum is a well-balanced concentration, it uses the water molecules from the serum, holding them in place so that your skin is hydrated — and you look amazing. The percentage of hyaluronic acid to look for in a serum is just over 2%.

2. Multiple Forms of Hyaluronic Acid

Many serums on the market are comprised of only one form of hyaluronic acid, which is okay for skin — it won't hurt you — but it also won't achieve the kind of results you're looking for. Instead, the best hyaluronic acid for skin will incorporate a mix of the three primary kinds.

Lower-weight molecules dive deep down, addressing fine lines, wrinkles, and skin elasticity. These molecules help create healthy, happy skin in the long-term.
Medium-weight molecules help you retain moisture slightly below the skin’s barrier, and also have a semi-long term effect.
Higher-weight molecules won’t penetrate the skin deeply, meaning they stay on the skin’s surface. They make skin look super-hydrated and plumped, and help the outer skin layer hold on to the moisture it already has in the short-term, offering a more cosmetic effect.

A mix of all three of these molecular forms can deliver what we really want from a hyaluronic acid serum: a super-hydrating powerhouse that can make us look great in the moment, and can make our skin healthier and younger-looking in the future, too.

3. Other Goodies That Make Our Skin Glow

Some hyaluronic acid serums are only comprised of hyaluronic acid and water. While this combination is completely safe to use on its own, it's not optimal. Here are some ingredients that can make a hyaluronic acid serum go from "acceptable" to "fantastic":

Niacinamide. This amazing stuff has been shown in clinical trials to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots and blotchiness, and improve skin elasticity. Any ingredient that can both even our tone and reduce fine lines is good by us.

White Tea Leaf Extract. Packed with powerful free-radical fighters that have been demonstrated to effectively absorb through the skin, white tea leaf extract is an incredibly soothing, effective ingredient in the best hyaluronic acid serums. It can help combat sun damage and fight inflammation, too — win/win.

Linden Flower Extract. This powerful antioxidant has been long known for its anti-inflammatory, soothing properties. This flower is full of flavonoids, which also give it both antimicrobial properties that may help clear up redness and calm irritations.

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