We’ve tested hundreds of skincare products and here is our pick of the best hyaluronic acid serums for all skin types and to hopefully suit all budgets
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a skincare product these days that doesn’t contain hyaluronic acid in some form.
It’s become one of the most prevalent and effective ingredients due to the fact it’s found naturally in the skin, so carries a low irritation risk, and it has the ability to store 1,000 times its own weight in moisture. This makes it a so-called super hydrator that suits all skin types, from oily to dry and everything in between.
We’ve been running a wide-scale skincare group test since last year and as part of this, we’ve been testing hundreds of the best moisturisers, serums, toners, primers, and more.
You can see our full best face serum list here, but we also wanted to highlight the best hyaluronic acid serums below in case you specifically want to get the best out of this wonder ingredient.
Below you’ll find the top 10 hyaluronic acid serums as it currently stands but if known of these appeal to you, you can find the full ranking on our spreadsheet which you can find here, or by clicking the button below.
This list will evolve as more tests are completed. These are the best hyaluronic acid serums as of May 2023. You can see the current leaderboard for the best serums, best moisturisers, best toners and best primers here.
FURTHER READING: What is hyaluronic acid and what does it do to your skin? | The science of serums: What is serum and what does serum do? | Skin serum, facial oil or moisturiser: What’s the difference and which one do you need? | Does anti-ageing skincare actually work? Here’s what the evidence says
We’ll be adding to this best hyaluronic acid serum list as the tests continue and as the scores change. If you have any specific requests, please send them over via TikTok.
View the full TikTok test here
We’ve tested dozens and dozens of the best hyaluronic acid serums and the one we keep returning to, time and again, is the Elizavecca Milky Piggy Hyaluronic Acid Pure.
It contains 97% hyaluronic acid – one of the highest concentrations of hyaluronic acid we’ve found – alongside water and it’s formulated to be as gentle and natural as possible.
At such a high concentration, this hyaluronic acid serum adds great hydration without feeling heavy on the skin, and with a minimal chance of irritation or breakouts.
The tiny number of ingredients also means this serum can be paired with almost any other product and shouldn’t cause any problems. Not even skin pilling.
In our group test, this HA serum increased hydration by 9.7 points (32.9%) after five minutes. After an hour, these levels did drop slightly to 5.3 points (18%) but this is still higher than average and is impressive for such a minimal formula.
We should note that to truly test the performance of serums, we don’t apply moisturisers on top. Moisturisers are typically used to prevent hydration from escaping so if you were to use this hyaluronic acid serum with a moisturiser, we’d expect to see a far smaller drop after an hour. If it were to drop hydration at all.
Due to the fact this is almost pure hyaluronic acid, it does have a slimy, slightly sticky consistency. On the plus side, this feels cooling on the skin and leaves our face feeling refreshed.
The downside, however, is that when it’s applied to damp skin – as all serums should be, ideally – it has a tendency to become foamy.
To get around this, we apply it to dry skin but immediately spray our face with a mist. The hyaluronic acid pulls the moisture and other benefits from this mist into the lower layers of your skin. Alternatively try patting it onto your skin, rather than massaging it in, to avoid any foaminess.
This isn’t a cheap hyaluronic acid serum but it is good value for money because you get a huge bottle, and a little goes a really long way. Plus, at this concentration you’re getting the maximum benefit from the serum.
View the full TikTok test here
Although Good Molecules is an American brand, and it takes weeks for products bought from its US site to arrive in the UK, we have to say all the effort is more than worth it because we’re yet to experience a dud product.
And the best of the bunch, so far, is the Good Molecules Hyaluronic Acid serum.
Not only did it increase the hydration levels of our skin by an almost unprecedented 10.1 points (27.3%) after five minutes, but it also contains a low number of ingredients, which vastly reduces the chances of it causing any skin problems.
The hydration levels did drop slightly an hour after applying this serum but it still meant it had a total hydration increase of 8 points (22.9%). Even with this drop, this was higher than average for most serums and moisturisers after five minutes. Let alone longer.
One of the things we love about Good Molecules is it doesn’t just tell you what ingredients are in its products, but it tells you the percentages.
For instance, in this hyaluronic acid serum, you’ll find:
The vast majority of skincare products (and most cosmetics for that matter) have an overwhelming amount of water in their formulas. This is because it’s used to stablise other ingredients in order to keep you products at their best for longer. Similarly, the high levels of propanediol are also used to help preserve the formula.
Glycerin then works well with hyaluronic acid because they’re both found naturally in the skin and both are what’s known as humectants, meaning they attract moisture and draw it into the skin.
View the full TikTok test here
Part of the wider Triple Hyaluronic Acid collection, the Beauty Pie Triple Hyaluronic Acid Serum Mist contains – as the name suggests – three different weights of hyaluronic acid.
Although you may have assumed that hyaluronic acid is just a single ingredient, it actually comes in a range of molecule sizes, or weights, that determine how deep into your skin it can go.
Hyaluronic acids with large molecules can’t penetrate as deep. This means they sit closer to the skin’s surface and bring more hydration to the upper layers. There are then medium-sized HA molecules, and small ones.
These both go deeper into the skin, respectively.
For a hyaluronic acid serum to offer the maximum impact, it helps to have a mixture of molecules that target all layers of your skin and that’s what you get with this Beauty Pie mist.
In our hydration tests, it increased the hydration levels of our skin by 7.9 points (23.3%).
This demonstrates it offers immediate impact, thanks to the larger hyaluronic acid molecules. After an hour, it increased again by 1 point, taking the total increase to 8.9 (25.5%).
To add to its score, the Beauty Pie mist got maximum points for being cruelty-free and, when bought via aBeauty Pie membership, is relatively affordable. It’s not cheap, but it’s cheaper than the Elizavecca winner while offering similar results.
This entry in our best hyaluronic acid serum list does contain more ingredients than the Elizavecca winner but
For a long time, the Cos De Baha Hyaluronic Acid serum was our favourite hyaluronic acid serum because it’s simple, yet highly effective.
It was recently usurped by Elizavecca’s Milky Piggy hyaluronic acid serum, but they both have very similar benefits.
The Cos de Baha serum contains just three ingredients – purified water, hyaluronic acid, and a solvent called 1,2-Hexanediol. That’s it.
Due to this minimalist formula, it’s suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin and, just like the Elizavecca version, the high hyaluronic acid content makes this serum slightly slimy.
In our best serum group test, this hyaluronic acid serum increased the hydration levels of our skin by 3.8 points (11.2%) after five minutes.
It dropped slightly after an hour but gave a total rise of 3.1 points (9.3%) overall and we’d imagine that when paired with a moisturiser or similar, the hydration levels would remain high.
Elsewhere, this serum ranked highly due to the fact the brand is vegan and cruelty-free.
It scored the maximum amount of points available in terms of the ingredients, with none of them having any risk of irritation, and none of them being linked with clogged pores, and we love how lightweight, fast-absorbing, and gentle it is.
Our one complaint is that the packaging feels cheap and the dropper can be difficult to use. Especially when the serum starts running out and the dropper doesn’t quite reach the bottom of the bottle. This requires a bit of manouvering. So much so, we resorted to just pouring it out onto our hand!
Thankfully, you can also buy it with a plunger. It still has similar problems when you get to the bottom of the bottle but it’s less annoying.
View the full TikTok test here
If you want a cheap hyaluronic acid serum that’s on par with the Good Molecules version – but doesn’t come with long delivery times and custom fees – then you can’t go wrong with the The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Serum.
Not only is it cheap, and cheerful, but it does the job.
Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the skin but diminishes with age, and since it can attract up to 1,000 times its weight in water, The Ordinary’s concoction (combined with the addition of Vitamin B5) leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.
In our serum group test, The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid serum increased the hydration levels of our skin by 5.1 points (16%).
We don’t currently have an hourly score, yet, because we tested this serum before we started testing for longer periods but we’ll update this page once we’ve retested.
According to the INCI Decoder database, this entry in our best hyaluronic acid serum list is free of any icky ingredients, and it comes with minimal irritation and comedogenic risk.
This means it shouldn’t cause any redness or inflammation, and shouldn’t lead to breakouts either.
Just like the Beauty Pie hyaluronic acid mist, this serum’s formula contains three weights of hyaluronic acid alongside a hyaluronic acid cross-polymer.
This is said to offer “multi-depth” hydration and visible plumping without drawing water out of the skin and our hydration tests go someway towards vouching for this.
This serum also scored highly because it’s vegan and cruelty-free.
Victoria is founder and editor-in-chief of mamabella, freelance journalist and Mum. She has a passion for empowering people to feel beautiful whatever their age, size, skin type and budget