Skip to main content

Do you really need hyaluronic acid in your grooming routine?

Is hyaluronic acid really as great as it sounds? We look at the research, benefits, and precautions

Buzzy skincare words pop up constantly, and social media has made it easier than ever to start trends (hello, skin cycling). However, one ingredient of the moment, hyaluronic acid, may have some validity to it — and staying power. The ingredient that proponents swear by for moisturizing and anti-aging benefits was a $7.94 billion industry in 2021 and is projected to reach $20.01 billion by 2030

Buzz doesn’t equate to effectiveness, though. What is hyaluronic acid precisely, and does it live up to the hype as a must-have ingredient for your skincare regimen? Let’s go further than skin-deep to explore hyaluronic acid benefits, research, and whether or not it’s worth finding products with this trending ingredient in them.

a man in a robe in front of a mirror

What is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a group of sugar molecules called polysaccharides. It’s a clear, gooey substance that can be found on many skincare product labels. However, it naturally occurs in your body, mainly in the skin, eyes, and joints. It helps the body lock in water, keeping the skin and tissues moisturized. Hyaluronic acid is strong and powerful — it can bind more than 1,000 times its weight in water.

As we age, our body produces less hyaluronic acid. This drop in production coincides with a loss of collagen and elasticity, triggering thinner skin, wrinkles, and increased dryness. Age isn’t the only factor, though. Research shows that environmental exposures and lifestyle choices, such as air pollution and smoking, can also affect premature aging, a problem exacerbated by the loss of hyaluronic acid.

Enter synthetic hyaluronic acid, which is made in a lab.

best skincare products

What are hyaluronic acid benefits? 

Proponents of topical and oral use of this ingredient, such as using hyaluronic acid serum or supplements, say it has several benefits. What do the research and professional associations say? Let’s dig in.


At its core, hyaluronic acid keeps skin moist, soft, and plump. Research from 2015 hailed it as a “natural moisturizer for skincare.” The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) lists it as a great ingredient for moisturizers, particularly in the winter.

Dry skin isn’t simply pesky. It’s a sign that the skin barrier is compromised and open to letting in bacteria that can trigger inflammation, according to research. Keeping it moist with ingredients like hyaluronic acid can help protect this barrier.


Anti-aging is another commonly touted benefit of hyaluronic acid. There’s some science to support this claim, too, in part because well-moisturized skin tends to look smoother. Oral hyaluronic acid supplementation can lessen wrinkles, according to one 2017 study. Several studies, including one from 2011 and another from 2014, report that a topically applied hyaluronic acid serum could reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Injectable fillers can also firm up the skin, according to an older 2008 study.

Healing wounds

Research shows that in addition to moisturizing and anti-aging properties, hyaluronic acid may be a good addition to your first aid kit. A 2012 study showed that a cream with hyaluronic acid decreased the wound size and pain from leg ulcers, a claim backed up by research published the following year.  

Dry eyes

Hyaluronic acid’s moisture-binding capabilities aren’t just for the skin. They may reduce eye dryness too, scientists say. It’s not necessarily surprising, considering hyaluronic acid occurs naturally near the eyes. One study showed that eye drops with small concentrations of hyaluronic acid can reduce dry eye symptoms. Other research has found that the ingredient can reduce eye inflammation and improve wound healing.

a man applying skincare products in the bathroom

What are the risks of hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is low-risk, and there aren’t common side effects. That said, it may not be for everyone. What’s more, the formula in specific products may not work for every skin type. People with sensitive skin or conditions such as rosacea should patch-test the skin. The process is easy. Simply apply the topical product to a small portion of the skin. Repeat once or twice per day for a couple of days in a row. If no signs of irritation are present, expand use to larger areas. 

People with chronic skin conditions should always speak with their doctor or dermatologist before adding new items to their skincare regimen. They can provide insight into any potential risks and benefits.

A collection of Fleur & Bee's clay mask, serum, and moisturizing cream.
Andrew Davey/The Manual

Where can I find hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid can be found in numerous products. The most common include:

  • Cleansers
  • Serums
  • Moisturizers
  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Dermal, injectable gel fillers
  • Oral supplements

Hyaluronic acid is a popular skincare ingredient. Though skincare trends are a dime a dozen, this one seems to hold up, according to the science. Research shows that hyaluronic acid benefits include reducing the appearance of wrinkles, better moisturized skin, and faster wound healing. Serums, creams, and lotions are popular ways to apply this ingredient. It can also be taken orally as a supplement. Hyaluronic acid generally does not cause any adverse effects, but people with sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea should do a patch test first. Simply apply the product, like a hyaluronic acid serum, to a small portion of the skin for a few days. If no irritation occurs, continue to use it. As always, consult with a dermatologist or doctor if you’re concerned about your skin.

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
Travel tips: How to maintain your skincare routine when you’re on the go
Skincare routine travel tips that you can actually follow anywhere and everywhere
skincare products in the sand

Travel can be considered a form of self-care. Research from 2021 showed that travel could boost happiness, and a small study from 2020 had similar findings. Mental health is important, but what about skin health? Jet lag, days out in the sun, changing climates, and early morning wake-up calls can do a number on your skin. Think puffy eyes, sunburn, dark circles, and dryness.

Of course, you’ll probably be snapping photos of yourself in front of all the landmarks or beaches you visit. These days, iPhone cameras are essentially as good as the real deal, picking up on all of last night’s big sins. There’s no shame in wanting to look as good as you feel. A solid skincare routine is critical.

Read more
Cut the clutter: The only men’s grooming tools you need (and what to skip)
Do you have too many hair, skin, and beard care products? Trim down your toolbox to these 7 essentials
men's grooming tools on black background

Grooming helps you look your version of clean — whether bare-faced, streamlined, scruffy, or something in the middle. There’s a tool and product for everything these days, from razors and beard trimmers to endless skincare products that promise to help you look and feel your best.

That’s great and all, but if you buy all the skin, hair, and beard care products under the sun, you may feel like your toolbox needs a little grooming. Knowing which grooming tools for men are essential can help you pare down the items in your arsenal, streamline your routine, and make you less stressed in the process. (FYI: Stress can affect your skin, according to research.)

Read more
It’s the Year of the Rabbit: Change your routine with these intriguing fragrances
Welcome the year of the rabbit with these incredible scents
how to apply cologne man applying aftershave

In the lunar calendar, January 22, 2023, heralded the new year and the transition to the Year of the Water Rabbit, bringing new beginnings and good fortune. According to the Chinese zodiac, the sign of the Rabbit is associated with peace, gentleness, and longevity. Rabbits are also closely linked to the moon, possibly because the dark markings on its surface resemble a rabbit or hare. Those born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, or 2023 are considered Rabbits, and are said to enjoy extra luck this year. Whether or not you were born under the sign of these long-eared hoppers, now is a great time to meditate on rebirth, the coming year, and what you hope to bring into your life. A new fragrance puts an exciting spin on your routine and can even turn your thoughts to the joy of springtime and maybe even starting a garden; these six scents (a lucky number for Rabbits) explore different sides of the Rabbit mystique. Hop to it.
Narciso Rouge by Narciso Rodriguez: A floral, woody musk

Red: there's no more passionate color on earth, and if you're celebrating the Chinese New Year, there's no luckier one. Narciso Rouge (French for red) is as bold, provocative, and sensual as its poppy-red bottle suggests. With notes of cool and elegant iris, Bulgarian rose, soft musk, bright orange blossom, tonka bean, vanilla, and sandalwood, this fragrance and its chic bottle serve as a sparkling burst of luck and vitality that your new year needs to start off on the right foot.

Read more