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Hyaluronic Acid Myths Debunked: Is It Safe? Does It Work?

Hyaluronic Acid Myths Debunked: Is It Safe? Does It Work?

16 Aug 2023

Hyaluronic acid is one of the most popular ingredients in skincare today thanks to the highly effective hydration and skin-smoothing it provides. Yet despite its extensively-proven benefits, there are still several frequently-asked questions and unproven lingering myths associated with hyaluronic acid that simply won’t go away.

People often ask, “Does hyaluronic acid work?” or “Is hyaluronic acid safe?”—and the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “Yes!” We know this because hyaluronic acid is a natural component of the skin and the role it plays in providing instant and long-term skin hydration is well understood.


Hyaluronic acid is composed of disaccharide (sugar) chains, and this natural humectant has the ability to bind and retain water molecules. Found throughout the human body, hyaluronic acid is present in high concentrations within the skin as well as in the fluids around the eyes and joints. As the body’s natural hydrator, this hydrophilic (water-loving) molecule acts like a sponge to attract and hold many times its own weight in water—making hyaluronic acid serums a valuable addition to any skincare regimen.


There’s no disputing the moisture-retaining properties of hyaluronic acid, but it can have different modes of action depending on where it’s found in the skin, and when it’s used as part of your skincare regimen.

Epidermal hyaluronic acid: In the upper layer of the skin, hyaluronic acid helps maintain moisture levels so the skin can function properly. It also helps maintain skin elasticity by attracting water with the help of the body’s own natural moisturizing factors (NMFs), which include amino acids, lactic acid, peptides, minerals, and more.1

Dermal hyaluronic acid: Deeper within the skin, hyaluronic acid acts as a reserve for water storage while providing structure and volume to the extracellular matrix of collagen and elastin. Hyaluronic acid also supplies moisture that helps maintain the flexibility of these supportive proteins.

It’s important to note that naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid within the skin (and entire body) diminishes over time (beginning as early as age 252 ), which can play a role in the development of visible signs of aging like dryness, fine lines and wrinkles , and loss of firmness. Although hyaluronic acid serums are beneficial for all ages, they can be especially helpful for aging and mature skin. Hyaluronic acid is also found in many common professional injectable products that are used to plump and restore volume to the skin because of its remarkable moisture retaining capabilities.

Topical hyaluronic acid: Improving skin texture, achieving a plumper skin appearance, and replenishing skin hydration (and helping keep it within the skin) is as easy as applying a few drops of hyaluronic acid serum. This ingredient also works well with other anti-aging ingredients, so you can layer hyaluronic acid serums with other targeted treatments to address your unique skin concerns.


Despite an abundance of evidence that hyaluronic acid serums provide all skin types with long-lasting moisture while plumping up the appearance of skin to help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, several unfounded misconceptions persist.

Myth #1: Hyaluronic acid dries out the skin
This is perhaps the most pervasive hyaluronic acid myth, and if you do an internet search you will likely find articles that claim this ingredient makes dry skin worse. This fallacy is often tied to improper application, and potential dryness associated with hyaluronic acid serums can be avoided by applying these products to damp skin.

In fact, the results of several trials support that HA-based cosmeceuticals are a non-invasive, effective solution for improving skin hydration.

Among the specific benefits of using a topical hyaluronic acid serum include visible improvement in overall skin appearance, improvement in skin hydration and elasticity and reduced wrinkle depth.

Myth #2: Hyaluronic acid is an exfoliator
This is a common misconception, and the mere presence of the word “acid” may lead to a correlation with common exfoliating ingredients like glycolic and salicylic acids. The “acid” in hyaluronic acid is in its name because of its natural pH, which is below 7. On its own, hyaluronic acid does not promote the shedding of dead skin cells, but hyaluronic acid serums that are formulated with other active ingredients may provide an exfoliating effect.

Myth #3: Hyaluronic acid serum is only for dry skin
Hyaluronic acid is an efficient, hydrating ingredient that is appropriate for all skin types, including dry, aging, sensitive, and acne-prone skin. For those with oily skin, an oil-free, non-comedogenic hyaluronic acid serums can help maintain skin moisture levels without leaving a sticky, tacky feel or clogging the pores.

Myth #4: All hyaluronic acid is the same
When it comes to skincare ingredients, hyaluronic acid is often used as an umbrella term. In fact, if you take a closer look at the ingredient list on a hyaluronic acid serum, you may find the term “sodium hyaluronate” instead. Though very similar to the hyaluronic acid found naturally in the skin, sodium hyaluronate is a synthetic, salt-based derivative that has a lower molecular weight than natural hyaluronic acid. This means it has a smaller molecule size that can penetrate the skin’s surface more easily to deliver its hydrating benefits. This is why all SkinCeuticals hyaluronic acid serum options are formulated with sodium hyaluronate.


When hyaluronic acid is combined with additional ingredients that target sensitivity, rough surface texture, and skin discoloration, serums with hyaluronic acid can provide hydration along with extra skin benefits. SkinCeuticals offers several hyaluronic acid serum formulas that simultaneously target moisture loss and other skin concerns.

Although hyaluronic acid serums are beneficial for all ages, they can be especially helpful for aging and mature skin

H.A. Intensifier: Designed to provide intense hydration and proven skin-firming benefits, this advanced serum has been shown to amplify hyaluronic acid levels in the skin’s upper layers by up to 30% and increase skin plumpness by 23% while reducing the appearance of crow’s feet and laugh lines. In addition to sodium hyaluronate, this formula also features sustainably sourced Proxylane™ to support the skin’s structural protein matrix of collagen and elastin, as well as licorice root and purple rice extracts to help preserve the skin’s existing hyaluronic acid. This daily-use serum can also be used to complement the results of in-office injectable treatments.

Hydrating B5 Gel: Featuring a high concentration of hyaluronic acid for instant skin plumping and long-lasting surface hydration, this oil-free gel has a lightweight fluid texture that is absorbed quickly to leave skin feeling smooth and supple. The addition of vitamin B5 helps promote the skin barrier’s strength and this hyaluronic acid serum can be used to incorporate an extra layer of hydration into your skincare regimen or on its own as a moisturizer for oily and acne-prone skin.

Phyto Corrective Gel: This botanically-based hyaluronic acid serum hydrates, plumps, and smooths the skin’s surface while providing calming benefits for visible redness. Formulated with mulberry extract to gently target discoloration and a soothing blend of cucumber, olive leaf, and thyme extracts, this non-comedogenic serum can be used as a daily moisturizer for acne-prone skin or used with other serums or moisturizers for an extra-hydrating, skin-brightening boost.

Retexturing Activator: Offering the hydrating benefits of hyaluronic acid, gentle yet effective enzyme-based exfoliation to promote the shedding of dead skin cells, and kombucha to enhance skin radiance, this oil-free hyaluronic acid serum helps balance moisture levels, smooth the skin, and diminish the appearance of surface lines while revealing healthy-looking skin. It also helps reinforce the skin’s barrier and has been proven to provide the skin-resurfacing power of a 20% glycolic acid treatment.

To discover the best hyaluronic acid serum for your unique skin concerns, use our online Regimen Finder, visit one of our SkinCeuticals SkinLab locations, or schedule an appointment with a SkinCeuticals Skincare Professional for a one-on-one consultation.

1 Jung, K., Kim, S. H., Joo, K. M., Lim, S. H., Shin, J. H., Roh, J., ... & Kim, W. (2021). Oral intake of enzymatically decomposed AP collagen peptides improves skin moisture and ceramide and natural moisturizing factor contents in the stratum corneum. Nutrients, 13(12), 4372.
2 Bravo, B., Correia, P., Gonçalves Junior, J. E., Sant'Anna, B., & Kerob, D. (2022). Benefits of topical hyaluronic acid for skin quality and signs of skin aging: From literature review to clinical evidence. Dermatologic Therapy, e15903.


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