Which hyaluronic acid serum is best?

Moisture is essential to keeping your skin plump, healthy and line-free. If your usual moisturizer isn’t keeping your skin as hydrated and smooth as you’d like, it may be time to add a hyaluronic acid serum to your skin care routine. 

Despite its rather harsh-sounding name, hyaluronic acid serum is incredibly gentle on the skin, delivering moisture instead of stripping it out. It actually helps attract and bind water to the skin, so it looks plumper, smoother and more youthful. If you’re looking for a high-quality hyaluronic acid serum that provides quick results, the Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum is the best option.

What to know before you buy a hyaluronic acid serum

Hyaluronic acid benefits

Wondering if you need to add a hyaluronic acid serum to your skin care routine? It definitely helps to understand the main benefits of hyaluronic acid for the skin when you’re deciding.

Hyaluronic acid works as a humectant, so it helps your skin to retain moisture. Hyaluronic acid can actually hold onto 1000 times its weight in water, making it especially effective for dry, dehydrated skin.

With that extra moisture, hyaluronic acid also helps plump and smooth the skin. Because the skin looks plumper, fine lines and wrinkles appear “filled in,” leaving you with more youthful-looking skin. Hyaluronic acid is even used in some injectable fillers because of how well it can plump the skin. Of course, a serum doesn’t provide the same results as injectable fillers, but you don’t have to go to a doctor, deal with needles or spend as much money for it.

In addition to hydrating and plumping the skin, hyaluronic acid also offers antioxidant properties to protect your skin against free-radical damage. Free radicals typically come from toxins like pollution, so the serum serves as a barrier between your skin and various environmental toxins that might damage your skin.

Dropper vs. pump

Hyaluronic acid serum usually has a slightly thick, liquidlike consistency. The serum is highly concentrated, though, so it usually comes in a small bottle that only holds 1 to 2 ounces. These bottles can have either a pump at the top or a dropper built into their cap. Both types of dispensers make it easy to get the precise amount of serum you want, which is generally about two drops.

If you’re choosing a hyaluronic acid serum with other ingredients, though, it may be a good idea to stick to a pump. Vitamin C and other ingredients can start to degrade when exposed to air, and a dropper dispenser increases the chance of air exposure.


Some hyaluronic acid serums list the concentration on their label, while others don’t. In general, the higher its concentration, the more effective the serum will be. For the best results, look for serums with a concentration of 75% or higher.

What to look for in a quality hyaluronic acid serum


For a highly effective hyaluronic acid serum, it helps to choose a formula that contains vitamins that provide other skin benefits. Vitamin C offers antioxidant properties and can help brighten and even out skin tone.

You can also find some hyaluronic acid serums that contain vitamin B5 (panthenol), which works as a humectant to lock moisture in the skin too. Some formulas may include vitamin E, another antioxidant that helps protect against UV damage and other environmental toxins.

Green tea

Green tea doesn’t just have benefits when you drink it. Used topically in a hyaluronic acid serum, green tea extract has anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains catechins, which are antioxidants that help encourage DNA repair to fight skin cancer.


Sensitive skin typically doesn’t do well with hyaluronic acid serums that contain parabens, sulfates or phthalates. While hyaluronic acid serum is usually gentle enough for easily irritated skin, formulas with those preservatives and chemicals are a poor choice. Instead, look for serums labeled as hypoallergenic.


You can find some hyaluronic acid serums with an oil-free formula if you have oily, acne-prone skin. Keep in mind that even serums that aren’t labeled oil-free typically aren’t greasy and won’t clog your pores.

How much you can expect to spend on a hyaluronic acid serum

Hyaluronic acid serum usually costs between $5 and $300. Basic serums with a lower concentration of hyaluronic acid typically sell for $5-$40, but if you’re buying products with more than 50% concentration of hyaluronic acid, expect to pay between $50 and $70. Serums from luxury skin-care brands can cost $70-$300.

Hyaluronic acid serum FAQ

Should I use hyaluronic acid serum if I have oily skin?

A. If you think hyaluronic acid serum is bad news for your oily skin because it provides moisture, think again. Even oily skin needs some hydration, and hyaluronic acid serum is an excellent option because it’s usually lightweight. Hyaluronic acid is noncomedogenic, too, so you don’t have to worry about it clogging your pores.

What’s the best way to apply a hyaluronic acid serum?

A. Because serums are lightweight, they should be applied before creams and other heavy treatments. First, cleanse your face, and then apply toner if you usually do. When your skin is dry, take one to two drops of the serum on clean fingertips and gently pat it into your skin. Allow the serum several minutes to absorb before applying moisturizer or other treatments over it.

What are the best hyaluronic acid serums to buy?

Top hyaluronic acid serum

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Serum

What you need to know: This lightweight serum helps hydrate, soothe and brighten your skin with just a few uses.

What you’ll love: It offers a 75% hyaluronic acid concentration to effectively hydrate and treat your skin. It’s soothing and can help plump even dry, flaky skin. Its lightweight texture is easily absorbed into the skin without leaving a residue behind.

What you should consider: It may not be hydrating enough for extremely dry skin.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Ulta Beauty

Top hyaluronic acid serum for the money

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

What you need to know: This solid, vegan hyaluronic acid serum is an excellent option for anyone on a budget.

What you’ll love: It only takes a few uses to provide noticeable results. It’s gentle enough to use both morning and night. It works well for sensitive, easily irritated skin too. The included vitamin B5 helps ensure the skin is fully hydrated.

What you should consider: It doesn’t work well under makeup because it can cause foundation and concealer to ball up.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora and Ulta Beauty

Worth checking out

Dior Capture Youth Plump Filler Age-Delay Plumping Serum

Dior Capture Youth Plump Filler Age-Delay Plumping Serum

What you need to know: This luxury hyaluronic acid serum is highly effective for fine lines and wrinkles but also helps boost your skin’s overall health.

What you’ll love: It contains iris extract, which is loaded with antioxidants. It helps hydrate and plump the skin to soften fine lines and wrinkles. It can provide noticeable changes in plumpness and suppleness right away.

What you should consider: It’s much more expensive than similar serums on the market.

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora

Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2023 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.