Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring connective tissue, a single molecule of which is capable of carrying 1,000 times its weight in water. As we age, however, our body’s ability to produce it slows, leaving skin dehydrated and lacking elasticity.

When applied topically, hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant, helping the absorption of water into the skin.

You may well already be using a product with hyaluronic acid without realising, as it’s a powerful and effective ingredient in serums, moisturisers and masks.  

Look out for “hyaluronic acid”, “hydrolysed hyaluronic acid”, “sodium acetyl hyaluronate” and/or “sodium hyaluronate” in ingredients lists.

Many hyaluronic acid serums are an unexpected texture to first-time users as they are often clear and gloopy. But they are great for sensitive, irritable skin, as they are fuss and usually fragrance-free.

Apply to freshly cleansed skin morning and night, and before using a facial oil, which forms a barrier to keep moisture in.

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Indeed Labs hydraluron moisture booster face serum: £24.99, Look Fantastic

Indeed Labs’ offering is much lauded thanks to its accessible price and no-frills efficiency. Apply a pea-sized amount morning and night, before your moisturiser, for soft, plumped and healthy looking skin.

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Balance Me tri-molecular hyaluronic serum: £30, Balance Me

Balance Me’s 98 per cent natural hyaluronic serum easily holds its own compared to much higher priced serums. It contains three different “weights”, AKA molecule sizes, of hyaluronic acid, which penetrate the skin to different levels. The smallest goes deepest and targets fine lines over time, while the larger molecules improve elasticity and the barrier function of the skin and attract moisture, plumping lines temporarily from the surface.

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REN flash hydro-boost: £36, REN

This, from clean skincare favourite REN, is an unusual formulation and one that we can’t believe no one has thought of before. You spread the hyaluronic acid-rich cream over your skin and then add water with your fingers, massaging in until absorbed. Genius and simple: apply the ingredient that helps bind water to your skin, add said water. We had a few testers try this one and all agreed it made a noticeable difference to hydration immediately.

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Kate Somerville dermalquench liquid lift: £80, Cult Beauty

It took us a little while to get used to the application of this, from the A-list’s favourite facialist’s eponymous brand, as it’s an aerated spray. You shake well, spray a couple of times away from your face (as it takes a few presses to get product through) and then apply direct to the face, avoiding your eyes and mouth. We’ve found the best movement to spray in is the shape of a number 3, down each side of the face – temple, cheekbone, jaw line. It combines hyaluronic acid with oxygen (that post-gym glow you get is mostly down to oxygen-rich blood flooding the face – as well as a little sweat) to give an immediate glow. Our only niggle, aside from the price, is that is has a definite aerosol shaving foam-like scent.

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Drunk Elephant B-hydra intensive hydration serum: £44, Space NK

B-hydra might be one of the least exciting-sounding products of the cult US brands’ range, but it’s quietly dependable. While it is marketed as a serum its velvety texture feels more like a moisturiser on first application, but dries to the classic tacky thin layer of a serum. It combines hyaluronic acid with vitamin B5, with its broad moisturising, soothing and regenerating properties, and pineapple ceramide, which moisturises, smoothes and brightens skin.

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Dr Dennis Gross hyaluronic marine moisture cushion: £59, Look Fantastic

We were immediately seduced by the brilliant blue of the packaging of dermatologist-line Dr Dennis Gross’ hyaluronic range. The moisturiser is a great addition for those who don’t want the faff of adding an extra step to their skincare routine in the form of a serum. It is light and almost gel-like in texture, absorbs quickly with a little massage and feels cool and refreshing on application; perfect for dry summer skin.

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Eve Lom intense hydration serum: £75, SpaceNK

This has a satisfyingly short list of ingredients – just six – so you can be sure of exactly what you’re putting on your skin: water, glycerin (which draws moisture from the air to your skin), sodium hyaluronate, a derivative of vitamin B5 and two preservatives. It has that characteristic thick, gloopy texture and feels immediately cooling and hydrating on the skin, even without a moisturiser on top. And, of course, we love Eve Lom’s ever-chic packaging.

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Vichy mineral 89 serum: £18.70, Escentual

Apart from being the biggest bottle of hyaluronic serum (50ml) we’ve tested, which makes the price even more attractive, our tester found that this seriously boosted the power of her cheap high street moisturiser. It gets its name from an 89 per cent concentration of Vichy’s signature thermal water, which it combines with hyaluronic acid for a surprisingly lightweight hydration boost. And then there’s the lovely glass ombre packaging, which we’re total suckers for.

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La Roche-Posay hyalu B5 hyaluronic acid serum: £37, La Roche-Posay

La Roche-Posay is always a reliable choice, and its hyalu B5 serum doesn’t disappoint. It contains two different sized molecules of hyaluronic acid (in many formulas the molecule is too big to penetrate the skin; rather they bind moisture on the surface) to reach both the surface and deeper into the skin, plus skin-repairing vitamin B5. The range also includes a moisturiser, if you’d rather get your hyaluronic acid in a more traditional application.

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Sarah Chapman intense hydrating booster: £64, Sarah Chapman

This, from the celebrity and glossy magazine favourite facialist Sarah Chapman’s skincare line, is silky and light compared to most serums we tested, but is still soothing on parched, crepey, stressed-out skin. On a whim we mixed it with our favourite Sisley Radiant Glow mask before application and our skin had never looked better afterwards.

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The Verdict: Hyaluronic acid products

For the best results gained to pounds spent ratio, our vote is with the old faithful Indeed Labs.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.