Friendly PSA: Your Skincare Routine Probably Doesn't Need Hyaluronic Acid Serum

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Hyaluronic acid serum has become a hype product in popular skincare routines thanks to social media, but it's not without its merit. Hyaluronic acid's superpower comes from its hydrating capabilities. The acid naturally occurs in our bodies, most commonly found in our eyes and skin. It retains water and keeps skin pliable and flexible. It's precisely because of its hydrating component that hyaluronic acid has been touted as a necessary product in a carefully curated skincare regime. Youthful skin keeps its elasticity thanks to moisture, and as we age, our skin becomes drier, leading to external signs of aging. So we're always on the hunt for ways to keep skin hydrated and supple.

Dermatologist Dr. Shari Marchbein told Everyday Health, "Hyaluronic acid attracts and binds to water molecules and increases the water content of the skin." Dr. Marchbein added that the acid can absorb over 1,000 times its weight in water. While this is an impressive detail, it's no surprise that hyaluronic acid has found its way into nearly every beauty product imaginable such as moisturizers, lip balms, sheet masks, and even cleansers. But since the acid is so ubiquitous in standard skincare products, do we need to add it as an additional step in our routine?

Hyaluronic acid is already in so many of our skincare products

Because hyaluronic acid has so many hydrating benefits, it's basically in everything. The acid has found its way into shampoos, conditioners, and numerous hair care products, not to mention nearly every skin product imaginable. Dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss told Refinery29, " ... [It's] in every single product on the market, ranging from serums, exfoliating acids, moisturizers, lotions, sunscreens — you name it."

So if we practice a standard skincare routine with some emphasis on moisture, it's more than likely that we're already incorporating hyaluronic acid into our care. Nevertheless, skincare brands tout the product as a much-needed, separate item. SkinCeuticals's Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier currently sells for $105 a bottle. La Roche-Posay currently sells its Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum for around $34, and Replenix currently offers its Pure Hydration Hyaluronic Acid Serum for $92 (per Allure). These are some steep price tags when we consider the fact that this serum is just one product of many in a standard skincare regime. Is it necessary to buy a separate serum solely dedicated to hyaluronic acid? Aesthetician Alicia Lartey told Refinery29 that it's not. "I love efficiency; and the aim of my skin-care routine is to get the job done as quickly as possible," she explained, noting that we're already getting enough of the acid through other products: "Hyaluronic acid is in everything, from cleansers to moisturizers."

Still, there's no harm in using the serum if you love it

We're not here to dissuade anyone from using hyaluronic acid as a separate product if it's already proven to be an effective part of someone's skincare. What makes the acid so effective is that it's remarkably gentle and it's safe for people with sensitive skin too. Dermatologist Dr. Ashley Magovern told Dermstore, "Hyaluronic acid is very gentle, so it's very, very rare to have an adverse reaction to it. ... If you react to a product that contains it, chances are it's the fault of another ingredient."

So for those of us who are devoted to the acid, there's no harm in keeping it in our regimes; it's just worth noting that it's not totally necessary to add an additional serum if the price tag is too high, or if it just feels like a TikTok-inspired money grab. However, there are a few brands that offer a solution for this. The Ordinary currently sells a 30ml serum for $8.90 and The Inkey List currently offers a hyaluronic acid serum for less than $10. So there are ways to still incorporate a serum at a reasonable cost, but knowing it's already in so many of our standard products means that this extra step is not a necessity in order to achieve skin that we're happy with.