Found naturally in our skin, hyaluronic acid (HA) is a polysaccharide that helps retain moisture and keep skin plump and hydrated.
It’s a powerful humectant, meaning it attracts water molecules to the skin’s surface, making it an ideal ingredient for adding hydration to an otherwise dry complexion.
If you’re looking for an affordable serum that packs a powerful punch of hydration, treat yourself to one of the best drugstore hyaluronic acid serums in this post.
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Different Forms of Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a natural moisturizing factor (NMF) and a component of our skin’s outermost layer that helps maintain hydration and suppleness.
The good news is HA can be supplemented topically when our skin needs a boost of hydration.
Hyaluronic acid comes in different forms, all of which are usually referred to as “hyaluronic acid.” Some forms of HA include:
- Sodium Hyaluronate (lower molecular weight, more stable and cost-effective than HA)
- Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid (lower molecular weight broken down version of HA)
- Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer ( a cross-linked polymer form ha HA)
- Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate (better bioavailability and stability than HA)
Sodium hyaluronate is one of the most popular forms of hyaluronic acid in skincare products.
This salt form of hyaluronic acid tends to be more stable, easier to formulate, and more cost-effective than hyaluronic acid, so it’s often used in skincare products, which you’ll see in the list below.
If you are new to hyaluronic acid, don’t be scared off by the word acid.
Hyaluronic acid isn’t an exfoliating acid like glycolic acid or lactic acid. It is an ingredient that helps skin retain moisture, not strip the skin of its natural oils.
In fact, it plumps fine lines and is an excellent ingredient for all skin types, especially those with a dry skin type.
The Best Drugstore Hyaluronic Acid Serums
Although it’s tough to pick the best hyaluronic acid serum, a few of my favorites are:
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid for its lightweight, non-sticky texture and rock-bottom price, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Serum for its thick gel-cream texture.
1. Cerave Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Cerave Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a gel-cream serum formulated with hyaluronic acid in its salt form of sodium hyaluronate.
Sodium hyaluronate has a smaller molecular weight than hyaluronic acid, so it can provide deep long-lasting hydration.
This serum also contains three essential ceramides, which are moisturizing lipids that CeraVe includes in most of their products to support a healthy skin barrier.
Ceramides are a type of lipid molecule that exists naturally in the skin and play an important role in keeping your skin hydrated and healthy.
Panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) soothes and calms the skin and helps it retain moisture, while glycerin acts as a humectant to attract moisture from the environment.
The serum also uses CeraVe’s proprietary MVE Technology, which helps release the ingredients slowly for extended hydration.
The serum is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores and is fragrance-free and paraben-free.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: The thing that stands out to me the most with this hyaluronic acid serum is its rich texture. It is the thickest serum in this post and almost feels like a lotion. It sinks in quickly and leaves my skin feeling soft and super hydrated.
2. The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid is a best-selling 2% hyaluronic acid serum that works on multiple levels of your skin’s surface.
The formula contains hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate, the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid.
It creates bouncy cushiony soft skin with its lightweight, non-sticky, and non-tacky formula.
But this face serum doesn’t stop there.
It also contains Matrixyl 3000, a peptide complex that helps stimulate collagen production and reduces wrinkle density, depth, and surface area while improving skin elasticity, tone, and roughness.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: I call The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid an anti-aging hyaluronic acid serum because it contains a peptide duo that targets the signs of aging in a lightweight HA serum.
I almost can’t believe that the low price is correct, but it is! This is one of my all-time favorite HA serums!
3. La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum
La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum contains pure hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin and replenish lost moisture.
It’s ideal for fine lines and loss of skin elasticity and volume.
The hyaluronic serum contains two forms of hyaluronic acid: sodium hyaluronate, the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, and hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, which has been broken down into smaller molecules for better absorption.
Madecassoside, a naturally derived ingredient from the Centella asiatica plant, helps to reduce redness and irritation. It has wound healing and antioxidant benefits.
The formula also includes pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol) to help reduce inflammation and boost hydration levels. Glycerin is another humectant in the serum that helps keep your skin soft and smooth.
This lightweight serum absorbs quickly, has a pleasant fragrance, and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
Please note that the serum is not a blue shade, as you can see in the image above. It’s only the bottle that’s blue.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: This hydrating serum has an extra level of soothing ingredients in the form of not only panthenol but also madecassoside from Centella asiastica, which is helpful for irritated, itchy, dry skin.
Related Post: La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Serum Review
4. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is a hydrating serum that plumps your skin and smoothes the look of fine lines.
The HA serum consists of low-, medium- and high-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid plus a next-generation HA crosspolymer that creates a mesh on the skin so that skin is hydrated at multiple levels for an extended period.
The serum also contains pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol), which hydrates the outer layer of your skin while soothing irritation.
Ideal for all skin types, The Ordinary notes that it increases skin hydration after a week and after a month, strengthens the skin barrier, and reduces the look of wrinkles and fine lines. See my complete review here.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: This HA serum contains a high 2% concentration of multiple weights of hyaluronic acid to improve effectiveness at a very affordable price.
5. L’Oreal 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum
L’Oreal 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum is L’Oreal’s most potent hyaluronic acid product, with a 1.5% concentration of both low- and high-molecular-weight pure hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate).
L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum contains 1% low molecular weight pure hyaluronic acid for better absorption and skin plumping.
A 0.5% concentration of high molecular weight pure hyaluronic acid hydrates your skin’s outer surface, locking in moisture for dewy fresh skin.
The serum also contains HEPES, a patented ingredient that enhances the efficacy of hyaluronic acid by acting like a biological peeling agent to support desquamation, which is the process of naturally shedding the outer layer of skin.
The serum is very lightweight without any stickiness and doesn’t feel tacky after it absorbs either.
It’s non-comedogenic, dermatologist tested, and suitable for all skin types.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: Multiple molecular weights of HA offer extended hydration to the skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth. L’Oreal’s patented ingredient HEPES creates an environment that allows the HA to work more effectively. It’s also incredibly lightweight and very comfortable on the skin.
6. e.l.f. Holy Hydration! Triple Bounce Serum
E.l.f. Holy Hydration! Triple Bounce Serum contains 1.7% hyaluronic acid in three molecular weights for extended hydration.
Ultra-low, low, and high molecular weight HA (hydrolyzed sodium hyaluronate and sodium hyaluronate) are included to hydrate the skin at different levels for a plump, bouncy complexion and rich hydrating and nourishment.
The formula is enriched with niacinamide (vitamin B3), which supports a healthy skin barrier, helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and balances sebum production in the skin.
Squalane and glycerin are also included to lock in moisture, leaving the skin looking soft and supple. Panthenol soothes the skin.
This hydrating hyaluronic acid serum feels so lightweight on my skin and isn’t the least bit sticky or greasy.
I think this would be a great choice if you have combination or oily skin and avoid hyaluronic acid since it can feel heavy on the skin. Not this serum.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: E.l.f. Triple Bounce Bounce serum is formulated with multiple actives, not just hyaluronic acid, to nourish your skin. Niacinamide and squalane support HA and help promote a healthy skin barrier.
7. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum replenishes moisture with a 17% hydration complex.
The face serum contains blue beads that are seaweed-derived capsules containing hyaluronic acid that release upon application to your skin.
While the amount of hyaluronic acid (in the salt form of sodium hyaluronate and hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid) is not disclosed, it contains low- and high-weight hyaluronic acid that binds water to the skin’s surface and holds it there.
The serum is enriched with trehalose, a natural sugar that helps the skin by trapping moisture, and glycerin, which penetrates the skin’s surface by nine layers for deep and extended hydration.
Panthenol soothes and moisturizes.
Also, it is fragrance-free, which might be the norm for many drugstore products, but Neutrogena products can be heavily fragranced, so it’s great to see no fragrance in this serum.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: While hydrating blue beads may be the visual focus of this serum, it’s the lightweight feel and deeply nourishing formula that makes it a great drugstore HA serum.
Also, I love the dispenser that releases serum from a button on the top. Great job, Neutrogena!
Related Post: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel vs Gel Cream
8. Olay Hyaluronic + Peptide 24 Serum
Olay Hyaluronic + Peptide 24 Serum is a creamy fragrance-free serum that contains hyaluronic acid in the form of sodium hyaluronate plus additional actives to hydrate, moisturize and strengthen your dehydrated, dull skin.
In addition to hyaluronic acid, the serum contains Olay’s favorite ingredient: niacinamide. Niacinamide (also one of my favorite ingredients) is a true multi-tasker.
It strengthens your skin barrier, stimulates collagen production to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improves tone, texture, and dullness, and brightens your skin.
Niacinamide is a favorite of those with combination and oily skin since it helps to regulate sebum production.
Olay Hyaluronic + Peptide 24 Serum also contains Olay’s amino peptide (palmitoyl pentapeptide-4), which helps reduce wrinkles and improve skin texture.
Panthenol, also known as pro-vitamin B5, helps to lock in moisture while calming irritated skin.
The only white/shaded serum of the bunch, it has a silky texture thanks to dimethicone (silicone).
STAND-OUT QUALITY: The anti-aging ingredients in this serum make it more than just a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum. It targets the visible signs of aging too.
Related Post: Olay Hyaluronic + Peptide 24 Review
9. Good Molecules Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Good Molecules Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a water-like 1% hyaluronic acid serum formulated to soften and smooth your skin after just one use.
The serum contains hyaluronic acid in the salt form of sodium hyaluronate.
The fragrance-free serum draws moisture to the skin and keeps it there with help from 3% glycerin, a gentle, non-irritating humectant that improves skin hydration and skin barrier function.
It’s non-sticky, lightweight, and sinks into your skin quickly without leaving a greasy feeling. The hyaluronic acid penetrates the top layers of your skin to maintain optimal hydration levels.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: First, the price. The serum is so incredibly affordable that I’ll just call it cheap!!!
Next, is ingredient transparency. Good Molecules provides the exact concentration of every single ingredient in the serum. No other brand in this list provides this much transparency in their products.
Related Post: Good Molecules Review
10. Skincare Revolution 2% Hyaluronic Acid Plumping and Hydrating Serum
Skincare Revolution 2% Hyaluronic Acid Plumping and Hydrating Serum contains 2% hyaluronic acid to smooth the skin’s surface while getting rid of the dehydrated and tight feeling.
The oil-free serum plumps the skin with a blend of sodium hyaluronate and sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer.
Sodium hyaluronate is more stable and has a lower molecular weight than hyaluronic acid.
Sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer is cross-linked and forms a mesh on the surface of your skin to hold more moisture than traditional HA and provides extended hydration.
The fragrance-free serum also contains glycerin for added moisture.
STAND-OUT QUALITY: While this is a no-frills serum, it hydrates and plumps, just as the name suggests, at a super affordable price. It provides immediate relief for tight, dehydrated, and dry skin.
It’s very gentle with minimum ingredients, making it ideal for sensitive skin. Plus, you can’t beat the look of the beautiful gold packaging on your vanity.
Best Drugstore Hyaluronic Acid Serums: The Bottom Line
Which is the best drugstore hyaluronic acid serum?
All of these drugstore hyaluronic acid serums are effective and affordable. The one that you’ll consistently use will be the best serum for you.
Look at the stand-out qualities listed above and choose one that will work for your skin concerns.
Don’t forget to pair one of these serums with a nourishing moisturizer to lock in all that HA goodness!
Thanks for reading!
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