If you have dry skin like me, I hate to say it, but it’s time to hop on the hyaluronic acid bandwagon.
For a while, it seemed like everyone I know—my friends, my dermatologist, heck, even Eva Longoria—were hounding me about investing in an uber-pricey bottle of hyaluronic acid serum. Despite their persistence, I’m forever a beauty minimalist (aka beauty skeptic), so it took me months to get around to trying it.
And truth be told, I didn’t really see that much difference in my lackluster skin after burning through an entire bottle. Then I did something that changed everything: I made my own DIY hyaluronic acid serum, and I fell in love with the stuff.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
First things first—what is hyaluronic acid (HA), anyway? At its most basic, HA is a molecule that’s naturally found in your body’s skin and connective tissue [source]. It acts as a lubricant for the body—for joints, nerves, hair, skin, eyes [source], you name it—and its magic lies in its ability to attract and hold up to 1,000x its weight in water [source]!
As we age, the natural production of hyaluronic acid decreases, so our bodies don’t look and feel quite as young or supple as they once did. From a beauty perspective, supplementing with it helps keep the skin moist [source], so it looks dewy, plump, and young. When applied directly to the skin, it holds water in the skin and increases overall hydration without irritating skin or clogging pores.
By creating a protective barrier, HA serum is said to help alleviate dryness, facilitate healing, and soothe redness. Basically, it’s a game-changer for healing dry skin and lessening the lovely side effects that come with it, like wrinkles, sagging, and flakiness.
In addition, hyaluronic acid helps to:
Plump fine lines and wrinkles [source]
Hydrate parched skin [source]
Repair skin’s moisture barrier [source]
Lessen the appearance of sun damage
Improve skin’s overall elasticity [source]
Encourage healing [source]
Protect against free radical damage [source]
DIY Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Most store-bought brands contain somewhere between 0.25 and 2.5 percent HA, with the rest of the bottle being mostly water. But when you make your own serum, you get to control the amount of hyaluronic acid while also adding other ingredients that help nourish the skin.
Ideally, you want to aim for about a 1% HA solution in your DIY serum. This will provide enough skin firming and plumping benefits without irritating sensitive skin.
I swear by things like rose water and carrot seed oil for improving skin health. Neroli essential oil is my go-to for calming inflammation [source]. And vegetable glycerin gives the serum a little substance while it locks moisture into the skin. You can always add a bit of aloe vera gel for additional anti-aging benefits or jojoba oil for added hydration.
As always, feel free to tweak this recipe to meet your skin’s particular needs.
Is Hyaluronic Acid Safe for Sensitive Skin?
Since it’s naturally found in the skin, hyaluronic acid is generally safe for all skin types, and you don’t really need to worry about it causing irritation or exacerbating other skin issues.
But as with all beauty products, you may want to do a small spot test to make sure it, or some other ingredient in your serum, doesn't irritate your skin.
Hyaluronic Acid FAQs
Does hyaluronic acid serum really work?
Yes, it is used in many beauty products! And there's actually science to prove it has important actions in different parts of the body [source]. A recent article details the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid on the skin [source].
Can I use a DIY hyaluronic acid serum every day?
Yes, you certainly can. Go ahead and use it twice a day if your skin is especially dry or if you're battling stubborn wrinkles.
What's better, retinol or hyaluronic acid?
Retinol and hyaluronic acid do two different things.
Retinol encourages cell turnover, which stimulates collagen and elastin production [source]. And, hyaluronic acid absorbs moisture into the skin, plumping fine lines and wrinkles.
Both are important nutrients we need to replenish as we age. And both can help make skin appear younger and firmer. Because they do different things, there's no need to choose one over the other. Alternating between retinol and hyaluronic acid can make aging skin appear healthier and more vibrant.
Is there a difference between liquid hyaluronic acid and powder? Can I use the liquid instead?
The powdered hyaluronic acid we recommend is 100% hyaluronic acid, whereas most liquid formulations of hyaluronic acid are already diluted to a 0.25–2.5% concentration.
If you purchase it in the liquid form, you can't control the strength (it's already diluted), and combining it with additional ingredients will dilute it even further, making it less effective. That's why we recommend using a powdered product.
If you can find a 100% liquid, then go ahead and use it if you prefer. Just know that we haven't tested it, so I'm not sure how much you should use in this recipe.
Can I use too much hyaluronic acid?
While you might be tempted to go a little HA happy, just know that using more than the recommended 2.5% might cause redness or irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Homemade Hyaluronic Acid Serum Recipe
- small funnel
- 2-ounce glass dropper bottle
- 4-½ tablespoons chilled rose water (can substitute distilled water)
- ½ teaspoon hyaluronic acid powder
- ½ teaspoon vegetable glycerin (can substitute aloe vera gel or jojoba oil)
- 2 drops carrot seed oil
- 2 drops neroli essential oil
- 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
- 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
- Place the hyaluronic acid powder in a small bowl. Add the water and stir vigorously to dissolve. Cold water should help the powder dissolve more easily, but if you’re still seeing chunks, you can put the mixture in a small blender or food processor to get it to mix completely.
- Transfer the mixture to an amber bottle. Add the glycerin, carrot seed oil, and neroli oil. Shake well.
- Let the serum sit for at least 4 hours to allow the hyaluronic acid powder to dissolve completely before using.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.365
Miss E says
Just finished making this, and I must say I had a hard time getting it into the bottle even with a funnel. Although I mixed everything together prior to putting it all into the bottle.. oops!
Either way I got it ;) and I love it! I'm excited to have this, thank you for sharing!
Can I leave out the Neroli oil or substitute another ingredient? I have dry mature skin
Instead of putting this recipe in a dropper bottle, could I put it in a small roller ball bottle? Seems like it might be even easier to apply. Thoughts?
Nikke Al says
Hello. Is there a recipe with preservatives to to prolong over time or how can you calculate that into the current one.
Sabina Baptista says
hello, would you be so kind to convert those quantities in weight? This recipe sounds amazing, I'm really looking forward to trying it!
Hi there, i'm also curious if there's a way to extend the shelf life with a natural ingredient or preservative?
I also would like to know why you use the powder instead of the liquid.
Can those be interchanged?
Rachael Gorjestani says
Hi! The hyaluronic acid powder that you linked to is no longer available and I'm curious if you have a runner up in terms of another brand you like. My skin loves hyaluronic acid, but doesn't love all the other ingredients in the products I find on the market, so exploring making my own serum. Glad I found this article.
Hi....The question I have is why not use the liquid Hyaluronic Acid instead of the powder. I would think that would be better. Possibly use a bit less though??
What are your thoughts?