Best of the Best: Hyaluronic Acid Serums Face Off

(note this post contains affiliate links that may earn me a small commission if you decide to make a purchase and click on the link below)

By now we’ve all heard of Hyaluronic Acid. We know it’s a superstar ingredient heralded for its skin plumping, line smoothing, hydrating properties. But WHAT exactly is it, WHERE do we find it, and HOW are we supposed to pick the best one with so many options on the market? Read on as I personally put 8 of the top green beauty brands to the test in a fun “serum playoff” series in honor of the NCAA March Madness finals! Who will sweep the courts (of our bathrooms) ?

What exactly is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid is one of those ingredients that is popping up everywhere and with good reason! Yet it’s still extremely misunderstood so let’s get to the facts.

  • Hyaluronic acid naturally occurs in our skin (and joints and even our eyes), it’s a wonderful cell hydrator and lubricator yet the amount we have in our body diminishes as we age.
  • Hyaluronic acid is extremely gentle and although it uses the word “acid”, this won’t irritate or aggressively attack the skin like other acids.
  • It’s an amazing hydrator but NOT a moisturizer. Hydration is adding water to the skin (great for flaky, tight feeling skin), HA achieves this because the molecule can hold up to 1,000 (!) times its weight in water. Perfect for battling dehydrating conditions such as harsh weather, dry climates, and travel.
  • It diminishes the appearance of fine lines by plumping the skin
  • In green beauty brands most all Hyaluronic Acid is derived from plant sources, making it a great choice for sustainable beauty lovers!

The contestants

Narrowing the field of amazing hyaluronic acid serums down to only 8 was difficult to say the least! Hyaluronic acid is present in so many formulations since it’s widely available, a multi tasking powerhouse, and plays well with other ingredients. To make my short list the following criteria had to be met: hyaluronic acid needed to be near the top of an ingredient list since this is judging the serums that have the best use of the ingredient, green/ sustainable beauty brand , able to be used on my skin type (unfortunately I’m allergic to some ingredients so a few popular choices had to be skipped as I wouldn’t be able to give them a fair review)

A quick note about my skin type: I’m 41 years old, have surface dehydration (thanks to round the clock breastfeeding), breakout easily, sensitive to too many actives at once and am seeking plumper, more radiant skin.

The “Elite 8”

  1. Indie Lee Stem Cell Serum : I purchased the large size of this almost a year ago when my skin was starting to become super dehydrated from nursing and I needed a major boost. PROS: This silky formula absolutely glides onto your skin without ever feeling sticky (a common complaint with some other HA serums).My skin absolutely drank this in and was noticeably softer every time I used it INGREDIENT HIGHLIGHTS echinacea stem cells (proven to increase firmness) & apple fruit softens fine lines CONS: Price- at $135 for 30 ml this is one of the pricier serums by far but a little goes a long way with this serum (1 bottle lasted me 6 months+) I had to be careful not to overuse as it was slightly TOO much for my skin going into the summer months when I produced more oil, the sweet spot for me was using every other day
  2. Kypris Antioxidant Dew This was one of the very first green beauty Hyaluronic Acid serums I tried. I am now on my third bottle of this magical serum! I love getting the hydration I need plus the amazing antioxidants to protect my skin during the dayPROS The milky consistency is super soothing to stressed skin, can double as a lightweight moisturizer if you are on the oiler side INGREDIENT HIGHLIGHTS Antioxidants C &E + ferulic acid, moisturizing Sea Algae , soothing rose extract CONS if you are allergic to rose or have rose sensitives this might not be the best fit
  3. Free and True Ramblin Rose I’m currently on my second bottle of this amazing skin quencher. I fell head over heels in love with the scent when I first used it (the white tea extract married with the pomegranate is out of this world) and my skin absolutely drinks it up PROS : amazing scent profile, light weight yet deeply nourishing, wears well under makeup, the most budget friendly option on the list at under $70 (my bottle lasted over 4 months of daily use) INGREDIENT HIGHLIGHTS white tea (antioxidant), hibiscus (brightens) , pomegranate (ant inflammatory) CONS: Some people that I’ve recommended it to have found it to feel slightly sticky after applying it
  4. True Botanicals Chebula Active Immunity Serum * I wrote a full blog post about Chebula as an ingredient here. I was super intrigued to try this out since this is a brand new ingredient and has been getting a lot of buzz. PROS:Super hydrating, soothing to my skin, Chebula is said to be one of the most sustainable new ingredients so it’s good for the planet as well INGREDIENT HIGHLIGHTS: Chebula (a natural fruit works as an antioxidant , smooths, brightens and plumps; 2 forms of Hyaluronic acid to hydrate; Green Tea, Neroli CONS: Chebula is brand new to the market so I am still testing the brightening and restorative claims on my own skin (update coming soon)
  5. Fitglow Clear +Bright Mandelic Drops * Suffering from post acne scarring I was very intrigued to try this serum as it combined hydrating hyaluronic with 4 skin brightening ingredients. I love this going into the summer as it’s very lightweight and absorbs almost instantly. PROS Super lightweight, great for oiler skin and anyone concerned with overall brightening / scarring INGREDIENT HIGHLIGHTS 5% Mandelic acid , Kojic Acid, BearBerry ,CONS due to the mandelic & kojic acid this potentially can make you more sensitive to the sun so as always wear SPF!
  6. Vintner’s Daughter Active Treatment Essence * What makes this luxe product so special can also make it a challenge for more sensitive skin types: it contains over 70 active ingredients (which also explains the higher price point). It’s almost unfair to compare this product in a serum round up since it’s a watery based essence meant to be used under a more traditional serum or moisturizer, HOWEVER with an ingredient list rivaling most serums and the addition of hyaluronic acid, I would argue you could use this as your essence AND serum step and go straight into a moisturizer or face oil afterwards (which is what I did for testing purposes). PROS : I really DIDN’T want to love this product (because then I would be in love with budget busting product), however within 2 uses my skin was absolutely GLOWING. I love the idea of an essence that is hydrating enough (thanks to the Hyaluronic Acid) to allow you to skip a serum step as well and that made me tolerate the price a bit more. The watery consistency took some getting used to (as did the smell of apple cider vinegar) however as the weather warmed I started to appreciate how truly lightweight it is. INGREDIENT HIGHLIGHTS Vitamin C, Probiotics, Prebiotics, plant stem cells, exfoliators, hydrating micro algae (just to name a few!) Seriously check out the full ingredient list on th link above CONS The price is definitely a sticker shock at $225 (this is 3.5 times the cost of my normal essence), if you have dry skin you would still need to layer an additional serum on top as this is thin, the scent of apple cider vinegar is strong at first, can be TOO active for those with sensitive skin to use every day (I recommend staring once a day every other day)
  7. Lil Fox Haute C * While at first it might be surprising to include a Vitamin C serum in a round up of Hyaluronic Acid serums, this powerful product contains not one but TWO different forms of HA, making it ultra hydrating and definitely a serum to consider when exploring the best Hyaluronic products on the market. PROS With 15% Vitamin C PLUS Kakadu plum AND 2 forms of Hyaluronic acid this serum can replace multiple treatment steps in your routine! INGREDIENT HIGHLIGHTS : Vitamin C, Kakadu Plum (brightens), Ferulic Acid (antioxidant), Niacinamide CONS The scent is bit more medicinal than I anticipated at first, if you are sensitive this can be a bit much to use every day (I recommend starting every other morning)
  8. Alpyn Beauty Survival Serum* This Allure Magazine “Best of” winning serum was a late entry to my “playoffs” but after the first couple of days using it I knew I had to include it! PROS feels more like a lotion than a traditional serum, has a slight sheen to give a radiant glow and doubles as makeup primer! INGREDIENT HIGHLIGHTS:Vitamin C, Bearberry, aloe CONS not quite as hydrating if you have dry skin

*gifted from brand or retailer however thoughts and views are my own and no compensation was received for this post

Final Four

Best for Dry Skin

Indie Lee Stem Cell Serum just slightly eeked out the win over my other favorite (Free & True Ramlin Rose). The liquid instantly plumps my skin and where I normally wake up feeling dry after a night of nursing, this keeps my skin soft and supple when paired with my favorite face oil. It’s a splurge, but the compliments I get when I use this consistency in my routine, pay for themselves lol!

Best for Sensitive Skin

Kypris Antioxidant Dew calmed my skin when it started to freak out from testing too many products (beauty blogger problems!) The sea algae base is great for calming inflammation and this never caused any redness or irritation no matter how often I used it.

Best for Acne Prone Skin

Fitglow Clear + Bright Mandelic Drops is currently my daytime go to serum! My skin definitely let me know that it didn’t like trying so many products at once and I had a few breakouts to deal with during the testing process. This serum calmed everything back down AND helped zapp the breakouts. Highly recommend this one if your skin is on the oilier side or if you live in a humid climate.

Best Multitasker

Alpyn Beauty Survival Serum* , Lil Fox Haute C * AND the Vintner’s Daughter Essence are all amazing Hyaluronic Acid multi tasking power houses in their own right. (It’s like choosing between a 3 point shooter, awesome rebounder or power to the post dunker in basketball..all can you win you the game, it’s just who do you need on the court more?)

If you’re a makeup lover and want a bit more glow, the Survival Serum would be my choice since it doubles as a primer. Sun Damage? Then I would absolutely pick the Haute C with it’s amazing brightening properties. Looking for a little bit of everything? The Vintner’s Daughter would be my choice !

And the Winner is…

YOU! Seriously with so many amazing Hyaluronic Acid serums available on the market place you can’t go wrong with any of the choices above. Which ever one you try, you’ll end up with bouncy, glowing, smooth, radiant, hydrated skin! Now that’s a championship trophy worth celebrating!

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