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Hyaluronic Acid… What is It?
Hyaluronic Acid is a sugar that is naturally produced by your body and found on your skin. The clear, gooey substance can hold a thousand times its weight in water, making it the perfect ingredient to supercharge hydration. Hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant by drawing moisture to the skin, and the good news for you is a reduction in fine lines, dullness and dryness.
Hyaluronic Acid Serums
When applied after cleansing and before moisturizer, hyaluronic acid creates a moisture sandwich that will keep your skin happy and soft all day long. Those with dry skin will be especially grateful for the hydration benefits, but no matter your skin type there is a place for hyaluronic acid in your routine.
How We Chose The Products
Skincare products can be overwhelming! Here’s how we narrowed down our faves
Because hyaluronic acid is so effective at boosting skin hydration, it is sprinkled into skincare products everywhere. Don’t be alarmed if you see it in cleansers, masks or treatments. For the most targeted application, however, you can’t beat a serum. We’ve stuck to the basic serum for this list, aka the thing that goes after cleansing, before moisturizing.
Cruelty Free Companies Only
At Cruelty-Free Kitty, we only recommend products from companies that are completely cruelty-free. We believe that animal testing for cosmetics has no place in the beauty industry in the 21st century.
The masses don’t lie! We only choose products that have been personally tried and loved, or have earned the adoration of customers online. We scour the reviews of your favorite retailers (in detail!), rather than just taking a product’s claims at face value.
The Best Hyaluronic Acid Serums
Here are our recommendations for the best cruelty-free hyaluronic acid serum. We’ve included budget and high-end options, as well as vegan formulations.
Best Budget: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
This serum is a crowd favorite for a reason. The serum is silky while not sticky, and absorbs easily into the skin. The vegan formula is silicone-free and is suitable for all skin types. Using low, medium and high molecular weight hyaluronic acid molecules the serum is able to penetrate the skin for effective hydration, and vitamin B5 supports moisturization with anti-inflammatory properties.
|Best For||All skin types, including sensitive|
|Price per ounce||$6.1|
Best Clean: Osea Hyaluronic Sea Serum
Hyaluronic Sea Serum
Formulated with three organic seaweeds, this serum combines hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights for brighter, firmer skin. Great for treating the appearance of fine lines, this lightweight serum absorbs quickly and is perfect to layer underneath your moisturizer.
|Best For||Signs of aging|
|Price per ounce||$88|
Best Splurge: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster
This hydration-boosting serum can be applied on its own or mixed into other skincare products to boost their skin-plumping abilities. The vegan formula combines hyaluronic acid with watermelon extract and Centella asiatica (tiger grass) to help seal moisture into the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Note that it does contain small amounts of glycolic acid, lactic acid and retinol, which can be very effective for improving the skin’s appearance, but should be included in your skincare routine in moderation.
|Best For||All Skin Types|
|Price per ounce||$90|
The INKEY List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum
Another budget-friendly favorite, this lightweight serum is an effective product to boost hydration and leave skin feeling plump. With reviews raving about this product for use on ultra-sensitive skin, it is a great basic option for both minimalist routines and for layering.
|Best For||All skin types, including sensitive|
|Price per ounce||$7.99|
Kate Somerville KateCeuticals® Firming Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
Sold as a clinical-grade product plumping and firming treatment, this serum claims to smooth and firm ageing skin in as little as two weeks. The hero product of hydrating hyaluronic acid is supported by brightening Nasturtium Flower and Pea Extract to tackle wrinkles and dullness in the skin. Inspired by hyaluronic acid dermal fillers, this serum is non-sticky and only requires a small amount to be effective.
|Best For||Targeting the signs of ageing and dryness|
|Fragrance||Yes - natural citrus oils|
|Price per ounce||$98|
Glossier Super Bounce
This smooth, hydrating serum combines three molecular weights of hyaluronic acid with pro vitamin B5 to effectively yet gently hydrate the skin. The non-irritating formula is perfect for sensitive or acne-prone skin, and can help to soothe irritation caused by dehydration.
|Best For||All skin types, including irritated or acne-prone skin|
|Price per ounce||$28|
DERMA-E Ultra Hydrating Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
This ultra-hydrating serum is formulated to quench parched skin, providing nutrients to improve overall skin appearance and smoothness. Hyaluronic acid - nature’s moisture magnet - is combined with vitamin C and allantoin (a product of uric acid) to gently encourage cell-turnover and skin renewal. This vegan formula also contains panthenol and glycerin to support the hyaluronic acid in keeping the skin soft, hydrated and glowing.
|Best For||All skin types, especially dry or ageing skin|
|Fragrance||Yes, natural fragrance oils|
|Price per ounce||$14.75|
KYLIE SKIN Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This potent, lightweight serum uses multi-molecular hyaluronic acid in a time-release formula to maintain skin hydration throughout the day. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) and rice bran water act to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone while soothing the skin. Reviews suggest that it effectively maintains skin moisture and glow all day.
|Best For||All skin types|
|Fragrance||No, naturally scented|
|Price per ounce||$40|
Bliss Drench & Quench 4 Hyaluronic Acids + Amino Acids All-Day Moisture Serum
This ultra-hydrating serum combines 4 hyaluronic acids with 7 amino acids to boost skin’s hydration all day long. The different weights of hyaluronic acid molecules target different layers of the skin, drawing in and retaining moisture for instantly plump skin. Perfect for after cleansing or toning, this serum improves the efficacy of a moisturizer applied on top.
|Best For||Dry skin|
|Price per ounce||$27|
Glow Recipe Plum Plump™ Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This silky, watergel formula uses hyaluronic acid of 5 separate molecular weights to draw hydration deep into the skin and provide a visible plumping effect. The lightweight, oil-free serum also contains vegan collagen and silk protein to target the appearance of fine lines for healthy, youthful skin. According to reviews, any initial stickiness quickly disappears and the serum layers well under moisturizer.
|Best For||All skin types|
|Price per ounce||$42|
Farmacy FILLING GOOD hyaluronic acid plumping serum
This potent serum combines hyaluronic acid with vegan collagen peptides to instantly hydrate and smooth the skin. Targeted to ageing skin and uneven skin tone, the combination of hyaluronic acid, peptides and amino acids aims to provide a micro-filling and plumping effect. Reviews suggest that this product may pill under certain other products or makeup, but can always be included in your skincare routine in the evenings.
|Best For||Aging, dull or dry skin|
|Price per ounce||$44|
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It’s cruelty free but comes from Cockerel combs. Do you mean free range chickens were used?
I love your website! I’ve been buying cruelty free products over 20 years. I’ve heard that Decimen company that includes The Ordinary is selling and will start testing on animals and not be cruelty free.
Do you know if this is true?
Hi Kathy – First of all, thank you! As far as I know they will not start testing on animals, but I’m keeping an eye on them. 🙂
How can the Dr. Dennis Gross product be vegan if it contains retinol?
From a vegan primer on Glamour: “Whether it’s in cosmetics or prescription skincare, retinoids are always synthetic,” says Paula Begoun of Paula’s Choice. “The main reason for this is because it’s impossible to get a stable, bio-available retinol from natural sources.” And in case you wonder what these synthetic compounds are made of? “Lab-engineered retinol is not in any way derived from animals,“ says Dan Isaacs, director of research at Medik8. So, in short: retinoids are vegan as standard. (https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/gallery/vegan-skincare-myths-busted)