Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule naturally found in the skin and a popular skincare ingredient. It’s a humectant that draws moisture to the skin and helps keep it there, making your complexion look plump and hydrated.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-aging ingredient. It helps to brighten the overall appearance of the skin by neutralizing free radicals and boosting collagen production. So, can you use hyaluronic acid with vitamin C together in the same skincare routine?
You may be reluctant to mix vitamin C with hyaluronic acid, but keep in mind that hyaluronic acid is not an exfoliating acid like glycolic acid or lactic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant and hydrator. So when used together in the same skincare routine, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C work synergistically to improve overall skin texture and tone without additional irritation.
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The Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for Skin
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a sugar molecule present in our skin that can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. It acts like a sponge and draws moisture to the skin. It has the ability to hydrate and plump the look of skin and supports skin elasticity.
HA is a popular, topical ingredient in skincare products because our bodies produce less and less of this moisture magnet as we age. You’ll often see hyaluronic acid in the form of sodium hyaluronate in skincare product ingredient lists. This sodium form of hyaluronic acid works the same way as hyaluronic acid to hydrate and draw moisture to the skin.
Hyaluronic acid comes in different molecular weights. Higher molecular weight hyaluronic acid hydrates the skin’s surface and creates a barrier to keep moisture in and help other water-based products absorb better.
Lower weight hyaluronic acid molecules can penetrate the skin more easily. The smaller molecule size of low-weight hyaluronic acid can improve the look of wrinkles better than higher-weight hyaluronic acid.
Low-weight hyaluronic acid can also reduce inflammation experienced by those with seborrheic dermatitis. It has even been shown to be effective at treating rosacea.
Some research suggests ultra-low weight hyaluronic acid (under 50kDa) may actually cause inflammation, so you might want to stick with low-weight or high-weight hyaluronic acid in your skincare products.
Another popular type of hyaluronic acid is sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer. Hyaluronic acid is linked together to create a mesh and a film on the skin, which gives it even better water-binding effects and provides longer-lasting hydration.
Whether you use low or high-weight hyaluronic acid or other forms of hyaluronic acid like sodium hyaluronate cross polymer, HA gives your skin instant hydration and is an ingredient that can help replenish dehydrated or dry skin.
Even those with oily and acne-prone skin can benefit from the hydration, moisture, and skin barrier support offered by hyaluronic acid skin care products.
The Benefits of Vitamin C for Skin
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or l-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin with many benefits for the skin. Vitamin C offers three main benefits for the skin:
- Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals and prevent further oxidative damage to the skin. In fact, vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants found in skincare products, especially when combined with ferulic acid and vitamin E.
- Vitamin C brightens the overall appearance of the complexion. It helps reduce hyperpigmentation, dark spots, sun spots and uneven skin tone by inhibiting an enzyme involved in melanin (pigment) production in the skin so your skin tone looks more even.
- Vitamin C stimulates collagen production, which can slow down the signs of aging and help skin look firmer and more youthful.
While these are fantastic benefits for the skin, unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to pure vitamin C in skincare. Vitamin C is highly unstable, so pure vitamin C used in skincare products easily oxidizes and turns brown when exposed to air. Depending on the concentration, ascorbic acid products, which are formulated at acidic pHs, may irritate those with sensitive skin.
Luckily, there are other forms of vitamin C you can look for in your favorite skincare products. There are many vitamin C derivatives that are stable, water-soluble, and nonirritating. Some vitamin derivatives:
- Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)
- Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
- Ascorbyl Glucoside
- Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate (ATIP)
- Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
- Ethyl Ascorbic Acid (3-O-Ethyl-L-Ascorbic Acid)
These derivatives are more stable against oxidation, so they don’t turn brown when exposed to air. They still provide many of the same benefits (although less potent), just in a more stable and less irritating form that is kinder to sensitive skin types.
Can You Use Hyaluronic Acid with Vitamin C?
Yes, you can use hyaluronic acid and vitamin C together in the same skincare routine. In fact, using these two actives together can get you better results. Since vitamin C can be irritating and potentially drying, hyaluronic acid can replenish hydration and moisture for a more balanced complexion.
You can also use vitamin C derivatives with hyaluronic acid. Like pure vitamin C, consider applying a vitamin C derivative prior to hyaluronic acid to get the best anti-aging and moisturizing results.
How to Use Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C in Your Skincare Routine
Regardless of what product types you are using, be sure to look at the complete ingredient list. Even though vitamin C and its derivatives can be used with hyaluronic acid, there may be other ingredients in a product that don’t get along with vitamin C, like retinol, benzoyl peroxide, and glycolic acid, or lactic acid (alpha-hydroxy acids).
While hyaluronic acid can be used twice a day, the concentration and form of vitamin C that you use will determine how often you can use it. Vitamin C derivatives can often be used twice a day, but some concentrated ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C) products are best used once a day. Be sure to follow the label instructions of the vitamin C product you are using.
While hyaluronic acid products can be used morning and/or evening, consider using vitamin C products during the day since they offer antioxidant protection from UV rays, which our skin is exposed to during the daylight hours.
How to Layer Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C
If you want to use both hyaluronic acid and vitamin C in the same skincare routine, you can use them as separate products or get the benefits of both in the same product (see below for suggestions).
In general, apply your skincare product from thinnest to thickest, with water-based products being applied first, followed by oil-based products.
If you are using the same type of hyaluronic acid and vitamin C products, like serums, apply a vitamin C serum before hyaluronic acid serum, as you’ll get the stronger active (vitamin C) closest to your skin, and hyaluronic acid will hydrate and seal in moisture. Just be sure to allow a few minutes in between serums to allow for penetration.
If you are using a vitamin C derivative serum, you still might want to consider applying it prior to your hyaluronic acid serum since vitamin C derivatives usually provide more anti-aging benefits than hyaluronic acid, so applying it first and closest to the skin will allow it to penetrate well and provide the best results.
Hyaluronic Acid vs Vitamin C for Skin: Which is Better?
If you’re wondering whether hyaluronic acid or vitamin C is better for your skin, you have to take into consideration what your skin goals are, as both of these ingredients work differently in the skin.
If your main concern is wrinkles, fine lines, and the signs of aging, while both vitamin C and hyaluronic acid can help to smooth the look of wrinkles and fine lines, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that stimulates collagen production, helping to firm the skin from the inside out. It also helps fade hyperpigmentation and dark spots, so vitamin C is the better choice for aging and mature skin looking to address the signs of aging.
If you have dehydrated or dry skin and are looking for hydration and moisture, hyaluronic acid is the better choice.
Hyaluronic Acid Picks
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5 is formulated with 2% ultra-pure vegan hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5. This serum boosts hydration, hydrates the skin, reduces irritation and redness caused by dry, flaky skin. This serum is a great way to introduce hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine, as vitamin B5 also supports the skin’s natural barrier function.
The Ordinary formulates this serum with low, medium, and high-molecular-weight HA, plus a next-generation HA crosspolymer (sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer previously mentioned), to hydrate at multiple levels in the skin.
The serum’s texture is a bit thick and tacky, so be sure to allow a few minutes for it to absorb before layering your other skincare products; otherwise, it will pill. For the low price, this hyaluronic acid serum is a no-brainer!
Incredibly lightweight and hydrating, The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum contains 2% multi-molecular hyaluronic acid to plump and smooth multiple layers of skin. It also minimizes the look of wrinkles and fine lines.
It also contains Matrixyl 3000 peptide, which is made up of two peptides: Tripeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7. These peptides, per the manufacturer, are said to decrease wrinkle depth and skin roughness and improve elasticity and skin tone.
It’s easy to understand why one of these serums is sold every 30 seconds worldwide as you get skin firming and wrinkle smoothing benefits in one very affordable serum.
L’Oreal Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum is the #1 serum in America thanks to its plumping and moisture-binding benefits. It contains 1.5% pure hyaluronic acid with both low and high molecular weights: 0.5% high molecular weight pure hyaluronic acid for surface hydration and to lock in moisture and 1.0% low molecular weight pure hyaluronic acid to smooth skin texture and plump the skin.
The anti-aging serum absorbs easily to leave skin soft and hydrated without leaving the skin feeling tacky, greasy, or oily. Instead, it leaves the skin dewy and firmer with improved elasticity.
Vitamin C Serum Picks (BONUS: They Also Contain Hyaluronic Acid!)
These serums are like getting a 2-in-1 product, as they contain vitamin C (or a vitamin C derivative) plus moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid.
Paula’s Choice 15% Vitamin C Booster is formulated with 15% pure vitamin C for brighter, smoother skin and more even skin tone. It also contains ferulic acid and vitamin E, which are antioxidants that help boost the effectiveness of vitamin C by doubling its photoprotective benefits for the skin.
The serum also contains hydrating sodium hyaluronate (the sodium form of hyaluronic acid) for hydration. Hexanoyl dipeptide-3 norleucine acetate works to hydrate and improve skin texture and wrinkles. Panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) and bisabolol soothe the skin.
This serum has a featherlight consistency which makes it easy to incorporate into your skincare routine. Use it alone or mix it with a compatible serum or moisturizer.
Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum is formulated with two vitamin C derivatives: tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid that are both stable and provide antioxidant, brightening, and collagen-boosting benefits of pure vitamin C without the typical irritation.
The serum also contains hyaluronic acid in the sodium form of sodium hyaluronate for hydration and plumping. Aloe barbadensis leaf juice and cucumber extracts are anti-inflammatories that help soothe the skin. Soluble collagen is a humectant that moisturizes the skin.
Upon application, the serum has a slightly oily feel, but it goes away quickly after the serum is absorbed. Please note that this serum contains lavender oil for added fragrance.
CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum contains 10% pure vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) that protects against environmental stressors, reduces uneven skin tone, and stimulates collagen production for firmer skin.
It also contains sodium hyaluronate (the sodium form of hyaluronic acid) for hydration and CeraVe’s proprietary three essential ceramides, which are lipids found naturally in the skin to restore the skin barrier. Panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) soothes the skin.
The serum is formulated with CeraVe’s MVE Technology, which continually releases moisturizing ingredients for extended and long-lasting hydration throughout the day.
This lightweight serum is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
Final Thoughts on using Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C Together
Hyaluronic acid and vitamin C each offer fantastic skin benefits when used alone, but when used together in your skincare routine, you get the antioxidant protection and collagen-boosting benefits of vitamin C plus the hydration and plumping from hyaluronic acid.
The easiest way to incorporate them into your skincare routine is to choose a serum that contains both for hydrated, healthy, and younger-looking skin.
Thanks for reading, and until next time… here’s to your good skin health!
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