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Another day, another TikTok skincare hack going viral among beauty devotees. Recently we were taken by the reverse skincare trick (putting your moisturiser on before toner to banish dryness), not to mention the smooth skin routine (five simple steps to skin so good, you'll want to skip foundation). This week, it's all about hydrating skincare ingredient hyaluronic acid — specifically, how to apply it for a glowing complexion all year round.
Skincare obsessives may already know that hyaluronic acid is found naturally within our skin. Mia Moseley-Smith, skincare expert at Face the Future, says: "It provides the necessary moisture to encourage overall skin health. However, as we age, our natural levels of hyaluronic acid deplete, leading to a reduced ability to preserve moisture and firmness." Mia says that there are benefits to using hyaluronic acid in skincare. "When applied topically, its restorative properties help to boost the skin's moisture content. This makes it a key skincare element in combating dry, dull skin."
According to TikTok's skincare enthusiasts, if you use a hyaluronic acid serum in your routine, there's a good chance you're applying it all wrong. In a video which has amassed 170.2k pairs of eyes, influencer @rocio.roses let her followers in on the best way to apply hyaluronic acid serums to get rid of a parched face — and it's not on dry skin. "Alright, I'm going to help every single baddie on this app with dry skin," said Rocio. "If you have dry, flaky, dehydrated skin, you have to, have to, have to use hyaluronic acid. If you have, and it did not work, you probably used it wrong." Rocio goes on to explain: "You have to put moisture back into your face, whether it's water or a facial spray like this one," pointing to Heritage Store Rosewater with Glycerin, $17.67. Rocio spritzes her face and asks: "Why do we do this? Because hyaluronic acid holds 1000x its weight in water. It is a humectant, so it will hold the water molecules on the surface of your face to keep you nice and plump, hydrated and dewy." In other words, hyaluronic acid needs moisture to work — and it isn't just TikTokers who agree.
"While hyaluronic acid is great at hydrating the skin, if used incorrectly it can actually leave your skin looking dull and dehydrated," says Mia. "If your skin is lacking moisture before applying the serum," she explains, "the hyaluronic acid will draw moisture from deep within the skin and potentially exacerbate your dry skin symptoms."
Yep, using hyaluronic acid on dry skin could dry it out even further. "This means for the ingredient to work most effectively, it should be sandwiched between two layers of additional moisture," adds Mia, "especially during the cooler winter months when the atmosphere can also deplete skin hydration levels."
Mia explained that you can apply your hyaluronic acid serum onto skin that has been dampened with water but she would recommend using something more hydrating. Like Rocio, she suggests a facial spritz targeted for dry skin, like Bioeffect Osa Water Mist, $65. "Once sprayed, apply your serum using a push and press technique and by sealing the hydration with your moisturiser of choice." Rocio goes for Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $60. "Check out that glow," she said after massaging it in. If your skin is on the dry side, adding moisturiser is a must. After applying her serum, Rocio spritzes her face again, lets it absorb for one minute, then "seals it right away" with her favourite moisturiser. It seems her thousands of followers are sold on the hack. "Wait so it's water — hyaluronic acid — then moisturizer on top!!🤯🤯" wrote one. Another commented: "Girl your [sic] the REAL MVP for sharing this tip! What a difference!!!"
After going overboard on retinol, my skin has become seriously thirsty and rough, particularly around my mouth and nose. Embarrassingly, a facialist recently told me it's "so ridiculously dehydrated", which is why I'm experiencing more pronounced fine lines and an uncomfortable, tight feel after cleansing. Sound familiar? That's because winter exacerbates all of the above. I'm a fan of applying my moisturiser with damp hands (hello, glow) but rarely use hyaluronic acid — though if I want smooth, radiant skin like Rocio, I guess now would be the time to start.
So I tried it myself. While it took a little longer than usual to massage in, I knew that my skin would reap the benefits — all I had to do was be a little patient. I followed with another spritz of mist and then layered on my moisturiser.
The effects were almost instant: softer, smoother and more dewy skin. But one go wouldn't iron away my self-inflicted dehydration lines and banish those flaky patches — I had to keep going. After over a week, I can safely say that adding a hyaluronic acid serum into my AM and PM routine is probably the best thing I've done to protect my skin barrier in the cold weather and central heating. Rocio's extra glowy tip is a must if you're spending money on a hydrating product like this, otherwise it's a bit of a waste. From a skin expert's point of view, some other excellent hyaluronic acid serums are Medik8's Hydr8 B5 Serum, $79 or the SkinCeuticals' HA Intensifier, $148. Also try the new Bondi Sands Thirsty Skin Hyaluronic Acid Serum, 15.95, if you're looking to spend less.