We purchased SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier Serum so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
SkinCeuticals may be best known for its cult-favorite C E Ferulic serum, but this trusted skincare brand offers a host of other game-changing products, like its Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier Serum. This cutting-edge formula isn’t just high-quality HA, though—it contains other ingredients that actually help HA reach its full moisturizing potential. TL;DR: Smooth, hydrated skin, coming right up.
Because a healthy glow is always my goal when it comes to skincare, I gave this product a try myself to see if it really worked. Read on for my honest review.
About My Skin: Acne-prone and in need of hydration
My skin is prone to breakouts and fluctuates between dry and oily depending on what products my skin needs that week. Right now, I’m in need of something healing and hydrating, which is where the SkinCeuticals HA serum comes in. In addition to my usual routine of cleanser, Biologique Recherche P50, vitamin C, Differin, and moisturizer, I wanted to add something that would support my skin’s health.
I used this serum morning and night for two weeks. While I only have minor fine lines, I was interested to see what—if anything—this serum could do for those, while keeping my skin hydrated and happy in the long term.
Ingredient Quality: Not just hyaluronic acid
This serum contains 1.3% pure hyaluronic acid. It's worth noting that 1.3% may not sound like a super high concentration, but it's actually right in the range it should be in order to be effective. When hyaluronic acid is applied in high concentrations, it can actually lead to drying effects—the opposite of what we're going for here.
According to celebrity esthetician Joshua Ross of SkinLab, a Med Spa in Beverly Hills, a concentration of around 1% is actually ideal: “When looking for an HA serum, you should avoid products that claim high percentages of HA,” he told Byrdie in 2019. “The reason for this is that to be effective, you only need 1-2 percent, whereas anything more can actually be drying to the skin.”
The formula also contains 10% Proxylane, 2% licorice root, and 0.2% purple rice extract. Proxylane, a patented molecule derived from beechwood, is designed to keep skin hydrated while licorice root and purple rice extract brighten the skin and preserve its hyaluronic acid levels. Although this formula isn’t clean by Byrdie’s standards (it contains PEG compounds), it’s worth noting that it’s paraben- and dye-free.
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The Science: It’s complicated
Hyaluronic acid can be a tricky ingredient—in some instances, it can be drying to the skin if not properly followed up with a moisturizer. However, because this serum includes other moisturizing agents, too, you don’t necessarily have to follow this serum with a moisturizer if it hydrates your skin enough by itself.
Interested in learning more about HA in general? Byrdie has a whole guide that includes the best ways to incorporate it into your routine.
The Feel: A light gel
The product has a gel-serum texture, which makes it thicker than other serums I’ve used but lighter than most moisturizers. The tinted bottle hides the fact that the serum is a deep purple, which was a fun surprise.
Because its texture is slightly thicker, I felt like I had to use more product (almost two droppers) to cover my whole face and neck. After application, my skin was slightly tacky and noticeably more moisturized almost immediately. SkinCeuticals makes no mention of following it up with a moisturizer; Instead, you can apply sunscreen afterward in the morning or retinol (if you use one) in the evening.
The Results: Immediate hydration
Results of a 12-week clinical study found that this serum improved skin plumpness, firmness, elasticity, and texture (when used with a gentle cleanser and sunscreen). After two weeks of testing this product, I’d say I’m pretty pleased with my results, too.
I did notice a couple of minor breakouts in places I don’t often have acne, but I'm unsure whether they were caused by this product. However, they disappeared quickly and I didn’t experience any other irritation from using this product.
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The Value: $102 for a bottle
SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier Serum is $102 for a one-ounce bottle. While not exactly budget-friendly, it contains more high-quality ingredients than HA serums you might pick up from more affordable brands.
Similar Products: You have options
Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum ($300): For three times the price of the SkinCeuticals serum, you can try Dr. Barbara Sturm’s $300 hyaluronic acid serum. Dr. Sturm’s formula contains both low- and high-weighted HA molecules, meaning it can provide hydration benefits deep within the skin, as well as on the surface. While this product might improve skin health in the long term, I found that the SkinCeuticals serum hydrated my skin more effectively day to day.
The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum ($8): I picked up this affordable serum to use along with an at-home micro-needling device. It’s super affordable—just $8—and contains a healthy 2% of hyaluronic acid. It also contains peptides for an extra plumping effect. The price point makes it easy to test out if you’re considering adding an HA product to your routine.