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Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol: How to Use Them Together

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At some point, almost every woman seeks ways to keep her skin healthy. Let’s get things straight. Whether it’s about wrinkles, skin brightening, or acne, there’s no better ally than retinol. With its endless benefits, retinol represents the hero ingredient in skincare. It got exactly what your skin needs to stay smooth, healthy, and revitalized. Most dermatologists and beauty experts love it, and it’s rarely missing from their mentions. “I consider it a gold standard in skincare and often explain it to my patients as something that sweeps away dead skin cells, clogged pores, and dull skin,” tells Francesca Fusco, MD, for Vogue.

Retinol works to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by boosting blood flow to the skin. Studies have shown that retinol helps increase collagen production, epidermal thickness and smooths the skin’s outer layer. This will improve the elasticity of the skin and make it less wrinkled. Yes, yes, yes, a lot of good things about retinol. But is that all?

Despite how much dermatologists love it, retinol comes with a price: it’s irritating. When retinol penetrates the skin’s outer layer, it encourages new epidermal cells to migrate up to the skin’s surface, which acts as a protective barrier. When the new skin cells are rapidly produced, they lack the necessary adhesion and lipid production to protect the skin, as Mervyn Patterson, a cosmetic doctor, explains for Business Insider. “Because of this, a lot of people feel that their skin is very sensitive and experience peeling, flaking, and irritation.”


To reduce the harsh exfoliating effects and irritations caused by retinol, you need to put in place a proper moisturizing regimen. That’s why a hydrating agent, such as hyaluronic acid, can be useful. Besides calming and soothing, hyaluronic acid can also help you recover the skin firmness.

As you know, hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the skin, and its role is to retain skin moisture. With age, the level of hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases, which leads to a loss of moisture and elasticity in the skin. So adding hyaluronic acid to your routine, not just will counteract the retinol side effects but will also make your skin appear more hydrated, plumped, and soft. What’s cool is that research actually found retinol itself can increase skin expression of hyaluronic acid. Do you see how these two ingredients are bound to each other? 

Should I use retinol and hyaluronic acid together?

Definitely, yes, please do so — especially if you feel retinol difficult to tolerate and experience excessive dryness. Although there is no data to support the use of these two ingredients together, dermatologists recommend it. It makes sense to use a hydrating agent in order to reduce skin irritation, and there isn’t a better one than hyaluronic acid. Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, assistant clinical professor of dermatology, advises in an interview for Healthline to use hyaluronic acid together with retinol. “It’s both hydrating and soothing, without standing in the way of the retinol’s ability to do its job. Also, most dermatologists will tell you to prepare your skin before retinol. And the best prep you can do is to make sure your face is properly hydrated. “Moisturized skin has a better barrier function, meaning that it’s at peak protection for whatever you throw at it,” suggests dermatologist Ava Shamban for SELF.

Hyaluronic acid before or after retinol?

We suggest applying your retinol product first. Wait for 10 minutes, and then give your skin an instant boost of hydration with hyaluronic acid. This will gradually decrease the irritation and dryness effects that retinol may cause. You can also get a serum that contains both retinol and hyaluronic acid — like these. We also advise using retinol at night and sunscreen during the day because retinoids increase skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. 

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