*This post is in partnership with Olay.

What if I told you there was a magical skincare potion that could naturally infuse moisture and bounce into your skin, soften wrinkles, and give you a dewy glow— no visit to the derm required? If you’re like me, you’d sign right up, which is why I’ve been on the hyaluronic acid train since I first read it about it a few years ago.

Since then, HA has become one of the buzziest skincare ingredients to hit the market since retinol, and I’ve seen it popping up in everything from cleaners to oils to masks to oral beauty supplements. All these different formulations got me wondering whether all hyaluronic acid treatments were alike, or if (as I hypothesized) certain ways of getting the good stuff were better than others. And so my research began and turns out, my hunch was right.

How, when, and in what formulation… these things really do matter when it comes to getting your daily dose of HA, and I’m pleased to team up with my friends at Olay (makers of one of my favorite HA-packed products, Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream) to share the right and wrong way to use hyaluronic acid. Think minimum effort, max results. Scroll on for the secrets to your most beautiful, moisturized skin…

First, a quick lesson on what makes hyaluronic acid the wonder ingredient that it is:

HA acts as a “humectant,” meaning: it works like a sponge to help skin retain water and “plump” the skin up.

We actually have natural levels of hyaluronic acid in our skin, but as we age, they slowly deplete. This leads to wrinkles and a loss of bounce in the skin.

HA has the incredible capacity to attract and hold onto 1000x its weight in moisture. And here lies the key: Hyaluronic acid should be used in a moisturizer in order for it to work—when you add moisture to the skin, you’re giving the HA added water to absorb and hold onto, rather than pulling moisture out of dry skin. Rather, the HA brings moisture to the surface of the skin and holds it there, keeping skin continually moisturized through the day. To test this in action, I’ve been using Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream for several weeks, and there’s no doubt that my skin is visibly dewier and smoother, with increased elasticity. And it stays that way all day without ever getting greasy.

These are a few of the most common mistakes made when incorporating hyaluronic acid into a skincare routine—and how to fix them so this super ingredient can do its job right.

Mistake 1: Using Hyaluronic Acid without moisturizer.

Since HA can hold a lot of water (up to 1,000 times its weight!), just think about it: It needs moisture present in order to work. If the skin is already dry and HA is applied in a formula that doesn’t add moisture (think cleanser, toner, or light serum), it will pull moisture from wherever it can, like from deep within your skin, where it can then evaporate into the air if not sealed properly.

On the other hand, when HA is formulated within a deeply hydrating moisturizer, that emollient will penetrate and lock moisture into the skin, which is, of course, the goal.

Mistake 2: Not using HA as the final step in skincare.

With all the fancy HA formulations on the market now (serums, pills, masks, and so much more), it can be tempting to adopt a “more the merrier” mentality. However, some research has shown that overuse of hyaluronic acid can result in redness and inflammation. The takeaway here: choose the one step where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck. Since we’ve established that HA needs a moisture-packed formula for optimal effectiveness, locking it in (within a rich, well-formulated moisturizer) as the final step in your AM and PM skincare routine will leave you with hours of smooth, bouncy skin.

Mistake 3: Applying Hyaluronic Acid to dry skin.

When HA is applied to dry skin in dry conditions, it will naturally pull moisture from wherever it can. So, if there’s low humidity in the air, it draws moisture from the deeper layers of skin and brings it to the surface, where it then evaporates and leaves skin drier than it was in the first place.

But when you start your HA skin-care routine with a damp face, it has a reserve of moisture to pull from, plain and simple. Understanding this has been a game-changer that’s resulted in my healthiest, most moisturized skin ever.

So, prepare yourself for my new favorite new skincare hack—each morning and evening, I mist my face with water, then apply Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, then mist again.

When the hyaluronic acid comes into contact with water, my skin will end up hydrated and healthy (and in the morning, a smooth canvas for my makeup, none of that “settling into fine lines” thing happening around my eyes these days.)

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream contains ultra-high concentrations of HA, smoothing out fine lines and transforming skin upon first use. It’s also infused with Vitamin B3 for skin cell turnover, plus Amino-Peptides and Antioxidants for ultimate health and hydration. I’ve been using it as the final step in my morning and night skincare routine for the past couple of months, and it’s become a non-negotiable in my lineup. After all, hydrated skin is happy skin!

This post was originally published on September 3, 2020, and has since been updated.

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Comments (11)
  1. 1
    joelle September 4, 2020 at 6:18 am

    Sounds wonderful…do you still use the vintners daughter serum with this?

    Reply
    • Camille Styles September 5, 2020 at 10:02 am

      Yes, it’s a great one to combine with this moisturizer – you know it is my longtime obsession. 😉 For max hydration, I love to do cleanse – toner – vitamin c – vintners – olay as the final moisturizing step. SO GOOD.

      Reply
  2. 2
    Marianne September 9, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks for the explanation of why HA should be in the moisturizer! Can you tell us about the mirror you’re using in one of the photos? I’m looking for a lighted and magnifying mirror for my bathroom.

    Reply
  3. 3
    Ann December 19, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    So.. HA is the final step with … but it should be applied on damp skin..(??) So it’s the first step? .. And what about acids/serums/etc, where should they go in this routine?

    Reply
    • Haley March 10, 2021 at 9:51 am

      I’ve heard that HA should be one of the first steps, and then followed by a moisturizer! That makes the most sense to me.

      Reply
  4. 4
    R February 26, 2021 at 12:21 am

    I second Ann—I had the same thoughts—am thoroughly more confused now for having read this—please elaborate.

    Reply
  5. 5
    E Silva March 6, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    I’m confused too. Do I use my ha serum them moisturize, or vise versa.

    Reply
  6. 6
    Jody April 6, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    I think apply your HA first, (to moistened skin), then your moisturizer. I read that you can add a layer of really thick moisturizer or balm or oil to create a cuticle to lock this all in as you sleep. In fact I’m doing just that right now. Sorry for the typos, typing with my toes!

    Reply
  7. 7
    Kathy May 3, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    This article is a bit confusing as to proper steps to use HA as it states to use it on damp skin but then it says to use it with your moisturizer as the final step. I think the confusion is that Olay incorporates both the HA and Moisturizer in the same jar, which equals to one product. I personally use HA and then a separate moisturizer, which equals to two products. If I am using a separate moisturizer from HA then the proper steps are: cleanse, toner, vitamin c, moisturizer, HA and Sunscreen, is that correct? The HA is not before the moisturizer and since the moisturizer is water based then the skin would be damp and applying the HA right after the moisturizer would help seal moisture into the skin. Am I correct as to the steps Camille Styles?? Please let me know. Thank you very much.

    Reply
  8. 8
    Karen Cosgrove May 6, 2021 at 11:23 pm

    I have been cleansing, then while my face is still damp applying my 20% vitamin C with HA & vitamin E serum, then I wait 10 minutes and apply my Retinol Moisturizer which contains HA and Vitamin E. I had been using for 2 weeks and went to my groomer, who was in shock by my complexion. She was like what happened to your face lol. She said my face looked lit from within, smaller pores and fine lines, diminished age spots. I see her every 6 weeks so can’t wait to see what she says this Saturday.

    Reply
    • jess k May 23, 2021 at 4:42 am

      would love to know what retinol moisturiser you are using! Thanks so much

      Reply