Peanut butter and jelly, Thelma and Louise, a smoky eye with red lips – there are certain pairings that are meant to be together. And when it comes to skin, there’s no better pair than hyaluronic acid and retinol. The active ingredients, so beloved in the skincare industry that they have become household names, make for an especially potent pairing.
In fact, you may have probably noticed this combination in many of your favorite products, where it can offer complementary benefits to hydrate, brighten and smooth skin. With that in mind, consider these compelling reasons to incorporate this dream team into your routine.
The benefits of hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is the it-girl of humectants; it works by drawing in moisture from the environment or deeper layers of the skin to combat dryness. “Think of it like a sponge that grabs water to drag it into the outer layer of skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “In addition to offering hydration, it helps plump the skin and can instantly improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
Another plus: “It also works well with many other active ingredients, so you’ll see many skincare products with hyaluronic acid in product formulations, such as cleansers, moisturizers, exfoliators, serums, and more,” says Corey L. Hartman. MD, a board certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL
The benefits of retinol
The benefits of retinol are prolific and proven. “It enhances cell turnover to improve skin radiance and stimulates collagen to strengthen the skin’s foundation,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Ultimately, this means stronger, healthier skin, with an improvement in the depth of lines and wrinkles.” As a result, it’s a go-to for many in addressing the signs of premature aging.
Bonus: Retinol can also help with acne. Because retinol regulates cell turnover, it helps exfoliate the skin, which in turn keeps pores clear and helps control excess oil production, says Dr. Hartmann. For this reason, “except for people with rosacea or overly sensitive skin, everyone should be using a retinol,” he says. “The benefits are numerous and unmatched, and are without a doubt the single most important step you can take for overall skin health.”
Why hyaluronic acid and retinol work so well together
Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol are the yin and yang of skincare ingredients, balancing each other to deliver healthy, radiant skin. While retinol can dry out, causing flaking, redness, and discomfort, hyaluronic acid helps reduce these negative side effects.
Ultimately, “it’s always wise to keep your skin hydrated and hydrated when using retinol, which will help avoid irritation,” says Dr. Hartmann. “Both will benefit the skin without compromising the integrity of each ingredient.”
How to use them in your skincare routine
The good news: There’s no wrong way to use hyaluronic acid and retinol together. It’s very common to see both ingredients integrated into one formulation, such as Paulas Choice Intensive Repair Cream, which contains both hyaluronic acid and retinol as well as antioxidants; they work together to boost hydration, plump skin, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, and generally improve skin texture. “I find it well tolerated even by patients with sensitive skin or patients who are new to retinol,” says Dr. Hartmann.
Dr. Zeichner also recommends RoC Derm Correction Fill + Treat Serum. “This serum uses a stabilized form of retinol, along with hyaluronic acid in one product that offers both immediate and long-term benefits,” he says.
You can also use them separately. To maximize their benefits, apply the retinol first in the evening and let it sit for a minimum of 15 minutes so it can absorb, says Dr. Hartmann. Then, follow it up with a plain hyaluronic acid moisturizer.
Whether you’ve been reluctant to try retinol due to its drying effects or you’re simply looking for brighter, plumper skin, the combination of retinol and hyaluronic acid is the rare one that delivers big results with minimal drawbacks. If that’s not a good reason to use them, we’re not sure what is.
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