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Hyaluronic Acid Makes Hair Healthy, Shiny and Youthful — Here’s How to Use It

And the products that make it simple to reap the rewards

In the world of skincare ingredients, hyaluronic acid is arguably one of the most well-known and popular. It pops up in everything from cleansers to creams, a dermatologist-favorite for being a highly effective hydrator. It’s also well-tolerated, easy to work into your routine and plays nicely with other ingredients. In short, it’s not surprising that it’s truly a golden child in the beauty world. It’s also not surprising that hyaluronic acid for hair is now a thing too as the ingredient is showing up in all kinds of haircare products.

It’s part of a growing trend known “the skinification of hair,” essentially the use of ingredients that were previously reserved for skincare are being used in shampoos, stylers and more. This makes sense when it comes to hyaluronic acid (or HA, as many experts call it) because all of those amazing skincare benefits also translate to both your strands and your scalp. We tapped top experts to explain further exactly how hyaluronic acid works for your hair, who should consider trying it and they share their favorite hyaluronic acid haircare finds.

What is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid serum
Anna Efetova/Getty

The name is somewhat of a misnomer because hyaluronic acid is actually a type of sugar, not an acid. “It’s naturally found throughout the body, especially in the skin, eyes, connective tissue and joints,” explains cosmetic chemist Charlene Valledor. It’s a humectant, a type of hydrating ingredient that works by attracting and retaining water. Hyaluronic acid is an extremely powerful one, with the ability to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, she explains.

What are the benefits of using hyaluronic acid for hair?

In short, they’re very similar to the benefits of using it for your skin — hydration, smoothness, plumpness. “Hyaluronic acid provides intense hydration, which is essential for maintaining healthy hair, but it also improves the appearance of dryness, damage or frizz,” notes stylist Rogerio Cavalcante, owner of The Second Floor Salon in New York City.

And, as mentioned, it’s good for your scalp, too (the scalp is skin, after all). By attracting and retaining moisture in the scalp, hyaluronic acid can help relieve dryness, itching and irritation, says Valledor.

Watch the below video from the Doctorly YouTube channel to see what two dermatologists have to say about using hyaluronic acid for hair.

Related: Itchy Scalp and Hair Loss? Dermatologists Reveal the Surprising Cause + How to Speed Regrowth

What hair types work best with hyaluronic acid?

different hair types
Elena Pimukova/Getty

Again, just as is the case with skin (have we driven home that point enough yet?!) hyaluronic acid is a universal fail-safe. That being said, there are a few different ways that you can tweak how to use it — more on that point in a moment — based on hair type and texture. And, in general, hyaluronic acid is going to be especially beneficial for those with dry, damaged or frizzy hair, says Cavalcante. It’s also a great choice for those with curly or thick hair, which tends to be  drier, adds celebrity stylist and House of Frieda expert Dave Stanwell. And per our previous point, it’s a good choice for those dealing with a dry or irritated scalp as well.

Related: Why Your Hair Is So Dry: Pro Stylists Reveal the Sneaky Culprits + How to Fix It Fast

How to use hyaluronic acid for hair

The list of different ways you can incorporate hyaluronic acid into your haircare routine is long (as are the potential different products you can use). Minimalists will appreciate that simply seeking out a shampoo and/or conditioner that contains the ingredient is one way to go. However, if you’re going to pick just one, make it a conditioner. Why? The hydrating qualities of hyaluronic acid in combination with a conditioner leave hair hydrated and nourished, notes Cavalcante.

hyaluronic acid serum for hair
Mariia Siurtukova/Getty

That being said, Valledor points out that if you really want to reap the ingredient’s full potential, choosing leave-in products gives it more time to attract moisture. That means choosing serums, sprays and other types of styling products that aren’t rinsed off. And both she and Stanwell are a big fan of seeking out hyaluronic acid in scalp products, specifically serums and masks. Not only will you get the hydration that can help combat dryness and flaking, but keeping your scalp healthy will also ultimately help promote healthy hair growth, says Stanwell.

No matter whether you’re applying a leave-in hair or scalp product, make sure to apply it onto slightly damp hair or skin for the best absorption, advises Valledor. Given that hyaluronic acid works by attracting water, having a little water in the area for it to immediately grab onto will maximize the ingredient’s efficacy.

How often to use hyaluronic acid hair products

The high-level summary: “The frequency of using hyaluronic acid hair products depends on your hair’s needs and the product’s instructions,” says Cavalcante. “Generally, it’s recommended to use them regularly for best results.’ That means using HA-containing shampoos and/or conditioners every time you wash, or using leave-in a few times per week, he explains.

Valledor says that if your hair is dry or damaged you can easily get away with using it daily, however, scale back slightly if your hair is fine or oily. “When hyaluronic acid attracts water it becomes heavier, and this in turn can end up being too heavy and weighing down these hair types,” she says. If that’s the case, Stanwell advises using hyaluronic acid products just a few times per week and seeing how they affect your hair, then gradually increasing the frequency of use as needed.

The best hyaluronic acid hair products

Keep scrolling to discover the expert-approved hyaluronic acid-infused hair products that will work wonders for your scalp and hair.

Best hyaluronic acid shampoo

Nécessaire The Shampoo

Nécessaire The Shampoo

Cavalcante is a fan of this sudser, noting that it’s especially good for those with thinning hair (although it works well on all types and textures). Plus, because it’s fragrance-free, it’s great if you’re sensitive to and allergic to fragrance, he adds.

Best hyaluronic acid conditioner

John Frieda UltraFiller+ Thickening Conditioner
John Frieda/Walmart

John Frieda UltraFiller+ Thickening Conditioner

This drugstore staple is great for helping to plump hair, notes Stanwell. And because it’s specially formulated for fine hair, you don’t have to worry about the potential that the hyaluronic acid will weigh down the hair.

Best hyaluronic acid hair serum

Roz Milk Hair Serum

Roz Milk Hair Serum

“This leave-in serum smells delicious and leaves your hair soft and shiny,” says Cavalcante of another one of his picks. “It works well as a prep for heat styling, but can also be used for an easy, frizz-free, air-dry finish.”

Best hyaluronic acid scalp serum

Nécessaire The Scalp Serum

Nécessaire The Scalp Serum

Reach for this treatment if you’re dealing with a stressed out scalp. “The combination of hyaluronic acid, vitamin B3, vitamin B5 and Capixyl can help provide relief from dry scalp and support healthy hair growth,” says Valledor, who is a fan.

Best hyaluronic acid hair gloss

OUAI Hair Gloss In-Shower Shine Treatment

OUAI Hair Gloss In-Shower Shine Treatment

Boost the vibrancy of your hue with this super easy, rinse-out gloss, a recommendation from Cavalcante. “It’s especially beneficial for those with red or brown colored hair, as those shades tend to fade quickly,” he says.

Best hyaluronic acid hair mask

amika Dream Routine Overnight Hydrating Hair Mask

amika Dream Routine Overnight Hydrating Hair Mask

Per our previous point about hyaluronic acid being an especially good choice for those with thicker or curlier hair, Cavalcante says this is great for that crowd. That’s because it has an extra rich texture imparts tons of moisture and is deeply reparative.

Best hyaluronic acid hair mist

NatureLab. Tokyo Perfect Shine Oil Mist
NatureLab. Tokyo/Ulta

NatureLab. Tokyo Perfect Shine Oil Mist

“This is one of my favorite products, says Valledor. “It’s a lightweight mist filled with hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, plant oils and butters. And it helps protect the hair from environmental factors while sealing in moisture, leaving your hair shinier than ever.”

For more hair care tips, click through these stories:

Can Flaxseed Gel Reverse Thinning? Hair Restoration Doctor Weighs In

How to Prevent Split Ends According to Celebrity Hairstylists — 9 Ways to Guarantee Hair Looks Healthy, Thick and Shiny

Dermatologist-Recommended Shampoos for Hair Loss — Discover What’s Right for You

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