Hyaluronic Acid for Acne

If you take a closer look at your skincare products, you may notice one or two that contain Hyaluronic acid. It is even more common when it comes down to skin moisturizers and acne treatments. 

If you suffer from acne, it is advisable to take any new ingredients with a pinch of salt. That said, should you go ahead and use Hyaluronic acid for acne? We have searched for all the information you need to dispel any doubts below.

What is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid is one of those compounds naturally produced by the body. It is found in both plants and animals and is abundant in all tissues and fluids where it acts as a lubricant and cushioning agent. 

Your skin carries the lion’s share of HA, about 50% [1] but your joints, eyes and connective tissue also carry a sizable amount. It is responsible for keeping your skin hydrated and plump.

So, with all this abundance of HA in your body, what’s the hype about HA in skincare products? Unfortunately, the production of HA is only optimum when you are young. As you age, this ability greatly diminishes, hence the need for supplementing it. 

Sources of Hyaluronic Acid

HA can be obtained from both plant and animal sources. Rooster combs are considered the best sources of HA but it can also be extracted from cartilage. This HA is usually given in the form of injections and supplements.

Microbial fermentation [2] which is done in the laboratory is, however, the more popular source. It is also considered more eco-friendly and cost-effective. This is the HA that you are likely to find in serums, creams and makeup.

Does Hyaluronic Acid Treat Acne? 

Hyaluronic acid is a common ingredient in many acne treatments. One question that bothers many however is that can HA can be used to treat acne?

While HA in itself is not an acne treatment, it plays a very important role in acne prevention and treatment due to its skin hydration, anti-inflammatory and skin protection properties.

What are the benefits of Hyaluronic Acid work for Acne?

As mentioned above, HA helps acne skin in the following ways

  1. Skin Hydration
  2. Healing and anti-inflammatory support
  3. Offering a protective barrier 

Here is an overview of each:

Skin Hydration

To get a deeper understanding of how skin hydration helps with acne, it is important to understand the relationship between dry skin and acne. Here are a few facts:

  • Dry skin lacks the lipid layer that protects your skin from potential irritants and disease-causing germs. In this state, your skin easily gets irritated and inflamed, which can lead to breakouts.
  • When your skin is dry, overproduction of sebum may be triggered in an effort to compensate for the dryness. This leads to clogging of the pores which makes acne worse.
  • When skin is dehydrated, the sebum in it dries and hardens. When this mixes with dead skin, the mixture is just ‘perfect’ for clogging pores, the foundation for breakouts.
  • Most acne treatments are known to dry out your skin
  • Dermatologists recommend the inclusion of a moisturizer in your acne treatment routine

HA is commonly christened as ‘nature’s moisturizer’. This is because a molecule of HA is capable of binding up to 1000 times its weight in water. [3] This is not all; it retains the water for the skin to use at will.

It does this by absorbing moisture from the environment and keeping it on your skin, providing a protective barrier on your skin to preserve moisture and absorbing water from the deeper layers of your skin to the epidermis.

NB; Normal Hyaluronic Acid molecules are too large to penetrate the skin when applied topically; some products that promise deep penetration might, therefore, be building false hopes.

On the other hand, great effort has been put into reducing its molecular size because apparently, the lower the molecular weight, the better it is for your skin to absorb. That said, you might want to check for this information as you buy your HA.

Healing and Anti-inflammatory Support

Inflammation is acne is characterized by swelling, clogged pores and redness. This can get very uncomfortable especially when it is accompanied by skin dryness.

HA is laden with anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties [4]. This greatly boosts your acne treatment efforts and soothes your skin.

Offering a Protective Barrier

Unprotected skin can lead to irritation, infections and damage from elements. This can make your acne worse. HA provides a barrier that is rich in moisture to keep your skin healthy and protected. 

How to use Hyaluronic Acid for Acne

To tap into the benefits of Hyaluronic acid, look for skincare products or acne treatments that contain HA. These may include moisturizers, masks and creams. Fortunately, HA is known to partner well with active ingredients. You should aim for at least 1% content. 

You can also use HA serum which is lightweight and easy to spread. HA works with all skin types and should be applied on clean damp skin once or twice daily for best results. It is also important to consult your dermatologist on how you can incorporate it into your acne treatment routine.

NB Hyaluronic acid is also available in oral supplements and injectable forms which are not commonly used for acne.

Using Hyaluronic Acid for Acne Scars

When used in injections, HA has been proven to be effective in the treatment of acne scars [5]. Its property as a filler helps to make moderate to severe scars appear even with the rest of your skin. To get maximum results, you may require up to 3 treatments. 

The treatment can be done on all skin types and can last between 3-9 months as the HA breaks down for absorption into the body. The treated area may swell slightly and appear red for up to 7 days after the treatment.

Side Effects of Using Hyaluronic Acid for Acne

HA is well tolerated in the body. It is not linked to any adverse effects. Nevertheless, if you are using it for the first time, a patch test is always recommended.


Hyaluronic acid is not an acne treatment. However, using it in combination with your acne treatment amplifies your results by moisturizing your skin, fighting inflammation and creating a protective barrier. It is also effective in diminishing acne scars when injected dermally. Simply put, HA might just be what you need to draw some good out of your acne treatment routine.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583886/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3239841/
  3. http://www.hyaluronic.info/en/what-does-it-do.htm
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26978861
  5. https://journals.lww.com/dermatologicsurgery/
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