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Hyaluronic acid on hair: A dermatologist shares the benefits

It could help you get softer and smoother hair.
Hyaluronic acid for hair
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By now, you've likely heard about hyaluronic acid. The ingredient keeps popping up in so many beauty products — and for good reason.

According to experts, it can absorb and retain up to 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a helpful tool for hydrating skin.

But a new TikTok trend has many people wondering if the skin care staple could be just as beneficial when used in another area of their beauty routines. User Katilyn Boyer posted a video showing how she used a popular hyaluronic acid facial serum on her hair. "After only two days, I saw and felt a major difference," she said. After two weeks of nightly application, she added that her hair felt "so soft and way more manageable." The video has gotten 3.4 million views and more than 308,000 likes since it was posted on Aug. 29, and has inspired plenty of others to post their own videos trying it out.

To see if the hydrating ingredient is as good for your hair as TikTokers are saying, we called on Dr. Robert Finney, a board-certified dermatologist at Entière Dermatology in New York City.

Is hyaluronic acid good for hair?

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means that it can absorb and hold onto water. When applied to damp hair, it traps the water there, Finney said, which can hydrate the cuticle. As a result, you may notice that your hair feels softer and looks less frizzy.

It could be an effective treatment for a range of hair types. "If you feel like you have dry, lusterless hair and you've over-processed it, over-heated it or maybe you did some scalp treatments that damaged the hair shaft a bit, I think those people would benefit," Finney said.

How to use hyaluronic acid products for hair

When using the ingredient, the key is to start with wet hair. Hyaluronic acid acts sort of like a sponge, absorbing water from the area. While that sounds great for hydration purposes, occasionally it can have the opposite effect. When applied to dry strands, sometimes it doesn't fully penetrate (hyaluronic acid is a large molecule), so, in theory, it could pull out some of the existing moisture from your hair and just dry it out further, Finney said.

There are plenty of hair products that feature the ingredient (you may also see it listed as sodium hyaluronate), but Finney said that you'd be more likely to see results with a concentrated serum, like the one used in the viral TikTok video, as opposed to a shampoo or conditioner that you would rinse off shortly after applying.

Here, we found four hyaluronic acid treatments that you can try for softer, smoother hair.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

The Ordinary's Hyaluronic Acid serum was featured in the original video. Finney said that he's previously recommended the product for the skin, but it can be used on the hair as well. The lightweight, water-based serum is made with a combination of low, medium, and high molecular-weight hyaluronic acid for ultimate hydration.

Asterwood Naturals Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

With an average 4.5-star rating from more than 10,000 reviews, this concentrated hyaluronic acid serum is a popular pick. It's free from parabens, fragrance, sulfates and oils and contains just five ingredients, including hyaluronic acid and water.

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum

The Inkey List is known for its budget-friendly formulas based around single ingredients. And this serum from the brand rings in at just $8 and contains two percent hyaluronic acid.

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Hair Treatment

You can also grab this treatment from the brand, which was specifically designed to be used on hair. It's suitable for all hair types, including colored hair, and can be used in the morning or at night post-wash to boost hydration.

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