Why Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol Are a Dream Team for Skin

This is a forever kind of union.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

Peanut butter and jelly, Thelma and Louise, a smoky eye with red lips: There are certain pairings that are just meant to be together. And when it comes to skin, there's no better duo than hyaluronic acid and retinol. The active ingredients, so beloved in the skin-care industry that they've become household names, make for an especially powerful pairing.

In fact, you may likely spotted this combo in many of your favorite products, where it can offer complementary perks 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 your environment or from the deeper layers of the skin to combat dryness. "Think of it as a sponge that grabs onto water to pull it into the outer skin layer," says  Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. "Besides offering hydration, it helps plump the skin and can instantaneously improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles."

Related: Why Squalane and Hyaluronic Acid Are a Match Made in Anti-Aging Skincare Heaven

Another advantage: "It also works well with many other active ingredients, so you’ll see many skincare products with hyaluronic acid in the 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

Retinol's benefits are prolific — and proven. "It enhances cell turnover to improve skin radiance, and it stimulates collagen to strengthen the foundation of the skin," says Dr. Zeichner. "Ultimately, this means stronger, healthier skin, with improvement in the depth of lines and wrinkles." As a result, it's a go-to for many for addressing signs of premature aging.

Bonus: Retinol can also help with acne. Because retinol regulates cell turnover, it helps exfoliate skin, which in turn keeps pores clear and helps control excess oil production, says Dr. Hartman. For that reason, "with the exception of people with rosacea or overly sensitive skin, everyone should be using a retinol," he says. "The benefits are numerous and unparalleled — and are arguably the most important step that you can take for overall skin health."

Related: Retinol vs. Retinoid: What&#39;s the Difference?

Why Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol Work So Well Together

Hyaluronic acid and retinol are the yin and yang of skin-care ingredients, balancing one another out to deliver healthy, radiant skin. While retinol can be drying, causing flakiness, redness, and discomfort, hyaluronic acid helps reduce those negative side effects.

Ultimately, "it is always advisable to keep skin moisturized and hydrated when using retinol, which will help avoid irritation," says Dr. Hartman. "They will both benefit the skin without compromising the integrity of each ingredient."

How to Use Them in Your Skin-Care Routine

The good news: There is no wrong way to use hyaluronic acid and retinol together. It's very common to see both ingredients integrated into a single formulation, such as Paula’s Choice Intensive Repair Cream, which has 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 is well-tolerated by patients with sensitive skin, too, or patients who are new to retinol," Dr. Hartman says.

Dr. Zeichner also recommends RoC Derm Correxion Fill + Treat Serum. "This serum uses a stabilized form of retinol, along with hyaluronic acid in a single product that offers both immediate and long-term benefits," he says.

You can also use them separately. To max out their benefits, apply your retinol first in the evening and let it sit for a minimum of 15 minutes so it can sink in, says Dr. Hartman. Then, follow it with a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid — simple.

Whether you've been reluctant to try retinol due to its drying effects or just are on the hunt for brighter, plumper skin, the combo of retinol and hyaluronic acid is the rare one that offers big results with minimal drawbacks. If that's not a good reason to use them, we're not sure what is.

Related: How to Use Retinol In the Summer Without Irritating Your Skin

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