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Is hyaluronic acid beneficial for oily skin?

Even oily skin needs moisturizing! Dermatology providers break down how this ingredient might help.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 10, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
Applying Hyaluronic Acid on Oily Skin
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 10, 2023 • 8 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article

What is hyaluronic acid?
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Hyaluronic acid is a hydrating powerhouse that can draw moisture from the inner layers of your skin, bringing it to the surface. In fact, it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a key ingredient in many skincare products.¹

We also know that everyone’s skin is different—and while we can shout the benefits of hyaluronic acid from the rooftops, different skin types will respond differently to certain ingredients. If you have oily skin, you may be wondering if hyaluronic acid can be an effective moisturizer for you—and here, we’ll break down how it tends to affect this skin type.

What is hyaluronic acid?

Alongside being a common moisturizing ingredient in skincare products, hyaluronic acid is also naturally found in our bodies! Hyaluronic acid is present in our skin, eyes, and connective tissue. As you may know from its uses in skincare, it can attract water, which creates volume and structural support in our skin.² 

Although it’s an acid, it doesn’t slough off dead skin cells like a chemical exfoliant. But it does naturally help lubricate our joints, heal wounds, repair tissues, and form blood vessels.³ In skincare products, it’s known as a humectant. That means it brings water from the lower layers of the skin to the outer layer, or the epidermis.⁴

Benefits of using hyaluronic acid on your skin

When you use a skincare product with this ingredient (like hyaluronic acid serums), you may reap the following benefits:⁵

  • Increased hydration

  • Increased smoothness

  • Plumper skin

  • Reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

Aesthetic treatments using this ingredient may also result in increased collagen production. As we get older, we lose some of the hyaluronic acid and collagen that our bodies make naturally. When injected into the skin, hyaluronic acid filler has been shown to increase collagen production.⁶

Research also shows that hyaluronic acid can potentially have powerful anti-aging effects, leading to more rejuvenated, healthy skin.⁷ Plus, it may have depigmentation or lightening effects, which may help even out skin tone.⁸ Hyaluronic acid may also help promote the acceleration of wound healing.⁹

What ingredients are beneficial for oily skin?

Now that we know the benefits of hyaluronic acid, let’s dive into what you need to know about oily skin, so you can learn if this hydrating ingredient is right for this skin type.

What causes oily skin?

There are a few different reasons that may contribute to oily skin, including:¹⁰

  • Stress

  • Humidity

  • Genetics

  • Fluctuating hormones

On a more scientific level, you may have oily skin because of natural sebum production. Sebum is a mixture of lipids secreted by the sebaceous glands, and it can actually help protect our skin. However, too much sebum can lead to oily skin, and sometimes acne.¹¹

In general, men have higher sebum production due to their higher levels of testosterone. However, women tend to have higher levels of oil production during the ovulation phase of their cycle—and for everyone, the environment and time of year may also play a role. Research shows that people may produce more sebum when it’s humid out and during the spring and summer.¹²

Beneficial ingredients for oily skin

When figuring out what ingredients may be helpful for your skin, it’s a good idea to discuss your options with a professional, like a licensed dermatology provider at Curology. In the meantime, here are a few examples of ingredients that may be helpful for oily skin:¹³

  • Topical retinoids

  • Niacinamide

  • Green tea

  • Isotretinoin (an oral retinoid that can reduce sebum production by 90%)

  • Spironolactone

If you have inflamed skin, some moisturizing ingredients—like hyaluronic acid—may be able to help.¹⁴ Water-based moisturizers in particular can help relieve itching, redness, and pain associated with dry skin.¹⁵

Benzoyl peroxide—an ingredient primarily used to treat acne-prone skin—has been found to reduce facial sebum production (and help treat acne!) when used alongside niacinamide.¹⁶ 

Is hyaluronic acid beneficial for oily skin?

While you may personally want to keep some moisturizing ingredients away from oily skin, products with hyaluronic acid can potentially benefit this skin type. Here’s why:

It can provide hydration while treating acne

Certain ingredients used to treat acne, like benzoyl peroxidesalicylic acid, and topical retinoids, can dry your skin out. Dry or irritated skin can result in transepidermal water loss and inflammation, which we know hyaluronic acid can help with.

Some dermatologists recommend using a moisturizer alongside stronger acne-fighting ingredients to keep your skin hydrated.¹⁷ 

It may help improve symptoms of acne

Research shows that moisturizers may help improve the signs and symptoms of acne, even without the use of specific acne-fighting ingredients.¹⁸ 

It provides hydration without leaving a sticky feeling

In particular, hyaluronic acid can increase skin hydration in the outermost layer of your skin often without leaving a sticky feeling. It may also be added to moisturizers to help reduce the sticky feeling that another active ingredient may cause.¹⁹

It may lower sebum production

One study found that hyaluronic acid can even lower oil production and that it may be an effective ingredient in managing skin conditions related to higher levels of sebum.²⁰

Find out how to effectively moisturize your skin

Even oily skin types need moisture—and as we’ve seen, products containing hyaluronic acid (like The Moisturizer) may be able to help. However, everyone’s skin has different needs, and if you have oily skin, it can be difficult to determine what moisturizers will benefit you the most. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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If you need a little help figuring out the best routine for your skin’s needs (whether you have oily skin or not!), Curology’s licensed dermatology providers are here to help. When you sign up with Curology, you’ll complete a skin quiz, send us your medical history, and upload a few pictures of your face. Then, a licensed dermatology provider in your state will complete your personalized treatment plan. To get started, claim your offer today*! 

FAQs

Who should not use hyaluronic acid on their face?

If you’re allergic to hyaluronic acid or an ingredient contained within a hyaluronic acid product, you’ll want to avoid using it. If you’re not sure if you’re allergic, it’s always a good idea to do a patch test before trying a new product for the first time. 

Most reported side effects, including infection, redness, and swelling, are associated with hyaluronic acid injections.²¹ Although everyone’s skin is different, this is generally a safe ingredient to apply topically on different skin types.

If you have very dry skin, you may want to use a hyaluronic acid serum with an occlusive moisturizer, which can help prevent transepidermal water loss.²²

Is there a downside to hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid falls under the humectant category of moisturizers, so it works by drawing water molecules from deeper layers to the outer layer of the skin. But for extra-dry skin, it doesn’t trap moisture like an occlusive—so to help prevent transepidermal water loss, you may want to use hyaluronic acid along with an occlusive.

Is hyaluronic acid good for oily acne?

It can be! Here are a few of the ways hyaluronic acid can help if you have oily acne:

  • It can provide hydration while treating acne

  • It may help improve symptoms of acne

  • It provides hydration without a sticky feeling

  • It may lower sebum production

To help figure out if hyaluronic acid may help your oily acne, try reaching out to a professional, like Curology’s licensed dermatology providers.

Can I use hyaluronic acid instead of moisturizer for oily skin?

Hyaluronic acid is a deeply hydrating ingredient, and is often found in a variety of moisturizers (like The Moisturizer!). While you may also see it in serums, it’ll typically already be an ingredient in a moisturizing product and can be helpful for oily skin.

Why is my face so oily?

There are a few different reasons you may have oily skin, including:

  • Stress

  • Humidity

  • Genetics

  • Fluctuating hormones 

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Bravo, B., et al. Benefits of topical hyaluronic acid for skin quality and signs of skin aging: From literature review to clinical evidence. Dermatol Ther. (2022, December).

  2. Walker, K., et al. Hyaluronic Acid. StatPearls. (2023, July 3).

  3. Papakonstantinou, E., et al. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. (2012, July 1).

  4. Bravo, B., et al. Benefits of topical hyaluronic acid for skin quality and signs of skin aging: From literature review to clinical evidence. Dermatol Ther. (2022, December).

  5. Draelos, Z. D., et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). (2021 August).

  6. Walker, K., et al. Hyaluronic Acid. StatPearls. Ibid.

  7. Draelos, Z. D., et al. Efficacy Evaluation of a Topical Hyaluronic Acid Serum in Facial Photoaging. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). Ibid.

  8. Siquier-Dameto, G., et al. Anti-Aging and Depigmentation Effect of a Hyaluronic Acid Mechanically Stabilized Complex on Human Skin Explants. Polymers (Basel). (2023, June).

  9. Purnamawati, S., et al. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. (2017 December).

  10. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How to Control Oily Skin. 2023.

  11. Picardo, M., et al. Sebaceous gland lipids. Dermatoendocrinol. (2009, March-April).

  12. Endly, Dawnielle C., DO, et al. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (2017 August).

  13. Endly, Dawnielle C., DO, et al. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  14. Litwiniuk, M., et al. Hyaluronic Acid in Inflammation and Tissue Regeneration. Wounds. (2016, March).

  15. Purnamawati, S., et al. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. Ibid.

  16. Kaewsanit, T. MD, et al. Clinical Comparison of Topical 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide plus 5% Niacinamide to 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide Alone in the Treatment of Mild to Moderate Facial Acne Vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (2021 June). 

  17. Chularojanamontri, L., MD, et al. Moisturizers for Acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (2014, May).

  18. Chularojanamontri, L., MD, et al. Moisturizers for Acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  19. Chularojanamontri, L., MD, et al. Moisturizers for Acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

  20. Jung, Yu Ra. Hyaluronic Acid Decreases Lipid Synthesis in Sebaceous Glands. J Invest Dermatol. (2017 June).

  21. Walker, K., et al. Hyaluronic Acid. StatPearls. Ibid.

  22. Purnamawati, S., et al. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. Ibid.

Erin Pate is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Erin Pate Nurse Practitioner, NP-C

Erin Pate, NP-C

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