A Comprehensive Guide to Hyaluronic Acid for Hair

We know hyaluronic acid as the ingredient responsible for hydrating and temporarily plumping up the skin to lessen the appearance of superfine lines—but did you know that it could benefit your hair as well? If you have yet to use hyaluronic acid in your hair care products, this is one ingredient you'll want to start seeking out. But just a heads-up: It might not appear as "hyaluronic acid" on your product's label. "Hyaluronic acid comes in different forms, and the least expensive version is sodium hyaluronate, more commonly seen for haircare," explains Joshua Lee.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years as both an injectable filler and as a beauty ingredient in skincare products. What’s especially notable about HA, aside from its ability to enhance the appearance of the skin, is that it’s naturally present in the body—in fact, it makes up one third of our total body water! Now there are lots of products out there that contain this incredible substance, but what does it actually do, and how can you get the most benefits from using it?

If you’re struggling with thinning hair or simply want to add shine and volume to your existing strands, hyaluronic acid might be just what you need. This natural substance occurs naturally in the body, and it plays an important role in skin hydration, cell turnover, and tissue repair. For these reasons, it is also commonly used as an injectable dermal filler and lip plumper. But the benefits of hyaluronic acid go beyond the cosmetic – researchers have also discovered that this substance can work wonders on hair health. 

What is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a substance found naturally in your body although it can also be made synthetically. As a humectant, it can retain moisture and bind approximately 1000 times its weight in water.


MAIN BENEFITS: Hydrates the hair and scalp and reduces frizziness.

WHO SHOULD USE IT: According to Lee, the moisture-binding property of hyaluronic acid is beneficial to all hair types and textures by helping retain the proper balance of lipids, humectants, and proteins required for healthy hair.

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT: Hyaluronic acid can be applied topically daily or as needed on your wash days.

WORKS WELL WITH: Water and Vitamin E

DON'T USE WITH: Hyaluronic acid works well with most, if not all, ingredients. As Lee explains, hyaluronic acid is a very easy ingredient to formulate into products, which is why it is so commonly used.


Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for Hair

To be clear, hyaluronic acid is not a moisturizer (it's a humectant). It works by retaining water and drawing moisture to the skin’s surface. This benefits the hair and scalp in several ways:

Hydrates the hair: According to Lee, the humectant-binding properties of hyaluronic acid perform similarly on hair fibers as it does on the skin, allowing the hair fibers to retain and seal moisture from products.

Reduces frizziness: Hyaluronic acid also helps to seal the cuticle, which prevents unwanted moisture that causes frizzy hair and curl shrinkage from entering it, explains Lee.

Plumps the hair: Lee says that although more studies are needed, theoretically, hyaluronic acid could help plump up dry, damaged hair. This plumping effect could be used for added volume at the roots, but additional ingredients would be needed to actually repair the damage, he adds.

  •  Hydrates the scalp: Not only does hyaluronic acid benefit the hair strands, Lee highlights its benefits for the scalp, as well. "Humectant molecules attract and bind moisture to the skin, allowing collagen to thrive in the skin and scalp," Lee explains. Adding that it can keep the scalp hydrated and prevent dry scalp.
  • Revitalizes high porosity hair: Dry, damaged hair does not easily retain water but hyaluronic acid helps to fill in the cracks of the porous hair shaft and moisturize, explains Lee.


Hair Type Considerations

All hair types and textures could benefit from using any hyaluronic acid-based products on their hair fibers, says Lee. He explains that the ingredient's ability to bind to moisture helps hair retain the proper balance of lipids, humectants, and proteins required for hair strength and elasticity.

More specifically, Lee says hyaluronic acid would most benefit those with dry, brittle, and perhaps damaged hair as well as frizzy hair. He notes that the ingredient is particularly great for not weighing down curls and not leaving a greasy feel on the hair. Lee adds that even color-treated and chemically processed strands can benefit from hyaluronic acid; in fact, the more damaged the hair, the better, he stresses.

How to Use Hyaluronic Acid for Hair

  • Apply it to your scalp as a pre-shampoo treatment: Before shampooing, Lee suggests applying hyaluronic acid liberally all over your scalp and massaging it in with your fingers in circular motions, focusing on areas that are more problematic than others.
  • Use it on wet or damp hair: Lee recommends applying hyaluronic acid post-shower while your strands are still wet. Not only is this when the hair is most receptive to products, but water is also key when using hyaluronic acid. Because hyaluronic acid absorbs water, Lee says using the ingredient on damp hair can accelerate the effect. "Hyaluronic acid thrives when there is moisture, so make sure whenever you use hyaluronic acid, you mist plenty of water or tonic so hyaluronic acid can bind it and form a coating to keep the moisture in for maximum effect," he explains.
  • Choose products formulated with hyaluronic acid: Instead of experimenting with your own hair concoction made with your hyaluronic acid skincare products, Lee suggests using a formula specifically designed for the hair.
  • Use it as a leave-in conditioner: Lee adds that hyaluronic acid hair serums could be helpful as styling treatments on damp hair or as a part of a hair mask. Lee recommends applying hyaluronic acid to damp hair as the first layer to your styling product. Apply it from root to ends, comb through for even distribution, then layer your preferred styling product on top.
  • Combine it with oils: Although hyaluronic acid could be beneficial in plumping the hair, Lee suggests using the ingredient in conjunction with other ingredients to help repair the damaged hair. Lee's top picks: jojoba and argan oils for dry hair and collagen and proteins, like keratin, for strengthening the hair.

Choosing The Right Products With Hyaluronic Acid

When applied to damp hair, hyaluronic acid can use water to help pull the moisture into strands. What better way to put this theory to the test than in the shower? Richly Moisturize Shampoo & Conditioner by Colure is paraben-free, suitable for all hair types—not to mention, color-treated hair. 

Can you use hyaluronic acid skincare products to treat hair?

"I advise only using skin-based hyaluronic acid products to the scalp under the supervision of a certified trichologist, hair replacement practitioner, or medical professional," recommends Hill. "Before applying product to the scalp, it is imperative to have a keen understanding of the root causes leading you to use hyaluronic acid to treat conditions." Not only that, but Lee points out that hyaluronic acid skincare products can be costly, and you wouldn't necessarily want to waste it on your hair, which is technically dead.


Does using hyaluronic acid on hair have any side effects?

Generally speaking, topical versions of HA do not have any known side effects; however, it's worth noting that in an environment where there is low humidity, HA can actually draw moisture away from hair and into the air. So it's best to apply with a mix of oils and other moisturizing agents.


How long should I leave hyaluronic acid in my hair?

Depending on the hyaluronic acid hair product you are using, time will vary. Some products will require that you leave them in your hair for only a few minutes before rinsing out. Others can be applied and left in. It's best to check product instructions.


Humectants Are a Hydration Hero—This Is What You Need to Know


Trends come and go, but one thing that will never go out of style is healthy, glowing skin. There are different properties and ingredients that can help achieve this goal, such as humectants. A humectant is a common moisturizing agent found in beauty products used for your hair and skin. It's known for its ability to retain moisture while also preserving the overall properties of the product at hand, and you're probably more familiar with humectants than you thin


FYI: This Popular Skincare Staple Also Prevents Hair Breakage


By now, you’ve heard all about the skin-plumping and hydrating properties of superstar ingredient hyaluronic acid. It’s a miracle worker for dehydrated skin, boosting moisture by drawing in water. It’s been a staple in skincare routines for years, but lately, people have been applying the buzzy ingredient to their hair. 


Since hyaluronic acid is known for smoothing and plumping skin, logically, it makes sense to put the ingredient on your hair. In fact, hyaluronic acid has been touted as helping boost hair growth and even preventing hair loss. To get the facts on putting hyaluronic acid in your hair, we reached out to the experts, who shared what HA is, how it works, and if you should be putting it in your hair.


What are the benefits of putting hyaluronic acid in your hair?

“Hyaluronic acid helps decrease and manage frizz and seal split ends, resulting in fuller and overall shinier hair and a balanced and hydrated scalp,” says Joshua Lee, hair expert, and hairstylist based in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Lee explains that by soaking moisture into the hair, hyaluronic acid can also improve the porosity of hair (or its ability to absorb water). Damaged hair usually has a high porosity, which means that water exits too quickly from the hair to maintain hydration. With hyaluronic acid, “improving the hydration can help improve the porosity of the hair,” says Lee.

What about hair loss? While Lee both agree that hyaluronic acid won’t prevent or curb hair loss, it can help make sure hair is healthy. “It can, however, potentially alleviate breakage because dry hair is frizzy and fragile,” says Lee.

What hair types and concerns is hyaluronic acid best for?

Just like when it comes to skincare, HA is well-tolerated by almost everyone, so it’s great for all hair types (and skin types!). Since it specifically targets dehydration, however, it is perfect for hair that’s on the drier side. “The hair types that may see the most benefit are damaged, processed and overprocessed, dry, dull, and frizzy hair,” Lee says.

You can use hyaluronic acid at any time, but Lee says that as the weather starts to cool down, it’s a great time to consider mixing HA into your haircare routine. “The harsh winters and indoor heating can dry out the scalp and cause flaking by throwing off the scalp’s microbiome,” Lee explains. “Hyaluronic acid can provide relief and moisture as seasons change.”


This light, hydrating serum sinks in instantly. Lee calls it "ideal for applying on your roots to ends to provide a layer of moisture protection." Apply right out of the shower so your hair can soak in the most moisture.


Pair With: Richly Moisturize Shampoo & Conditioner

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published