Why should you use hyaluronic acid and retinol together

Skincare is a topic that often comes with its own set of questions, especially when it comes to combining powerful ingredients. Among the most talked-about in the beauty industry are hyaluronic acid and retinol.

These two have made their marks separately for their incredible benefits, but what happens when you use them together? It’s not just about adding more steps to your routine; it’s about enhancing the health and appearance of your skin in a way that stands out.

Hyaluronic acid is a superstar at hydrating the skin. It attracts moisture and locks it in, ensuring your skin stays plump, hydrated, and radiant throughout the day.

On the other hand, retinol is a form of vitamin A, revered for its ability to accelerate cell turnover. This means it can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone, promoting a smoother, more youthful complexion.

Should you use hyaluronic acid before or after retinol?

In the ever-evolving world of skincare, the combination of hyaluronic acid and retinol has emerged as a standout duo [1], each bringing its own unique set of benefits to the table. This pairing has gained popularity not just among skincare enthusiasts but also with dermatologists and skincare professionals. 

Understanding why and how these two ingredients work so well together can help you make informed decisions about your skincare routine.

Hydration meets renewal

When it comes to skincare, marrying hydration with renewal is a game-changer. Hyaluronic acid and retinol team up to offer your skin a powerhouse of benefits, each playing a unique role.

Let’s break down how this dynamic duo works together:

Hyaluronic acid

  • Acts like a magnet for moisture, keeping skin hydrated and plump.
  • Prepares the skin by ensuring it’s sufficiently moisturized, reducing irritation from stronger ingredients.
  • Helps to smooth out fine lines by filling the skin with moisture, making it look instantly more youthful.


  • Accelerates cell turnover, bringing fresh, new cells to the surface for a brighter, more even complexion.
  • Targets signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots, making them less noticeable over time.
  • Improves skin texture and firmness by stimulating collagen production, giving skin a firmer, more elastic feel.

Together, hyaluronic acid’s hydration and retinol’s renewal capabilities ensure your skin is not only deeply moisturized but also continuously rejuvenated. This combination is key to achieving a radiant, youthful appearance that doesn’t compromise skin health.

hydration meets renewal

Enhanced absorption

Enhanced absorption is key to maximizing the benefits of your skincare routine. When hyaluronic acid and retinol are used together, they create a synergistic effect that helps your skin absorb and utilize each ingredient more effectively. Here’s how they work hand in hand:

Hyaluronic acid

  • Increases skin’s moisture levels, making it more receptive to other treatments.
  • Improves the skin’s texture, ensuring a smoother application and absorption of subsequent products.


  • Penetrates deeper into moisturized skin, enhancing its cell renewal and collagen production capabilities.
  • Works more effectively on hydrated skin, reducing the potential for irritation and ensuring optimal results.

This combination ensures that the active ingredients in your skincare penetrate deeply and work more efficiently. Maintaining the skin’s hydration with hyaluronic acid before applying retinol sets the stage for enhanced absorption and, ultimately, better skincare outcomes [2].

Balanced approach to skincare

A balanced approach to skincare is about understanding and meeting the diverse needs of your skin. Combining hyaluronic acid and retinol is a perfect example of this philosophy in action. Here’s how they contribute to a well-rounded skincare routine:

Hyaluronic acid

  • Provides deep hydration, ensuring the skin remains plump, elastic, and hydrated.
  • Helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by retaining moisture.


  • Promotes cell turnover and collagen production, key factors in maintaining youthful skin.
  • Addresses common concerns like acne, uneven skin tone, and texture irregularities.

This balanced duo tackles both immediate and long-term skin needs. Hyaluronic acid quenches the skin’s thirst for moisture, while retinol works deeper to rejuvenate and repair.

Together, they ensure your skin is not just treated but truly transformed, embodying a holistic approach to skincare.

Can I use hyaluronic acid and retinol in the same routine?

Incorporating hyaluronic acid and retinol into your skincare routine can feel like a breath of fresh air for your skin, but it’s important to do it right to ensure you reap all the benefits without overwhelming your skin.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to seamlessly adding these powerhouse ingredients into your daily regimen, ensuring your skin is nurtured, protected, and revitalized.

Start with a clean base

Starting with a clean base is the foundation of any effective skincare routine. Think of your skin as a canvas; just as a painter needs a clean surface to create a masterpiece, your skin needs to be free of impurities for hyaluronic acid and retinol to work their magic [3].

Here’s how to ensure you’re starting off on the right foot:

  • Choose a gentle cleanser: Look for a product that removes dirt and makeup without stripping your skin of its natural oils. Harsh cleansers can disrupt your skin’s barrier, leading to irritation.
  • Use lukewarm water: Hot water can dry out your skin, while cold water might not effectively remove dirt. Lukewarm water is just right for cleansing without causing dryness or irritation.
  • Pat dry: After cleansing, gently pat your skin dry with a soft towel. Rubbing can lead to redness and irritation, especially before applying active ingredients like retinol.

This clean slate is crucial for the next steps, ensuring that every product applied afterward is absorbed effectively and works as intended.

Layer smartly

Layering your skincare correctly can make a huge difference in how your skin absorbs and benefits from each product. Here’s how to do it smartly with hyaluronic acid and retinol:

  • Apply a hyaluronic acid serum on moist skin after cleansing. This potent humectant prepares the body for deeper hydration by attracting moisture to the skin.
  • Give the hyaluronic acid serum a minute or two to fully sink in. Rushing to the next step too quickly can hinder absorption.
  • Apply a small amount of retinol once your skin feels smooth and the serum has been absorbed. This ensures that retinol can work more effectively on well-prepped skin.
  • Generally, apply skincare products from the thinnest consistency to the thickest. This rule helps maximize the absorption and benefits of each layer.

Introduce retinol carefully

Introducing retinol into your skincare routine requires a careful approach to maximize benefits while minimizing potential irritation. Here’s how to do it right:

  • Start slowly: Begin with a low concentration of retinol, applying it just once or twice a week. This allows your skin to adjust gradually.
  • Use at night: Apply retinol in your evening routine, as it can increase skin sensitivity to sunlight [4].
  • Wait after applying hyaluronic acid: Ensure your skin is fully dry after applying hyaluronic acid. This helps prevent irritation when you apply retinol.
  • Monitor your skin: Keep an eye on how your skin responds. If you notice redness or peeling, reduce the frequency of retinol use until your skin adapts.
  • Combine with moisturizer: If your skin feels overly dry, mix retinol with your moisturizer to dilute its strength slightly, providing a gentler introduction.

Moisturize and protect

After layering hyaluronic acid and retinol, sealing in the moisture and ensuring your skin is protected is crucial. Here’s how to effectively moisturize and shield your skin:

  • Seal with moisturizer: Following up with a moisturizer is key. It locks in the benefits of hyaluronic acid and retinol, ensuring they work to their full potential without evaporating from your skin. Choose a formula that suits your skin type for personalized hydration.
  • Use an occlusive at night: Consider using an occlusive agent as part of your nighttime routine. This can help prevent water loss, especially if you’re prone to dry skin. Ingredients like ceramides can be particularly effective.
  • Never skip sunscreen: Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning is non-negotiable, especially when using retinol. It helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can cause damage and negate the benefits of your skincare products. Aim for SPF 30 or higher and reapply as needed throughout the day.
  • Antioxidant support: For added protection, incorporate antioxidants like vitamin C in your morning routine. They fight free radicals, providing an extra layer of defense against environmental stressors that can age your skin.
moisture and protect

Tips for success

For anyone looking to maximize the benefits of hyaluronic acid and retinol in their skincare routine, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Patch test first: Before fully integrating these products into your routine, do a patch test to see how your skin reacts, minimizing the risk of irritation.
  • Stay consistent: Results take time. Use both products consistently to see noticeable improvements in skin texture and hydration.
  • Hydrate inside and out: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support skin hydration from the inside, enhancing the effects of hyaluronic acid [5].
  • Adjust based on skin’s response: Listen to your skin. If you experience irritation, scale back on retinol and focus on soothing and hydrating products.
  • Consult a professional: If you’re unsure about how to incorporate these ingredients or have specific skin concerns, seeking advice from a dermatologist can provide personalized guidance.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the benefits of hyaluronic acid and retinol without worry. Skincare is deeply personal, and what works for someone else might not work for you.

Take the time to understand your skin’s needs, adjust your routine as necessary, and prepare to see your skin thrive like never before.

Closing thoughts

Combining hyaluronic acid and retinol in your skincare routine is more than a trend; it’s a strategy for achieving balanced, hydrated, and rejuvenated skin.

By understanding the unique benefits of each and how they complement each other, you can create a skincare regimen that addresses multiple concerns, from dryness and dehydration to aging signs and uneven texture.

Finally, always remember that skincare is personal. What works for someone else may not work for you. Don’t hesitate to consult with a dermatologist for tailored advice, especially if you have specific skin issues or concerns.

With patience and care, incorporating hyaluronic acid and retinol into your skincare routine can lead to visibly healthier, more vibrant skin.


Can I use hyaluronic acid and retinol together?

Yes, you can use hyaluronic acid and retinol together in your skincare routine. Hyaluronic acid hydrates and prepares your skin, while retinol helps in skin renewal.

How often should I use retinol and hyaluronic acid?

Start with retinol 2-3 times a week at night and hyaluronic acid daily. Adjust the frequency based on your skin’s tolerance and needs.

Can sensitive skin types use hyaluronic acid and retinol?

Yes, sensitive skin types can use both, but start with lower concentrations of retinol. Hyaluronic acid is generally well-tolerated by all skin types.

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/how-to-use-hyaluronic-acid
[2] https://www.glamour.com/gallery/skin-care-ingredients-youre-not-using-but-should
[3] https://www.biorepublic.com/blogs/b-learning/hyaluronic-acid-vs-retinol
[4] https://us.comfortzoneskin.com/blogs/blog/how-to-use-retinol-in-your-skincare-routine
[5] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22915-hyaluronic-acid

The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.