Think outside the beauty box



June 1, 2022

Everything you need to know about hyaluronic acid haircare

Photo of woman facing away from the camera and her hair fully down

Source: Bawdy Beauty


Hyaluronic acid is likely already a staple in your skincare routine, but you might not be using it to its full potential just yet: it can be a game changer in your hair routine. It works by retaining hydration, so your scalp will feel healthier, and your hair will feel stronger, all without being weighed down with oils or other comedogenic ingredients.

First things first: what actually is hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a molecule that plays a key role in your skin’s aging process. HA is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture from the environment in which it finds itself. In skincare, it’s used to smooth fine lines, and plump skin.


What does hyaluronic acid do for your hair?

Because HA attracts moisture, it affects different parts of your hair and scalp in different ways. The most important thing to keep in mind is that while it helps with hydration, it shouldn’t make your scalp greasy, so if you struggle with excess oil you can still add hyaluronic-based products into your routine without needing to wash your hair more often.


Hyaluronic acid for your scalp

If you find yourself with an itchy, dry, or flaky scalp, then adding HA into your haircare routine could be just what you need. By attracting and trapping moisture, products containing HA can help improve the overall health of your scalp. Over time, your scalp could feel much more comfortable, and your skin will be nourished and well hydrated.


Hyaluronic acid for dry hair

When your hair itself is dry, adding moisture and keeping it where it’s needed is key. While HA will not add any moisture as such, it can help retain moisture. Though there is limited data on how HA behaves on hair when compared to on the skin, it’s believed it will act in a similar way. This means that by adding HA to a haircare product that focuses on hydration, each strand of hair will retain more of that moisture for longer than it would without HA. That being said, researchers have found that water content in hair might not be what makes it feel moisturized, so it could be best to focus on the benefits for your scalp rather than for your locks.


Hyaluronic acid for frizzy hair

If your hair is frizzy because it’s been damaged by heat or through over processing, you might find that you can really tell the difference after using HA in your haircare. Because hyaluronic acid seals the hair’s cuticle, even damaged hair will look and feel smoother. HA also protects against environmental stressors, meaning it could be a great addition if you live and work in an area that is pretty polluted, or if you’re time in dry and dusty areas, or even if you’re out in the sun a lot. All of these factors can stop hair from feeling its best, so using an ingredient that protects against them without weighing hair down is a total game changer.


Should you use hyaluronic in your haircare routine?

So, now you know more about this seemingly miraculous ingredient, you’re likely thinking about whether you should include it in your routine, and if so, how you go about it. While HA is an incredible ingredient for lots of different hair types, its effects won’t be as noticeable for some people. 

The best results will be for those who have dry or damaged hair, especially after it has gone through some form of chemical processing like coloring or perming. The other group of people who will particularly benefit from HA in their haircare are those who have a dry scalp but whose hair tends to get weighed down by products designed to add moisture to your hair.


How do you add hyaluronic acid to your haircare routine?

Depending on the product you choose: there are pre-wash treatment serums, shampoos, wash-out conditioners, and leave-in conditioners that all contain hyaluronic acid. So the key will be to follow the instructions on the specific product you buy. 

Now, if your scalp is the target of your HA, you could even use a skincare hyaluronic acid serum. In this case, or if you’re using a pre-wash treatment, you’re going to want to use the serum before you have a shower. Or, you may even be able to apply it before bed, and shower in the morning. To get the product right where it needs to go, you’ll use a comb to create a series of partings. Going from your hairline toward the nape of your neck, start by parting a section right above your right ear. Place some serum on your scalp and gently rub it in. Grab your comb again, and make a new parting a half inch along from the first, and repeat the process. Once you’ve finished applying serum, you can tie your hair in a loose bun or plait it before going to sleep. Rise it thoroughly in the morning.

For shampoos and conditioners, again, the focus should be on getting the product to sit nicely on your scalp. On wet hair, use your fingers to create a series of partning and massage the product in at the root to get the most benefit from the active ingredients.


Our favorite hyaluronic acid haircare products


Best hyaluronic acid scalp serum:

The Ordinary Ha Natural Moisturizing Factors + Ha for Scalp


The Ordinary HA Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA for Scalp

This serum packs in a bunch of nourishing ingredients to keep your scalp and hair looking and feeling great. You can use it before going to bed, and it won’t leave your hair feeling greasy the next day. 


Best hyaluronic acid shampoo:

Kerastase Blond Absolu Hydrating Illuminating Shampoo


Kérastase Blond Absolu Hydrating Illuminating Shampoo

A cult-like product for anyone who has bleached their hair, Kérastase’s Blond Absolu has been using hyaluronic acid to revive damaged hair since it was launched in 2019. The shampoo forms part of a haircare system which includes the shampoo both in regular and purple toning, a conditioner, fortifying treatment, a mask, and a leave-in treatment.


Best hyaluronic acid conditioner:

Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Hair Scalp Hydrating Conditioner


Dr. Barbara Sturm Molecular Hair & Scalp Hydrating Conditioner

With its hydrating conditioner formulation, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Molecular Conditioner  embraces the benefits of hyaluronic acid, pairing it with organic Shea Butter to deliver nutrients and moisture both to the scalp and to the hair itself. Dr. Barbara Sturm’s signature anti-inflammatory formulations make it an ideal product for those who are dealing with scalp-based skin complaints that cause itching or irritation.


Best hyaluronic acid leave-in treatment:

Bumble and Bumbles Hairdressers Invisible Oil


Bumble and Bumble’s Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Ultra Rich Hyaluronic Treatment Lotion

This leave-in treatment is designed to help even the driest scalp stay feeling and looking nourished long after you finish styling your hair, delivering hydration for up to three days after it’s been applied. The product contains Bumble & Bumble’s signature 6-oil blend, and protects hair from heated styling tools up to 450F.