29 July 2020
When it comes to moisturisers, hydrating serums and lip plumpers, no ingredient remains as popular as hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is an ingredient that is naturally present in our skin and it binds to water molecules to keep the skin naturally hydrated and plump.
I’m a big fan of using hyaluronic acid in serums and moisturisers because it has worked well for me all these years. In this blogpost, I’ll be sharing with you 2 hyaluronic acid products that I like. I’ll also be reviewing a couple of popular and cult favourite hyaluronic acid products in this review. You will find these products familiar- they’re a mix of drugstore and luxury products that are often raved about in beauty magazines and forums.
Before you read this post, I would recommend reading the earlier parts of this review on hyaluronic acid (HA) to understand the basics of HA in skincare:
As I’ve shared previously in Sunscreen Reviews: the Best, the Worst and Unsafe Ones I’ve Tried; there are 2 primary aspects that I look at when I evaluate and review any product:
(1) The objective aspect where the ingredients and formulations are scrutinised
(2) The subjective aspect where I assess how it feels and the results of applying it. Does my skin feel more moisturised and plump after using it? How does it hold up at the end of the day? Does it cause me to have breakouts? You get the idea.
I’ve used this framework of assessing products objectively and subjectively to give some structure and logic to this review.
I personally like lightweight products that dry quickly because of my skin type. Our skin types may differ so you may or may not agree with my subjective reviews. Nonetheless, I hope to share some affordable recommendations and a guide to understanding common skincare products.
1. Look at the composition of hyaluronic acid molecules. Does it contain high or low molecular weight HA alone or both? My preference is always a mixture of both high and low HA molecules.
2. Look for a minimum concentration of 0.1% HA. There isn’t a best maximum concentration but I find products that contain concentrations beyond 2% to feel very thick and hard to spread.
3. Does it contain additional active ingredients besides hyaluronic acid?
Moving on to the review:
Hada Labo is a Japanese skincare brand available in drug stores in Singapore. It is best known for its hydrating skin line (“Goku-jyun”) and their products are a cult favourite in Asia. Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion is Japan’s top selling facial lotion for the last decade. It has achieved cult status among beauty fans and writers globally.
What does Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion contain?
The packaging states that it contains 4 types of HA: large-size HA; medium size HAs, super HAs and nano HA.
If you’re confused, let’s take a look at the ingredient list. This will shed more light on how Hada Labo defined their HA composition- sodium hyaluronate is listed as medium and large size HA). There are 2 other types of HAs mentioned: hydrolysed hyaluronic acid and sodium acetylated hyaluronate. Sodium acetylated hyaluronic acid is also known as Super HA; hydrolysed HA is likely to be nano HA (or low molecular weight HA).
Any other notable ingredients in Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion?
Hada Labo Hydrating Lotion does not contain alcohol, oils and fragrances
The Good about Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion
Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion contains a good mixture of different types of hyaluronic acid. As I’ve shared in Everything You Need to Know About Hyaluronic Acid, for the stratum corneum to be moisturised at consistent depths, a combination of high and low molecular weight HAs are required in the HA serum or cream.
There aren’t many ingredients in Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion- the lack of oils, fragrances and alcohols is a big plus. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to try Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion.
The texture of Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion feels like a toner; it is only slightly more viscous than water. It is very light on the skin, especially after it dries. Of all the hyaluronic acid serums I’ve tried; Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion dried the fastest on my skin. If you like to layer your products or are time strapped like me, Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion is my recommendation.
The price is of course a big plus too. It was very affordable at about $20 for 170ml.
The Bad Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion
Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion’s moisturising effect was not apparent to me; even after layering it with another moisturiser. This was disappointing for me because of the composition of HAs and the many good reviews I read about it.
This product is the cheapest in this review. However, I will not be repurchasing this again because I could not feel a difference with using it.
Anyone else felt the same way I did with Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion?
The Ordinary is a Canadian skincare brand owned by DECIEM. This brand needs no introduction. I’m a fan of the brand and visited their Asian flagship store in Seoul last year. I’ve reviewed a number of The Ordinary’s skin care products and simplified the ingredients and suitability for skin types in this blogpost The Ordinary Skincare Review and Ingredients Decoded.
What does The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5 contain?
The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5 contains Sodium hyaluronate and Sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer. Sodium hyaluronate is the salt form of hyaluronic acid and tends to have smaller molecular weights. Sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer; as its name suggests; is a bigger molecule.
Any other notable ingredients in The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5?
Panthenol or vitamin B5 is another active ingredient in The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5. Vitamin B5 moisturises the skin, reduces inflammation and strengthens the skin’s defenses.
The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5 also does not contain alcohol and oils.
The Good About The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5
A good mixture of high and low molecular weight sodium hyaluronate in the The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5. It also has a relatively high concentration of hyaluroic acid at 2%. I like The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5 because it worked for me. It was definitely more moisturising than Hada Labo’s Hydrating Lotion on my skin. Still, I would recommend pairing The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5 with a moisturiser on top.
This is another lightweight serum that spreads very easily. The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5 is also very affordable; it cost me under $10 for a 30ml bottle.
The Bad About The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5
I’m a little hesitant about recommending this to everyone even though it worked for me because a couple of friends have given me feedback that they experienced outbreaks after using it. I did not experience any pimple outbreaks while using it though.
Although The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5 feels light, it takes quite a while to dry. If you like layering your skincare products; you’ll have to be patient with The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5.
NIOD is the upmarket sister brand of The Ordinary. NIOD’s tagline is “Skincare for the Hyper Educated” and you will see this ethos reflected in its ingredient choices; which are more experimental and interesting than The Ordinary’s.
NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 is one of the brand’s top sellers (along with its Copper Amino Isolate Serum)
What does NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 contain?
NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 contains 15 types of hyaluronic acid compounds, including 1.0% hyaluronic acid.
These compounds are a mixture of hyaluronic acid; sodium hyaluronate; hyaluronic acid crosspolymer; and very low and low molecular weight hyaluronic complexes.
Any other notable ingredients in NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2?
NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 also contains amino acids and plant extracts.
The Good About NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2
NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 has a varied composition of molecular weights in its hyaluronic acid complexes. The hyaluronic acid concentration is 1%; a good concentration.
NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 sank nicely into my skin. Its moisturising effect was obvious on my skin too. I could feel that my skin felt more moisturised and a little more plump after using this at around the 2-3 week mark.
The versatility of NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 is also a huge plus for me. I could also use NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 alone or layered with another moisturiser if my skin felt more dry.I like that NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 felt it was good enough to be used as a standalone even though it is a very light serum.
The Bad About NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2
I really like NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2; but one of the downsides is that NIOD is not available in Singapore. You’ll have to ship in NIOD’s products.
Comparisons between NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 and The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5. NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2’s hyaluronic acid concentration is 1% compared to The Ordinary’s version at 2%. It may seem that The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5 is a better bargain; but there are some nuances that make me prefer NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2. NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2 felt lighter on my skin and I could use it alone on some days. The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic 2% + B5 did not have that same lightness and I needed to pair it with another product on top.
Calecim is a cosmeceutical brand from Singapore that uses stem cell extracts in their skincare products. Although stem cell therapies are highly controversial in Singapore, the use of stem cell extracts in cosmeceuticals is allowed in Singapore. Stem cell mediums in skincare have been a trending ingredient for the last decades because of its potentials in accelerating skin recovery and reducing signs of aging.
Most skincare products that contain stem cell extracts or proteins are derived from plants- namely apple stem cells and Edelweiss plant stem cells. What sets Calecim’s products apart from conventional stem cell skincare products is its source. The stem cell extracts in Calecim’s skincare range are obtained from the umbilical cord of red deers.
Although Calecim recommends that its skincare products be used after aesthetic treatments like fractional CO2 lasers, Rejuran Healer, Skinboosters and chemical peels; Calecim Professional’s Recovery Night Complex is suitable for use on untreated skin.
What does Calecim Professional’s Recovery Night Complex contain?
Any other notable ingredients in Calecim Professional Recovery Night Complex?
1. Calecim conditioned media: growth factors, glycoproteins, collagen, albumin, fibronectin
• These proteins are derived from the preparation of stem cell
• When applied to normal skin, these proteins may reduce wrinkles and improve skin firmness and elasticity
• When applied to skin after treatments that disrupt the dermal-epidermal junction (e.g. fractional CO2 lasers; chemical peels Rejuran Healer; Skinboosters); these proteins accelerate recovery
2. Panthenol i.e. vitamin B5
• An antioxidant that reduces inflammation and improves acne. My blogpost Niacinamide: A Versatile Skincare Ingredient Your Skin Will Thank You For will share more about niacinamide.
4. Aloe vera
• Reduces inflammation and improves healing
The Good About Calecim Professional Recovery Night Complex
Calecim Professional’s Recovery Night Complex is packed with a lot of ingredients that help with healing and reducing inflammation. This allows Calecim Professional’s Recovery Night Complex to be useful in speeding up recovery i.e. reducing downtime.
If you are using it on untreated skin, you might experience some anti-aging benefits such as reduced wrinkles and improved skin texture.
The Bad About Calecim Professional Recovery Night Complex
The first thing that will strike you when you use Calecim Professional’s Recovery Night Complex is the smell… It smells like seaweed. The smell eventually disappears but it takes a while to get used to.
Calecim Professional’s Recovery Night Complex was lacklustre in performance for me. I had high expectations because of all the good stuff in it, but the effects were unexceptional. My skin did feel more moisturised; but it lacked the plump and smoothening effect. Calecim Professional’s Recovery Night Complex was the most expensive product in this review, so I was a little disappointed.
Calecim Professional’s Recovery Night Complex dries to leave a sticky film. It also gave me a couple of new comedones and pimples on areas of my face.
Any skincare addict or beauty expert worth their salt will instantly recognise CeraVe. CeraVe is another cult favourite drug store brand in the US and Europe. The star ingredient in their products is…..you guessed it, ceramides.
I was most excited to share my review of CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion in this post. CeraVe is a skincare brand that is well loved by doctors and is very affordable. If you read my blog, you’ll probably know I love trying out and sharing good affordable finds.
What does CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion contain?
Hydrolysed hyaluronic acid i.e. low molecular weight hyaluronic acid.
Any other notable ingredients in CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion?
CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion also contains ceramides, cholesterol and phytosphingosine. These 3 ingredients are components of the skin’s protective barrier against water loss, infections and chemicals. In conditions where the ceramide levels are disrupted in the skin (e.g. eczema and psoriasis), the skin is drier and more sensitive.
You can read more about ceramides and how to choose skincare products that contain ceramides in Ceramides in Skincare: A Relief for Dry and Sensitive Skin.
The Good About CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion
A good combination of humectants (hyaluronic acid) and emollients (ceramides and cholesterol) in CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion! I like that the ingredients list is well rounded to improve the moisturising impact.
CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion was effective in keeping my skin moisturised. I used it with my retinoic acid and after my chemical peels and I did not experience the dryness and flaking that I usually get. I was quite impressed; this might be due to the inclusion of ceramides in the formulation.
CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion is a lightweight lotion that dries without leaving a sticky residue. Despite my concerns, CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion did not cause comedones or breakouts for my skin. I would recommend CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion if you have dry and sensitive skin.
The Bad About CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion
CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion made my skin feel greasy mid-day. I switched to using it at night with my retinoids instead to avoid this problem. If you have oily skin or acne, CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion might cause comedones or acne.
No other problems with CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion for me. A good and affordable find in my books for normal to dry skin. I would not recommend CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion for oily skin or if you have acne.
Hyaluronic acid is a key molecule in keeping the skin moisturised, plump and smooth. Almost all skincare brands carry a hyaluronic acid product in their beauty range. Two hyaluronic acid products that I would recommend are: CeraVe’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion and NIOD’s Multi- Molecular Hyaluronic Acid Complex MMHC2. Incidentally, one is a high end serum and the other is a very drugstore lotion.
In this review, I also chose to feature a couple of cult favourites from drugstore ranges to exclusive luxury brands. I hope that you have found this review on hyaluronic acid serums and moisturisers useful. If you would like to share your favourite HA skincare product, please feel free to leave a comment. If you enjoyed this blogpost, you might also enjoy the following skincare reviews and educational posts: