The celebrated hydrator has become so pervasive, we can now actually pronounce its name. But is it as miraculous as brands will have you believe? Er, YOU’ve championed it. I have, it’s true. But a product isn’t suddenly miraculous just because it has a bit of HA in it. Well, what’s it good for? It’s very efficient at drawing moisture from the atmosphere into the skin’s top layers, keeping them plump and irrigated. What’s wrong with that? Nothing – HA is very good at its job. But there are other so-called humectants (like glycerine and sorbitol) that do a similar thing without the mark-up on your product price. Also, if the air around you is arid (think biting wind, air con, plane air), there is little water to attract, making HA’s hydrating potential plummet. Worse still: as the molecule can end up sucking water from your deeper skin layers instead, it could actually dry out skin! Help! What to do? Dry to normal skins do better with a cream or gel made up of (any) humectant plus oils, which prevent moisture evaporation. Alternatively, top your serum with a drop of squalene or rosehip oil. Or be extra clever and include hyaluronic acid building blocks like glucosamine – which, unlike HA, travel deep into skin.“They boost internal HA levels and keep skin hydrated from within,” says Dr Frauke Neuser, principal scientist at Olay.