Can Hyaluronic Acid Make Skin Peel

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring substance in our bodies that helps keep skin healthy and elastic. It’s found in many beauty products, but does it actually work?

One common claim about hyaluronic acid is that it can make skin peel. This seems to be based on a misunderstanding of how the skin works. The outer layer of our skin, called the epidermis, is constantly shedding off dead cells as new ones grow underneath them. This process is called exfoliation, and it’s what gives our skin its healthy glow. In this guide, we review the aspects of: Can hyaluronic acid make skin peel, why does hyaluronic acid peel off, why does hyaluronic acid burn my face, and why does hyaluronic acid make my skin feel tight.

Many people have asked whether hyaluronic acid can cause this exfoliation to happen more quickly—which would mean that their skin would start peeling right away, instead of gradually over time. The answer is no: hyaluronic acid cannot cause your skin to peel faster than normal.

Right here on cosmeticsurgerytips, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on why does hyaluronic acid peel off, does hyaluronic acid darken skin, can hyaluronic acid burn skin, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.

BAZAAR's Ultimate Guide to Hyaluronic Acid: Here's Everything to Know

Can hyaluronic acid make skin peel

There’s no doubt about the efficacy of hyaluronic acid; hailed as a skincare hero by experts and dermatologists alike, it’s a humectant (meaning it helps reduce the loss of moisture) that can hold up to 1000x its own weight in water.

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally-occurring substance that works to help retain the much-needed moisture that both skin and joints need, but as we get older levels tend to deplete which can lead to dullness and loss of elasticity along with fine lines and wrinkles.

Found in a whole load of products, its primary function is restoring and retaining moisture and is suitable for all skin types, including those with sensitive, acne-prone skin.

But despite being a miracle-worker, hyaluronic acid could end up drying out your skin if you’re not careful. Here’s the lowdown on the most effective way to use it.

Why Does Hyaluronic Acid Make My Skin Feel Tight


As Dr Sam Bunting, Harley Street dermatologist and founder of Dr Sam Skincare Club, explains: “It’s a water-holding gel with the ability to hold 1000 times its own weight in moisture. When it’s applied topically, skin acts as a highly-effective barrier and those hyaluronic acid molecules are too big to squeeze through the dermis (the layer of skin beneath the epidermis), which is where it needs to be to help plump lines and wrinkles.”

So instead, it sits on the skin’s surface and acts as a moisturiser through its humectant (water-attracting) properties.

“That means it draws water into skin to keep it hydrated, supple and makes sure it keeps it functioning effectively as a barrier,” says Dr Bunting.


If you’re applying hyaluronic acid to a very dry face, it can actually end up drawing moisture from the deeper levels of your skin, which in turn will cause more harm than good and leave your complexion feeling tight and uncomfortable.

It’s a problem that usually occurs when humidity levels are extremely low – meaning there’s a lack of moisture in the air. 


To counteract that issue, Sonia Deasy, founder of skincare brand Pestle & Mortar, always recommends layering hyaluronic acid serum with a moisturiser.

“It helps seal it into your skin and provides a barrier against moisture loss,” she explains.

Deasy also advises applying serum to damp – not completely dry – skin for better results.


  • The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5best hyaluronic serum: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid SerumThis serum delivers intense, long lasting moisture to thirsty cells, visibly plumping and smoothing the skin.
  • La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Serumbest hyaluronic serum La Roche Posay hyaluronic serumThanks to the B5 and hyaluronic acid, La Roche-Posay’s gel-serum restores suppleness and elasticity. It repairs the skin’s barrier so moisture is kept on lock-down for longer.

  • Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic SerumPestle-and-Mortar-Pure-Hyaluronic-SerumThis multi-tasking concentrate targets fine lines, dullness and dehydration. The formula is lightweight, not sticky, and can double up as a make-up primer for a velvety-smooth base.

  • Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Serumbest hyaluronic serum Medik8 Hydr8-B5Combining skin-softening vitamin B5 with hyaluronic acid, this hydrates, soothes and reduces inflammation. Bye-bye, redness.
  • Niod Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex IINIOD Multi Molecular Hyaluronic AcidThis mixes a blend of 15 forms of hyaluronic compounds to make the skin’s surface pillowy and bouncy. It also supports water retention and banishes tightness.

  • Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Boosterbest hyaluronic serum Paula's Choice Hyaluronic Acid BoosterThe gel-like texture mixes seamlessly into your existing moisturiser, with pollution-fighting ceramides to help retain moisture.

  • SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier Serumbest hyaluronic serum skinceuticalsIt might be pricey, but if you can afford the splurge then this lightweight serum really works. It’s enriched with 10% Proxylane™ (a patented molecule) and botanical extracts to deliver long-lasting hydration, while also toning and tightening to promote a smoother, more refined complexion.

For years, hyaluronic acid has been the darling of the beauty industry but more recently, it’s been surrounded by controversy that it could well be causing more harm than good. Today we’re looking at both sides of the debate and sharing our advice on using this popular product…


Hyaluronic acid is a humectant – a substance that binds and retains water molecules, enabling it to deeply hydrate the skin.

The background:

Hyaluronic acid is produced naturally in the body with the highest concentrations found in the skin; the majority of which is found within the deeper layers of the dermis. It is made up of D-glucuronic and N-acetyl glucosamine (two sugars) which bind water molecules in the skin cells to collagen. As a result, a transparent gel is formed which acts as a sponge to draw and hold moisture, providing our skin with the hydration it requires along with a firmer, plumper, brighter complexion. This also helps to fight free radicals, maintain the skin’s elasticity, heal the skin (as it has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties), and benefits our eyes and connective soft tissue function by lubricating and cushioning joints.

The argument:

As we get older, our levels of hyaluronic acid naturally decrease. As it’s thought hyaluronic acid can hold up to a thousand times its weight in water molecules, by incorporating products rich in this ingredient you can continue to provide your skin with the hydration it requires in a way that your body is less able to naturally and no other products can.


Hyaluronic acid can dry out the skin as it draws moisture from its surroundings and leaves skin exposed if the moisture is not sealed in.

The background:

The moisture that hyaluronic acid products attract comes from our external environment. It pulls moisture from the air and draws it into the skin to provide the hydration it needs. The downside to this is that when humidity levels are low, (meaning there is a lack of moisture in the air) no matter what your skin type is, it can quickly become very dry and dehydrated under these circumstances.

The argument:

Applying hyaluronic acid to a dry, dehydrated face can exacerbate skin concerns, especially as the ingredient in skincare products is a synthetic version. In using it, you are drawing up the moisture from the deeper levels of the skin to the surface of the epidermis where it just evaporates, leaving skin feeling drier, tighter and uncomfortable.


  • Our recommendation with all skincare is to keep things simple. Resist layering on too many products.
  • Seal moisture into the skin by using a face oil rich in EFAs (essential fatty acids) as the last step in your routine.
  • Keep a close eye on your skin’s health as you are using products. If you have concerns, remove products one by one from your routine to work out which is affecting your skin.
  • As always, hydrate yourself from within too by drinking plenty of water.
  • Where possible, avoid conditions which can further dry out your skin such as air conditioning, central heating and hot showers.

why does hyaluronic acid peel off

If you’ve ever used a hyaluronic acid serum or any other skincare product, you know that it’s pretty easy to spread.

But then, after a while, your skin starts peeling—and then maybe more of it peels off.

The answer isn’t as simple as you might think—it depends on what kinds of products you’re using and how often you use them.

How Do You Prevent Hyaluronic Acid From Peeling?

You might have heard of hyaluronic acid as the go-to ingredient for plumping, firming, and smoothing skin.

But did you know that it’s also one of the most common causes of peeling?

If you want to make sure your HA serum doesn’t cause any flaking or irritation, follow these tips:

1. Use a moisturizer

Moisturizers help keep your skin hydrated, which is essential for keeping wrinkles at bay.

If you’re using a moisturizer with SPF, it will also help prevent sun damage and other skin concerns.

Sagacious Skin Care’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum is formulated to be used alongside any aftercare treatment (such as retinoids).

This serum contains a high concentration of hyaluronic acid, along with other beneficial ingredients like vitamin B5 and vitamin C—all of which work together to keep your skin healthy and vibrant.

2. Exfoliate lightly

Exfoliating is one of the best ways to make sure your skin will be ready for a spa day.

It removes dead cells, allowing your moisturizer to penetrate more deeply and hyaluronic acid serum to sink in more easily.

You can exfoliate with a variety of products, from scrubs and chemical peels to microdermabrasion treatments.

While choosing an exfoliator for home use, look for one that contains glycolic or lactic acid—these are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which work by dissolving the bonds between dead skin cells so they’re easier to remove.

AHAs also boost collagen production, which keeps skin plump and elastic.

If you want a deep cleaning without any redness or irritation, try this three-step nightly routine:

3. Leave your peeling skin alone

The best way to treat peeling skin is to leave it alone.

This may sound counterintuitive, but you should not pick at your peeling skin or rub it too much, as that can damage the skin and cause scarring.

You also don’t want to use any products on the affected area—this includes moisturizers and face masks.

The only exception would be if your dermatologist recommends otherwise, in which case they’ll provide you with specific instructions on how to care for your hyperpigmentation by using certain products.

The most effective method of prevention is good old-fashioned patience!

Your body needs time to heal itself naturally, so let it do its thing while you stay out of its way!

4. Take a break from your sunscreens.

This is because sunscreens can be too harsh for your skin, causing it to peel or become irritated.

If you want to use sunscreen, try using a moisturizer instead of your regular face cream.

Moisturizers are usually less thick than face creams and will not sit on top of your skin as traditional face creams do.

If you choose to use an SPF moisturizer with SPF 15 or greater, you should be fine in terms of preventing any peeling issues caused by sun exposure.

However, if you choose to use an SPF 5 moisturizer instead (or one with no SPF at all), then this could cause some degree of peeling as well due to the higher risk of sunburns when using lower-level protection from the sun’s rays

5. Avoid skincare products with retinol or acids

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that’s often used in skin care products to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration.

Acids are the most common ingredients in chemical exfoliants, which are used to help remove dead skin cells and fade acne scars.

If you have dry or dehydrated skin, these types of products can cause peeling over time.

The acids in chemical exfoliants work by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells on the surface of your face so that they can be cleared away easily by your body’s natural cleansing mechanisms (sweat glands).

However, if your skin doesn’t have enough moisture for this process to take place without damaging it further, it’s likely you’ll experience some flaking after using one of these products regularly over time.

Why Does Your Hyaluronic Acid Peel Off?

Your skin is trying to get rid of the dead skin cells that are no longer useful by shedding them.

Hyaluronic acid is a moisturizer that helps your skin retain moisture, but it’s too strong for your skin and it peels off as soon as you apply it.

Why Does Your Skin Peel When You Put on Serums?

When your skin is under assault from all of this, it can start to peel.

This is normal! It’s not a bad thing at all; in fact, it’s the opposite—it means that you’re doing something right for your skin.

Hyaluronic Acid Ruined My Skin

Although hyaluronic acid sounds sort of scary and can be difficult to pronounce, it turns out this naturally-occurring ingredient harbors superpowers that can instantly plump your skin and make it look tighter, smoother, and a whole lot younger. Wondering whether it’s for you? Don’t. “It’s great for every single person on the planet,” confirms board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ashley Magovern, MD, medical director of Dermstore. Here’s why every skin type should give it a go:

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Present in all connective tissues and found in high concentrations in the viscous fluid that surrounds your eyes and cushions your joints, hyaluronic acid is a protein that attracts moisture and can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water—impressive!

The thing is, production of hyaluronic acid in the skin tapers off as you age. It’s one reason why many injectable fillers are designed to supplement the skin’s stores. Alternatively, applying hyaluronic acid, which can be found in serums, moisturizers, lip plumpers, and cosmetics ranging from lipstick to eye shadow, can help bring moisture back to the skin.

Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid in Skincare: What It Does for Your Skin

Because most hyaluronic acid molecules tend to be too large to penetrate the skin, topical treatments don’t always reach the deepest layers of the skin. Meaning? They can’t necessarily improve your appearance in the long run. That said, hyaluronic acid-containing products do provide the following temporary benefits, which should last about as long as the product remains on your skin:

1. Plumps the skin and lips

Although the ingredient is unlikely to affect the skin’s actual structure, it still binds with water to make your skin appear plumper and more hydrated immediately upon application, so you’ll notice an improvement as soon as you apply it.

Hyaluronic acid draws in water to temporarily fill out fine lines upon application, according to Dr. Magovern, who warns not to skimp on the eye area. “Your skin thins as you age, and the eyelids already comprise some of the thinnest skin on your body,” she says. “Most people are nervous to use their skincare products around their eyes, but if you can tolerate it, it’s prudent to use products there to prevent a crepe-like appearance.”

When using hyaluronic acid as part of an anti-aging skin routine, you might as well go all in. “I’m all for using smart skincare formulations that contain multiple ingredients,” Dr. Magovern says. “I love products that contain both hyaluronic acid and antioxidants like vitamin C, which we know can improve your skin.”

3. Makes it easier to apply makeup evenly

Anyone who’s ever attempted to apply lip color to chapped lips knows it’s an impossible pursuit. Hyaluronic acid’s ability to hold moisture means it immediately smooths the surface of the skin so concealer, foundation, and yes, even lipstick go on much smoother. (For this reason, Dr. Magovern says it’s a great ingredient to look for in makeup itself or a makeup primer, in addition to a dedicated hyaluronic acid-containing serum or moisturizing cream.)

4. It may improve the effectiveness of your moisturizer

Hyaluronic acid attracts moisture, so layering a serum that contains it under a dedicated moisturizer is like giving the ingredient something to grasp on to. “It creates this double-smoothing effect that locks moisture in,” Dr. Magovern says.

Does Hyaluronic Acid Help Acne?

It’s clear that hyaluronic acid is a master moisturizer. But there’s a persistent myth that adding moisture to acne-prone skin can make breakouts worse. “People underestimate just how much dry skin contributes to acne,” Dr. Magovern says. “They don’t want to moisturize because they’re worried they’ll get more breakouts, so they overprocess their skin and things get worse.”

The truth is that overwashing and exfoliating cause dryness and irritation that compromises the skin barrier. This blocks the hair follicles, the tiny pores where acne-causing propionibacterium acnes (aka P. acnes) live and multiple, causing further inflammation and—you guessed it—breakouts.

Hydrating inflamed skin can help it heal to function more optimally, Dr. Magovern says—and hyaluronic acid can definitely help here.

Potential Side Effects of Using Hyaluronic Acid on Your Skin

Although you might associate “acid” with chemical burns, you can apply hyaluronic acid and rest easy whether you have sensitive skin or have been burned by harsh products in the past. “Hyaluronic acid is very gentle, so it’s very, very rare to have an adverse reaction to it,” Dr. Magovern says. “If you react to a product that contains it, chances are it’s the fault of another ingredient.”

The Bottom Line

​​The benefits of hyaluronic acid may not be permanent, but with regular application, they really don’t have to be. “It doesn’t really matter whether hyaluronic acid can really penetrate the skin and make long term changes,” Dr. Magovern says. “We know that it sits there attracting water, which makes your skin look great.”

Ready to try this amazing ingredient? Check out our 7 best hyaluronic acid serums for plump and hydrated skin.

Elizabeth Narins is a freelance writer, editor, and content/social media strategist based in Brooklyn, New York. The former senior director of digital and social content at WW (formerly Weight Watchers), she has held staff positions at Women’s Health and Cosmopolitan, and is no stranger to a beauty closet. Elizabeth’s work (and too many photos of her curly-haired toddler) can be found on Instagram @ejnarins.

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