HA and retinol

Skincare has come so far in the last few decades, but with progress comes a huge range of possible ingredients to use. With so many options, it can sometimes be tricky to keep track of all the do’s and don’ts. Certain ingredients work together in harmony, but some are hindered if used at the same time. So with all that in mind, can you use hyaluronic acid with retinol?

These two ingredients are very different, but they can work well together with the right application know-how. This guide will cover all the basics of how to use hyaluronic acid and retinol together. We’ll also provide some targeted product recommendations to help you build a skincare routine utilising both ingredients. Keep reading for everything you need to know about both ingredients, and to learn whether you should use hyaluronic acid before or after retinol


Retinol vs hyaluronic acid

Let’s look at the individual benefits of hyaluronic acid and retinol as well as how each works within the skin. This knowledge will form the foundation for exploring how these two ingredients can complement each other.


Hyaluronic acid:


This ingredient is a type of sugar found naturally within the skin. As a humectant, hyaluronic acid is great at attracting and keeping hold of water, drawing hydration into the skin like a sponge that can retain 1,000 times its own weight in water.


Your skin produces less hyaluronic acid as you get older, which can lead to increased dryness and visible fine lines. Applying serums or moisturisers enriched with hyaluronic acid can help re-plump the skin and keep your complexion hydrated. Hyaluronic acid also has a comforting effect on sensitive skin.



Retinol is a form of vitamin A with a range of skin benefits for mature skin, acne-prone skin and oily skin. Retinol works within the skin to speed up skin cell turnover and promote collagen production. It also helps regulate sebum (skin oil) production. The result? A reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, visibly firmer skin and minimised blemishes in acne-prone skin.


Retinol has powerful benefits, but it can take some time for the skin to adjust to such a potent ingredient. The adjustment phase is known as ‘retinisation’ and can involve things like redness, flaking skin and mild discomfort. These issues can be minimised or avoided by introducing retinol gradually and choosing a product with a comforting formula.


Can you use hyaluronic acid with retinol?

These two ingredients are some of the most well-known players in skincare, but retinol and hyaluronic acid each have very different targets and ways of working within the skin. However, using hyaluronic acid and retinol together allows both ingredients to combine efforts and improve skin texture and signs of ageing skin. If you’re wondering whether retinol or hyaluronic acid is best suited for your skin’s needs, it’s worth considering the individual benefits of each.


The skin’s natural exfoliation process is enhanced when it’s properly hydrated, so using hyaluronic acid and retinol together can help enhance retinol’s skin cell turnover benefits. Hyaluronic acid’s intense hydrating properties can also minimise any dryness during retinisation.


Last but not least, retinol’s collagen stimulating properties and hyaluronic acid’s skin plumping properties can also work together synergistically to help achieve even firmer and bouncier looking skin.

How to use hyaluronic acid and retinol

So, can you mix hyaluronic acid with retinol? While you shouldn’t actually mix products with these ingredients together, you can absolutely apply both ingredients within the same routine. 


As for the order of application, should retinol or hyaluronic acid go first? The answer to this question is subjective and could go either way. Basically, if you’re looking to be extra gentle with your skin, apply hyaluronic acid first. However, our retinol serum is enriched with hyaluronic acid, so its formula is comforting even on its own. 


Regardless of the retinol and hyaluronic acid order you choose, following the simple skincare routine steps below will ensure you get the most out of your retinol serum.

First, cleanse skin

It’s important to use a facial cleanser as the first step of any skincare routine, because starting with clean skin helps maximise absorption for the active ingredients you’ll apply later. 

Use a small amount of our CeraVe Foaming Oil-Free Cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt and makeup, massaging in a circular motion on damp skin. Be sure to rinse away all traces of cleanser with lukewarm water.


Apply a hyaluronic acid serum

If you wish to apply a hyaluronic acid serum, now is the time. Our CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum is most efficacious when you apply an even layer directly to damp skin. This formula is also enriched with vitamin B5 to help maintain moisture levels in the skin.

Apply a retinol serum

You’ll need to apply your retinol face serum to dry skin, so either thoroughly pat your skin dry after cleansing or wait for your hyaluronic acid serum to dry first.

Then, apply small dots of our CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Serum and spread the formula evenly over your entire face. This formula is enriched with skin barrier supporting ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid to help your skin adjust to retinol’s potent benefits.

Apply a moisturiser with SPF

The final essential step is applying a facial moisturiser with sun protection. Retinol increases the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so this is not a step to skip out on. Apply our CeraVe Am Facial Moisturising Lotion with SPF 15 evenly over your entire face. You can swap for a non-SPF moisturiser in the evenings, but make sure you wear SPF during the day even if you only use retinol at night.

Now you know how to use hyaluronic acid and retinol together, why not learn How to Apply Retinol in a Skincare Routine?

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