Formulating with Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient to add to skincare, but you need to know how to work with it effectively. I’m going to be creating some formulas including this very soon, so if you want to start adding it to your formulations, or having a go at the ones I post, this video is for you. 

Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide and compound that occurs naturally in body tissue.

It is a natural gel between skin cells retaining water.

We lose the Hyaluronic acid in our skin as we age and therefore including it in our skincare products can help to replenish what we lose. It replenishes the water lost and will help with the appearance of aging skin, fine lines, wrinkles, elasticity and skin tone.

However, Hyaluronic acid has a large molecular weight, and does not penetrate the skin, so to enable it to do this, so we can gain the benefits in cosmetics, the Hyaluronic acid molecules are hydrolysed.

This means that they are broken down via a chemical reaction with water which results in the hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid that we use in cosmetics most commonly - INCI: sodium hyaluronate.

This has a smaller molecular weight, is more stable, easily absorbed and less prone to oxidisation that other hyaluronic acid.

There are a few types available within the Sodium Hyaluronate INCI and the one you use will depend on availability, what product you are making, how much benefit you want from it and the viscosity.

The higher the MW the thicker the gel will be, the lower the thinner it will be.


The following are the commonly available types.

Hyaluronic acid types are determined by their molecular weight, which is measured in Daltons.

Daltons are a measure of molecular mass/weight.


HMW Hyaluronic Acid (high 1-1.5 million Daltons)


LMW Hyaluronic Acid (low 0.8-1million Daltons)


ELMW Hyaluronic Acid (extra Low 80000-110000 Daltons)


SLMW Hyaluronic Acid (Super low <50000 Daltons)


ULMW Hyaluronic Acid (Ultra low <6000 Daltons)


Often suppliers may only have one type available. That’s fine, it’s usually the most popular or commonly used weight. If they don’t list the type they have on the product page, then you should be able to find the information on the technical data sheets they provide.

When you purchase your Hyaluronic acid, the best thing to do to ensure ease of use and no accidental wastage is to make it into a gel stock. This way it’s ready to use and easy to work with when you need it. You’ll also know it’s viscosity.

To create a hyaluronic acid stock, first decide on your % inclusion. I usually make a 1% hyaluronic acid stock, as I include it between 0.2% and 1% in products.

Formula for Hyaluronic Acid Stock

98-98.5% Distilled Water

1% Hyaluronic Aci

0.5% water soluble broad-spectrum preservative


Add your preservative to your water and stir.

Then add your 1% hydronic acid. It should just sit on top. Don’t stir.

Cover the beaker and leave for 24-48 hours.

When you come back to it, stir gently, and you should find that it’s a clear viscous gel. The viscosity will depend on the hyaluronic acid used, so don’t worry if it’s very thin or thick, you did it right. If it’s a bit lumpy you may want to shear mix a little to smooth out.

Calculating percentage inclusion

To use it you just need to calculate your percent inclusion. So, using a 1% stock, if I need 0.2% in my product formula, I would use 20% of the 1% hyaluronic acid stock.

For 0.5% I’d use 50% stock, for 1%, I’d use it all.

 To calculate how much you need if using a 1% hyaluronic acid stock, you multiply the amount that you want in your product by 100.

This may sound like a lot of percentage to take up in your formula, but remember it’s mostly water, so you can factor that in to your water phase percentage.

You can use hyaluronic acid up to the allowed max percentage as given by the supplier/manufacturer, but it’s been established that an inclusion between 0.2 and 0.5% is sufficient to benefit from it.

 Types of products that you may use it in are:

  • creams and lotions
  • Serums
  • Face masks

Hopefully that gives you an idea of what hyaluronic acid does and how to use it in your formulations.

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