Working With Hyaluronic Acid - Powder vs Gel

Hyaluronic acid is a long-time staple in my stockroom – which, by the way, looks absolutely nothing like the romanticized image you see above.

A portion of my stockroom is packed in boxes at the moment, so I figured this generic photo of plant-based ingredients would be a lot more appealing than anything I could have photographed for you.

Now, back to hyaluronic acid (which, by the way, also would have looked far more boring than the photo above).

Hyaluronic acid has over the years magically found its way into many of my products – from eye and face creams to serums and gels.

Truth be told, I've had nothing but positive experiences with it – both in the lab and on the skin...

...right up until I started working with it as a powder.

Take your Pick

Hyaluronic acid is available from many cosmetics ingredients suppliers – mostly in powdered form, but also as a gel.

The powder is 100% pure concentrate that requires a really good scale as it must be measured out in tenths of a gram – especially if you make 100ml of product at a time. The dose can be from 0.1% to a maximum of 0.5%.

The gel is (obviously) not concentrate. It is made by adding hyaluronic acid powder (and a preservative) to water. Depending on the concentration of the gel, the dose can be from 2% to 10%.

For years, I worked exclusively with the gel – partly because it is easier to work with, but mostly because it is much easier to work with.

The Magic of Hyaluronic Acid

When added to water, hyaluronic acid does a magical thing – it creates a gel – all by itself.

That's really cool.


...if there is an insufficient amount of water, the gel becomes very, very, very lumpy and very very very stiff.

In truth, it becomes so gosh darn stiff and lumpy that incorporating it fully into an emulsion becomes mission impossible and you might as well stop swearing, toss the mixture, and start over.

Can you tell I speak from experience?

How to Work With Hyaluronic Acid as Gel 

Measure out desired dose and add in the final phase (under 40 C). Stir to incorporate fully.


It's so easy-peasy, you can do it with one hand tied behind your back while having a cup of coffee and discussing what you'd like to have for dinner with your hubby who just wandered by.

How to Work With Hyaluronic Acid as Powder 

Add desired dose to demineralised water. Stir to dissolve. Cover. Let rest for 10-30 minutes. Add to your emulsion in the final phase (under 40 C).

That doesn't sound too terribly difficult, does it?

Here's the fun part: finding the amount of water. One of my suppliers recommends adding 0,5% of powder to 100ml of water.

That means, if you're making 100ml of product, there's no room for anything else in the mixture if you want a dose of 0,5%.

So I've been working on solving this one – keeping the water at a minimum without sacrificing viscosity.

Tip: Prepare for a plethora of different reactions if you decide to replace the water with hydrosol. Unless you have ample funding at your disposal, this is one road you probably don't want to go down.

The Alternative Powder Method

There is an alternative method when using the powder. One of my suppliers suggests the desired dose can be added directly to final product.

Problem: incorporating the powder fully is a problem and the viscosity changes drastically. My experience with this method so far = be willing to toss the product.

Do Tell

Do you work with hyaluronic acid? I am all ears to hear about your experiences with it!

More Info and Other Nerdy Stuff about Hyaluronic Acid and Why it's So Cool

Topical application of Hyaluronic acid for recurring ulcers
Hyaluronic Acid - a natural biopolymer ...
Hyaluronic acid - a unique topical vehicle for localized delivery of drugs to the skin
Hyaluronic acid - the amazing skin plumper (LisaLise blog from 2011)
Topical application of hyaluronic acid for wound healing
Colins Beauty Pages: About Humectants


Anonymous said…
Hi LisaLise,

It's Jonna
I work with micro-formualtions using HLA quite often. I like the heavier dalton weight, especially if you are formulating under 100ml.

It took several years of experiments, but this is how I do it; at .5 I have a small porcelain bowl, and the HLA, I add just an equal amount of distilled water, and mix with plastic spatula, until it is goopy little blob, and looks like gelatin and let it sit for a little while like you would gelatin. (less water is better) Then I mix 1 to 2 drops of vegetable glycerin to smooth it out some, and then add at to end phase.

I have not had any problems with it, like I did in the beginning. Hope this helps.
Anonymous said…
Jonna, again,

I forgot, I heat the water in micro, and use dropper until it looks like the same amount as the HLA
LisaLise said…
Hi Jonna! Great to hear from you! I'm thrilled with this input and can't wait to try it! Thank you! Big huge hug from Copenhagen!
Unknown said…
Hi Lisa, can the powder be mixed in anhydrous serum at all? Thanks so much!
LisaLise said…
Hi Nicole -- as this is a water-soluble ingredient you're going to need to add an emulsifier and preservative if you want to add it to anything oil-based. I have heard some have luck by adding small amounts of glycerine to an anhydrous formula, so if you could incorporate the HA into glycerine then add that into your formula it MIGHT work. I would be hesitant to recommend it though-- you'd need to make quite a few test batches to get the result you want and could end up tossing a lot of ingredients.
DoeEyedFaun said…
Do you have any suggestions regarding mixing the HA powder with another powder such as a silica/talk based setting powder? In essence forming a DIY by Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder.
LisaLise said…
HI DoeEyedFaun - If you are meticulous with your dosage percentages, I would imagine this would be possible with a dry mix by simply whizzing the ingredients together in a grinder. :)
lindy said…
Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for your great blog!! I am just wondering ... Did you have any luck mixing the HA as Joanna described? I am about 8 tries in to all methods ... nothing but glops. Maybe I will try a new HA - - I was just experimenting with one I "found" in my formulator box ... maybe I'll try a low-weight one from Lotioncrafter.
LisaLise said…
HI Lindy - thanks - Yes, Jonna's description is a good method. It does take a bit of practice to get the feel of when the 'gloopy blob' is mixed and how long to let it sit. :)
Unknown said…
Hello! I am REALLY wanting to incorporate Hyaluronic Acid into a Vitamin C Serum I am planning to make. I am wanting to include some beneficial oils, like maybe hemp oil. Is it possible to combine these ingredients that need water for activation along with oils? I'm thinking they are all going to separate. Just wondering if you had any advice for attempting something like this.. or should I just make two different serums? Thanks in advance!
LisaLise said…
Hi Lisa - Thanks for your comment. I have not combined Hy acid with vitamin C. Vitamin C is such a demanding ingredient, I normally let it take front and centre as the active. Without knowing your formula, it's hard to give you anything other than a general guideline. I'd start with lowest recommended dosage of both ingredients in the formula and see if the emulsion behaves. You may find your emulsification system will need careful consideration. If you want to take the easiest route (and allow each ingredient to shine), do 2 different serums.
Patricia said…
Hi i know that this is a thread some time back, but i do have a question with regards to making a hyaluronic solution. Is it possible to make a 10% solution and use that as a gel? I am thinking of making the solution with hydrosols so that i can enjoy the benefits from the botanicals without having to add essential oils. thank you.
LisaLise said…
HI Patricia - thanks for your question. You probably want to stick to the max recommended amount of Hyacid - check with your supplier for this info. As for using a hydrosol HY-Acid combo as a gel - sounds lovely!
Jenny said…
Hi! I'm so happy to have found your blog while searching for an answer to my question! I know this thread is old but I hope you're still there...?
I've created a 2% HA gel (preserved with German Plus in distilled water).
I'd like to incorporate this into an anhydrous, aloe vera gel-based serum. Would I need an emulsifier to do so, and if so would polysorbate 20 be a decent option?

Thanks so much in advance!
LisaLise said…
HI Jenny - Happy to have been discovered and yes indeed I am still here. Your comment about 'anhydrous' yet with aloe vera gel included confuses me a bit. Aloe vera gel is water based. Are you using powdered aloe vera in an anhydrous base? If that is the case and you want to add your HY acid, you will need an emulsifier. Polysorbate 20 is great for solubilizing oils into water, but is an unfortunate choice for what you're looking to do.
If your base is an aloe gel and mostly water based, you wont need an emulsifier to add your HY acid gel.
Janet LaCroix said…
I am confused. I just received my HY and wondering why any of it would have to be thrown out. It is an expensive powder. Couldn't you just add more or a water based product like aloe vera, flower water, water, copper water or any other?
LisaLise said…
Hi Janet - I'm not quite sure I understand what you are asking. If it is 'rescuing' a lumpy gel by adding more liquid, this might be doable but you would need to keep track of how much more the mixture is diluted when formulating with it.
Anonymous said…
Hi!! Just found your blog, I am trying to add hylauronic acid 0.5% to an emulsion cream. Can you advise the best way to add. Should I add powder in water phase or do I need to make gel and add later. Any help appreciated thanks
LisaLise said…
H Anon - Hydrate the powder separately (deduct some of the water phase) and add at cool down. :) Your supplier may also have specific instructions for use - I'd check with them as well.
Jenny said…
Hi Lisa!
Have you tried using a combination of both low and high molecular weights in your formulations? This seems to work well for me, as the low molecular weight HA has much lower viscosity (basically like water) so the two combined allow me to gain maximum HA benefits without making my overall product too thick. Added bonus, the lower MW HA penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin :)
I keep 2 mason jars in my workspace at all times. Both of them are made with distilled water and preserved appropriately, and I change up the percentage of each type of HA based on how viscous I want my product to be.
Always experimenting....always learning! Thanks so much for all you do for the formulating community!
Unknown said…
Thank you for your help, I will try add it this way.
LisaLise said…
@Jenny - Thanks for sharing this tip. It has become increasingly popular to work with the low and high molecular weights of HY Acid these days. :)
Anonymous said…
Can the powder be added to a drink, juice. or water and taken.
Would it be best in 💊 form?
LisaLise said…
HI Anonymous -- I only use this ingredient topically and as such am unable to advise you on whether or not it should be taken internally. I can say that most cosmetics ingredients are sold with a 'DO NOT CONSUME' or *FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY' on the label, so that is probably worth paying attention to.
Anonymous said…
Hi. I have a recipe that uses powder. I however have the gel. It’s 1% gel. How do I substitute the powder for gel ?
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon-- that's a great question! A 1% gel (generally) means there is 1% hyaluronic acid in a base with some preservative and maybe gelling agent (check the INCI of the gel you have).

If the formula you are using calls for 0.5% hyaluronic acid, then 50% of the product you are making should consist of the gel you have. Hope this helps!
Unknown said…
Hey Lisa! Hopefully you can help me out... I'm working with a recipe that calls for 10% H.A Gel of total product weight for 672 grams. However I only have access to H.A Powder. If I use the power at .5% (as you suggested) of the total weight of 672 grams does that mean I need to use 3.36 grams or am I supposed to take that a step further and convert it since you said it needs to be measured by 10th of a gram? (33.6 deci-grams)? Thank you for your time!
LisaLise said…
Hi Unknown -- Thanks for your question. The usage/amount of HA will depend on the formula and also your suppliers recommended usage range. A HA gel can be made at any number of concentrations, and since your formula calls for 10% HA gel, it's hard to tell you anything specific. If you have a 1% HA solution (gel), then you would add 10 grams of the gel to a batch 100 grams to add 10%. If you have powder, then you will in fact need to make a gel at the same concentration as the formula calls for and then add the gel. I hope this helps
Anna Sitorus said…
Ah thank you so much Lisa, That made me smile and as I was toying with the idea of buying the powder( I already use the gel), I now know I am going to stick with what I know, so thank you for saving me the time. Yours was by the far the most helpful blog I found.
Anna :)
LisaLise said…
Hello Anna — you are most welcome 😃
Frariam taste said…
Hi Lisa

Help me solve my Hyaluronic acid mystery please.

I dissolved 25g of Hyaluronic acid to make 2%. It’s A lot but I was attempting to make body lotion for myself and 3 of sisters for stretch marks. That’s 25g into 1250 ml of water.

I used an electric mixer and got a nice thick gel . No lumps , just perfect. The next day the gel seemed less thicker but I didn’t think much of it. I went away for 3 days and when I got back the gel had turned into water consistency. No gel?

What did I do wrong . Did I use too much water? I think my measurements were on point, and it made a good gel.
Selena Benjamin said…
I have the hyaluronic powder and I would like to be able to ingest it. What is the best way or product to mix the powder? Right now I am using water and as it becomes a gel I just swallow it when I'm drinking the water.
LisaLise said…
Hi Selena — I have only worked with this ingredient for topical use so am unable to give you any input.