Is Olay Hyaluronic 24+ Vitamin B5 your new next-level moisturiser? We put it to the test

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When a skincare giant takes its time to jump on a buzzy ingredient bandwagon - as Olay has this month with the Hyaluronic Acid 24 + Vitamin B - it has its work cut out to stand out against the best hyaluronic acid skincare already crowding our shelves. So you’d be justified in asking what does Olay hyaluronic acid do that other HAs don’t? And is it worth buying?

Apart from being under £20 – the trio of serum, moisturiser and eye cream are all currently all half price in Boots until 14 March 2023 – the self-proclaimed USP  of the range is ‘total moisture management’.

Why does Olay hyaluronic claim to give next-level hydration?

Never knew you needed 'total moisture management?' Well when it comes to hyaluronic acid, you may be wasting your money without it. HA is a molecule famed for hanging on to 1000 times its weight in water, but it needs ‘managing’ because it can lose that water again just as quickly if it’s not combined well with other things or if your skin barrier is compromised. 

Quite apart from that, HA is naturally very sticky by itself, so it has to be well blended to feel comfortable. In short, it needs minders in order to play to its strengths, says Olay. With that in mind, the dream team in Olay Hyaluronic Acid 24 + Vitamin B5, looks like this:

  • Hyaluronic Acid: a surface-level moisture magnet, but sticky when wet
  • Vitamin B5 (panthenol): a moisturiser and skin conditioner with cell-renewing properties
  • Glycerin: a humectant that holds takes moisture in deeper layers and keeps it there
  • Niacinamide (vitamin B3) antioxidant that helps boost the skin barrier and preserve the lipid layer

So in answer to the question what does Olay hyaluronic acid do, it sets out to improve hydration instantly on the surface thanks to HA, condition the skin thanks to B5, take hydration deeper for longer with glycerin and keep it there over time with barrier-boosting niacinamide.

At the launch last week Dr Frauke Neuser, Olay’s Principal Scientist, used the ‘leaky bucket’ analogy to describe the action of hyaluronic acid alone. Niacinamide – an ingredient that Olay has worked with for decades - keeps the bucket intact and robust.

Should you put hyaluronic acid on wet/ damp skin?

Not this one. Hyaluronic acid is a large molecule that hydrates the upper layers of the skin – the stratum corneum ­– which is why you can often see an instant result after you've applied it. Some studies suggest it can actually pull moisture from the deeper layers of the skin, if used on its own, according to Olay. They’ve addressed this within the formulation as Dr Sonia Khorana (aka @dermGP) who is working with the brand, explained to me. “Damp skin makes your skin more absorbent, but putting it on dry skin isn’t the end of the world because the cream is formulated mostly with water.”

How do you use the Olay hyaluronic acid range?

All three have a lightweight gel texture and are designed for daytime use. They have a satin texture that’s shine-free, making them a good choice for oily skin, or any skin type that struggles to hold on to water.

You don’t need to buy all three. Choose either the serum or the moisturiser during the day, depending on where there is room in your routine (remember lighter formulas go on first). You can opt for the eye cream to cool and to plump out fine lines with the addition of depuffing caffeine.

What’s the science behind Olay hyaluronic acid?

Given that they spent two years formulating this. Olay have only shared consumer studies, which are not the same as lab studies as they are based on people’s perceptions of their own skin. Of 166 women who used the Day Gel Cream over two weeks 92 per cent reported long-lasting hydration, which is where the claim of ‘after 14 days, skin looks smoother and healthier’ used in marketing comes from.

Olay also shared results from  a corneometer (which measures hydration) that a single application of the serum or the cream increased hydration for up to 24 hours, as opposed to using nothing (which you’d hope/expect). Hopefully, more studies will be made available in due course.

Olay Hyaluronic acid: our review

This is my hero of the range and I use it over a skin essence to help with absorption and although this isn’t strictly necessary for hydration I find it helps my dry skin more, rather like wetting a sponge.  I put it on first thing in the morning together with a vitamin C serum or mix in my self tanning drops. If I’ve used a retinoid s at night I find my skin really laps this up in the morning. I found it worked equally well under the eyes, so if you only want to buy one thing from, this one has the broadest benefits and is unscented.

Buy now

Olay Hyaluronic Acid 24 + Vitamin B5 Day Eye Gel Cream £19 (normally £38)

With caffeine for reducing puffiness this fragrance-free eye cream feels cooling and goes on without any hint of greasiness or stickiness. Makeup stays son very well over the top, possibly thanks to a high proportion of silicone (third ingredient after water and glycerin) which gives a smoothing and blurring and mattifying effect. B5, niacinamide and HA also join the party. My dry eyes felt instantly soothed.

If you have oily skin and are worried about breaking out this light gel is the moisturiser for you. The niacinamide content will help regulate oil production and the formula will leave you quenched but not shiny. If you have drier skin like me, a couple of drops of face oil easily make it as rich as you need. It comes in a scented and fragrance-free version.

Buy now

Shop all three together Olay Ultimate Thirst Trap for £54.