Keeping my skin young looking and healthy is part of my goal to keep myself looking great as I age. My cosmetic surgeon happened to mention how our skin loses hyaluronic acid over time.
Since that day I’ve tried different products as part of my skin treatment routine – with several that disappointed me.
In my Skinmedica HA5 review I’ll explain my honest opinion and if it’s worth your hard-earned money.
My skin care background and goals
Yes, it’s true: I’m a man…and I care about reducing the effects of aging on my face! Just like anyone else, I’ve seen the toll aging takes on both men and women. Many of my friends and acquaintances have not held up well over the years.
Seeing the shape they’re in has given me a lot of motivation to take care of myself. It especially feels fantastic when people think I’m younger than my real age!
Poor diet, a lack of proper vitamins, sun exposure, and many factors including plain old genetics have really put some lines on the faces of quite a few people I know. I decided about a year ago to research ways to fight that and even turn back the clock.
A bit about my skin care knowledge so far
I’ve tried a few things so far (including relatively minor procedures like Botox and Juvaderm) to see how much of a difference they really made. Yeah, some things helped, but they didn’t really address the problems I was most concerned about: the increased appearance of aging skin and lines on my face.
Going to see a specialist like a cosmetic surgeon isn’t exactly cheap or fun, but it can definitely be worth it. There I learned that while the doctor can help improve many things, it was up to me to seek out the best skincare products. I’m happy to say learning about hyaluronic acid turned out to be a great thing – and led me to eventually find something that actually helps!
When I found out about prescription isotretinoin cream for reversing the effects of aging from a local pharmacist, I began using it as well. She just happened to share that one of her regular customers had been using it regularly and looks 10 years younger.
Unfortunately due to using isotretinoin and facial cleansers that dry the skin, keeping my skin hydrated has been a problem for some time.
I wasn’t sure what to use so I’ve tried a variety of things. I’m always hunting for “real” ideas and good reports from other people online.
Retin-A or retinol-based products are especially drying on the skin and if your skin isn’t hydrated properly, wrinkles can become even more significant in appearance as I discovered. Because of that and to reduce the presence of the wrinkles appearing near my eyes and on my face I wanted to find a product that could make a difference.
About the main ingredient: Hyaluronic acid
My doctor briefly mentioned during one visit that as we age the hyaluronic acid in our skin naturally diminishes. Our skin loses its “plumpness” and wrinkles become more prominent. I read about various products available and decided from that point to try some to see if they helped reduce my facial lines.
Several sources I found stated the same and mentioned trying products to reduce line on the face and restore some of the youthfulness that exists before we get older.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan, which is a term used to describe a natural substance that’s a youth-supporting part of your skin. As it is the main glycosaminoglycan in skin, hyaluronic acid works to keep your skin stable, healthy, and constantly rejuvenated. It also has the fascinating ability to attract and hold large amounts of moisture.
The substance’s moisture-binding property is crucial when it comes to skin aging. One of the biggest characteristics of youthful skin is its ability to hold water and retain a well-balanced amount of moisture. As people age, our skin loses its ability to maintain this “plumpness” like it once did.
The consequence is a visible loss of firmness, pliability, and diminished appearance of a “supple” and soft, rounded (“plump”) look. Wrinkles and fine lines become prominent.
Other products I’ve tried
I’ve used a number of other products like the Vitamin Shoppe’s store brand hyaluronic acid (which I hated – very watery, and seemed useless). More recently I tested the Reviva version which is thicker. I’ve also tried a DMAE concentrate in a similar pump dispenser.
In both cases I hoped to get the same effects that I’m getting from the HA5, especially since they were represented as being able to provide similar benefits.
However, they didn’t seem to do much except slightly tightening my skin on occasion. The effects, if any, were also short-lasting. They didn’t seem to really hydrate my skin like I hoped. The DMAE product can appear as a flaking residue and would often give my skin a shiny appearance I had to wipe off with a soft cloth.
What is Skinmedica HA5?
Skinmedica HA5 is a hyaluronic acid-based skin cream that provides restorative and healthy hydration benefits. That means it can provide the moisture your skin needs to be more healthy and appear younger. It can reduce the appearance of lines and can restore some of the youthfulness your skin has lost with age.
Skinmedica is a very well-regarded manufacturer of great skincare products. They’re a bit more of a “high-end” company and their products can be found both at retailers and some service providers too.
I was very happy to see and feel how great my skin was after using it. Not only that, but it became very obvious it was of far better quality than commonly sold hyaluronic products.
I got a sample 0.1 oz size
Some time in the past I had signed up for the Brilliant Distinctions program which is offered to cosmetic office customers. It’s a program that offers special discounts and awards points based on money spent on typical cosmetic procedures. After earning a small number of points I was able to claim a reward and in December I received a sample 0.1 oz size pump container of HA5.
I put it to good use immediately and saw a big difference from what I had tried before. My skin was much more hydrated and looked soft, more supple, and I noticed that the lines on my face were reduced.
How much HA5 should I use?
You’ll only need 1 pump’s worth for your entire face. In my experience, it spreads well and I never needed more.
Skinmedica HA5 ingredients list
Here’s an image containing the actual ingredients list.
The product is made of quite a few ingredients. While most are man-made, some are natural like the Vitis flower stem cell extract and polysaccharides from Polynesia. There are 5 forms of hyaluronic acid in the formula and as expected (and can tell when using it) this isn’t a low-end product like you’ll find in retail stores.
The end result is a formula that, when applied, gives your skin the ability to retain the additional moisture it has lost with aging – and your skin will look AND feel better accordingly! That’s what I’ve experienced when using it.
How to use Skinmedica HA5 before or after Retinol products
The cream has a soft and rather thick consistency. It’s not the easiest to spread so you’ll have to get used to it. Skinmedica recommends using a light amount of water on the finger or fingers to hydrate the skin and allow HA5 to better enhance your face. I generally put a very light amount of water on my face and spread it before applying the HA5.
Applying HA5 the next morning (after using other products at night)
If you’re not using Retin-A based (isotretinoin) or Retinol-based products, then don’t worry about this part. You can skip ahead.
However, as I know that Retinol is an extremely common ingredient in many non-prescription products, I wanted to cover this as well. One major reason is because of how as a side effect of using it can dry the skin and requires additional skin care.
I have had to constantly use skin lotions to keep my skin moisturized in the “off days” after using my 0.1% isotretinoin skin cream overnight. It’s a powerful cream, so it is critical that I use an effective skincare routine. If I don’t, anything I put on my skin can potentially cause heaving burning, peeling skin, and so forth.
After using Retinol or isotretinoin products I recommend the following when using HA5:
- Use a mild cleanser to clean the skin after using the product the Retinol or isotretinoin product
- Immediately, with the skin very lightly moist, apply the HA5 serum and distribute it evenly into the skin on the face
- Re-apply very small amounts as needed if some areas of your face appear to need additional hydration
I have noticed that waiting too long after washing my face following the use of my retinol-based night skin cream causes additional drying and may induce peeling skin. When this happens it’s not painful or anything, but definitely awkward as I have to remove the dead skin as it is very similar to skin peeling from a sunburn.
Using at bedtime
Follow the same instructions as listed above. The company recommends applying the product before other moisturizers, specialty skin creams, or UV protection products. I definitely would recommend a non-drying gentle cleanser before applying.
Using HA5 alongside Retinol or other skin products:
You should use HA5 before additional moisturizers or other skin products including sunblock or Retinol-based creams.
My recommendation is to apply it and then allow some time for it to begin being absorbed by your skin. Following this, apply whichever cream you like over it. I’d say 20 minutes or so it a good rule of thumb before applying other creams or lotion.
What does HA5 feel like on the skin & how long does it take to work?
To best describe it, it’s a bit of a soft, smooth feeling. Occasionally I felt a very minor amount of tingling or a slightly warm sensation. However, even after using very strong products like my isotretinoin cream, I haven’t experienced burning or real discomfort. (And I have a lot of experience with burning from other products!)
The formula feels very light and gives a non-greasy feeling appearance and feeling to the touch once it begins to be absorbed. I haven’t had any problems with shiny or oily looking skin when using it, thank goodness.
How long does it take to work?
I’ve noticed that it takes somewhere between 20-30 minutes until I really feel like it has a noticeable effect on my skin and the lines are reduced. I’ve felt like it is fully optimized after about 1 hour, but I honestly haven’t timed it to be sure.
Even the first time I used it I noticed a difference immediately and I could tell it was working!
Note: after using Retinol-based or other similar skin products before the HA5 you may notice some tingling after applying it. I’ve never had an issue with burning with the genuine product. After about 20 minutes or so that seems to subside and I feel absolutely nothing except smooth, soft skin.
A comment regarding application & instructions
One minor gripe is that as much as I like, due to the consistency it seems a bit more difficult to spread on the skin than other products.
Also, for the price, I would expect much more thorough instructions and perhaps some additional tips to reduced and reverse the signs of aging. I’d also hope for better “stacking” recommendations – that is, using it alongside other Skinmedica products for even better results.
I got a fake tube of HA5!
I made the huge mistake of trying to save money by buying a 1 oz tube from an unknown online seller. The result was very unpleasant! You need to be careful when buying the product online.
After receiving the trial sample I knew I wanted more. The sample size is only enough for less than 1 week. In a case of bad judgment, I bought a 1 oz size shown here from an unknown seller and after trying it I immediately began to see some serious problems.
The product I received was not in a sealed package or container. After applying the cream, which I noticed smelled differently than the sample, I felt extreme dryness and burning.
Over the next few days (until I realized I had been scammed) the fake product I received did exactly the opposite of the real HA5 – it caused severe dryness, peeling, and caused facial lines to become very prominent.
The seller attempted to claim “We have been selling it for many years with no problems” and refuted my complaint, despite me explaining that I owned the real product direct from the manufacturer. Finally, I had to open a purchase dispute and was able to force a refund after returning it.
I’m sure I received some type of skin cream, but I strongly suspect it was either a Retinol-based cream or some mix of unused products that had been put inside the tube. The burning and dryness were definitely indicators of how some Retinol-based products behave.
Take my advice and avoid these kinds of problems – buy from a reputable seller online! You can also find a genuine 1 oz size here as it’s sold in both 2 oz and 1 oz size pump-style dispensers. I’d avoid the tube as it seems to be questionable.
How to know if your HA5 is authentic
The product comes in a very nice sealed container (nicely sealed with cellophane wrapping) with a great-looking package. Both 1 oz and 2 oz sizes (like the 2 oz. I own, shown here) are similar. These are sealed pump-type dispensers so you shouldn’t have to worry about fakes. Also a UPC code and production/expiration dates are on the package & container.
Real HA5 should have the following characteristics:
- A soft, “medium” scent that’s not very strong – Not a “sharp”, very strong smell
- Feels very mild on the skin
- Has a very thick matte consistency to the formula
- WILL NOT cause burning or similar issues – tingling at most that goes away shortly
You shouldn’t smell a very strong, “sharp” smell and the cream should not be purely white in color or thin in nature. As shown in the picture I provided further above, it should be similar to a translucent white.
Do you remember the classic chocolate-covered cherries sold near the holidays? Well, the thick, white creme inside reminds me quite a bit of the HA5 formula. Not thin, and will not easily drip off of your fingers. Fakes won’t behave the same.
Also the genuine product (unless I’m unaware of the manufacturer’s other packaging options) should come either in a sealed retail package or a sample size in a folded paper promotional card.
Recommended use and my results so far
The manufacturer recommends applying it twice a day – morning and night before other products. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll want to apply it with slightly damp skin or perhaps slightly wet fingers.
While I saw some results immediately, it takes time and consistent use to get the most out of it and to return real youthfulness to your skin. You need to be willing to use it as consistently as possible and make it a part of your regular routine.
You’ll need a few minutes for it to start absorbing
I definitely recommend giving yourself a few extra minutes in the morning to apply it and again, don’t wait long after washing your skin before applying. In the winter months here doing so really showed me how hard the dry air is on the skin and giving my skin time to air dry resulted in a slight amount of peeling later sometimes.
When the surrounding humidity is extremely low like in the winter or in very dry climates, your skin’s moisture level is reduced and it’s especially tough to keep it hydrated. It also makes it harder to use the HA5, I’ve noticed.
(I’m now using a humidifier at night to help reduce this and to help my skin)
An important note regarding applying with water
Another issue I have is that oddly enough, while the sample I originally received from Skinmedica included advice regarding applying the product with water. However, my retail packaged item did not. Why not? I can’t understand this – kind of annoying. That’s my only real complaint, aside from the cost.
Review score/final summary – Is it a good choice?
In my experience, the Skinmedica HA5 is an excellent – but somewhat pricy – product. I was tired of constantly trying products that don’t work and by a stroke of luck, I tried it. I’m glad I did!
It’s a great way to combat the signs of aging and make sure your lines & wrinkles are reduced. In my experience so far, you’ll need to use it as part of a combination of other factors:
- Good hydration (drink lots of water)
- Healthy diet or sufficient vitamin supplements
- Gentle facial cleansers
- Isotretinoin (Retin-A) topical cream
Using HA5 can replace the standard, mediocre topical lotions that claim to moisturize your skin but in fact don’t do very much.
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- Value - 7/107/10
- Ease of use - 8.6/108.6/10
- Effectiveness - 9/109/10
- Quality/expectations met - 9/109/10
HA5 delivers on its promises. Provides great hydration and more youthful looking skin. Not within everyone's budget, but for those who can it's worth it.
Skinmedica HA5 serum is a proven, well-developed formula that relies on a combination of effective ingredients rather than only one. I’m a happy user after trying a sample I purchased more to use it daily. My gripes are relatively minor – for the price, I would have preferred better instructions and more helpful information to maximize use & effectiveness. If you’re looking to get some of the best hydration money can buy and to reduce the signs of aging like lines and wrinkles, it’s an excellent choice. I definitely recommend it.
- Does not cause stinging or redness – non-irritating
- Easy to use
- No noticeable odor
- Pump dispenser reduces waste
- Pump dispenser is reliable and easy to use
- Results are great, with healthy skin and reduced lines
- Non-greasy, with a matte appearance and soft skin results
- No conflict with sun protectants & can be used with other moisturizers
- Works well after using Retinol-based products
- Manufacturer is a reputable company with many advanced skin care products
- Popular and backed by many great reviews
- Well established – sold in cosmetic service provider offices as well
- Available in 2 oz, 1 oz, and 0.1 oz (sample) sizes
- Expensive for its size – not a “budget” product
- Instructions could be more helpful and offer more suggestions
- Dispenser doesn’t show amount remaining
- No sunblock ingredients
- Can be a bit harder to find when shopping
- You’ll need to shop wisely to avoid paying doctor’s office prices
- Usage takes a bit of getting used to