12 of the best hydrating serums that aren't just hyaluronic acid.

Say hydrating serum and I’d hazard a guess that most of us immediately think hyaluronic acid. 

Don’t get me wrong, it is a fantastic ingredient for hydrating the skin, but it’s not the only one. 

Brands are giving us more and more sophisticated formulas that feature other heroes alongside hyaluronic acid, to help you work smarter and not harder for that plump, juicy skin.  

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Additional hydrators, antioxidants and barrier-boosting ingredients can help push your serum from "that feels nice" to "I can already see a difference."  

Below, I've pulled together some of the best hydrating serums that aren't just hyaluronic acid.

Copper peptides.

There are so many different peptides and ways to blend them together, but copper peptides combine copper with three amino acids. Peptides are such a wonderful ingredient because they replace the depleted stores of amino acids that naturally occur in the skin. 

You’ve perhaps heard of peptides functioning like the building blocks of the skin, and that’s an accurate way to describe their effect. This means that they’re a fantastic way to help restore the skin and increase collagen and elastin production. 

The end result? Firmer and bouncier skin.  

Where you can find it:

The Ordinary “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1%, $50.30.

Image: Adore Beauty


Biossance Squalane + Copper Peptide Rapid Plumping Serum, $104.

Image: Sephora

Polyglutamic acid.

Often described as hyaluronic acid's big sister, polyglutamic acid has been making a splash in the skincare world recently.

It’s technically a water-soluble peptide, but I thought it was worth its own section. An effective humectant - a molecule that will chemically attract and bind to water molecules - polyglutamic acid works best in tandem with hyaluronic acid to penetrate at different levels of the skin, resulting in hydration at multiple levels of the skin.  

There’s also evidence that show it has the additional benefit of creating a protective film layer on the skin's surface, reducing moisture loss in the first place. 

Basically, it helps bring water into the skin but also reduces the amount going out.  


Where you can find it: 

Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid, $23.

Image: Adore Beauty

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum, $110.

Image: Sephora

Cactus Extracts and Oils.

I know what you’re thinking - why would I want to put prickly plant that’s been in the desert on my face?


However, if you think about it, cacti survive in the harshest conditions - which they do by keeping all the water and nutrients they need on the inside. Cactus oils and extracts, particularly from Prickly Pear, are rich in antioxidants as well as essential fatty acids.  

As we know, antioxidants can help calm inflammation in the skin and protect against free radical damage. Free radicals can break down collagen in the skin and increase the appearance of wrinkles, so prevention of that can help put you back on the path to bouncy skin. 

The essential fatty acids like omega-6 and -9 also provide hydration and help support the skin’s lipid barrier. Again, a stronger barrier means less moisture loss in the first place. 

Where you can find it: 

Youth To The People Oasis Serum, $83.

Image: Sephora

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pore Tight Toner, $22.

Image: Mecca



Known as pro-vitamin B5, panthenol is an incredible humectant, drawing moisture into the skin as well as helping to reduce redness related to sensitivity. 

Even one per cent can help increase skin’s hydration whilst also decreasing trans epidermal water loss. It’s an extremely common ingredient, found in hair and body washes, and is very well tolerated by most people.  

Panthenol also has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe skin and can help to promote healing. It can contribute to boosting and strengthening the skin barrier function and is often recommended for skin that’s experiencing sensitivity or irritation. 

Where you can find it: 

Mecca Max Watercooler Calming Hydration Serum, $25.

Image: Mecca

Alpha-H Vitamin B Serum with 5% Niacinamide, $56.

Image: Sephora


CoEnzyme Q10.

Similar to other ingredients in this list, CoEnzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is naturally occurring within the body and boasts fantastic antioxidant properties. Its most notable purpose is the ability to energise the skin cells, which in turn helps them to function as intended, repairing and regenerating when needed. 

This has a knock-on effect meaning that CoQ10 can also help to stimulate collagen and elastin production, even out skin tone, soothe skin and even reduce free radical damage.  

As we experience more stress or age, the natural supplies in our body diminish, so applying topically can assist in boosting the stores available for your body to utilise.  

Where you can find it: 

Dr Roebucks True Blue Serum, $78.

Image: Recreate Yourself


Holifrog Galilee Antioxidant Dew Drops, $74.

Image: Sephora

Emu Apple. 

Emu apple is another one that sounds a bit odd but can really pack a punch when introduced to your skin. The extract from these native Australian berries is an incredible source of active phyto-compounds that work together for a variety of benefits in the skin. 

These range from supporting collagen production and preventing free radical damage to reducing inflammation within the skin. 

Coupled with hydration, you have a multi-functional serum pretty much guaranteed to give you that healthy skin look. 

Where you can find it: 

La Mav Hyaluronic Hydra-Max Serum, $75.

Image: Nourished Life


Saya Super Serum, $90.

Image: Saya

Hydrating serums and specifically hyaluronic acid absolutely have an important place in your skin routine, but they’ve evolved beyond a simple drink of water for the skin. 

This essential step can now be the opportunity to also strengthen your skin barrier, repair free radical damage or boost collagen. 

What many view as a more boring step in your routine can now be the star and help give you that healthy, plump skin you’ve been dreaming of.  

Have you tried any of the above serums before? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Instagram/@morgansskinjournal;