No matter how old you are, you might think wrinkle cream sounds like something for your grandmother. But the truth is, the earlier you start taking care of your skin, the better! This means incorporating anti-aging products into your skincare routine, drinking enough water, eating right, and staying out of the sun, whether you're in your 30s or are 70+. There are so many products out there (that promise so many things), it can be seriously overwhelming.
“As we get older, our skin gets thinner and produces less collagen and elastin — which means it doesn’t repair itself as well and isn’t as plump or moist, which in turn causes our expression lines and wrinkles to stick around,” explains dermatologist Noelani Gonzalez, a specialist at Mount Sinai Health System. Wrinkle creams can be a great, all-around solution to the skin’s natural aging process because the best will “provide support to your aging skin and deliver ingredients to the skin that help it better repair and renew itself,” she says.
What Causes Wrinkles?
Wrinkles are a normal part of the aging process. They are caused by a multitude of factors. As the Cleveland Clinic notes, as we get older the dermis (the middle layer of the skin) starts to thin. The dermis is made up of elastin and collagen which give the skin firmness and support, so as it weakens, wrinkles are more prominent. Older skin also retains less moisture and takes longer to heal, which all contribute to wrinkles. Other factors which accelerate the aging process include sun exposure, smoking, dehydration and repeated facial movements.
How Do Anti-Aging Creams Work?
Anti-aging creams work on multiple levels, so they are true multi-taskers but it boils down to protection, prevention and treatment. Hydration also plays a key role. A good anti-aging cream will add moisture to the skin, which instantly improves its appearance. Why? Dry, parched skin can look dull and emphasize the look of fine lines. An anti-aging day cream ideally would contain a sunscreen to help prevent damage from the sun – but if it doesn’t, it’s easy enough to add a separate sunscreen to your morning routine. And of course, night creams don’t need to contain sunscreen.
The best wrinkle creams also put the brakes on the aging process thanks to antioxidants which help prevent damage from free radicals, and ingredients which help promote and protect collagen, which is what gives skin its plump up look. Some anti-aging creams also exfoliate the skin, which help it look smoother and more even. Many contain retinol, which is the gold-standard ingredient for anti-aging (more on that below) as it helps fade the look of fine lines, discoloration and encourages collagen production.
Fighting the signs of aging doesn’t come down to one magic product. It’s also important to remember that it is easier to prevent wrinkles than get rid of them. That’s why the American Academy of Dermatology suggests starting with a sunscreen and moisturizer. Sunscreen should always be the first line of defense against wrinkles. The AAD suggests using a water resistant broad spectrum SPF 30 (or higher) product. The AAD also notes that “moisturizer is the secret ingredient in many anti-aging products.” How come? Skin that is well hydrated looks better. Dry skin can look papery and emphasize the look of wrinkles, while moisturized skin looks plump and dewy.
How Many Anti-Aging Products Do I Need?
There is no one single product that can solve every anti-aging concern. The best approach to skincare is a multi-prong one, using multiple types of products such as creams, serums and spot treatments. If you had to boil down an anti-aging skincare routine to the basics, it would include a moisturizer, sunscreen, serum, toner, spot treatment and night cream but it makes sense to identify the ingredients needed first to and then find the appropriate product that contains them.
Some of the best anti-aging ingredients to look for to battle wrinkles include retinols (the gold standard wrinkle fighter) along with coenzyme Q-10, which is thought to help reduce the look of wrinkles. Vitamin C helps brighten skin and fade the look of dark spots while alpha hydroxy acids slough off dead skin cells to reveal fresher looking skin. Ceramides are also essential as they help seal moisture into the skin, and to help skin main elasticity, reach for collagen supporting creams. If you have red or inflamed skin, look for creams containing niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that helps to calm skin.
What Should I Look for in a Wrinkle Creams?
The sheer number of wrinkle creams available can be overwhelming. Where do you even start to look? That’s easy- the packaging.
Anti-aging ingredients include tried and true favorites as well as newer ones. Some of the newer ones making a buzz include bakuchiol, a plant-derived ingredient that is meant to work in a similar way to retinol, as well as stem cells. In face creams, they can be derived from plants or even stem cells. They contain proteins and amino acids, and send a message to the body to create new skin cells, which (in theory) could result in fresher looking skin.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common ingredients in anti-wrinkle creams include retinol, vitamin C, hydroxy acids, peptides, tea extract, niacinamide (vitamin B) and coenzyme Q10. Other ingredients to look for that are prevalent in the best wrinkle creams include hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and shea butter to the list, as well as vitamin C. Also look for products that contain exfoliators like glycolic or lactic acid. Exfoliating the skin helps it look smoother and more even.
Vitamin C is thought to help protect the skin from sun damage and is also used in brightening formulas, which means it helps tackle dark spots and under eye circles. It’s commonly found in serums and creams.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) usually come from citrus and work to exfoliate the skin. Why is this important? Dead, dry skin cells can exacerbate the look of fine lines, while fresh skin tends to look smoother and softer, so it’s a key anti-aging ingredient. The Mayo Clinic notes that coenzyme Q10 may help protect the skin from sun damage, as well as help reduce fine wrinkles. The Clinic highlights peptides as being beneficial as they may help stimulate collagen production, and have been shown to improve skin texture and wrinkling. Antioxidants like tea extract (from green and black teas) have anti-inflammatory qualities, and finally, niacinamide (or vitamin B-3) is a true multi-tasker, and helps reduce water loss and may also improve skin elasticity. But if you had to narrow down one of the most important anti-aging ingredients, it would most likely be retinol. Here’s why.
How Does Retinol Help Fight Wrinkles?
Retinol, which is derived from vitamin A, is considered the gold standard ingredient when it comes to anti-aging. It has been around since the 1970s, when it was originally used to treat acne. Patients using it for breakouts noticed a welcomed side effect- their fine lines and wrinkles were less noticeable. Today retinol is available in borth prescription and over the counter products.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, retinoids reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing collagen production. It also helps to fade age spots and soften rough skin patches. It takes about six to 12 months to see benefits. It is important to note that retinol use can cause dryness and irritation, so start slowly by using the product around 2-3 times a week to see how the skin tolerates it before increasing its usage.
Is a Cream or Serum Better for Anti-Aging?
If you’re wondering if you should use a cream or a serum, the answer is “both.” Serums and creams perform different functions and to get the optimal anti-aging benefit, they should be used together. A serum is lightweight, water-based and quickly absorbed into the skin. Because serums don’t contain thickeners and fats like a moisturizer, they are highly concentrated- which means they deliver a big dose of skin healthy ingredients right where you need it. They are often called the workhorses of a skincare routine as they do the heavy lifting. Many people use a vitamin C- ferulic acid- niacinamide serum which helps protect the skin and give it a glow and use it before applying a cream.
What Is The Best Wrinkle Creams?
Keep reading to find the 19 best wrinkle creams that'll have you looking as good as J Lo.
Best Wrinkle Creams For Deep Lines: Obagi Clinical Retinol 0.5 Retexturizing Cream
The potent wrinkle cream is packed with 0.5 percent retinol—the gold standard when it comes to smoothing lines. Lasers aside, it's the most-trusted ingredient that derms use to prompt skin regeneration. Specifically, it helps speed cell turnover and boost collagen and elastin production (two proteins responsible for skin firmness) to minimize fine and deep lines and prevent new ones from forming.
Best Wrinkle Creams For Dry Skin Epara Skincare Moisturizing Face Cream
Dry skin with fine lines will love this ultra-moisturizing wrinkle cream. Inside the jar: nourishing shea butter, nutrient-rich plant oils, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid. Together, the combo provides skin with intense, long-lasting hydration and helps soften lines too.
Best Wrinkle Creams For Sensitive Skin Beauty Stat Universal Pro-bio Moisture Boost Cream
This gentle wrinkle cream is ideal for sensitive skin types. It's made without fragrance (a known irritant that can aggravate sensitive skin), and instead made with a combo of ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and probiotics to restore your skin's moisture barrier and minimize the appearance of lines.
Best Wrinkle Cream For Oily Skin: Olay Regenerist Whip Face Moisturizer Spf 25
This whipped cream from Olay is proof that not all wrinkle creams have to be thick and heavy. The lightweight, breathe-able formula uses niacinamide and peptides to smooth lines and increase elasticity, while leaving oily skin types with a shine-free, matte finish.
Best Wrinkle Cream With Bakuchiol: Alpyn Beauty Plantgenius Melt Moisturizer
If your skin is a tad too sensitive to retinol, meet your new MVP ingredient—bakuchiol. It's a plant-based retinol alternative that gives you the same amazing anti-aging effects of retinol, minus the downsides (think: redness, peeling, irritation). This wrinkle cream is packed with bakuchiol and vitamin C, leaving you with brighter skin and less visible wrinkles.
Best Multitasking Wrinkle Cream: Epi.logic By Dr. Jeanniton The Total Package
Yes, this wrinkle cream smooths fine lines and wrinkles, but it also does a sh*t ton more: It brightens, reduces inflammation, fights free radical damage, and minimizes the appearance of pores. It's all thanks to a combo of retinol, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and coenzyme 10.
Best Splurge Wrinkle Cream: Pietro Simone Skincare The Cream
Okay, don't be scared by the price tag on this wrinkle cream—yes, it's pricey, but it's def worth it, IMO. 1) It's developed by renowned facialist Pietro Simone (he's the secret sauce behind the ridiculously good skin of basically every British supermodel), and 2) its blend of potent peptides and plant extracts help boost your collagen levels (you know, that protein in the skin that keeps everything tight and firm) to fill in fine lines.
Best Wrinkle Cream For Neck And Chest: Skinceuticals Tripeptide-r Neck Repair Retinol Neck Cream
TBH, any wrinkle cream can be a neck cream if you just, you know, apply the product on your neck. But, if you need something a little more targeted for that area, reach for this wrinkle cream. It's filled with retinol and peptides to smooth horizontal "necklace" lines and increase skin firmness without hardcore irritating skin.
Best Drugstore Wrinkle Cream With Retinol: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream
If you're looking to improve your skin texture with a retinol-based cream, but aren't willing to spend a ton of $$, this drugstore wrinkle cream is for you. It uses a time-released form of retinol, hyaluronic acid, and skin-strengthening ingredients to visibly plump fine lines.
Best Wrinkle Cream With Vitamin C: Emma Hardie Moisture Boost Vit C Cream
What can't this wrinkle cream do? There's vitamin B3 (strengthens your skin's barrier), shea butter (keeps your skin moisturized), grapeseed oil (filled with antioxidants), and, last but not least, vitamin C (gets rid of those pesky dark spots). Seriously, it's an anti-aging powerhouse.
Best Wrinkle Cream For Dark Spots: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Anti-aging Moisturizer
This wrinkle cream is like a glow up in a jar. The two anti-aging superhero ingredients—retinol and ferulic acid—work together to smooth TF out of your skin's texture, boost moisture levels, and fade dark spots.
Best All-natural Wrinkle Cream: Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream
Smooth and plump—those are two things that this natural wrinkle cream does just as well as a conventional cream (TBH, maybe a little better than one). There's hyaluronic acid, lipids, and ceramides swimming around in the formula that smooth out any rough patches and plump up your skin to fill in any fine lines and wrinkles.
Best Wrinkle Cream For Eyes: Strivectin Intensive Eye Concentrate For Wrinkles
If you're way over seeing crow's feet around your eyes, you need this wrinkle cream. It's specially made for the area around your eyes (so don't worry, it won't be irritating) and it smooths out lines, thanks to peptides and antioxidants.
Related: 14 best eye creams for wrinkles
Best Wrinkle Cream That Fights Blue Light: Dr. Loretta Anti-aging Repair Moisturizer
Antioxidant lipochroman helps protect your skin from pollution (a known skin-ager that triggers free radical damage), while a vitamin E derivative defends from HEV light (the blue rays emitted from smart devices that's also linked to signs of aging, like lines and dark spots).
Best Wrinkle Serum: No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum Bottle
So, this technically isn't a wrinkle cream, but if you want something more lightweight to help you stay young forever, add this serum to your cart. It's able to increase collagen production—shout out to the peptides in the formula—and help make your deep-set wrinkles a thing of the past.
Best Brightening Wrinkle Cream: Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream
This brightening wrinkle cream uses two forms of hyaluronic acid to plump and hydrate—plus papaya enzymes to exfoliate and arbutin extract to minimize discoloration.
Best Wrinkle Cream For Firmer Skin: Origins Plantscriptions Youth-renewing Power Night Cream
A cocktail of anti-aging plant extracts—for example, pea extract (a source of amino acids that make up your skin's structural proteins), crithmum (which acts like retinoic acid on skin), and anogeissus (that supports your body's natural fibrillin production, giving your skin a supple-looking bounce)—make this wrinkle cream a perfect choice if your goal is a firmer and tighter complexion.
Best Wrinkle Cream For Glowy Skin: Algenist Genius Sleeping Collagen
Slather on this night cream (the texture seriously feels like butter) before bed and wake up to smoother, glowier skin. The combo of plant-based collagen, alguronic acid, and ceramides work overnight to minimize lines and improve skin texture. P.S. The formula is 100 percent vegan.
Best Soothing Wrinkle Cream: L'oréal Paris Revitalift Cica Cream
Perfect for sensitive skin types—this fragrance-free wrinkle cream uses retinol to increase collagen and elastin, along with centella Asiatica (a Chinese herb) to rebuild your skin's outermost protective barrier. When that outer barrier is functioning optimally, your skin will be less red and irritated and instead more hydrated and dewy.