The Best Anti-Aging Creams, According to Skincare Experts

Get answers to your biggest anti-aging questions, too.

woman with curlers covering face with pink mirror

While we like to think we actually get better with age, we totally understand that there might be some pesky skin changes you want to address as the years pass. And while there are a variety of procedures and treatments you can get at the local spa and dermatology office to address your concerns, there's no reason why you can't pamper yourself (and your skin) in the comfort of your own home.

But, we get it: Anti-aging skincare products are everywhere, which can feel like both a gift and a curse. If you're in need of some guidance in the over-saturated world of anti-aging beauty products, we have your back. We spoke to a handful of skincare experts to give us the low-down on what anti-aging creams, masks, and more are all about.

Anti-Aging Creams, Serums, and More: What to Know

When Should You Use Anti-Aging Products?

It isn't easy to pinpoint exactly when to start incorporating anti-aging products into your routine, but most experts agree on one thing: You should at least get the basics into your anti-aging routine started in your 20s. Why? Because, according to cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green, your rate of cell turnover and collagen production starts to slow down, which is one of the main causes of physical signs of aging.

Your skin type can also play into when you should start using anti-aging products. Board-certified nurse and esthetician, Genevieve Vielbig, notes that your skin type can be a key indicator of when you should start using anti-aging products. For individuals with dry skin, she recommends a simple three-step skincare routine that you should start in your early 20s: daily moisturizer, serum, and eye cream. For individuals with oily skin (like myself), Vielbig says, “Traditional anti-aging products can start in their 30s, but most likely they will be using a retinol product to combat acne breakouts, so they are already using preventative measures.”

However, take that age mark with a grain of salt, because both experts agree that starting your anti-aging routine as soon as possible is always better than waiting.

What Are the Best Anti-Aging Ingredients?

There are a lot of skincare ingredients to choose from, which we know can get confusing. But don't stress — Dr. Jennifer Chwalek, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in Manhattan, insists that there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer when it comes to anti-aging creams and products.

Think about skincare ingredients the way you'd think about cooking — sure, there are tons of additions to choose from, but you only need to choose a few ingredients to get the results you're looking for.

A few factors go into what anti-aging ingredients you should use, an obvious one being skin type. But one very important and often overlooked aspect is none other than Mother Nature, according to Chwalek. She notes that winter is more drying for sensitive and dry skin types, which makes it more difficult for retinol and retinoids to work and instead may need to focus on hydration. In contrast, the summer's high humidity levels make it a great time to use more intensive active ingredients like retinol and exfoliating acids.

The bottom line? There are a handful of anti-aging ingredients that stand out from the rest, all of which our experts agreed should be incorporated into your skincare routine. Read on to learn more about the best ingredients to look for, plus the best anti-aging and wrinkle creams that contain them.

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All skincare experts agree: SPF should be at the very top of your anti-aging skincare routine. Dr. Joshua Zeichner, New York City dermatologist, says that “even incidental exposure to UV light over a lifetime can contribute both to premature aging and even skin cancer."

Research also proves the anti-aging powers of SPF: Studies have shown that using no other product besides sunscreen over a year will improve signs of skin aging like lines, wrinkles, texture, and pigmentation. As for which SPF to choose, Zeichner suggests using a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with at least SPF 30.

More: Retinol Creams That Prevent Signs of Aging

Best Sunscreen
SkinMedica Total Defense Plus Repair Sunscreen

Dr. Lesley Rabach, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and co-founder of LM Medical NYC, sung praises about this particular sunscreen for its broad-spectrum formula and skin-nurturing properties. On top of blocking UVA, UVB, and infrared rays, it also has antioxidants that help repair skin damage that has already occurred. 

This lightweight sunscreen is also perfect if you're taking a dip in the pool or having a particularly sweaty day because it's water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

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Retinol is the anti-aging skincare sensation that no one can seem to get enough of. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling notes that this buzzy vitamin A-derivative works to promote cell turnover and enhance collagen production, creating a smooth and plump appearance while preventing clogged pores.

However, while retinoids (the most popular over-the-counter formulation being retinol) are toted as an essential for a variety of skin concerns, it does come with a few downsides. First off, Dr. Caren Campbell, a San Francisco-based dermatologist, notes that the effects of retinoids tend to fade away once you stop using them. Second, retinoids are notorious for causing irritation and sensitivity.

Thankfully, there are tons of formulations available that have lower concentrations of retinol, allowing for sensitive skin types to experiment with the anti-aging superhero.

The O.G.
Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

Thought your next anti-aging buy was going to be pricey? Think again! This expert-approved treatment is under $15 and will work overtime to recharge and smooth out skin. 

Sperling loves this over-the-counter retinol because it's basically an old reliable: It has a .1% retinol formula that helps restore skin tone and texture and doesn't have any other bells or whistles.

With that being said, this formula has a more intensive amount of retinol than other formulas, so sensitive skin types and retinol newbies may want to skip this product.

Best for Retinol Newbies
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare

Let's be real. Retinol can get a little too intense on our skin. So, when the going gets tough, you probably need a formula that cuts down the intensity. Enter: this anti-aging cream, which uses ferulic acid to help soothe your skin while retinol works its magic. It's a great pick for people who are just starting their retinol journey, but sensitive skin types should still proceed with caution.

Best Adapalene Formula
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Retinoid Acne Treatment
La Roche-Posay

Just like the Differin Gel, this pick from La Roche-Posay is an adapalene gel. Experts say adapalene is a great retinoid alternative to add to your anti-aging skincare routine because it provides just about the same results that retinol does, with less skin irritation. While sensitive skin types should yet again proceed with caution, adapalene is a great alternative for people who have slight retinol irritability.   

This drugstore buy not only contains 0.1% adapalene, but it’s also oil- and fragrance-free, making it a gentler alternative to traditional retinol products.

Most Intensive Formula
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream
Drunk Elephant

This best-selling cream is perfect for people who want to take their retinol routine to the next level. It's one of the most powerful concentrations you can find (a whopping 1.0% retinol), and a triple-peptide blend gives your skin the anti-aging boost you're craving.

Best Drugstore Buy
RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Retinol Night Cream

There's hardly a list of wrinkle creams without mention of RoC's Retinol Correxion products. Our favorite drugstore buy, this night cream uses a retinol-packed formula to improve skin while you sleep. You'll see a reduction in crow's feet, under-eye wrinkles, and deep lines with 12 weeks of use. 

Best Bakuchiol
The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer
The Inkey List

If you haven't yet heard of bakuchiol, you'll want to try this buzzy skincare ingredient ASAP! It's the gentler, plant-derived alternative to retinol and provides similar anti-aging effects without any of the irritation or sensitivity to the sun. 

Plus, unlike regular retinol, it's a safer wrinkle cream for pregnant or breastfeeding moms, too. You can't beat the value of The Inkey List's under-$10 version. 

vitamin c
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Vitamin C is, without a doubt, one of the best anti-aging ingredients you can find. Dr. Zeichner says this potent antioxidant protects skin against UV light, increases the production of collagen, and brightens your complexion for a more even look and feel.

Many of the experts also noted that mixing this antioxidant with your SPF is one of the best combinations your skin could ever have since they both work together to protect your skin against UV light radiation.

The Multitasker
Schaf Skincare Revitalizing Serum

This all-in-one multiaction serum will help you brighten, hydrate, plump, and diminish fine lines all at once. The magic comes from a trifecta of brightening vitamin C, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and peptides that help stimulate collagen production.

Plus, this anti-aging cream is vegan and cruelty-free. 

Best Overnight Cream
Dermalogica Sound Sleep Cocoon

This gel-cream texture sits gently on your face throughout the whole night. But don't let its lightweight texture fool you: This wrinkle cream is jam-packed with skincare goodies like vitamin C, tamarind seed, and more to comfort and soften your complexion.

Fine lines and wrinkles visibly reduced by morning? We'll sign up for that!

Best for Body
Anti-Aging Body Cream
Dr. Barbara Sturm

While we know your facial anti-aging cream is top of mind, don't forget about the rest of your skin! We live for Dr. Barbara Sturm's Anti-Aging Body Cream. It's on the pricier side, but the serious results make it worth the splurge. 

It contains a slew of nourishing ingredients, including olive oil, lactic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin B-5, to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on your body.

Best Day Cream
SkinMedica Dermal Repair Cream

This all-encompassing hydrating treatment deserves a spot in your skincare regimen ASAP. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and other wrinkle-smoothing ingredients, this cream effectively penetrates the skin to provide you with a more radiant, bright, and supple appearance. 

Mask + Moisturizer
DHC CoQ10 Quick Gel Brightening Moisture
$51.00 (25% off)

How did we live without this anti-aging wonder cream from DHC? Bursting with age-defying coenzyme Q10, this antioxidant-rich gel cream absorbs quickly to deliver potent ingredients in a flash. It promotes elasticity, while vitamin C and daisy extract help brighten for a more luminous complexion. 

This cream tones, brightens, and moisturizes in one step, making it perfect to wear with or without makeup. It can also be used as a nourishing mask if you double the amount upon application.

hyaluronic acid
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PSA: One of the biggest causes of fine lines and wrinkles is dehydration. But, thankfully, one ultra-hydrating ingredient is here to fix that. If your skin is feeling rather dry, then try introducing hyaluronic acid into your skincare regimen.

Plus, it’s a product our experts love. Dr. Green says, “Hyaluronic acid can hold more than 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a great anti-aging ingredient.”

Hyaluronic Acid + Retinol
Rodial Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic Night Cream

Rodial's Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic Night Cream offers potent ingredients in a light, buttery cream that smells divine. This anti-aging cream contains time-released retinol, which penetrates deep into the skin as you sleep to help reduce lines and wrinkles. It also contains hyaluronic acid to pump long-lasting hydration into the deepest layers of the skin.

Best Eye Cream
Neocutis Lumiere Bio-Restorative Eye Cream

Your under eyes and lids need some extra TLC since the skin so delicate around that area, so treat your peepers to this plumping, hydrating cream. Anti-aging growth factors and hyaluronic acid work hand in hand in this cream to help repair, hydrate and address fine lines and wrinkles.

It's also packed with antioxidants like vitamin E to help protect your skin from damaging free radicals and caffeine to soothe eye puffiness.

Best Budget
CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

This moisturizer is one of the top bargain-friendly choices for your nighttime routine. It contains three essential ceramides to keep your skin plump and firm. Plus, it has a boost of hyaluronic acid to hydrate thirsty complexions, giving you results of firmer, suppler skin before you get to hit the snooze button.

Best for Firming Skin
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

When it comes to top-quality anti-aging products at an affordable price, Dr. Chwalek says the Olay Regenerist line takes the cake. The entire line contains products with retinol, B vitamins, and amino peptides stimulating collagen and plumping your skin, making fine lines and wrinkles less noticeable. 

While Dr. Chwalek recommends the entire line, our beauty editor thinks you should definitely give their best-selling Micro-Sculpting Cream a try. It contains all of the star ingredients from the Regenerist line to improve elasticity and create a more sculpted, lifted look.

Best for Dryness
Obagi Hydrate Luxe

A favorite brand recommended by Zeichner, this moisture-rich cream from Obagi has nourishing shea butter, their proprietary hydrating Hydromanil, and peptides designed to capture moisture and support cell-repair processes. It's especially great if you're also trying to tackle any dryness issues, too.

glycolic adic
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Another anti-aging hero ingredient that our experts recommended is glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid that is known to help chemically exfoliate your pores and shed dead skin cells.

“For older patients and those with oilier skin, I tend to add a bonus alpha or beta hydroxy acid for exfoliating and improving skin texture and tone,” says Dr. Chwalek. “Glycolic acid has been shown to increase collagen production through fibroblasts, the cells that produce collagen.”

Exfoliates + Hydrates
EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex

For a glycolic acid-infused skincare booster, reach for this expert-approved moisturizer. It not only includes this impressive AHA to help slough away dead skin cells, but it also includes hydrating ceramides for a suppler, moisturized feel. 

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If you want a brighter, more hydrated, and even complexion, then you should add niacinamide to your list of anti-aging essentials.

“Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B-3, and it contains anti-inflammatory properties and can protect the skin from sun damage,” Dr. Green says. Who can pass that up?

Best Overnight Eye Mask
Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask
Glow Recipe

If you want to prevent crow’s feet and sagging under your eyes, you’re going to have to give them a little more R&R. So, refresh your under eyes and lids with this overnight eye mask. It’s infused with retinol and niacinamide to brighten, firm, hydrate, and de-puff your under-eyes in as little as 8 hours.

Niacinamide + Retinol
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

If you want to up the ante on your retinol dose, then try out this night cream. It's filled with the praised anti-aging ingredient and niacinamide to help strengthen your skin's protective barrier. That means sensitivity will be reduced for most users, but I can't stress this enough: Sensitive skin types should opt for something less intense, like bakuchiol.

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