How to Choose the Best Anti-Wrinkle Serum or Cream
Scanning the label: Dermatologists we spoke with recommended products containing the following ingredients: Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) increase cell turnover, stimulate collagen formation, and aid in skin tone evenness. Peptides are another essential anti-aging ingredient that aids in skin healing. Vitamins C and E, for example, are antioxidants that aid in the battle against free radicals (unstable molecules that can do major damage to your cells). Hydrators like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, shea butter, and others can help enhance and seal in moisture, reducing the irritating effects of anti-aging chemicals.
Understand your skin type: “Those with oily skin or who live in humid locations should use a lightweight cream with mattifying characteristics to keep their skin from getting weighted down and glossy,” Dr. Schlessinger recommends. “On the other hand, if someone has dehydrated skin or lives in a dry, cold climate, they should use a thick cream.”
Consider sensitivities: If your skin is easily irritated, opt for anti-aging lotions that include bakuchiol rather than retinol. “It has the same effect as retinol topically, but it is less irritating since it is also an anti-inflammatory drug,” Dr. Ilyas explains. Fragrances, chemical colors, and even coconut oil or cocoa butter, which can clog pores and trigger breakouts, are all possible irritants to avoid.
Look for high-quality packaging: According to Lela Lankerani, D.O., board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology in Austin, Texas, ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, and peptides can become unstable and degrade when exposed to air or light, so any products containing them should be packaged in dark, opaque tubes, preferably with air-tight pumps.
How to Maximize the Use of Anti-Aging Creams and Serums
Layer them in the proper order: You want your items to complement one another rather than compete with each other. “Unless otherwise specified, apply anti-aging products after all other skincare products except your regular sunscreen,” Dr. Schlessinger advises. Using a cream before a gel or serum, for example, may hinder them from reaching the skin adequately.
Check if the components are compatible. Many of us layer cosmetics because we believe it will boost the active elements that will benefit our skin, but in reality, we may be deactivating them by adding substances that clash—retinoids are an excellent example of this.
“Retinoids are some of the most established topical anti-aging treatments, but they’re frequently destroyed by alpha hydroxy acids and benzoyl peroxide,” Dr. King adds. “So, if you’re stacking creams and one has AHA and one contains a retinoid, the retinoid may not assist you at all.” (Sun exposure also degrades them, which is why they are commonly included in night creams.)
Exfoliate: According to Dr. Schlessinger, oiliness and dead skin cells can block pores and interfere with product penetration, so use an exfoliator once a week to ensure you’re getting the most out of your anti-aging treatments.
Store your goods correctly. “The efficacy of anti-aging treatments is hampered when they are not stored in the appropriate spot,” explains Dr. Lankerani. Active components, such as retinol and vitamin C, should be stored in a dark, cold area to slow the deterioration of the active ingredients.
“While the period of time required to see obvious improvements varies by product, I recommend waiting 12 weeks to see results with most anti-aging creams,” says Dr. Schlessinger.