20 Anti-Aging Creams Dermatologists Trust the Most
Don't just pick a random product off the shelves and pray that it works—these are the anti-aging creams that actually follow through on their promises.
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The fountain of youth…in a bottle!
Take a quick look at your favorite beauty store’s website or at the shelves of your local drugstore and you’ll find a plethora of anti-aging creams. They promise to hydrate your skin, preemptively fight wrinkles, repair existing damage, or do some combination of those things. On top of that, they’re further broken down by age group, skin tone, skin type, problem, and preference—and they all sound amazing. In fact, there are so many, boasting so many great things, that it’s hard to know which one to choose.
And you do need to choose wisely. After all, not all anti-aging products are created equal. No one knows that better than dermatologists, which is why we decided to get their picks for the best gravity-defying creams on the market. So, which ones work best? It really boils down to the ingredients and formulations, not the price, says New York City dermatologist Sapna Westley, MD. “I’m a huge fan of drugstore brands,” says Dr. Westley. “They can be just as good as more expensive department store brands.” Some of them may even be better! Here’s what you need to know from the pros who know skin care best. And while you’re at it, make sure you have the perfect skin-care routine in place.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
For a non-retinoid option: Cellular MD Night Shield Lotion
Retinoids and antioxidants aren’t the only effective tools for fighting the signs of aging. Jennifer Herrmann, MD, of Moy, Fincher, Chipps Facial Plastic and Dermatology, “prefers the combination of growth factors and DNA repair enzymes, [since] both promote skin youthfulness, as well as its health.” Both of these gravity-defying elements are used to formulate the Cellular MD Line. The brand’s Night Shield lotion contains high levels of botanical and marine-derived proteins that Dr. Herrmann recommends for “restoring the integrity of healthy DNA, which helps fight UV damage and the effects of pollution.” As you sleep, it will also hydrate your skin and, of course, help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Don’t miss these inexpensive beauty tricks only stylists know.
For an everyday lift: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream Moisturizer with SPF 30
If increased skin elasticity and improved skin firmness are your goals, Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream is the moisturizer for you. Powered by peptides, Vitamin B, and hyaluronic acid, this ultra-hydrating formula deeply penetrates the skin and can “offset dryness caused by the aging process as well as other anti-aging products,” according to Dr. Westley. Bonus: This fast-absorbing, non-greasy option comes with SPF protection, so it will help protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Did you know that a $10 cream is reportedly Meghan Markle’s skin-care secret?
For darker skin tones: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer
The combination of retinol and hyaluronic acid in this Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair moisturizer are known to stimulate collagen, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, as well as works to tighten skin. Dr. Westley recommends this particular anti-aging cream to patients with darker skin tones, adding that “retinol is a great ingredient not only for anti-aging but also for evening out uneven skin tone caused by sun damage or hyperpigmentation from acne or skin rashes.” Check out these Black-owned beauty products you really should own by now.
For layering under makeup: Cellular MD High-Impact Serum
Not all anti-aging creams layer well under foundation and other skin products. Cellular MD’s High-Impact Serum, on the other hand, works like a charm. “The lightweight, non-greasy texture won’t lead to breakouts,” says Dr. Herrmann, “and it can be layered over other products.” It uses barley-derived growth factors and citric acid to tackle sun damage, dark spots, and pigmentation, while also targeting skin’s collagen synthesis to help reduce fine lines and increase tightness. The result? Plumped-up, glowing skin that simply makes you look younger. Also make sure to avoid these makeup mistakes that seriously age your face.
For sensitive skin: Isdin Isdinceutics Melatonik Overnight Recovery Serum
This three-in-one night serum promises to boost your skin’s defenses, repair damage, and fight wrinkles. Its combination of vitamin C, melatonin, and bakuchiol is a gentle alternative to anyone who finds retinoids too strong, says Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, a New York City dermatologist and the founder of Entière Dermatology. “Bakuchiol is derived from a plant native to India, which has [been] shown to induce collagen production, improve pigmentation, and improve skin elasticity without causing irritation or dryness,” she says. You might think of melatonin as a sleep inducer, but for your skin, it protects against environmental damage from the sun and air pollution. And, as the saying goes, you are what you eat: These 8 foods can help you fight wrinkles.
For a powerful boost: SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum
Yes, it’s pricey, but this formula is “one of the best on the market,” says Jeanine Downie, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Image Dermatology. It uses powerful proteins called growth factors to help the skin maintain its youthful glow, even as you start losing the collagen that keeps your skin plump. “After age 20, your collagen starts wilting,” says Dr. Downie. “Growth factor keeps your skin from sagging, improves the texture of the skin, and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.” Here are more dermatologist tricks that will make you look younger.
For a preemptive strike: SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say, and it’s never too early to start an anti-aging cream. While SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum is great for aging skin, the Recovery Complex is a great option for the under-45 crowd, says Dr. Downie. Like in its sister product, the patented Tissue Nutrient Solution (TNS) rejuvenates the skin to fight wrinkles, as well as even out tone and texture. While we’re talking about anti-aging secrets, make sure to avoid these style mistakes that make you look older.
For a top drugstore pick: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream
Neutrogena touts itself as dermatologist-recommended for good reason. “They actually test the skin and have clinical trials to make sure [products] are working,” says board-certified dermatologist Edidiong Kaminska, MD, founder of Kaminska Dermatology. “As physicians, we like data; we like evidence-based medicine.” This anti-aging cream uses retinol and hyaluronic acid to smooth out wrinkles and make the skin look plump and youthful. Here are another 50 everyday habits that will make you look younger.
For acne-prone skin: Differin Gel
Dealing with wrinkles and acne? The worst. That’s where Differin Gel steps in—Dr. Levin calls it the “gold standard” for almost any kind of acne. “Topical retinoids such as Differin Gel are a derivative of Vitamin A and help to normalize skin cell turnover, which will prevent clogged pores and, ultimately, treat and prevent acne,” she says. “Retinoids also help improve skin discoloration, texture, and tone; therefore, it will restore the skin from prior breakouts.” FYI, here’s what the acne on every part of your body is trying to tell you.
For easily irritated skin: Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream
To get the benefits of retinoids without all the dryness and irritation, give Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream a try. Its combination of ingredients—including retinoids, antioxidants, and lactic acid—not only fights fine lines and evens out skin tone and texture, but also delivers moisture to keep skin feeling soft. It tends to be better tolerated than similar products, but it still delivers the same age-erasing power as a prescription-strength Tretinoin, says Dr. Levin.
For sun-damaged skin: Skinbetter Science Alto Defense Serum
“Skinbetter Science Alto is an antioxidant powerhouse that protects from and corrects premature signs of aging caused by the sun, environment, and tech devices,” says Marnie B. Nussbaum, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Powerhouse is right—this formula contains a whopping 19 antioxidant ingredients to shield against free radicals, those pesky unstable atoms that can damage the body’s cells and contribute to aging. Protect your skin in the future with these sunscreens that the FDA wants you to use.
For oily skin: GlyDerm Face Lotion 5
“GlyDerm Face Lotion 5 is a gentle nighttime exfoliating lotion for normal to oily skin that helps to decongest skin while blurring dark spots and enhancing hydration,” says Dr. Nussbaum. Glycolic acid is a key ingredient, exfoliating to shed dead skin away while boosting collagen.
For dry skin: GlyDerm Cream 5
Is your skin on the dry side? GlyDerm Cream 5 could be the anti-aging cream for you. It uses mineral oil and petrolatum to soften the skin and lock in moisture—in addition to its anti-aging properties, of course. “The GlyDerm Cream 5 helps to diminish fine lines and wrinkles and the unwanted appearance of irregularities to reveal a brighter, younger-looking complexion,” says Dr. Nussbaum. Do you have issues with dry skin elsewhere? Here’s what really causes cracked heels—and how to get rid of them.
For maximum strength without a prescription: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Retinol Night Cream
The retinol you’ll find in OTC anti-aging creams generally won’t have the same level of wrinkle-fighting power as the retinoids a doctor can prescribe, but that doesn’t mean they won’t give you results. “RoC makes really good retinoids,” says Dr. Kaminska. “They’re not equivalent to a prescription, but you get the results quickly.” According to the company’s clinical trials, you should see results within 12 weeks. Best of all? At under $20, this product won’t break the bank.
For daytime use: Senté Dermal Contour Pressed Serum
The anti-aging chemicals in this serum keep the skin looking tighter and younger, and it hydrates without clogging pores. “It helps control the evening out of the texture of skin,” says Dr. Downie. “My patients say their skin looks more radiant from using it.” Some anti-aging creams should be reserved for nighttime because they make the skin sensitive to sunlight, but this one gets the green light for daytime use. Also peruse this list of face sunscreens you’ll be happy to wear every day.
For a big impact from a small dose: Senté Bio Complete Serum
This Bio Complete Serum from Senté contains retinol to fight wrinkles and smooth skin, and it’s gentle enough to be used several times a week. Its sister product, the Intensive Bio Complete Cream, contains more retinoids, so it works even harder—but it should only be used once a week to avoid irritation, says Dr. Downie.
For uneven skin tone: SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3
Vitamin A might get all the attention as the base of retinoids, but B3 is also an anti-aging star, helping to even skin tone and lock in moisture. On top of that, glycerin makes SkinCeuticals’ Metacell Renewal B3 formula extra-hydrating. “It’s one of my favorite products for patients fighting adult acne who are also starting to see signs of skin aging,” says Dr. Nussbaum.
For brightening: Obagi Professional-C Serum
Looking for another vitamin’s wrinkle-fighting power? Vitamin C also packs an age-defying punch. The 10 percent version tends to be a crowd favorite, says Dr. Downie, helping to brighten the skin and battle age-related discoloration. You’ll also glow if you choose the right hair color for your skin tone.
For menopausal skin: Empelle Night Cream
During menopause, estrogen levels drop, which can leave skin frustratingly dry. “This is a line dedicated to estrogen-deficient skin,” says Dr. Downie. Empelle uses an innovative ingredient called MEP that’s specially designed for the post-menopause crowd, combating dryness while restoring collagen to fight wrinkles.
For ultimate skin protection: SkinMedica Total Defense and Repair Sunscreen
When you of anti-aging essentials, you might not think of sunscreen, but Dr. Downie says it’s the most important wrinkle fighter. “If you’re not putting on sunscreen but you’re putting on all these anti-aging products, nothing is going to work as well,” she says. SkinMedica Total Defense and Repair Sunscreen is one of her favorites because it doesn’t block pores and it works with all skin types. Next, find out the hairstyle mistakes that age your face.
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- Sapna Westley, MD, a dermatologist in New York City
- Jennifer Herrmann, MD, a dermatologist at Moy, Fincher, Chipps Facial Plastic and Dermatology
- Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, a New York City dermatologist and the founder of Entière Dermatology
- Jeanine Downie, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Image Dermatology
- Edidiong Kaminska, MD, cofounder of Kaminska Dermatology
- Marnie B. Nussbaum, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist