Wrinkle creams can improve the look of your skin in
Their name makes them sound like they're just
for seniors to scrub away existing wrinkles (which would be awesome, by the
way), but, in fact, wrinkle creams should be a part of everyone's skin care
regimen even before you start noticing actual wrinkles. A more appropriate
name, and one most manufacturers use, is "anti-aging." These
anti-aging products run the gamut from formulations to prevent damage that can
make your skin look older, to products that help to reverse some damage you may
When used in conjunction with a top facial cleanser, facial moisturizer and eye cream (which we cover in
separate reports), a good wrinkle cream can minimize fine lines and wrinkles,
diminish age spots, and brighten your skin for better skin tone and a youthful
Retinol or no retinol, that is the question
Retinol is the scientific term for vitamin A and has been proven to
increase the production of skin-plumping collagen, thus increasing the firmness
and elasticity of skin and softening the depth and overall appearance of
wrinkles over time. Additionally, retinol is an antioxidant that helps to
counteract the effects of free radicals, which damage skin cells.
Some skin care and anti-aging experts think that everyone should use a
retinol containing product every day, beginning before wrinkles appear and for
as long as they want to after that. However, although there's no doubt that retinol is an anti-aging superstar, not
everyone can use it. Retinol tends to cause more irritation and reactions in
people with sensitive skin. It's also not recommended for use during the day.
prescription-strength retinol creams available that are stronger than
over-the-counter wrinkle creams, but they tend to cause more irritation, with
redness that can last for days. Over the counter creams are gentler, although
they can still be irritating. Some reviewers recommend starting out by using
creams with retinol every other day to begin with and easing yourself into a
Types of Wrinkle Cream
Wrinkle Creams Without Retinol
Many non-retinol wrinkle creams contain various antioxidants, which can prevent the fine lines and wrinkles associated with aging, without the irritation that many experience with retinol (retinol creams also tend to be pricier, sometimes much pricier). Many of these products contain ingredients that plump the skin, minimize skin damage, and even, in some cases, reverse it. That difference can be subtle -- there is no magic potion that will make your wrinkles disappear overnight, or prevent all wrinkles -- but if you use them consistently you should see an improvement.
Wrinkle Creams With Retinol
As discussed above, retinol is the crème de la crème (or cream, or serum) when it comes to anti-aging, but it can take some trial and error to find the one that works for you. For example, if you really think a retinol cream is right for you but you have sensitive skin, find a retinol formula targeted for sensitive skin (and we have a top recommendation in that category). If you have deeper wrinkles, look for a dropper or pen-type applicator that makes it easier to directly apply the product just where you need it. If you are merely looking to brighten or even out your complexion while minimizing fine lines, look for a lighter, easy to absorb serum or cream.
Wrinkle Creams for Men
Men may not be the main target market for wrinkle creams, or any skin care product for that matter, but it's just as important that they take care of their skin for the same reasons women do -- to look and feel younger and to radiate a healthy glow. All of the products in any of our skin care reports can be used by men as well, although some fragranced products are probably best suited to women. There are only a few expert sources for skin products for men, but we have some recommendations based upon our research and a little bit of common sense.
Don't let a wrinkle cream put a crimp in your
Experts agree that price is no indicator of the
overall effectiveness of wrinkle creams. In fact, many of the best wrinkle
creams can be found at the drugstore -- and we encountered more reviews for
these affordable brands than we did for expensive department-store wrinkle
creams. Although many of those pricey products feel more luxurious on the skin,
experts say the vast majority work no better than budget formulas with the same
Some wrinkle creams can be worn all day, but
most are designed to be applied at night. That's because they typically don't
contain sunscreen and some of their most powerful ingredients, such as retinol,
easily degrade in daylight and can make skin extra sensitive to the sun. Still,
there are wrinkle creams that people put on in the morning and wear all day,
under makeup or another moisturizer or both. Remember, experts say you should
always wear a moisturizer containing sunscreen on your face during the day to
protect your skin from the aging properties of the sun and other types of
environmental damage -- otherwise, you're negating the effect of the wrinkle
Finding The Best Wrinkle Cream
"The Best Anti-Aging Skin Products"
"TotalBeauty Awards 2016: Best Face Products"
"Best of Beauty"
There are plenty of resources for wrinkle creams --
and experts and users both tend to be passionate about praising -- or panning
-- their favorites. However, anecdotal evidence is no match for objective
measures, which is why a recent Good Housekeeping roundup was such a great
resource for this update. Consumer testers used the wrinkle creams at home and
reported to the lab with their findings. The lab then put the before and after
results under the microscope to see if the testers experiences lined up with
their perceptions. When both did, that product made our list as well.
As always, Beautypedia.com, run by beauty products
expert Paula Begoun to be extremely helpful as well. Begoun and her staff
review virtually every beauty product on the market. Hands on testing is not
done, but reviews are updated frequently and the ingredients and the
manufacturers claims are scrutinized and evaluated based upon the consensus of
experts in the beauty field and scientific community. We also consulted the
beauty product awards and roundups from sources such as Allure.com and
TotalBeauty.com, because they study beauty and they know what works for their
customers and readers.
Beauty product retail sites like Ulta.com, MakeupAlley.com
and Sephora.com are invaluable in gauging real-world results from these wrinkle
creams. Users posting on those sites tend to be very knowledgeable about beauty
products, including specific ingredients and how they work, and their input is
sharp and focused. Because so many of our top choices are available at
drugstores and large retailers, feedback from customers at places like Walgreens.com,
Walmart.com and Amazon.com (though see Our Sources for a caveat
regarding some wrinkle cream reviews at Amazon.com) often offer a look at how more
typical users of some of these products react to their performance and price.
wrinkle serums and creams
There are few over-the-counter wrinkle creams that get the kind of
praise that (Est. $20 for 1.7 oz.) does. The Olay Regenerist line is
well-respected by experts for its effective, beneficial formulas, and the Micro-Sculpting
line is no exception. At Good Housekeeping, it earns a Seal of Approval for its
ability to hydrate and smooth skin, as well as for its lab-proven anti-aging
properties. As with all serums, it's a great base for moisturizers or makeup,
and Good Housekeeping's assistant beauty editor agrees, saying it, "Wears
well under makeup without pilling or melting off during the day."
Olay Micro-Sculpting Serum gets a perfect 5-star rating from Paula
Begoun at BeautyPedia.com, although she spends most of her review pointing out
that the manufacturer overstates it's claims -- something that practically
every single maker of every single product on earth also does (except for the
Snuggie, of course, it really is a blanket with sleeves). Still, she notes,
that, like many other Regenerist serums, it has a good amount of
cell-communicating ingredients, which stimulate the growth of younger cells to
help to minimize the signs of aging, as well as minerals to brighten your skin
Users say Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Serum makes their skin look
and feel hydrated, and, over time, they can see improvements in firmness,
smoothness, and overall skin tone. It glides on skin and covers very well
without having to use a lot, and is reported as feeling "lightweight and
silky." While it's primary purpose is as a night cream, since it lacks
SPF, many users say they use it daily, layering it under a moisturizer that
contains sunscreen and, often, under makeup as well. It's so light that it does
not seem as if it's adding bulk or layers, they say. However, because it is so
light, those with very dry skin may need an additional layer of moisturizer
even at night. We recommend our Best Reviewed night cream, (Est. $15 for 2 oz.), which
we discuss further in our separate report on facial moisturizers.
Unlike many anti-aging creams, Olay Regenerist does not contain retinol,
which is a proven wrinkle-fighter. However, that works in its favor as the omission
of retinol, plus its lack of fragrance, make it suitable for even the most
sensitive skin. Many users say this is the only product they can use that does
not make them break out or cause irritation or allergic reactions.
(Est. $70 for 1.7oz) is another over-the-counter anti-wrinkle
serum that gets raves from experts and users, but its much higher price tab
keeps it out of our top spot. Begoun calls it, "...a formidable,
ultra-silky serum to consider in the battle against signs of aging." It's
loaded with ingredients that will repair and improve the look and feel of your
skin. Many users say they have used it for years and that they have seen their
lines and wrinkles improve, and quite a few say they often get comments on
their beautifully smooth skin. Many who have spot-specific wrinkles -- such as
crow's feet, nose crinkles or smile lines -- say they've seen a noticeable
improvement over time. Even immediately, some say, they notice softer, more
hydrated skin, although Begoun says Estee Lauder Perfectionist is not a good
choice for dry skin as it's not as emollient as some.
At Good Housekeeping, consumer testers rated Estee Lauder Perfectionist
CP+R Wrinkle Lifting Serum as best for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.
Testing in the Good Housekeeping lab backs up those anecdotal observations.
Like Olay, Estee Lauder Perfectionist does not contain retinol or
fragrance so it's a good choice for sensitive skin. Because it contains no
sunscreen, it should not be used as a daily moisturizing lotion unless it's
used under an SPF-rated product, such as a daily facial moisturizer. However,
many users say they use it day and night, layering it under other products.
(Est. $30 for 1.6 oz.) is another top finisher in Good Housekeeping's
roundup. It was the best performing non-retinol product in the lab, with "impressive
scores for firming, moisturizing and improving spots." Consumer testers
like it as well, saying the improvement in the appearance of their skin was
noticeable to family and friends. Regular users like Boots No7 too, with
hundreds of reviewers weighing in at various online retailers to say they see a
visible difference in their skin, even when other products did nothing.
So what keeps Boots No7 Lift & Luminate Night Cream out of our top
spot? Fragrance, for one thing. While most say the fragrance is pleasant and
unobtrusive, others say it was so overwhelming they had to immediately wash it
off. This can also be a problem for those with chemical sensitivities, who may
experience upper respiratory reactions from even small amounts of fragrance.
It's also packaged in a jar instead of a more sanitary pump-style dispenser.
Dipping your fingers into a jar lends itself to the risk of contaminating the
ingredients. Still, if you wash your hands before applying and have no
sensitivities to fragrances, we highly recommend this product -- it's a great
performer at a not-too-bad price.
At a fraction of the price of any of the other over-the-counter wrinkle
creams in this category, but just as popular with users, (Est. $7 for 1.7 oz.) is
also praised by Begoun for its "well-documented antioxidants in a light
yet creamy base formula." However, she gives it only two stars because of
its packaging -- it comes in jar form only -- downsides that we discuss above. However,
Eucerin products are perennially popular, and if you store and use this
properly, it could be a great budget choice for everyday skin care, especially
if your skin is very sensitive or very dry. Eucerin Q10 does not contain
sunscreen, so is best used under an SPF containing moisturizer.