Wrinkle creams are appropriate for anyone, regardless of your age (with the exception of dewy-complexioned teenagers). If you already have deep wrinkles on your face, no over-the-counter product will make them go away, so don't expect miracles. However, anyone who uses a good anti-wrinkle cream with the right ingredients will see a benefit in smoother skin, less noticeable fine lines and wrinkles and fewer wrinkles developing over time. These products are great if you're sensitive to retinol, if not, you may prefer a wrinkle cream with retinol. If your primary issue is dark spots or an overall dull complexion, a skin brightener/dark spot corrector will give you a more even skin tone. And don't forget -- these types of anti-aging products should not be used in place of a good, daily facial moisturizer. Those are covered in a separate ConsumerSearch report.
There are few anti-aging creams that get the kind of praise that Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum - Fragrance Free Moisturizer (*Est. $20 for 1.7 oz.) does. It gets a "Best" rating from Paula Begoun at PaulasChoice.com because of its "broad complement of beneficial ingredients for all skin types." It's won several beauty awards and on user-review sites, it is one of the highest-rated by serums aimed at wrinkles that we found.
Users say Olay Regenerist makes their skin look and feels 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. Begoun says, "It has an elegant texture that makes skin feel silky; yet with a powder-like finish."
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 a 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.
Estee Lauder Perfectionist CP+R Wrinkle Lifting Serum (Est. $90 for 1.7oz) is another anti-wrinkle serum that gets raves from experts and users, but it is so much more expensive than Olay Regenerist that it stays 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 this is not a good choice for dry skin as it's not as emollient as some.
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.
Another pricey product that gets a top "Gold" rating from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) and high marks from users is Lancôme Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector (Est. $90 for 1 oz.). Testers at GHRI studied a number of anti-aging products for nearly a year, with 1,000 volunteers, 2,000 questionnaires and more than 25,000 lab measurements. They say that Lancôme Visionnaire excelled, and was "...the only serum to firm skin and was number one at smoothing skin texture." It even decreased brown spots and minimized pores, they added. Users agree, saying it makes their skin glow and evens their skin tone like nothing they've ever tried before. From the reviews we read, it seems that this product is more likely to irritate skin than either Olay Regenerist or Estee Lauder Perfectionist. Even the testers at GHRI note that their input indicates that it can temporarily make skin redder.
At a fraction of the price of comparable products on the market, Olay Regenerist has no real competition; however, some experts say the pricier products have better results overall. While that may be true, our research shows that, all things being pretty close to equal, Olay is a great choice for almost any skin type and any budget. If you really have some skin issues that need more intensive treatment, and you have the money, sensitive skin types should choose Estee Lauder, while normal skin types may want to take a shot at Lancôme. But try Olay first -- you have nothing to lose.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best reviewed wrinkle creams
With retinol or without, these are the top-rated wrinkle creams according to experts and users. We also name a top skin brightener, and even a great wrinkle cream for men.
Best wrinkle cream with retinol
Retinol is the wrinkle cream super-star. These anti-aging night creams can help erase the years, but might not be right for all skin types and all situations.
Skin brightener/dark-spot corrector
Need to even your skin tone and lighten your age spots? These serums will do the trick.
Wrinkle creams for men
Men need top skin care products too. We found the best anti-aging wrinkle creams for men.
Don't go shopping for wrinkle creams without learning what you need to know first. Our Buying Guide explains how to determine the best type of facial moisturizer for you.
Links to the expert and user reviews we used to select the top wrinkle creams and skin brighteners, along with our assessment of each reviewer's expertise, credibility and helpfulness.