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Do wrinkle creams really work?

Nearly every facial moisturizer, night cream and serum these days touts anti-aging benefits. And every year, dozens of new anti-wrinkle creams are introduced, all promising to turn back the hands of time. But do any of them work? First, it helps to separate facial moisturizers from wrinkle creams.

Although many facial moisturizers, which can be applied whenever, make anti-aging claims, most wrinkle creams are designed to be applied at night. That's because these products don't typically contain sunscreen and some of their most powerful ingredients, namely retinol, easily degrade in daylight and can make skin extra sensitive to the sun. While many think that anti-aging skin treatments contain more specialized ingredients, the truth is that the best daily facial moisturizers also contain a lot of the same ingredients. (See our facial moisturizers report for more information on these.) This report on wrinkle creams instead focuses on night creams -- formulas that have more aggressive, anti-aging compounds to diminish the appearance of fine lines and increase skin cell turnover.

Experts say price plays no part in 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 these pricey products feel more luxurious on the skin, experts say most work no better than budget formulas with the same active ingredients.

Furthermore, experts agree that no wrinkle cream can perform miracles or even results that mimic professional treatments such as Botox and fillers. The best treatment for wrinkles is prevention. Since age spots and most wrinkles are caused by sun damage, the most effective way to avoid wrinkles in the first place is daily sunscreen use. See our report on sunscreen for top recommendations and further information.

To find the best wrinkle creams, we analyzed and rated professional reviews that test a multitude of products. We also took into consideration overall user satisfaction based on reviews at MakeupAlley.com, TotalBeauty.com, Amazon.com and Drugstore.com.

Wrinkle Cream Runners Up:

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream *Est. $24 for 1.7 oz.

4 picks including: Amazon.com, Drugstore.com…

Retin-A *Est. $80 to $145 for 20 grams

2 picks including: About.com, MakeupAlley.com…

Olay Pro-x Deep Wrinkle Treatment *Est. $40 for 1 oz.

2 picks including: Amazon.com, Drugstore.com…

Garnier Ultra-Lift 2-in-1 Wrinkle Reducer *Est. $14 for 1.7 oz.

2 picks including: Self Magazine, MakeupAlley.com…

L'Oréal Youth Code Serum Intense *Est. $20 for 1 oz.

2 picks including: Amazon.com, CEW.org…

SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic *Est. $150 for 1 oz.

2 picks including: Allure, MakeupAlley.com…

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel *Est. $20 for 3.3 oz.

2 picks including: MakeupAlley.com, PaulasChoice.com…

Ambi Skincare Fade Cream *Est. $5.50 for 2 oz.

1 pick including: About.com, Amazon.com…

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Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Age Moisture Cream 1.7oz
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $15.95
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night, 1 Ounce
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $19.99 $9.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Olay Professional Pro-X Deep Wrinkle Treatment Anti Aging 1.0 Fl Oz
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $29.99 $27.25   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Garnier Ultra-Lift 2-in-1 Wrinkle Reducer Serum and Moisturizer for Wrinkles and Firming, 1.7 Fluid Ounce
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $16.99 $6.91   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Olay Regenerist Instant Fix Wrinkle Revolution Complex Primer Plus, 1.7 Fl Oz
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $24.61 $8.20   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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L'Oreal Paris Youth Code Serum Intense, 1.0 Fluid Ounce
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $19.99 $6.50   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Paula's Choice ** Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant ** 3.3 Oz./100 Ml.
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $49.00
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Ambi Skincare Fade Cream, Normal Skin, 2 oz (56 g)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $4.99 $4.57   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

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