Fine lines and wrinkles are a natural part of aging for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have options to make the most of the situation. On the contrary, we have a dizzying number of them that all promise to iron out lines, plump lax skin and basically turn back time.
At this point in our lives, we’ve easily tried hundreds of creams and have interviewed countless dermatologists on the topic of aging. And the question that always comes up is...
Do Anti-Wrinkle Creams Really Work?
The general consensus is that an over-the-counter product (like said wrinkle cream) isn’t going to take five or ten years off your face—or eliminate lines completely. What they can do is soften the appearance of lines (especially fines ones) and help with other signs of aging like discoloration and uneven texture.
Some top ingredients to look for in a cream? Retinol, vitamins C and E, peptides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, ceramides (or other hydrating ingredients that can lock in moisture and temporarily plump fine lines).
And of course, your best method of defense against premature aging is sun protection. So, daily application of a sunscreen of at least 30, wearing protective clothing and hats and avoiding peak UV hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) as much as possible.
OK, now that we’ve got that sorted, let’s browse the best anti-wrinkle cream selection out there.
1. RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Night Cream
A longtime favorite of dermatologists everywhere, this over-the-counter retinol cream is often recommended to patients as an entry point into retinoids (which are stronger and require a prescription). The vitamin A derivative has long been hailed as “the gold standard” in aging and is proven to increase cell turnover and encourage the production of collagen and elastin, both of which help to plump the overall appearance of your skin. Retinol also helps fade discoloration (both from past acne scars or sun damage) so you have a more even-toned complexion.
And according to one fan, this cream has "completely changed the appearance of [her] undereyes and forehead," which look noticeably more "lifted and youthful" since starting to use it two months prior.
Note that if you’re new to retinol, there can be an adjustment period so start slow and build up to it—especially if you’re prone to irritation. You can do this by using it every third day to start and gradually ramping up your use. Another thing: Be patient. Most users report seeing results around the 12- to 16-week mark, which might feel like forever, but is worth the wait.
2. Olay Regenerist Anti-Aging Moisturizer Cream
This drugstore heavyweight has over 4,100 reviews on Amazon alone (and another 2400 plus on CVS). Proponents of the cream say that it’s "deeply hydrating" and makes their skin feel "softer and bouncier almost immediately and gradually firmer over time."
From a formulation standpoint, we like that it combines key anti-aging ingredients like the aforementioned peptides and niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) with hydrating ones like hyaluronic acid to bind moisture to the skin and soothe any potential irritation. We also appreciate that it comes in a fragrance-free option for those of us who are sensitive to fragrance.
3. Radha Beauty Retinol Moisturizer Miracle Cream for Face
When you see that a product has over 5,000 glowing reviews on Amazon, you are, at the very least, curious about what all the fuss is about. Upon closer inspection of the ingredients label, it seems this multi-purpose formula includes everything from retinol (2.5 percent, in case you were wondering) to vitamin E, aloe vera, green tea, jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid and shea butter. Also impressive is what’s not included in the formulation: alcohol, fragrance, sulfates, PABAs or para-aminobenzoic acids, or parabens.
Still, we were a bit skeptical about all of the hype, so we did a deep dive in the reviews section. (Don’t pretend you haven’t also spent hours doing the same.) And let’s just say that some of the before and after photos were pretty impressive. Also, at 20 bucks a jar, we’re game to give it a try.
4. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer SPF 30
Another drugstore favorite, this moisturizer is unique in that it features both retinol and a UVA/UVB sunscreen of 30. So back to our earlier point about anti-aging and sunscreen going hand in hand, this is a good way to get both benefits in one product.
Fans of the cream rave about its lightweight texture that “absorbs quickly” and “wears well under makeup.” And thanks to the retinol in the formula, it also helps clear up acne and fade old scars and spots. A triple win in our book.
5. Revision Skincare Intellishade SPF 45 Original
Speaking of makeup, another award-winning and popular anti-aging moisturizer is this one by Revision Skincare. Packed with a trio of peptides (which, again, help with elastin and collagen production), as well as UVA and UVB protection, it also features a sheer tint that evens out any redness or discoloration on your skin. Think of it as a souped-up tinted moisturizer.
Though it seems a bit pricey at first glance, fans say it’s worth the cost because it’s essentially “a lotion, sunscreen and makeup” in one tube. As for the tint itself? “It’s light, but just enough to cover sun damage, blend freckles and create the illusion of healthy skin.” More mature users like that “it doesn’t settle into fine lines.”
6. SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Eye Complex
OK, though this is technically an “eye” cream and the rest of the products on this list are for the entire face, we decided to include it because of one main reason: One of the top areas of concern for women who are worried about their wrinkles is the eyes. (Hello, crow’s feet.)
This formula—which features blueberry extracts, peptides and proxylane—is superb at hydrating the delicate under-eye skin, while also boosting elasticity and smoothing the appearance of fine lines over time. Plus, the thick, balmy formula goes on like silk and temporarily (but instantly) fills in any lined areas upon application.
As one fan gushes: "I have tried every premiere eye cream and this one takes the cake! I am in my mid-30s with mild wrinkles around my eyes and a touch of dryness and this takes all of that away."
7. Avéne Retrinal 0.1 Intensive Cream
Another day, another retinol cream. This one from famed French brand, Avéne, earns high marks for being “one of the mildest retinol products on the market” that “still packs a punch,” according to one fan on Dermstore.
With 0.1 percent retinol and a patented pro-elastin peptide, it makes fine lines “softer and smaller” and skin “brighter and even-toned.” Because of the gentle formulation, users report little to no irritation—even with daily use and even around more sensitive areas like around the eyes.
Again, patience and consistency are key when using a product with retinol. As another reviewer explains: “I am on my second bottle and the most noticeable results came when I was 3/4 done with my first bottle, so give it a little time.” Though it may take a while to notice a difference, “it really does work well.” Beyond addressing fine lines, it also “helps with hydration, acne, and my hyperpigmentation.” To which we say, oui oui!
8. Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme+ Global Anti-Aging Cell Power Crème
This heritage brand has a number of iconic products including this potent anti-aging cream. With a silky-soft texture and deeply hydrating formula, fans of the cream report that it “goes on smoothly but doesn’t feel heavy or oily.” And the benefits don’t stop there.
Peptides and plant extracts like moringa, barley and St. Paul’s Wort (or what they refer to as its “RevitaKey Technology”) aids the skin’s natural ability to produce new collagen and elastin so that lines are softened with continued use.
As one fan sums up: “Facial lines seem somewhat diminished after a few days and I do notice a new subtle glow on my skin.”
9. Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
A consistent top seller at beauty mecca Sephora, this cult favorite cream combines amino acids with peptides and synthetic growth factors to make your skin “hydrated, balanced and downright bouncy.” Or according to another ardent fan: “I have seen improvements to the firmness, clarity and texture [of their skin] every day,” and “it’s not too heavy or oily,” which is why it’s “my favorite moisturizer ever.”
Personally, we also love this cream from a packaging standpoint. The airtight container and pump on top dispense the perfect amount of cream for each use so you never waste product (and it’s definitely a more hygienic option than scooping your fingers into a jar every time).
Lastly, here’s a fun fact (because why shouldn’t skin care be fun?): “Protini” means “protein” in Afrikaans, which is fitting since the cream it’s named for is meant to strengthen skin.
10. Créme de la Mer Moisturizing Cream
Yes, it’s on the pricier side—let’s just acknowledge that up top—but the people who use this fancy cream (from our best friend’s mom to Jennifer Lopez herself) seem to swear by it.
With a super-rich texture, we concede that it does feel mighty luxe going on and is extremely helpful at keeping skin hydrated during the dry, winter months. (Oily skin types might want to opt for the gel cream formula.)
Packed with the proprietary Miracle Broth, which features a blend of sea kelp, vitamins and minerals, citrus oil, eucalyptus, sunflower, wheat ferm and alfalfa that are fermented together, it’s meant to quell inflammation, moisturize skin and is packed with antioxidants.
Longtime fans of the cult cream claim that if they don’t use it, their skin “loses its perky quality,” while others compare it to “a brief moment of spa like elegance after a very long day."