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Using a moisturizer is the first step in anti-aging. That’s because hydrated skin is more plumped up and dewy, so fine lines and wrinkles appear less prominent. If you start early with a moisturizer, it can even delay the signs of aging from appearing for longer than if you didn’t use one. Some experts even claim that if you have oilier, acne prone skin, the torture of breakouts in your younger years will pay off down the line because oilier skin types remain thoroughly moisturized and therefore, less wrinkle-prone.
There are certain ingredients to look for, like retinol and vitamin C, when looking for an anti-aging cream that performs. Luckily, there are options across all price ranges, so it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to look youthful. And while nothing is going to magically turn back the clock and have you looking like a pre-teen again, they will help to give you your best skin that’s radiant and refreshed. Here, our picks for the top anti-aging creams.
Best Overall: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer
Ask any derm and they’ll tell you that retinol is the gold-standard in anti-aging, so it’s an important ingredient to look for if younger-looking skin is your end goal. Intended for all skin types, this moisturizer harnesses the power of—you guessed it—retinol, along with other youth-boosters. Because retinol can be irritating, this velvety textured cream is formulated to increase moisture and enhance the quality of the skin’s barrier so that it can handle the powerful anti-ager.
Retinol doesn’t stand alone in this mixture though, it’s paired with ferulic acid, which offers antioxidant benefits like fighting free-radicals and preventing sun damage along with the brand’s own ECG complex, made up of ellagic acid, collagen, and gallic acid to brighten and reduce the appearance of dark spots, another prominent sign of aging.
Best Budget: Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Fragrance-Free Moisturizer
While it’s nice to have a moisturizer that smells lovely, it can be hard to find one that is unscented, but look no further—this option is fragrance-free and promises seven other benefits including replenishing moisture, evening skin tone, enhancing brightness, visibly smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, minimizing the look of pores, and restoring firmness. The vitamin-rich formula taps vitamins C and E to fortify the skin barrier so that it’s nourished and moisturized. Because it won’t clog pores, any skin type can benefit from its use and the formula dries down quickly and leaves a silky finish, making it perfect for before makeup or on its own.
Best Night Cream: Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème
Being that retinol is highly sensitive, there are some people that simply cannot handle it, no matter how many products with ceramides or moisturizing ingredients they use, but now there are retinol alternatives like bakuchiol, derived from the Ayurvedic babchi herb, that is in this overnight cream. In the same way that retinol helps to boost skin cell turnover, bakuchiol is resurfacing, gently sloughing away the top layer of dead skin to reveal the shiny new skin cells that are buried underneath the dullness.
Paired with edelweiss stem cell, not only does this cream fight signs of aging like lines and wrinkles, but it also nourishes skin so that you don’t get any of the negative side effects that come along with the use of retinol. Gentle enough to use every night, you can pair this with the brand’s Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum in the AM—because it’s also spiked with bakuchiol, so it’s not sun sensitive meaning exposure to the sun can render it useless and also increase sensitivity, leading to sun damage (both happen with traditional retinol), you’re getting a double dose of the anti-aging power that these products harness.
Best for Men: Kiehl’s Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream
The entire line is fairly unisex and is not only used, but adored by men and women alike thanks to its gender-neutral packaging and efficacious formulas. This rich cream in particular isn’t overly fragrant and though it has a nice thick texture, it doesn’t feel slimy or greasy—something that is a typical turnoff amongst women, but particularly men. One of the trendiest anti-aging ingredients of late is copper and this packs copper PCA, which supports collagen and elastin in the skin.
Best Drugstore Option: RoC Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Anti-Aging Cream
Experts will tell you the importance of using a sunscreen—that’s a given—but they often stress that you should pay attention to the skin below your jaw line, meaning you should extend the coverage area to include your neck and chest. Thing is, though, if you’re using a super expensive product, you probably don’t want to be slathering on too much each time you apply. Enter this affordable choice that is intended for all three areas: chest, neck, and face. It also has the benefit of SPF 30 protection and is made with vitamin E for smoothing benefits. Use it daily and you’ll be able to notice a difference in the appearance of your skin in as little as four weeks; it’s clinically proven to visibly lessen the look of fine lines on the chest and neck in that time.
Best for Oily Skin: Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream
If you’re looking for something that’s going to keep skin hydrated, plump, and dewy, you’re best bet is a hyaluronic-spiked formula like this gel. In addition to two forms of HA, it has papaya enzyme, a type of alpha-hydroxy-acid, which will help to gently exfoliate and brighten skin over time.
Best for Sensitive Skin: First Aid Beauty Multi-Action Moisturizer
Specifically formulated for those with easily-irritated skin types, First Aid Beauty offers a range of options that get the job done without overdoing it. This 5-in-1 formula uses ingredients like zinc oxide, alpha arbutin, and bisabolol to fight signs of aging. Apply a smooth layer as the last step in your skincare routine if you’re considering this your SPF and use again at night if you don’t already have a night cream in your rotation. Unlike other anti-aging creams, you shouldn’t see any adverse reactions such as redness or flaking with this gentle pick.
Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular anti-aging cream on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 12 different creams overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 7 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 7 of the creams themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.