Unlike wrinkles, which can seem to appear overnight, loss of skin firmness occurs gradually. Maybe you notice that your under eyes feel crepey, or you start to feel like gravity has a stronger pull on your jawline. Changes in skin firmness aren’t as easy as treating dark spots, per se, but with the right routine, you can treat and prevent the appearance of saggy skin, to a certain point.
To boost elasticity and firmness, look for products that upregulate your skin’s collagen production. Collagen is a key protein in our skin that gives it structure and suppleness, and those levels deplete as we age. But the good news is that you can boost collagen production with topical ingredients like retinoids, and preserve existing collagen with antioxidants. You also want to make sure you’re supporting the skin barrier with ingredients like ceramides to assist in restoring depleted collagen levels.
We conducted hours of research on the best face creams for firming sagging skin, evaluating top-rated products on their active ingredients and benefits. We then canvassed dermatologists for their expert picks—only including those that actually work.
Ahead, find the best face creams for firming sagging skin.
SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
Natural lavender scent may be cloying for some
One contributor to healthy, plump-looking skin is a well-supported skin barrier (aka, the top layer of your skin). Ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids are key contributors to skin barrier function, and this formula contains all three of the ingredients. With consistent use, this silky cream helps your skin look and feel supple. (Bonus points for its ability to tamp down skin irritation related to retinol use.)
Price at time of publish: $136
Active Ingredients: Ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids | Benefits: Firms, supports skin barrier | Dosage: | Size: 1.6 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: No
Skin Medica TNS+ Advanced Serum
Smooths skin texture
Contains multiple firming ingredients
Pricey per ounce
Human-derived growth factors may be off-putting to some
If you really want to get the most bang for your buck, consider opting for a serum over a cream; the former are always more lightweight and contain higher concentrations of actives. This one comes recommended by Dr. Deborah Spey, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group. “This is the reformulated and improved version of TNS Essential Serum, an iconic skin care product with a well-deserved cult following. It’s one of the only growth factor products specifically shown to address sagging skin,” she explains, adding that it also contains peptides, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants. Spey also lauds the formula’s lightweight finish and ability to work quickly. “It provides visible results within two weeks, though these continue to improve with use over 24 weeks,” she notes.
Price at time of publish: $236
Active Ingredients: Peptides and green microalgae | Benefits: Smooths fine lines and combats sagging skin | Dosage: | Size: 1.0 oz. | Cruelty Free: No
The Ordinary Buffet Anti-Aging Serum
Contains a combination of different peptides
Can be irritating for those with sensitive skin
New York City board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King is a fan of this (very) wallet-friendly option, which relies on several peptide complexes “These have been trademarked and studied by third parties and all found to have anti-aging benefits. Matrixyl 3000, for example, has been shown to promote the production of collagen and elastin,” she points out. She also likes that it contains plenty of other hydrating and good-for-your-skin ingredients: glycerin, allantoin, and urea. “Urea and glycerin are great humectants to hydrate the skin, allantoin heals, soothes and protects and stimulates the growth of healthy skin tissue.”
Price at time of publish: $30
Active Ingredients: Peptides and hyaluronic acid | Benefits: Firms, hydrates | Dosage: | Size: 1 fl. oz., 2 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Augustinus Bader The Cream
Provides lightweight hydration
Retinol helps increase collagen production for firmer skin
Doesn’t agree with very dry skin
This luxury pick gets power from TFC8, the brand’s patented blend of 40 ingredients that nourish and protect skin. It also contains soothing aloe vera, pigmentation-reducing vitamin A, and collagen-protecting vitamin C. With consistent use, we noticed our skin had noticeably better bounce.
Price at time of publish: $277
Active Ingredients: Amino acids, TFC8, and aloe vera | Benefits: Firms, brightens | Dosage: | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Face and Neck
BioEffect EGF Serum
Contains plant-based growth factors
Lightweight and absorbs quickly
Small amount of product
This is another favorite of King’s: She likes its plant-based growth factors, which are great for boosting collagen and elastin. More specifically, it’s a human-like epidermal growth factor that is made in bioengineered barley seeds, and has been shown to be effective at increasing skin thickness, she says. This option is expensive, especially for the small amount of product, but because the formula contains plant-derived growth factors, we think the price is justified.
Price at time of publish: $169
Active Ingredients: Plant-based growth factor | Benefits: Firms, plumps | Dosage: | Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: No
Pond’s Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream
Large amount of product
Retinoids can be irritating to sensitive skin types
Pick up this King-recommended cream during your next trip to the drugstore. While it’s not a straight-up firming formula per se, she says it’s a great, all-around anti-aging moisturizer. Credit the addition of a retinol complex (retinoids are one of the ingredients best able to produce significant changes in the skin, she notes), vitamin B3 AKA niacinamide, and skin barrier-supporting ceramides.
Price at time of publish: $17
Active Ingredients: Retinol complex, and niacinamide| Benefits: Moisturizes, firms | Size: 3 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: No
Best for Neck
StriVectin TL Advanced Tightening Neck Cream PLUS
Helps even out skin tone
Not for sensitive skin
The thinner skin on your neck makes it one of the areas most prone to sagging and laxity. Sure, you could use the cream you’re using on your face all over your neck, but if you’re looking for a dedicated neck cream, try this one. It touts a proprietary lifting complex (composed of several peptides). Top tip: Apply it with an upwards motion along your neck, and don’t forget to rub it onto your jawline and décolletage, too.
Price at time of publish: $95
Active Ingredients: Peptides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid | Benefits: Tightens, firms | Dosage: Apply in AM and PM | Size: 1.7 fl. Oz. | Cruelty Free: No
Malin + Goetz Resurfacing Face Serum
Exfoliates without harsh scrubbing
Brightens dull skin
Irritating to sensitive skin types
Proper exfoliation helps any product you apply seep deep into your skin. But over-exfoliation can disrupt your skin barrier, leading to irritated and dehydrated skin. New York City board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dan Belkin approves this pick. It sloughs away dead skin cells gently with glycolic and lactic acid—the latter has hydrating properties to restore those fresh cells. It also contains vitamin C, which is an antioxidant with firming powers, according to Belkin.
Price at time of publish: $70
Active Ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin C | Benefits: Exfoliates and brightens | Dosage: Apply nightly before moisturizer | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Shani Darden Skin Care Retinol Reform
Slow release version of retinol goes gentle on skin
Lactic acid delivers brightening effects overnight
Overapplication can irritate your skin
Retinol is a well-studied ingredient that increases cell turnover for brighter, clearer skin. In this formula, the ingredient is paired with lactic acid for extra exfoliation. If that all sounds too strong, think again: This serum uses an encapsulated version of retinol that helps mitigate irritation and dry splotches. If you’re new to retinol, start with a pea size amount every other night, building up to nightly use.
Price at time of publish: $96
Active Ingredients: Retinol and lactic acid | Benefits: Smooths texture and boosts collagen production | Dosage: Apply 2 to 3 pumps on your face and neck | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Dry Skin
Olay Regenerist Hyaluronic + Peptide 24 Hydrating Gel Moisturizer
Delivers lightweight hydration
May feel tacky if layered with other products
Usually gel moisturizers are best for oily skin types, but hear us out: This formula delivers lightweight, deep hydration that quenches dry skin types. The gel contains hyaluronic acid which delivers and helps retain moisture. Peptides and niacinamide help boost collagen and brighten, respectively.
Price at time of publish: $40
Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid and peptides | Benefits: Hydrates and firms | Dosage: Apply AM and PM | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty Free: No
Best for Sagging Skin
Alastin Restorative Skin Complex
Expensive per ounce
This brand is beloved by derms for its patented TriHex Technology, which helps to both clear out damaged collagen and elastin and help support the production of healthy new versions of these essential proteins. It contains additional peptides to help improve elasticity as well, not to mention yields improvements in skin texture and tone on top of everything else. Point being, it’s pricey, but definitely worth every penny.
Price at time of publish: $187
Active Ingredients: Peptides | Benefits: Firms and evens tone | Dosage: Apply 1 to 2 pumps morning and night | Size: 1.0 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Eyes
Macrene Actives High Performance Eye Cream
Multiple brightening ingredients
Dr. Macrene Alexiades is the powerhouse board-certified dermatologist behind this eye cream. She formulated this product with ingredients like amino acid, hyaluronic acid, and extracts of coffee, Yerba Mate tea, and rosemary; together, they firm, depuff, and brighten up your delicate under eye area. And before you balk at the price, consider the size—it’s double the amount you’ll find in most eye creams on the market.
Price at time of publish: $225
Active Ingredients: Peptides, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids | Benefits: Brightens and hydrates | Dosage: Massage under eyes AM and PM | Size: 1.0 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Day
RéVive Soleil Superiéur Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Pa ++++
Doesn’t pill with other products
We know compliance is key with sun protection, so having a formula you look forward to using is essential. This one feels supple and soft on the skin. The lightweight cream also packs antioxidants to help with existing sun damage, plus peptides for an added elasticity boost. The texture plays well with other products, so you can smooth it on over serums in place of moisturizer or layer it on top of your favorite cream if you’re on the dry side.
Price at time of publish: $115
Active Ingredients: Peptides and antioxidants | Benefits: Protects skin from sun damage | Dosage: Apply liberally in the AM, reapplying every two hours | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Night
Elemis Pro-Collagen Definition Night Cream
Multiple ingredients promote increased firmness
May feel greasy on oily skin types
This night cream is like a silk pillowcase for your skin—the sensorial, supple feel is courtesy of ingredients like sweet almond and sunflower seed oils. It also contains stem cells extracted from gardenias, which help your skin regenerate. The firming properties come from Arjuna tree bark; the ingredient is proven to help lift sagging jowls, so apply it liberally on your neck, too.
Price at time of publish: $165
Active Ingredients: Plant-based stem cells and sweet almond and sunflower seed oils | Benefits: Plumps and moisturizes | Dosage: Apply on face and neck nightly | Size: 1.6 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: No
Best for Sensitive Skin
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Night Cream
Contains soothing ingredients
Doesn’t contain peptides
This brand is well-known for offering amazing formulas for the sensitive crowd, and this firming night cream is no exception. Not only is it fragrance-free, it also contains soothing colloidal oatmeal and niacinamide. The niacinamide also helps to boost skin’s suppleness, as does the addition of sodium hyaluronate.
Price at time of publish: $42
Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal and niacinamide | Benefits: Hydrates and soothes | Dosage: Apply onto face and neck nightly | Size: 1.7 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best for Mature Skin
SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream
Airless pump keeps the product fresh
Calming and moisturizing properties
May be irritating to sensitive skin types
This awarding-winning formula has Belkin’s backing. The cream contains a laundry list of skin-loving ingredients: lactic acid, glycolic acid, peptides, ceramides, squalene, niacinamide, and vitamin C, to name a few. This combination of resurfacing and soothing ingredients works to refine wrinkles, even out skin tone, and smooth texture. It also includes retinol to increase your skin’s collagen production for more suppleness.
Price at time of publish: $130
Active Ingredients: Lactic acid, glycolic acid, peptides, and ceramides | Benefits: Firms, moisturizes, and calms | Dosage: Apply a pea size amount nightly | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes
Best Quick Fix
ISDIN Instant Flash Firming Serum Ampoules
Single dose ampoules
Formula works quickly
Not necessarily a long-term solution
The hard truth of the matter is that firming products aren’t necessarily going to work all that quickly, given that it takes weeks or even months for new collagen and elastin to form. That being said, we’ve all been in situations when we need just a quick, temporary fix to tie us over, and for those instances Spey says this is a great choice. “This is an ingenious new product designed to help you shine during special moments. Its lightweight, hydrating formula contains a complex of advanced ingredients including proprietary LiftFirm and Peptide Q10, that promote a noticeable instant lifting effect for up to eight hours,” she says. Plus, skin also feels smoother and looks more radiant, always an added benefit.
Price at time of publish: $42
Active Ingredients: Peptides | Benefits: Lifts and firms | Dosage: Apply one ampoule onto your face and neck | Size: 5 ampoules | Cruelty Free: No
Fresh Black Tea Firming Corset Cream
Firming and soothing
This aptly-named pick does indeed help to suck in and cinch sagging skin, just as a corset would for your waistline, thanks to a firming peptide. So much so that in a brand-backed clinical study, 89% of participants felt an immediate tightening effect. But we like that this formula also has additional benefits via protective antioxidants, and delivers up to 24 hours of hydration, yet still works well for all different skin types, from dry to oily.
Price at time of publish: $95
Active Ingredients: Black tea complex and goji fruit extract | Benefits: Firms and smooths | Dosage: Apply evenly morning and night | Size: 1.6 fl. oz. | Cruelty Free: No
Skin hydration plays a big role in promoting suppleness, and SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 outperforms other moisturizers in its ability to both hydrate your skin and prevent moisture from escaping. With regular use, you’ll see your skin plump from the inside. Skin Medica TNS Advanced+ Serum addresses skin firmness with peptides, antioxidants, and growth factors to protect your existing collagen and increase collagen production levels over time. The serum delivers a potent dose of the ingredients, and you can layer any mild moisturizer on top.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Dan Belkin is a New York City board-certified dermatologist who specializes in cosmetic and medical dermatology.
- New York City board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King is an expert on youth-boosting skincare.
- Dr. Deborah Spey is a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group who specializes in cosmetic and medical dermatology.
What to Look For in a Firming Face Cream
- Antioxidants: These ingredients protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules generated by environmental exposures like sunlight, smoking, and pollutants. “Antioxidants help protect collagen and elastic fibers,” says Belkin. Vitamin C is the best choice for firming up your skin: It not only acts as an antioxidant but is also important in the synthesis of collagen, Belkin adds.
- Peptides: "These small components of proteins can be powerful for firming,” says Belkin. However not all peptides are created equal: Belkin notes that any protein fragment could be called a peptide, so it’s important to choose a formula with studies that support its efficacy.
- Retinoids: For increased collagen, look no further. “Retinoids are one of the most effective ingredients for stimulating collagen production because it directly stimulates our skin cells. It is also known to inhibit matrix metalloproteinases, enzymes in the skin that break down collagen,” Spey explains.
If your skin is dry, go with a thicker cream or face oil. Oily skin types do best with lighter textured moisturizers like gels, lotions, or serums. Combination skin can be a bit more complicated, so Belkin recommends experimenting with a few different formulas to find the option that nourishes your skin without leaving you feeling too dry or greasy.
Proper hydration makes a visible difference in your skin: A hydrated epidermis is plumper and firmer looking. Moisturizers can fill in gaps between cells with moisture, and smooth your skin’s outermost layer so your complexion appears less crepey and wrinkly, Belkin explains.
What causes saggy skin?
“Both aging and what we call photoaging, which is the sun's effect on the skin, contribute to skin laxity,” Belkin says. Our skin tends to become thinner and less elastic as we age, and changes in our facial fat pads can also contribute to the look of sagging.
How do you combat loose, saggy skin?
Proper sun protection is your first line of defense, so be sure to apply it daily, rain or shine. Beyond that, the name of the game is collagen. Skin care that helps stimulate collagen production (like retinoids) can help plump your skin over time when used consistently. You can also see a board-certified dermatologist for in-office procedures like filler, microneedling, and laser resurfacing, which give your collagen production a major boost.
How long does it take to notice results from face creams?
“Even after in-office procedures, it could take three to four months to see the full effect,” Belkin explains. However moisturizers can deliver a quick firming effect by hydrating and plumping the skin. If you’re investing in collagen-stimulating ingredients, stick with the product for three to six months to see a difference.
How long do results last?
“Luckily, the half life of skin collagen is long, about 15 years, so the consistent use of this kind of skin care should give you improved long term skin health,” Belkin says. Remember that lifestyle factors like smoking and sun exposure will set you back on your skin goals, so avoiding these will help you see max benefits.
Why Trust Byrdie
Claire Sullivan is a freelance beauty writer based in New York City. She spent six years at Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings, most recently writing and editing beauty content for both brands. She takes a preventative approach to her skin care routine, so she’s all about topicals that preserve collagen, like many formulas on our list.
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