We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
When we talk about signs of skin aging, it’s usually the wrinkles and spots that top the list. But skin sagging due to a lack of elasticity can also be a huge contributing factor to an aged appearance. Credit the breakdown of collagen and elastin, those two, oh-so important proteins that keep skin both firm and supple.
Our best overall pick is Algenist Elevate Advanced Lift Contouring Cream, a whipped cream that’s full of rich peptides to help lift sagging skin. For a more affordable pick, consider The Ordinary Buffet Anti-Aging Serum, which contains moisturizing humectants and soothing ingredients that help firm and lift.
To be fair, trying to boost elasticity with topical products alone can be much more challenging than targeting issues that occur more on the surface of the skin (think uneven texture and tone). The good news? Many of the tried-and-true staple ingredients that you’re likely using to address other complexion concerns are also beneficial when it comes to firming the skin. For example, retinol. “It’s 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,” explains Dr. Deborah R. Spey, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group. She also adds peptides to the list—messenger molecules that communicate with your skin cells to tell them to do a specific job, such as stimulate collagen production—as well as hyaluronic acid, which can deliver an immediate plumping and firming effect, she explains.
We conducted hours of research on the best creams to help firm and tighten sagging skin, evaluating each on active ingredients and their benefits to skin. We took into consideration a variety of skin types and concerns, and also looked for any additional features a firming cream might have.
Ahead, find the best firming face creams to help give a little lift.
Best Overall: Algenist ELEVATE Advanced Lift Contouring Cream
Smooths fine lines and wrinkles
Tones and firms
Glides onto skin
A specific peptide, tripeptide-2, helps to firm and lift skin (hence the name). As an added benefit, this also contains alguronic acid—derived from a micro-algae—that has anti-wrinkle benefits. Plus, both of those are in a unique delivery system that prolongs their effects. The delightful whipped texture and hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic formula are additional benefits.
Active Ingredients: Alguronic acid, peptides | Benefits: Tightens, firms, smooths | Dosage: Apply evenly in AM and PM, preferably after a serum | Size: 2 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Budget: The Ordinary Buffet Anti-Aging Serum
Contains a combination of different peptides
Can be irritating for those with sensitive skin
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.”
Active Ingredients: Peptide complexes, hyaluronic acid | Benefits: Firms, smooths wrinkles, hydrates | Size: 1 fl. Oz., 2 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Splurge: Alastin Restorative Skin Complex
Effective ingredients from a dermatologist-recommended brand
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.
Active Ingredients: Proprietary peptide-based TriHex technology | Benefits: Firms, smooth wrinkles, evens tone | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Multi-Tasker: Fresh Black Tea Firming Corset Cream
Feels soothing to use
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.
Active Ingredients: Black tea complex, goji fruit extract | Benefits: Tightens, firms, smooths | Dosage: Apply evenly in AM and PM | Size: 1.6 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Neck: StriVectin TL Advanced Tightening Neck Cream PLUS
Provides visible lift
Helps even out skin tone
Expensive per ounce
Not for those with 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 decolletage, too.)
Active Ingredients: Peptides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid | Benefits: Tightens, firms, smooths | Dosage: Apply thin layer in AM and PM | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Neck, Runner-Up: Perricone MD Cold Plasma Sub-D
Brightens dull skin with amino acids
Gives firmer appearance
Scent may be unpleasant to some
Another great choice for the skin below your chin, this touts several different types of peptides, as well as caffeine. More often found in eye creams, caffeine is a vasoconstricting ingredient that can help combat puffiness; for the neck, that means helping to create the appearance of tighter, more lifted skin. In a consumer study, 86% of users saw an improvement in neck skin elasticity after using the product for just 28 days.
Active Ingredients: Alpha lipoic acid, DMAE | Benefits: Tightens, firms, smooths | Dosage: Apply evenly in AM and PM | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Serum: Skin Medica TNS+ Advanced Serum
New and improved version of a long-time skincare staple
Contains a variety of firming ingredients
Growth factors are human-derived, which 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. More specifically, try this one, a top recommendation from Spey. “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 says, adding that it also contains peptides, hyaluronic acid, and antioxidants. She also lauds being odorless and having a lightweight finish, and working quickly. “It provides visible results within two weeks, though these continue to improve with use over 24 weeks,” she explains.
Active Ingredients: Growth factors, peptides, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants | Benefits: Firms, smooth wrinkles | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Best Serum, Runner-Up: BioEffect EGF Serum
Contains plant-based growth factors
Lightweight and absorbs quickly
This is a top pick for New York City board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. She likes it because it also contains growth-factors, great for boosting collagen and elastin…though ones that are plant-based. 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.
Active Ingredients: Plant-based growth factor | Benefits: Firms, plumps | Size: .5 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Quick Fix: ISDIN Instant Flash Firming Serum Ampoules
Formula works extremely quickly
Reasonable price point
Easy to use, single-dose ampoules
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 and important Zoom calls. 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.
Active Ingredients: LiftFirm complex, peptides | Benefits: Lifts, firms | Size: 5 ampoules | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes
Best Drugstore: Pond’s Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream
Moisturizing and anti-aging
Some might find the inclusion of retinoids drying
Pick up this cream, another one of Dr. King’s favorites, 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.
Active Ingredients: Retinol complex, niacinamide | Benefits: Moisturizes | Size: 3 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Mature Skin: Crepe Erase Restorative Facial Treatment
Moisturizing and anti-aging
Does contain pore-clogging ingredients
Along with the brand’s TruFirm complex (which helps to support collagen and elastin production), this is also packed with some seriously intense moisturizing ingredients. We’re talking things such as olive and coconut oils, and cocoa butter, just to name a few. To be honest, that can be too heavy and potentially pore-clogging for those with oilier skin, but for more mature skin (which is innately drier), this is a good firming choice.
Active Ingredients: TruFirm complex, shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil | Benefits: Moisturizes, firms | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No
Best for Sensitive Skin: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Night Cream
Great choice for sensitive skin
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.
Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, niacinamide | Benefits: Moisturizes, firms | Size: 1.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No
Many of the same ingredients that help combat other signs of again (think fine lines and wrinkles) are also great for helping to firm the skin. But if you’re looking for a targeted firming formula, consider the Algenist Elevate Advanced Lift Contouring Cream, our overall favorite for its potent formula of lifting actives. For a more affordable pick, consider The Ordinary Buffet Anti-Aging Serum, which contains moisturizing humectants that help address the appearance of sagging skin.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Deborah R. Spey is a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Livingston, NJ. She specializes in cosmetic dermatology, including non-surgical skin tightening procedures.
- Dr. Hadley King is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. She is also a Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and specializes in both medical and cosmetic dermatology.
What to Look For in a Firming Cream
"When it comes to firming, high-potency vitamin C and peptides are ideal ingredients," Kunin explains. "Look for a product containing 15 percent to 20 percent vitamin C, ferulic acid, and vitamin E.”
While the term “neck cream” tends to be all-encompassing, a closer look reveals that treatments designed to help firm and tone the neck area come in a variety of textures. From lightweight serums to thick, hydrating creams, choose the texture that suits your skincare routine best.
Many of the products we recommended contain potent active ingredients such as glycolic acid, vitamin C, and niacinamide that may cause irritation if used alongside other actives, like retinol. If your routine already includes actives, perhaps consider a neck product that employs a less potentially irritating ingredient, like peptides.
Does firming cream really work?
As with all topically applied skincare products, using a firming cream won’t drastically change your skin. However, as active ingredients like vitamin C have been shown to help promote collagen production and lighten hyperpigmentation, you can typically expect noticeable results with regular use.
How do I firm up my neck?
A great first step is to use a firming cream, which contains a number of ingredients with the potential to help smooth, plump, and tighten neck skin, giving the impression of a younger, firmer-looking neck area. Regular usage is essential, so plan to incorporate this step into your routine for the long haul.
Why is my neck aging so fast?
As most skincare is focused on the face, we tend to overlook the neck area until the telltale signs of aging show up, namely wrinkles and crepey-ness. Our experts note the skin on your neck is a little bit thinner than your face making it more susceptible to premature aging.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. While fine lines and wrinkles are her primary skin aging concern, sagging is on the list as well, so she is very well-versed when it comes to firming face creams.
Ganceviciene R, Liakou AI, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):308-319
Mehta-Ambalal SR. Neocollagenesis and neoelastinogenesis: from the laboratory to the clinic. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2016;9(3):145-151
Addor FAS. Antioxidants in dermatology. An Bras Dermatol. 2017;92(3):356-362
Kim E, Cho G, Won NG, Cho J. Age-related changes in skin bio-mechanical properties: the neck skin compared with the cheek and forearm skin in Korean females. Skin Res Technol. 2013;19(3):236-241
Spada F, Barnes TM, Greive KA. Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin’s own natural moisturizing systems. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018;11:491-497
Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, et al. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015;14(1):43-48
Al-Niaimi F, Chiang NYZ. Topical vitamin C and the skin: mechanisms of action and clinical applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(7):14-17.