Anti-aging products make up a large portion of the skin care market. From serums to cream, there are shelves full of topical products making all kinds of claims to reverse or prevent the signs of aging. But do these really work? It’s hard to believe that something as simple as smoothing on cream can produce any significant results. So we talked to three dermatologists about anti-aging creams and serums and if they actually work — and we have good news! All three unanimously agreed that topical anti-aging products do, in fact, work. However, there are a few things you should know before buying to ensure real long-term results.
Price doesn’t actually matter
Stressed about your budget? do not be! You might think that the price was better when it comes to getting results, but that’s not necessarily true. “There is a misconception that more expensive products always work better,” explains RealSelf’s Dr. Joel Schlessinger. “But in reality, it all depends on knowing what’s good and what’s the science behind it.” This means that if a product contains active ingredients like retinol or antioxidants, it doesn’t matter if it’s from a drugstore, dermatologist, or luxury line.
Retinol can reverse signs of aging
The truth behind whether or not a topical product works comes down to the ingredients it contains. Retinol is an essential ingredient when it comes to reversing the signs of aging. “It’s the No. 1 anti-wrinkle eraser,” explains cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Desmir Destaing. Retinol is the active form of Vitamin A. As we age, our bodies naturally lose vitamin A, which is what helps create signs of aging like wrinkles and dull skin. But retinol can reverse this. “Retinol and especially retinoic acid increase cell turnover, build collagen, improve discoloration, [and] treat wrinkles by replenishing the body with vitamin A,” explains board-certified, nationally known dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman. As Dr. Schlessinger explains, “Retinol essentially teaches aging skin cells how to behave like younger, healthier cells by encouraging them to turn around more quickly.” So if a product contains retinol, you can expect to see smoother, brighter, and firmer skin.
Antioxidants can also help prevent signs of aging
Another key ingredient in antiaging skincare: antioxidants, which actually promote repair and healing when your skin is already mature. But the main anti-aging benefit is prevention. Antioxidants help protect the skin from free radical damage and environmental stressors such as UV damage or pollution. “They protect key supportive protein structures within the skin by slowing their degradation,” explains Dr. DeStange. These antioxidants come in many forms, including vitamin E and C, green tea extract, niacinamide, and resveratrol. Dr. Engelman further explains, “Vitamin C pairs with free radical scavengers in search of a missing electron, so it neutralizes the damage that free radicals would do if it were instead paired with an electron from a skin protein.” So if you’re someone who isn’t quite seeing the signs of aging yet, but you’re worried about the future, look for products packed with any of these types of antioxidants.
These active ingredients must come in high concentrations
While flipping through boxes to look for active ingredients like retinol and antioxidants, you’ll want to make sure they come in a high enough concentration to actually work. notes dr. Distinguish it should be at the top of the list of ingredients. “The active ingredient that was placed at the top of the list indicates higher concentrations within the product,” he explains. “You need to know if the concentration is strong enough to have a biological effect.”
Moisturizing ingredients are beneficial but should not be the main ingredient
Hydrated skin means plump skin. Plumper skin means younger looking skin. But to get long-lasting anti-aging benefits, you’ll need more than moisturizing. “The hyaluronic acid will hydrate and plump the skin, but only on the surface,” explains Dr. DeStange. However, you don’t want to completely give up on these moisturizing benefits. After all, it doesn’t absorb surface benefits like plump, smooth lines. It also helps provide a barrier to protect the skin. “Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which means it does wonders for skin hydration,” explains Dr. Engelman. “Skin loses water and moisture as we age. This ingredient will help store hydration.” Also, strong doses of retinol can dry out the skin. So while looking for products full of retinol and antioxidants, keep an eye out for hyaluronic acid, too. It will only help balance the skin’s moisture barrier and can deliver quick smoothing results while you slowly gain long-term results.
It won’t happen overnight
It takes time and consistency to see any kind of real results. While you may see superficial benefits thanks to hyaluronic acid or caffeine, actually reversing signs of aging takes time. All dermatologists stressed that women should be wary of any fast-acting claims the product makes. “Any claim that sounds too good to be true probably is,” says Dr. Engelman. “Even the best skin care products take 4 to 8 weeks to really produce measurable skin changes.” Dr. DeStange further explains that the skin needs a full cycle in order to produce new skin cells. And you will see real results with these new cells. You also need to maintain a consistent routine to get the full benefits of the products. This means that serums and creams should be used every day. “These active products require daily use, as the skin is replenished 24 hours a day,” explains Dr. Desting. Dr. Engelman usually recommends that clients use the product in the morning and before bed.
Doctor recommended products that delivered results
“The ROC Retinol and Replenix products appear to be well-formulated retinol products with good encapsulated delivery systems,” says Dr. Desting. “This ensures product stability and efficacy.”
Dr. Schlessinger also has a retinol recommendation: NeoStrata Skin Active Retinol + NAG Complex. “Helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, enlarged pores, dark spots, and sagging skin with time-released retinol,” he explains. “This treatment also contains NeoGlucosamine to build collagen and improve the support matrix surrounding the skin.”
For prevention, Dr. Schlessinger recommends SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. “It contains a powerful blend of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Ferulic Acid for long-lasting antioxidant protection. In addition to the antioxidant benefits, C E Ferulic also improves signs of aging and photodamage while brightening the complexion.”