Fellow beauty editors will feel this hard: The texts usually come on Sunday nights. The tone is direct, if slightly twinged with desperation: "Have you heard of the Hanacure mask?" (Yes.) "Do wrinkle creams actually work?" (Yes.) "What are the best anti-aging products?" (Right this way.) I've gotten these texts from my closest friends, my 16-year-old niece, my far-flung college acquaintances, and my baby daddy. Aging is an honor and a privilege—and it's coming for all of us. So while some of us foster our commitment to it when we're in our halcyon twenties, others don't catch the skincare bug until their thirties or beyond. And guess what? All of those approaches are okay, especially considering the quality products available.
That being said, finding the best anti-aging products isn't easy, per se. If a drugstore or beauty counter felt dizzying, Instagram just makes the market even more cluttered. That's why consulting expert advice is essential. We reached out to the best dermatologists in the game to find their favorite anti-aging products on the market today. (We also threw in a few of our own personal favorites.) The message was overwhelmingly clear: A few proven ingredients reign supreme: Hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, retinols, and niacinamide. And if something seems too good to be true, and promises to deliver the moon in twenty minutes flat? Well, be wary. And then send me a text. Ahead, the anti-aging products I feel completely comfortable recommending to my nearest and dearest.
"This is one of the most effective over-the-counter retinol creams on the market. At one percent vegan retinol, it has a higher concentration than the average OTC retinol, but still quite sustainable for skin that's sensitive or dry. Plus, it's formulated with a blend of three peptides that firm the skin and enhance the benefits of the retinol."—Gretchen Frieling, dermatopathologist, Boston
This is not the first time I've written about my love for RoC retinols and God willing, it won't be my last. Thanks to a hypoallergenic formulation and a soothing mineral complex, you'll experience none of the retinol downsides (puffing, scaling) and all the upside (visibly smoother, clearer skin).
Hundreds of five-star reviews don't lie. This unfussy form of vitamin C works on the surface of the skin to deactivate skin-degrading free radicals, leaving your complexion tight and bright.
"This is one of my favorite OTC antiaging hacks: A formerly prescription topical retinoid FDA-approved for acne that is reasonably priced. As we know, one of the good side effects of retinoid use is a reduction of fine lines and sun damage."—Dina Strachan, dermatologist, New York City
"I love this product because it helps to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, plus it's great for lightening dark circles and highly recommended for patients with sensitive skin since it's fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic."—Stacy Chimento, dermatologist, Miami Beach
If you're thinking of the skin like a brick and mortar structure, ceramides are the lipid-based adhesives between cells, and it's something that your body produces less of over time. Here a complex of ceramide, hyaluronic acid and beetroot work to replenish parched skin and propping up compromised skin scaffolding.
Like a wellness shot—this time full of prebiotic chicory root, antioxidant blueberry, and vitamin C-rich apple—to firm, quench and nourish skin that needs a reset.
Exfoliating—or physically/chemically removing dead skin cells from the surface of your complexion—is an essential part of any complete skin routine, and this fruit-enzyme based option from skin savant Kate Somerville is one of the best. A blend of lactic and salicylic acid, plus papaya, pineapple, and pumpkin enzymes loosen dull skin from clogged pores and leaves skin refreshed. A soothing blend of honey, aloe vera, and vitamin E also assures you aren't left red and raw.
A rather unassuming elixir that packs a lot of punch. Dampen your face with this milky liquid, which contains the brand's proprietary hadasei-3, a concentrate o green tea, rice, and algae, which, when fermented together as they are here, produce a gentle form of exfoliating lactic acid. The result is softer, hydrated skin with no irritation.
"With a feel-good creamy formulation of two percent bakuchiol, stabilized vitamin C (a potent antioxidant), plant stem cell extract, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, this cream helps repair signs of aging and sun damage while replenishing the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Plant-derived bakuchiol works along the same gene pathways as retinol, but is often much better tolerated without. Vegan, cruelty-free, and from a certified B corporation, this is formulated with the importance of efficacy and sustainability for the world."—Naissan O. Wesley, aesthetic and surgical dermatologist and author, Beverly Hills, CA
"This is one of my go to as a daily physical blocking sunscreen with the 10.7 percent zinc oxide and SPF50+. But it also contains photolyase, peptides, and antioxidants to protect, repair, and correct DNA damage and signs of aging. Liquid, lightweight, and tinted against sometimes pasty-appearing zinc oxide, it blends in well on all skin colors and types."—Naissan O. Wesley, aesthetic and surgical dermatologist and author, Beverly Hills, CA
Another old-school product with excellent results. Hyaluronic acid hydrates as algae and yeast extracts boost cell activities, meaning new, better skin cells get built. Enzymatic alkyl guanine transferase brightens any age spots or dark marks.
"There is no better anti-aging product than sunscreen. We can't control our genes, but we can control our environment. UV light exposure causes damage to collagen and elastic fibers leading to lines and wrinkles and stimulates pigment producing cells to go into overdrive leading to dark spots. Even incidental exposure on a daily basis adds up over a lifetime, so it is important to wear sunscreen every day. Studies have shown that applying nothing more than sunscreen over a one year period was associated with improvement in all aspects of skin aging. With so many sunscreens on the market, there is one for every preference and skin need. This is a light formula that goes on almost invisibly with a texture that lies somewhere between a primer and a serum."—Joshua Zeichner, dermatologist, New York City
"Definitely a splurge product, but so worth it. It’s a proprietary blend of retinol and lactic acid boosts collagen and exfoliates unique to the brand. (Lactic Acid one of my faves because it’s an emollient as well as an exfoliator.) Also has stellar moisturizing ingredients—squalane, niacinamide, fatty acids, ceramides—to reduce irritation and protect the barrier."—Ranella Hirsh, dermatologist, Boston
This famed cream is on J. Lo's beauty rider and that's all you really need to know.
"The science is there proving efficacy with this particular product. Vitamin C is a large molecule and it needs to get into the skin to be an effective antioxidant and fight the signs of aging as well as sun damage."—Dana Spearman, dermatologist, Fort Wayne, IN
"I was looking for an eye cream that was moisturizing but not too oily and this one is perfect! It hydrates the dry skin around my eyes, and I've noticed improvement of my fine lines. Often I'll use an eye cream and continue looking for a new one to try. Since purchasing Bioassance, my search has ended."—Aleta Simmons, dermatologist, Nashville
"While we focus a lot of attention on retinols/retinoids and other sexier items like peptides, we should never underestimate the power of a good moisturizer. And this versatile product is worth the investment. It’s hydrating due to its unique hyaluronic acid, without leaving your skin oily. It also contains soothing antioxidants like green tea polyphenols that prevent premature aging. It’s a one-stop-shop moisturizer."—Cheri Frey, dermatologist, Maryland
The combination of excellent moisturization, collage, and mild exfoliation thanks to alpha hydroxy acids, means this isn't your mother's cold cream but also, it kind of is, because mama always knows best.
No: oils, fragrances, alcohol, dyes. Yes: Retinol, vitamin E, and pro vitamin B5, all of which work to give your skin the glow-up it craves.
The bioactive effects of algae aren't as well proven as say, retinol or vitamin C, but that doesn't mean they aren't equally as effective in practice. Just try. Here, padina pavonica, a Mediterranean algae combines with mimosa—the perennial, not the cocktail—for an inflammatory, toning and astringent treat.
You need power active ingredients, but you also need a good go-to moisturizer, which is why so many turn to the red jar. Hyaluronic acid moisturizes while a proprietary peptide-B3 complex hydrates and renews cells alongside antioxidants vitamin E and green-tea extract. It's thick, creamy and fragrance free, making it an indispensable step in a lifetime skincare routine.