What are the best products for fine lines and wrinkles? Like, what really works?
It’s a minefield out there. From retinol to peptides and papaya enzymes, everything promises to rid you of those wrinkles and turn the clock back 10 years.
How do you make sense of it all and chose products that can get the job done – for real? Fret not, I’ve got your back.
Here are the best skincare products for fine lines and wrinkles (and why they make the cut):
Best For Reducing Wrinkles: Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream ($74.00)
Vitamin A is the only thing proven to reduce wrinkles – not just their appearance. It comes in many forms, some so harsh they’re available by prescription only (Tretinoin and Retin-A).
In OTC serums, you’re more likely to find retinol. It’s a gentler form of Vitamin A that fights wrinkles in three ways: it destroys free radicals before they can give you wrinkles, boosts collagen production to firm skin, and speeds up cellular turnover (ie. the skin’s natural exfoliating process) to smooth out wrinkles.
Retinol works – slowly. It takes up to 2 months for it to start boosting collagen production. Needless to say, the higher the concentration, the better the results you get.
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream contains a whopping 1% retinol. I know 1% doesn’t sound like much, but for retinol it’s huge. So huge, if you start with it straight away, you’ll turn your skin into a flaky red mess.
The trick is to start with the smallest concentration of retinol you can find (even 0.01% works!) a couple of nights a week and build up both dose and frequency gradually until your skin can tolerate A-Passioni.
It’s totally worth it. Retinol aside, this anti-aging cream is loaded with natural oils and niacinamide to moisturise skin and strengthen its protective barrier, and antioxidants to keep new wrinkles at bay.
- Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($58.00): available at Dermstore, Feel Unique, Nordstrom, Paula’s Choice and Selfridges
- Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Treatment Serum ($65.00): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Sephora and Ulta
- The Ordinary Retinol 1% In Squalane (£5.80): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Escentual and Feel Unique
Best For Wrinkle Prevention #1: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00)
Skinceuticals CE Ferulic is one of the very few products I’m willing to sell a kidney for. It was the first serum to feature one of the most powerful antioxidant combinations out there: Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant on steroids: it fights free radicals, boosts collagen production and brightens the skintone. Pair it with BFF Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid and its antiaging powers double.
Plus, this combo also boosts the sun protection of your sunscreen, helping you to prevent sun damage and all the havoc it wreaks on your skin.
The only catch? Vitamin C has a short shelf life. This stuff goes bad quickly so don’t buy it if you don’t plan to use it straight away.
- Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00/£67.00): available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice C15 Booster ($49.00): available at Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum ($25.95): available at Yes Style
Best For Wrinkle Prevention #2: Niod Survival 30 (£25.00)
I can’t stress this enough: NOTHING in this list will work if you skip sunscreen. UV rays are to blame for up to 90% of premature aging. You’re sabotaging your routine if you don’t slather sunscreen on every morning.
I’m partial to zinc oxide sunscreens. This white mineral protects, on its own, from the entire UV range. Plus, it’s so gentle, even babies can use it!
The catch? It’s thick, hard to spread and leaves a white cast behind. I don’t know how Deciem did it, but their Niod Survival 30 avoids all this crap.
The tinted texture is so lightweight, it dries out quickly without making you look like Caspar The Ghost. It’s comfortable to wear and works well under makeup.
The best part? This sunscreen is loaded with antioxidants, including Superoxide Dismutase. Hard to find in skincare products, Superoxide Dismutase destroys Hydroxyl Radical, the worst, most damaging, type of free radical ever.
- EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 ($25.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
- Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30 ($33.00): available at Dermstore, Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50 Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00):available at Nordstrom and Ulta
Best For Firming Skin: Niod Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 (£38.00)
I’m VERY sceptical when it comes to peptides. They promise to firm skin, reduce wrinkles and do all kinds of cool things for your skin. Problem is, most of the studies supporting their effectiveness come from the manufacturer. Take them with a pinch of salt!
But there’s a growing body of evidence showing that copper peptides at least may be the real deal. Copper-Tripeptide-1, for example:
- Has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe irritations
- Has antioxidant properties that fight free radicals and prevent wrinkles
- Help wounds heal faster
- Stimulate collagen production, making skin firmer
Let’s be clear: if you’re still young, copper peptides won’t do much for you. Your skin is still functioning as it should and producing most of the collagen it needs.
Once you reach the big 4-0, adding copper peptides to your skincare routine makes sense. The most effective copper peptide serum I’ve found so far is Niod Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1.
In my experience, this works better than The Ordinary dupe below, so if you can afford to splurge a bit more, do it. The serum keeps your skin in a constant state of repair, reduces inflammation and helps firm skin.
- Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68.00): available at Cult Beauty,Sephora and SpaceNK
- The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1% (£28.90): available at Asos, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Look Fantastic
Best For Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster ($44.00)
I believe everyone should use niacinamide. But if your skin’s so sensitive, it can’t tolerate harsher antiaging superstars like retinol and vitamin C, it’s an absolute must.
- It hydrates skin: it’s more effective than petrolatum at preventing water loss
- It soothes skin: it alleviates the symptoms of rosacea and irritations
- It lightens skin: it reduces dark spots, blotchiness (redness) and sallowness (yellowing)
- It helps treat wrinkles: preliminary research shows it can boost the production of skin-firming collagen
- It treats acne: its effects are similar to those of 1% clindamycin gel
I like to get my fix from Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster because it’s loaded with antioxidants that help you prevent new wrinkles from forming. Plus, you can use it alone or mix it with your fave serums and moisturisers.
- CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($15.49): available at Dermstore, Ulta and Walmart
- EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer ($34.00): available at Dermstore and Walmart
- Nia24 Skin Strengthening Complex ($93.00): available at Dermstore
What do you think are the best skincare products for wrinkles and fine lines? Share your fave picks in the comments below.