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)
- Best For Wrinkle Prevention #1: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00)
- Best For Wrinkle Prevention #2: Niod Survival 30 (£25.00)
- Best For Firming Skin: Niod Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 (£38.00)
- Best For Sensitive Skin: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster ($44.00)
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.
Available at: Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- 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, Sephora and Ulta
- The Ordinary Retinol 1% In Squalane (£5.80): available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, Escentual and Feel Unique
Related: Which Retinol Strength Is Right For You?
Struggling to put together a skincare routine that minimises wrinkles, prevents premature aging, and gives your complexion a youthful glow? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” to get started (it features product recommendations + right application order):
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.
Available at: Blue Mercury, Dermstore and Skinstore
- 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
Related: What Outrageously Expensive Products Are Worth The Splurge?
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.
Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and Feel Unique
- 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
Related: 3 Reasons Why Mineral Sunscreen Is Better For Sensitive Skin
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.
Available at: Escentual
- 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
Related: Are Copper Peptides Better Than Retinoids?
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 anti-aging superstars like retinol and vitamin C, niacinamide becomes 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.
Available at: Dermstore, Look Fantastic, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- Paula’s Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster ($42.00): available at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- The Inkey List Niacinamide ($6.99): available at Cult Beauty, and Feel Unique
- The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.00): (Oily skin only!) available at Asos, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
Related: Can You Use Niacinamide + Vitamin C Together?
Now you know what products really works to treat and prevent wrinkles and are worth the splurge. Introduce them one at a time in your routine and watch it get younger-looking.
the drunk elephant retinol didnt do much for me. The skinceuticals can be replaced with an Ordinary vitam c and their ferulic acid serum for a fraction of the cost. Don’t forget reitinalaldehyde is just as god as retinol
Jeff, I agree re retinadehyde. Such a shame it’s so hard to find. I get mine from Medik8 but they’re not easily available everywhere.
I get my retinaldehyde from Avene Triacneal (0.1%, same percentage as Medik8 but more affordable, and available in Boots). It is working much better for me than retinol (minimum side effects at the beginning, zero side effects now). The formula also contains a gentle exfoliant. I am a big fan.
First, I want to say that I love and appreciate all the information you share.
Because of you, I have changed my skincare routine and added many of your suggestions.
I am going to list my current routine below. My questions are, where in my skincare routine should I add:
1) C15 Booster
2) Ordinary Buffett + Copper Peptides 1%
3) Is it safe to use together or do I need to alternate days
4) Is there anything else you suggest I should add to my routine….I am 54 years old with dry skin and occasionally get pimples along my jaw line (I know, hormonal, ugh).
1. Moisturising Cleaner: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleaner
2. Toner: Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence
3. CEF (Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid) Serum cocktail:
The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3%
+ The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbic Phosphate 10%
4. Hylauronic Acid Serum: Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluraonic Acid
5. Rich Moisturizer: CeraVe AM Face Moisturiser
6. Sunscreen: EltaMD UV Lotion
NIGHT TIME ROUTINE:
1. Makeup Remover: PURITY
2. Toner: Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence
3. A. Exfoliate: w/The Ordinary Gylocolic Acid 7% Toning Solution
Or (Alternate nights between A & B—NEVER USE TOGETHER)
B. Retinol – PTR Fusion PM
4. Hyaluronic Acid Serum: Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluraonic Acid Booster
5. Rich Moisturizer/Facial Oil: CeraVe PM Face Moisturiser
6. Dermalogica Age Smart multivitamin Power Firm
I know you’ve said that you don’t believe in eye creams but I really love them and feel like my eye area really needs the extra moisture.
I was using Peter Thomas Roth day/night Retinol & Firm X eye cream, but my eyes were getting to puffy and flaking. I stopped using it two days ago and my eyes have really cleared up……could it be that I should only use these products periodically.
Sorry for the long post.
From one of your biggest fans,
Hello Marina, thank you for your comment. I’d love to help you create the perfect skincare routine for your needs. That’s why I’ve created Routine Makeover, a bespoke skincare consultation. You can book your session here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/skincare-consultation/
Can I use vitamin c and copper serums at the same time? I have read conflicting information about how to apply them.
Jamie, I keep reading you can’t use them together, but funnily enough, no one is citing a study or providing any evidence for this claim. I use copper peptides first and 15 minutes later add vitamin C, just to be on the safe side.