Wrinkles and fine lines are some of those things in life that we know are inevitable, yet the first hints of crow’s feet and laugh lines still catch most of us off-guard. But while we can’t completely stop aging in its tracks, there is no shortage of skin-preserving products that can definitely slow down the advances of time and gravity.
That said, we also know it can be daunting to sift through every beauty aisle to find that holy grail serum or moisturizer that delivers on its promise to turn back the clock. So before you get swayed by the latest cult product that’s got every beauty influencer talking, it’s important to first understand what your skin needs and which ingredients can rejuvenate and restore its youthful glow.
How Wrinkles and Fine Lines Form
Fine lines and wrinkles are all part of the natural aging process as skin gets thinner, drier and less elastic with age, says board-certified dermatologist Rhonda Klein. As early as your mid-to-late 20s, the production of the proteins collagen and elastin—the building blocks of healthy skin—slows down. And because they are being broken down faster than new ones are produced, it triggers the aging process that results in a dull complexion, sagging skin along with folds and creases.
External or environmental factors also play a role. Pollution, UV radiation and lifestyle habits like smoking all accelerate and contribute to the degradation of your skin’s healthy cells and connective tissues, with some parts getting thicker and other thinner, adds scientist, author and skin care expert Dr. Hannah Sivak. “At the molecular level, there are many changes in protein structures. Some proteins are being broken down and replaced with others that are different in amino acid sequence and physical behavior,” she adds.
Products to Add to Your Routine
Whether you approach skin care with a minimalist attitude or opt for an elaborate routine, there are certain product types that we can all agree are the mainstays in any anti-aging regimen. Read what they are below:
- Moisturizer—Dryness and dehydration often make your skin more prone to displaying early signs of aging, which makes having a reliable moisturizer in your beauty arsenal a must. Moisturizers restore the protective barrier of your skin and prevent water loss, explains board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse. Additionally, it prepares your skin and acts as a base for more targeted anti-aging treatments and ingredients such as retinoids, growth factors and antioxidants.
- Serum—Serums are concentrated bottles of high-performing actives that are able to go deeper into the skin’s layers, says Heather Bennett, esthetician at Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center. “They offer the most lightweight formula and give the most intensive results,” she adds. Anti-aging serums counter the effects of free radical damage, boost collagen and elastin production and prevent premature wrinkles and fine lines from developing.
- Eye Cream—The skin surrounding the eye area is up to five times thinner than the rest of your face, which is why it tends to be drier and show the first signs of aging. In most cases, face creams and moisturizers are not enough to nourish this delicate area as it requires gentler and more targeted ingredients to reduce the risk of irritation and address anti-aging concerns that are specific to the eye area. Eye creams help to moisturize the skin under your eyes, making it plumper and reducing the appearance of fine lines, says Dr. Shainhouse. “Silicone-based products can fill in the lines, blurring their appearance, while eye creams with retinoids can help rebuild collagen, preventing new wrinkles from forming and reducing the appearance of older ones over time,” she adds.
- Sunscreen—The sun’s UV rays are bad news for your skin. Not only are they linked to a number of skin conditions, including skin cancer, they are also responsible for most of the damage that your skin endures. Sun-induced aging or photo-aging occurs when skin is continually exposed to the sun without adequate protection and can lead to age spots, wrinkles, pigmentation and sagging or drooping skin.
What Ingredients to Look For
Identifying your skin’s specific needs and understanding how certain ingredients can address your concerns should be your first step in choosing the best products for fine lines and wrinkles. Below is a rundown of the best anti-aging ingredients that will plump up your skin, boost its defense against environmental aggressors and keep those dreaded signs of aging at bay.
- Retinol—“Retinoids bind to nuclear receptors and modify gene expression,” says Dr. Sivak. They are considered the rockstars of anti-aging skin care because of their ability to “minimize the appearance of wrinkles, bolster skin’s thickness and elasticity and slow the breakdown of collagen,” adds Dr. Klein. Retinol also helps lighten brown spots or pigmentation caused by sun exposure.
- Plant-Based Stem Cell—While stem cells can’t actually regenerate your skin or magically erase wrinkles, they do contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, notes Dr. Klein. “This helps protect your skin against sun damage, prevent wrinkles and induce collagen synthesis,” she adds.
- Vitamin E—This lipid-soluble antioxidant helps “protect cellular membranes from damage [caused] by free radicals, breaking the chain reactions initiated by them,” explains Dr. Sivak. Vitamin E is one of the most hardworking skin care ingredients, aiding in the prevention of photo-damage, reduction of scars and plumping up the skin to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, adds Dr. Klein.
- Peptides—A high concentration of peptides in a serum will help stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin, explains Dr. Klein. This results in the skin’s increased strength and elasticity, encourages skin healing and remodeling, while smoothing away fine lines and wrinkles.
- Hyaluronic Acid—As a potent humectant or moisture-binding ingredient, hyaluronic acid helps the skin retain moisture and induces collagen remodeling, leading to plump, hydrated skin, says Dr. Klein. It also prevents skin dehydration, helps improve complexion and blurs the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Essential Lipids—Lipids such as fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides occur naturally in your skin and are responsible for maintaining the skin’s protective barrier and moisture level and aid in the skin’s healing and repair process. However, like collagen, lipid production declines with aging, leading to roughness, a lackluster complexion and sagging skin. Topical lipids that mimic the skin’s natural lipid composition counter these signs of aging and strengthen your skin’s protective barrier, which also make them a key ingredient in post-procedure treatments.
- Essential Oils—Loaded with nutrients, fatty acids and antioxidants, essential oils are key in anti-aging and preventative skin care as they add a protective layer onto your skin to help lock down moisture and restore its natural lipid barrier. Coconut, argan, rose and avocado oils are some of the most common beauty oils that are known to help regulate the formation of new lines and wrinkles, enhance your skin’s elasticity and boost moisture and hydration.
Best Anti-Aging Products
Looking for the best anti-aging serum or moisturizer that will send those fine lines and wrinkles packing? Search no more! Below, we listed our top-rated anti-aging products for you to try.