No matter your skin-care priorities, it’s never a bad idea to incorporate products that prevent and treat signs of aging. “As we get older, our skin gets thinner and produces less collagen and elastin — which means it doesn’t repair itself as well and isn’t as plump or moist, which in turn causes our expression lines and wrinkles to stick around,” explains dermatologist Noelani Gonzalez, a specialist at Mount Sinai Health System. Wrinkle creams can be a great all-around product for navigating the skin’s natural aging process because the best ones will “provide support to your aging skin and deliver ingredients to the skin that help it better repair and renew itself,” she says.
To find the best wrinkle creams for preventing and treating fine lines, we spoke to Gonzalez and seven other dermatologists. Read on to find out what to look for in a wrinkle cream, or use the links below to jump straight to our experts’ picks.
Best overall | Best drugstore | Best for expression lines | Best with peptides and retinol | Best for dry skin | Best for oily skin | Best retinol-alternative | Best for the chest | Best for under eyes
What we’re looking for
Retinol: When it comes to fighting wrinkles, retinol is the gold standard. Morgan Rabach, a dermatologist at LM Medical NYC, says this derivative of vitamin A is the “No. 1 most important ingredient when looking for an anti-aging cream.” Dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum agrees, calling it one of the hardest-working products in your beauty arsenal for treating aging skin. That’s because retinol can help increase cellular turnover and encourage the formation of new skin as well as the production of collagen and elastin, all of which help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, according to Nussbaum. It helps fade discoloration, improve the appearance of pores, and repair UV damage. It can also be used to treat acne, so if you have acne-prone skin, choosing a wrinkle cream with retinol may help you manage two concerns at once. Retinol is not without drawbacks, however: It makes skin more sensitive to sunlight and tends to have an adjustment period marked by peeling, flaking skin. Still, the benefits usually outweigh the negatives. We’ve noted when a wrinkle cream’s formula includes retinol, as you shouldn’t double up if you’re already using a prescription retinoid. You should avoid retinol entirely if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Other active ingredients: Besides retinol, additional active ingredients can help with smoothing wrinkles. These include peptides, which dermatologist Karan Lal calls a powerhouse ingredient. Peptides, explains Lal, are bunches of amino acids that cluster together and serve as building blocks for proteins like elastin and collagen. “They help the skin heal, which is important for skin as it ages. Peptides help to restore some integrity to the skin,” Lal says. Other notable actives include vitamin C — a powerful antioxidant that helps with brightening and fighting free radicals, which break down skin cells and can cause wrinkles. Vitamin C can also help protect skin from sun damage, another leading cause of wrinkles. Chemical exfoliants, like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) can also help; common AHAs include lactic and glycolic acids, both of which are popular wrinkle-reducing ingredients. These remove dead skin cells and prepare skin to better absorb other products, like moisturizers.
Size: Because wrinkle creams tend to be very pricey, the amount of cream in the jar or tube is important too. We’ve factored in how much you’re getting — and, by extension, the cost per ounce — so you can decide which creams might give you the best bang for your buck.
Best overall wrinkle cream
Includes retinol | Other actives: lactic acid, antioxidants | 1 ounce ($130/ounce)
Skinbetter’s hero ingredient is retinol, the gold-star anti-aging ingredient. In this formulation, retinol is combined with lactic acid, which minimizes irritation while still delivering the benefits of both. “With this, you get the brightening effects of lactic acid in addition to the anti-aging effect of retinol,” says dermatologist Samer Jaber, founder of Washington Square Dermatology. It’s also well tolerated by sensitive skin; Jaber says that even his patients who have struggled with other retinoids find this “very tolerable.” Last, it contains a blend of antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals.
Best drugstore wrinkle cream
Includes retinol | Other actives: glycolic acid | 1 ounce tube ($18/ounce)
If you don’t want to spring for the Skinbetter, RoC’s night cream comes highly recommended by the experts we spoke to. Dermatologist Carlos A. Charles, the founder of New York City–based Derma di Colore, told us he typically suggests that patients use retinoids, retinol’s prescription-strength cousins, to treat wrinkles, but, he says, “in the over-the-counter world, RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream can be used for those who prefer a milder retinol formulation.” Rabach agrees, adding that the RoC is gentle enough to use on more sensitive, wrinkly skin around the eyes. When using retinol, correct application is key to avoid irritating your skin (though irritation may still occur if you’re just starting out). According to dermatologist Noelani E. Gonzales, start slow and apply a pea-size amount just two to three times a week, then work up from there.
Best wrinkle cream for expression lines
Does not include retinol | Other actives: peptides | 0.5 ounce bottle ($260/ounce)
Dr. Lal is a fan of Revision Skincare’s Revox 7, which contains seven different peptides and has been clinically proven to reduce expression lines around the eyes, forehead, and mouth, with lots of participants seeing results after eight weeks. “It helps to soften the lines,” says Lal. While this product is efficacious on its own, because it doesn’t contain retinol, it can be combined with a prescription retinoid to increase its effectiveness.
Best wrinkle cream with peptides and retinol
Includes retinol | Other actives: peptides, hyaluronic acid | 1 ounce bottle ($69/ounce)
This serum from Clinique, which comes recommended by Lal, contains both retinol and peptides that work together to boost collagen production and smooth skin. Lal calls it a good two-in-one product. “This is great if you don’t want to use multiple products,” he says. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which helps hydrate skin. The more hydrated skin looks, the less visible wrinkles will be, thereby reducing the look of fine lines. Despite being a lightweight serum, it’s hydrating enough to use on its own as a moisturizer, though you can layer it with a dedicated moisturizer for even more hydration.
Best wrinkle cream for dry skin
Does not include retinol | Other actives: vitamin B3, hyaluronic acid, peptides, niacinamide | 1.7 ounces ($12/ounce)
“Slathering a moisturizer on every night will also help” plump wrinkles and fine lines, according to Rabach. She suggests Olay Regenerist for its thicker texture, which she notes is particularly good for wrinkly skin that’s super-dry. This cream is infused with hyaluronic acid, peptides, and niacinamide, all of which work together to plump and smooth fine lines. Niacinamide is a star ingredient in the formula, and it works especially well for lightening dark marks. That means this product is ideal if you want to treat hyperpigmentation as well as wrinkles. Niacinamide also acts as a humectant, which prevents additional moisture loss — key for reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Best wrinkle cream for oily skin
Does not include retinol | Other actives: vegan collagen, peptides, vitamin B5 | 1.7 ounces ($45/ounce)
“It’s lightweight but hydrates,” says Dr. Rachel Cheung of this moisturizer from M-61 that contains a mix of vegan collagen, vitamin B5, peptides, and Kakadu plum. “The vitamin B5 draws in moisture to restore the skin barrier, while antioxidants protect from free radicals and peptides boost collagen production.” It’s also incredibly lightweight, a good option if you’re on the oilier side.
Best retinol-alternative wrinkle cream
Does not include retinol | Other actives: bakuchiol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid | 1.7 ounces ($35/ounce)
If you have sensitive skin and are looking for a less irritating alternative to retinol, Cheung recommends this moisturizer from Alpyn Beauty that contains common anti-aging staples like peptides along with bakuchiol, a natural ingredient that works similarly to retinol. “It’s a plant-derived alternative to retinol that delivers the same collagen-boosting effects without the irritation,” Cheung says, adding that the formula contains moisture-barrier-supporting ingredients like squalane to help maintain and hydrate the skin.
Best wrinkle cream for the chest
Does not include retinol | Other actives: heparan sulfate analog, dermatan sulfate analog, chondroitin sulfate analog | 1 ounce bottle ($198/ounce)
Celebrity facialist Candace Marino generally prefers serums to creams because they offer a more targeted approach. “Since serums are molecularly smaller than creams, they allow for better product penetration of the active ingredients,” she says. The serums can be layered with other night wrinkle creams for an additional benefit. She likes this cream-serum hybrid from Senté in particular, which she says helps firm and support skin from within and works particularly well for deep lines, especially on the chest area. It’s formulated with dermatan sulfate analog (DSA) and chondroitin sulfate analog (CSA) — a skin-firming duo that helps promote collagen and elastin production. Marino says it helps to “re-volumize lax, depleted skin,” and takes about four weeks of consistent use to see a noticeable difference.