Which Wrinkle Creams Really Work?

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Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits some of the more outlandish claims from the manufacturers of wrinkle creams and other anti-aging products -- anything that promises to restructure your skin is a no-go, for instance -- sorting through the buzzwords and the glossy advertisements still poses a challenge, even for savvy shoppers. The key to identifying wrinkle creams that work lies in the ingredients labels; always seek products with substances backed by experts in the field.

Restorative Retinoids

A type of natural vitamin A, retinol -- a gentle retinoid found in over-the-counter anti-aging products -- bolsters elasticity and works with your skin's retinoid receptors to help normalize the functions of deteriorating skin, smoothing texture, stimulating collagen production and increasing the rate of cell turnover. On his official website, Dr. Mehmet Oz writes that retinoids are “the only ingredient proven without a doubt to improve the cellular function of aged and photodamaged skin,” while New York University Medical Center dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Hale tells Live Science, “There is ample evidence that shows retinol improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.” In an interview with Cosmopolitan, dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu particularly recommends products with Renova, an ultramoisturizing over-the-counter version of prescription retinoids.

Alpha Hydroxy Assistance

Look for citric, glycolic and lactic acids on the label of anti-wrinkle creams. These substances, all different types of alpha hydroxy acids, derive from natural sources such as fruit and milk sugar. Because of their texture, they serve as exfoliating agents, sloughing off dead skin cells to encourage skin cell turnover. Glycolic acid in particular eases the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, lending the skin a firmer feeling.

More Ingredients

Many wrinkle creams tout free radical-fighting antioxidants on their labels, but Dr. Ivona Perec of the University of Pennsylvania recommends seeking products that contain the antioxidant vitamins C and E, which she dubs the most “time-tested” in terms of fighting the cell damage that ages the skin. Dermatologists such as Dr. David Colbert and the beauty experts at Woman's Day note the benefits of hyaluronic acid, particularly effective for treating crepe-like wrinkles. For daily wear, choose wrinkle creams with UV protection; the sun's rays contribute immensely to wrinkles and aging.

Reviewer Recommendations

In addition to dermatologist-backed ingredients, opinions from professional reviewers help cue you in to the products most effective against wrinkles. In 2013, Good Housekeeping awarded “Gold Winner” status to La Prairie Cellular Power Charge Night for its anti-wrinkle abilities, Boots No7 Lift and Luminate Night Cream for its smoothing of fine lines, Lancome Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector for its firming qualities and Skyn Iceland Angelica Line Smoother for its instant wrinkle-softening power. Meanwhile, Elle names Aveda's Green Science Firming Eye Cream among the best for reducing around-the-eye wrinkles. Redbook recommends 24.7 Skincare Smoothing Anti-Aging Moisturizer for expression lines and Olay Regenerist Filling + Wrinkle Treatment for fine lines and other wrinkles.