Sooner or later, we all buy skincare products, hoping they’ll do miracles for our fine lines and wrinkles or reverse damage caused by UV rays. But do they work? Or is it all just a delusional idea? Everybody knows that over-the-counter (OTC) products that address wrinkles are not listed as drugs; thus, they don’t require a controlled analysis to prove their effectiveness. So who can tell what will work or not? Most probably, the answer is science, other women, and your experience. All these products take time to show results, and their benefits are usually slight. However, just moisturizing your face twice daily can plump the skin, fine lines and make wrinkles appear less visible. Serums, creams, lotions, and gels are all moisturizers, and they contain hydrating ingredients, such as water, oils, waxes, or glycerin, keeping skin quenched. So besides keeping the skin hydrated, it’s necessary to ensure that your skincare routine includes proven ingredients that can preserve collagen breakdown, protect the skin against free radicals, and keep it energized with antioxidants and vitamins. In the end, don’t expect a face-lift from an OTC cream, but use it regularly and make sure it includes one or more of the elements below.
Proven Anti-Aging Ingredients in OTCs
A lot of ingredients are intended to improve skin texture, tone, fine lines, and wrinkles. From all of them, we’ve selected the ones that were scientifically proven to be effective in helping you keep aging signs under control. These are the most popular ingredients that may improve your skin’s appearance if layered regularly.
Also known as vitamin A, retinol and retinoic acid have a massive regenerative power for the skin, activating skin cells’ recuperative abilities. When applied topically, retinoid products can reduce fine lines and wrinkles by protecting collagen against degradation. Also, they stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin, which improves skin texture. While it regulates and normalizes cell functions in the skin, retinol increases epidermal thickness and smooths the skin’s outer layer, fading age spots and softening dry patches. Moreover, retinoids help stimulate the production of new blood vessels improving skin color.
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Regimen
Try this retinol regimen for visible results. A complete skincare kit that contains a renewal serum for the face, one for the eye area, and night cream, all supercharged with retinol and HA.
The Ordinary Retinol Serum in Squalane
Not only that is formulated with 0,5% retinol, but this serum is also enhanced with squalane, known to restore skin moisture and fill in fine lines. Everybody loves it!
Fast fact: UV radiation is the primary cause of photoaging, and by the age of 30, almost 50% of women suffer from it. Maybe sunscreen is not an ingredient, but it’s SO IMPORTANT (yes, just yelled out) that couldn’t miss from this list. Light is around us at all times, making sun damage a year-round concern for healthy skin. That the clouds don’t block the UVA rays, you probably already know. Even worse, reflective surfaces like snow and ice intensify UVB rays and their effects on the skin. Thus, not only that helps prevent skin cancer by 50%, but wearing sunscreen every time you go out can help you avoid photoaging signs.
There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreen sits on the skin’s surface blocking and scattering UV rays. They do this via mineral filters, the most common of which are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They’re usually thicker, and due to this, they may feel a bit heavier than a chemical sunscreen with equal SPF. Hence, they might not be the best choice for oily or acne-prone skin types. On the other hand, they’re less irritating for sensitive skin than some chemical filters. Also, mineral actives alone often offer less protection from damaging UVA radiation than chemical filters.
Chemical sunscreens contain active sun filters that penetrate the skin and absorb UV rays to prevent them from causing damage. They’re able to provide highly effective protection without needing to be in high concentrations. Most of them are formulated with a lightweight, non-sticky formula, ideal for daily wear. Chemical filters can also contain ingredients that may irritate sensitive skin, but most modern products contain antioxidants to safeguard it at the same time. Anyway, chemical or physical sunscreen is a matter of preference; both will do as long as they have at least 30 SPF. If you’re not sure where to start when buying sunscreen for your face, check out our editor’s favorites:
La Roche-Posay Mineral Ultra-Light SPF 50
Our favorite is this mineral sunscreen, by La Roche Posay, with 6% titanium dioxide and 5% zinc oxide in a super light and fluid formula.
Lancome Bienfait Multi-vital Sunscreen
For your face, this silky, vitamin-infused lotion nourishes and protects with 30 SPF while provides antioxidant protection.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, leading to cell and tissue damage. The process occurs naturally and plays a notable role in the aging process. Well, vitamin C neutralizes free radicals that cause oxidative stress to the skin, being a super-strong antioxidant. Besides, its antioxidant activity is an excellent candidate as a protective factor against UV irradiation if applied topically. Another role of vitamin C is boosting collagen formation. Hence, you would want to add it to your skincare routine if you want plump skin — your skin will love a vit C serum. Since the body can’t produce vitamin C, you must add it to your routine, topical and oral intake (you can simply eat an apple per day). Many people wonder if vitamin C oral intake has the same effects as applying it topically. Yes, it’s OK to intake vitamin C for your skin, but the use of topical ascorbic acid is favored in the practice of dermatology.
Drunk Elephant Vitamin C Day Serum
Made with 15% vitamin C, ferulic acid, HA, and a blend of botanical extracts, this serum is truly helpful in making the skin tone become more even, diminish fine lines and dark spots, and, energize your skin.
Clinique Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C
For a vitamin C boost, use this moisturizer, so, so praised and ready to make your skin glow! Made with peptides, caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and so many other skin-loving ingredients — check it out!
Alpha Hydroxy Acids
AHAs are a group of acids, often used in cosmetics as a superficial peeling agent, that ameliorate the skin’s appearance. Citric acid, glycolic acid, caproic hydroxy acid, hydroxy caprylic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid are the most common AHAs used in skincare products. If you want an all-inclusive anti-aging treatment, then introduce an AHA in your routine. The primary purpose of AHAs is to exfoliate the skin. Depending on the concentration, a related product may remove dead skin cells from the skin’s surface or remove the whole outermost layer. Water-soluble AHAs help peels away the skin’s surface so that new, more evenly pigmented skin cells may form and replace them. After each use, you’ll likely notice that your skin is smoother. AHAs are mostly used for hyperpigmentation, large pores, fine lines and wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. Since they help remove dead cells, using an AHA product regularly helps prepare your skin to absorb other products better. Even if they are marketed as safe for all skin types, you want to think twice if you have extremely dry or sensitive skin. You may need to gradually work up to daily use to avoid irritating your skin.
Biossance Squalane Resurfacing Night Serum
If you want a gentle exfoliator that works while you sleep, go for this serum. Vegan and infused with soothing, plant-derived squalane, it gently smooths skin for a glowing and healthy look.
The Ordinary Peeling Solution
This one is a bit stronger, great if your skin is used to exfoliators. With 30% AHA and 2% BHA in a bottle, it includes glycolic, lactic, tartaric, and citric acids. Use it once weekly to avoid any risk of irritation.
As a naturally-produced antioxidant in our organism, CoQ10 is needed for cellular energy production and cell maintenance, being present in all human cells. But as the CoQ10 level in the body decreases with age, and UV-irradiation exists, it leads to oxidative damage, reducing the skin’s CoQ10 levels even more. In 2015, a study investigated the benefits of topical CoQ10 treatment concerning two critical points: increased cellular energy metabolism and antioxidant effects. For two weeks, 73 women applied Coenzyme Q10 in different concentrations twice daily. The research showed that a topical CoQ10 treatment might counteract environmental stress and cell damage on the skin’s surface. Shortly, the data presented in this research indicates that topically applied CoQ10 can penetrate the skin and is metabolically transformed, exerting antioxidant effects and maintaining cellular energy levels. Must mention that these effects are not only beneficial for aging skin suffering a CoQ10 deficit. People of all ages can benefit from regular treatment with Coenzyme Q10 for coping more effectively with UV irradiation and stress.
Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner
And for toning your skin, you can try this formula with antioxidants, coenzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, and organic extracts for refreshing effects. Your skin will adore it!
DHC CoQ10 Moisture
This gel is not only made with CoQ10, but contains a blend of plant extracts, collagen and HA. It hydrates, minimizes external aggressors damage, and brightens the skin.
Ceramides are made up of long-chain fatty acids, and they’re the main component in the outermost layer of the epidermis. The role of ceramides in the skin is to create a water-impermeable, protective layer to prevent excessive water loss while serving as a barrier against bacteria’s entry. In this way, ceramides lock moisture into our skin, helping prevent dryness and fine lines’ appearance. Our skin is made up of ceramides, and it becomes dry and more prone to look aged when their productivity decreases. Making up over 50% of skin’s composition, ceramides play a vital role in determining how your skin looks and how it reacts to environmental aggressors. Since ceramides are lipids that form the skin’s barrier and help it retain moisture, you need a proper ratio of them, so avoid compromising your skin by using a moisturizer with ceramides.
Ceramides are naturally produced in our body, but sun exposure, hot water, soaps, some chemicals, and environmental factors can deplete their level. Replenishing the skin with skincare products formulated with ceramides helps restore the skin’s barrier, which may increase skin hydration. They are one of the anti-aging powerhouses responsible for supporting the skin’s dynamic nature. These two products are to try.
Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream
Intensely hydrate your skin with this ceramide cream that boosts the skin’s natural moisture barrier while keeping it protected against environmental free radicals. I bet you’ll thank me later!
Babor Serum Ampoules Ceramide Serum
Enough for a week-treatment, these ampoules visibly strengthen skin barrier and protect it against moisture loss. It includes three types of ceramides combined with peptides — so powerful!
When peptides are applied topically to the skin, they trigger skin cells to build collagen and elastin, giving you a younger look. Peptides are an essential element, and if smooth skin is what you want, then peptides shouldn’t miss from your skincare arsenal. They play an indispensable role in collagen synthesis and degradation, and they’re used in the body to control cellular functions. Scientific research has proven that peptides can support your skin on multiple levels, such as firming, soothing, and hydrating. For 3 months, a group of volunteer women aged between 30–45 applied a product with peptides and antioxidants twice daily. The research aimed to evaluate the efficacy and tolerance of the treatment for wrinkles around the eyes. The topical peptides demonstrated immediate and long-term improvements in eye wrinkles’ appearance, as confirmed by clinical and subject evaluations. Finding the right product type can go a long way, but we have two excellent suggestions for you:
skyn ICELAND Dissolving Microneedle Eye Patches
Formulated with hyaluronic acid and peptides, these eye patches are a fantastic solution for puffiness. Every patch is densely packed with microneedles and they do a great job when worn overnight.
Jan Marini Skin Research Transformation Face Cream
Try the ultimate cream for dramatic improvement in aging signs and damaged skin. Enhanced with peptides and antioxidants, the Jan Marini Cream goes way beyond simple hydration.
Our body produces hyaluronic acid (HA) by nature, but it depletes with age. An overall decline of hyaluronic acid manifests as a functionality loss of skin’s deeper layers to bind water, leading to a lack of plumpness and firmness. As a multi-functioning molecule, HA can hold nearly 1,000 times its weight in water, help moisturize and plump the skin, and regulate water transport and water content in skin tissues. Without hyaluronic acid, the collagen and elastin fibers are not kept moist and elastic.
Fair to say that topical hyaluronic acid serums and creams don’t have the same effect as injectables, but they will definitely keep your skin hydrated longer if used in conjunction. Hyaluronic acid in skincare products is produced by bio-fermentation or synthetically, being very similar to the type found in cosmetic procedures. Many women prefer hyaluronic acid as the main ingredient in their skincare products due to its hydrating properties and highly moisturizing ability. When the overall HA content in the skin increases, it creates an ideal environment for collagen to thrive. In skincare products, hyaluronic acid comes in two sizes: high molecular weight and low molecular weight. The high molecular weight means it has a large molecular size, allowing it to hold water at the skin’s surface, having high moisture retention — it’s excellent for plumping and hydrating skin instantly. This is useful since retaining water in the skin creates a protective barrier, shielding against sun damage. On the other side, the low molecular weight HA has a small molecule, penetrating the skin more profound than the high one—the smaller the molecular weight, the greater penetration and skin action.
However, like all products formulated with HA, they don’t penetrate into the dermis, but they still play a massive role in amplifying moisture and water transfer to the skin. These are our favs:
FAB Skin Lab Triple Hyaluronic Acid Cream
Pamper your eye area with this triple weight hyaluronic acid formula, retinol, and minerals that lock in the skin’s natural moisture for an instant luminous effect.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5 Serum
With 2% hyaluronic acid, vitamins B and C, this serum is ideal for intensified hydration and strengthened skin barrier — no wonder everybody literally loves it!