The Best Wrinkle Creams

There’s no over-the-counter quick fix for wrinkles — nothing we can slather on one night and wake up crease-free the next morning. When it comes to even the best wrinkle creams, we invest in the routine and cross our fingers that 10 or 20 years from now we may look 10 or 20 years younger than we would have without them. So it’s good news that the science behind the most powerful wrinkle fighters — retinol, for one, but alpha hydroxy acids and humectants like hyaluronic acid too — says they do actually work to decrease the appearance of fine lines and signs of aging. The bad news: They don’t come cheap.

The 6 Best Wrinkle Creams

Best All-In One
Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution
Dr. Dennis Gross
A non-greasy serum with all three of our wishlist ingredients for smooth, fresh skin.
Pros
All three anti-aging ingredients
Great packaging
Easy application
Lightweight formula
Cons
Thinner than other wrinkle creams

Why we chose it

All three anti-aging ingredients

Dr. Dennis Gross Brightening Solution succeeds where virtually every other wrinkle cream fails. In addition to having retinol and AHAs — bringing exfoliating and regenerative power to your daily routine — Dr. Dennis also includes sodium hyaluronate. This built-in moisturizer means you won’t have to add in a separate cream to keep your skin hydrated.

Great packaging

This wrinkle cream comes in an opaque bottle and can be applied without dipping your fingers into an open tub. Because retinoids are extremely fragile and degrade easily, we appreciated that the formula used packaging that minimizes exposure to light, air, and dirty fingers. Out of the 112 wrinkle creams we evaluated, the only other product that paired great packaging with our three key ingredients was La Prairie, a $530 wrinkle cream that made Dr. Dennis’ $68 price point seem like a steal.

Easy application

We also loved how easy it was to apply the Dr. Dennis Gross Brightening Solution. The angled dropper allows you to precisely deposit small drops onto your face or finger and then rub it in. The package also includes a wrapped stack of microfiber pads if you’d prefer to apply this way.

Lightweight formula

We found the formula pleasantly lightweight when we tested it. It only took us about four drops to cover our entire faces, and the serum absorbs within a couple of minutes. Its scent is fairly light — you might have to focus to catch it, as opposed to Dermatologica’s knock-your-socks-off approach — and has herbal and medicinal tones that none of our testers objected to.

Points to consider

Thinner than other wrinkle creams

Our one mild quibble is that Dr. Dennis Gross Brightening Solution is not strictly a cream — it’s a serum, with a thin, oil-like consistency. If you like the skin-feel of lotion or thick cream, you may want to consider either La Prairie or one of our not-quite-perfect runners-up below.

Dr-Dennis-Gross-Texture-Comparison-for-Wrinkle-Cream1

Dr. Dennis Gross' serum (left) is thinner than the lotions and creams offered by most of our finalists.

Best Splurge
La Prairie Cellular Power Charge Night
La Prairie
At $530, this lotion is pricey, but it boasts all three of our anti-aging must-haves plus a delightfully creamy texture that testers loved.
Pros
All three anti-aging ingredients
Luxurious feel
Great packaging
Cons
Price

Why we chose it

All three anti-aging ingredients

Along with Dr. Dennis Gross Brightening Solution, La Prairie was the only other wrinkle cream out of 112 contenders that combined perfect packaging with the triple whammy of anti-aging products: retinoids and exfoliants to undo wrinkles and keep skin looking young and healthy, plus sodium hyaluronate — a super-charged moisturizer that helps skin stay plump and hydrated.

Luxurious feel

Testers adored its texture, both immediately after applying, and hours later. It’s a lightweight formula that absorbs nearly instantly, and rests almost invisibly on the skin. This is particularly impressive given that La Prairie also includes a host of moisturizing plant-based oils like jojoba and sunflower seed oil. These absorbed quickly when we applied in the evening, and helped soothe our skin so our faces felt refreshed and moisturized in the morning.

Product Card image of La Prairie Wrinkle Cream

Great packaging

We also liked La Prairie’s packaging choice. Its completely opaque pump bottle carries an even smaller risk of exposure to oxygen and sunlight than Dr. Dennis' eye dropper, and means you can precisely measure out how much cream you need. Testers also liked the sheer appearance of the bottle itself calling it “otherworldly.” It’s sleek, minimal, and futuristic.

Points to consider

Price

La Prairie is almost six times the cost of our Dr. Dennis top pick (although it comes with 1.7 ounces of product to Dr. Dennis’ 1.0 ounces). If you want to see more before committing to $530, we were able to track it down at our local Nordstrom’s.

Most Pleasant Application
Dr. Dennis Gross
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer
A cream rather than a serum, but otherwise very similar to our top pick. Comes in a jar, which may reduce potency.
Pros
All three anti-aging ingredients
Pleasant application
Cons
Comes in a jar

Why we chose it

All three anti-aging ingredients

Like our two top picks, Dr. Dennis Gross’s Ferulic Acid + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer has retinoids, AHAs, and sodium hyaluronate, which means that it will fight wrinkles by encouraging your skin to regenerate more quickly, while also moisturizing and plumping your skin.

Pleasant application

We truly did enjoy Dr. Dennis Gross’s Ferulic Acid + Retinol Anti-Aging Moisturizer — the cousin cream to our top pick serum. Our testers enjoyed its rich creamy texture that absorbs quickly, and gentle orange scent.

Points to consider

Comes in a jar

This wrinkle cream checked all the boxes on our ingredient wish list, but unfortunately came in the wrong packaging. Unlike squeeze tubes and pump bottles, a jar means that the entire cream is exposed to air, sun, and bacteria every time it’s used. But if you’re sold on the idea of a thick lotion or cream, it’s the closest competitor to the $530 La Prairie.

Good Ingredients, Bad Packaging
It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream Moisturizing Super Cream
IT Cosmetics
Slightly cheaper than Dr. Dennis Gross, but with a weaker form of retinoid. May take longer to see anti-wrinkle effects.
Pros
All three anti-aging ingredients
Price
Cons
Weaker retinoids
Comes in a jar

Why we chose it

All three anti-aging ingredients

Like Dr. Dennis and La Prairie, It Cosmetics’ Confidence in a Cream Moisturizing Super Cream all three anti-aging ingredients we looked for: retinoids, AHAs, and sodium hyaluronate. That means it will prevent wrinkles while also moisturizing and drawing water into your skin cells to make it look more vibrant.

Price

The Confidence in a Cream Moisturizing Super Cream was the cheapest wrinkle cream we saw that still contained all three key ingredients. It’s only $48 for two ounces, almost half the price of Dr. Dennis at $75 for 1.7 ounces.

Points to consider

Weaker retinoids

While IT Cosmetics is a little cheaper than Dr. Dennis, it also uses a type of retinoid (retinyl retinoate) that’s weaker than the retinol that’s found in Dr. Dennis and La Prairie. This means it may take longer to see results but is less likely to irritate your skin, especially if you're prone to sensitivity.

Comes in a jar

Like our other runner up pick, IT Cosmetics was docked primarily because of how it’s packaged. It comes in a jar, so every time you open it, all of the cream is exposed, leaving the key ingredients more vulnerable to degradation. More seriously, the cream can become a hotbed for bacteria if you’re not diligent about washing your hands before each use.

Budget Pick: Best Feel
RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream
RoC
A gel that has 2 out of 3 of our wishlist ingredients, but no hyaluronic acid (a moisturizer). We'd suggest doubling up with a good face lotion.
Pros
Luxurious feel
Squeeze tube
Cons
Strong scent
No hyaluronic acid

Why we chose it

Luxurious feel

RoC’s Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream was rated highly by testers for its luxurious moisturizing feel — it has a texture similar to petroleum jelly, although it’s not sticky and absorbs much faster.

Squeeze tube

We also liked how ROC comes in a squeeze tube to protect the formula from light and oxygen. Along with pump-top bottles, this type of packing felt immensely more sanitary and controllable than creams that came in a jar.

Points to consider

Strong scent

The main drawback to ROC is its scent, the strongest among our top picks. It reminded us of scented baby wipes, and testers were split on whether they’d be willing to tolerate the strong aroma and wear it nightly.

No hyaluronic acid

While ROC does contain retinoids and AHAs, the two most important anti-wrinkle ingredients, it’s missing sodium hyaluronate, our favorite moisturizing ingredient. An easy work-around is to add a face moisturizer to your routine — preferably one that does contain sodium hyaluronate. (Both our top picks for best face moisturizer feature it, if you need a recommendation.)

Budget Pick: Stronger Retinoids
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
The Ordinary
A thin but potent emulsion. Like Roc, has everything but hyaluronic acid and should be paired with a face moisturizer.
Pros
Stronger retinoid formula
Dropper application
Cons
No hyaluronic acid

Why we chose it

Stronger retinoid formula

Notably, The Ordinary is the only one of our finalists to have two types of retinoids on its ingredient list: a retinol and a retinoate. This means that it may be a little stronger than our other picks. And, in fact, it was the only formula where our testers noticed a light burning sensation after application. It's not unusual for retinoids to cause stinging, itching, or tenderness, and it's usually a sign to cut back on your use: Only apply the product once every two or three days while your skin adjusts, and monitor your reaction over the course of a few weeks. If your skin continues to react poorly, take it as a sign to choose a gentler formula or consult with your dermatologist for other options.

Dropper application

Like our top pick, Dr. Dennis, The Ordinary is applied with a dropper. Our testers preferred Dr. Dennis’ angled tip over The Ordinary’s straight one, which they found trickier to control, but it was still a huge step up from dipping a finger into a jar. It’s an emulsion, which is similar to a serum, with a consistency that put us in mind of liquified lotion.

The Ordinary vs Dr Dennis Gross for Wrinkle Cream

Like our top pick, The Ordinary's anti-aging emulsion (left) has a thin texture that takes getting used to.

Points to consider

No hyaluronic acid

Like ROC, The Ordinary lacks the humectant sodium hyaluronate, which draws water to your skin cells. That means you’ll want to be paired The Ordinary with a standalone moisturizer. You can check out our top picks for face moisturizer, both of which contain hyaluronic acid.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Wrinkle Cream

Don’t overdo it

It can be tempting to layer on lots of cream, especially if you’re excited about trying out a new product. But everyone's sensitivity to retinol and AHAs is different, so it’s best to be cautious until you know how well your skin will tolerate the product. Dr. Ford recommends a graduated approach: “We tell our patients to begin using retinol on Mondays and Thursdays for a few weeks, then up it to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a few more weeks, and eventually you’ll just be taking weekends off. Some people can tolerate these products every day of the week.”

Don’t give up

It’s tough to be consistent when you won’t see results for weeks, months, or sometimes even years. But keep the faith. A wrinkle cream with the right ingredients will ultimately keep you looking younger. “These products won’t work if you don’t use them consistently for several weeks,” says Dr. Ford. “Try taking a selfie at the beginning of treatment and again at 90 days,” she recommends. “See if change is occurring: your freckles should be lighter, wrinkles should be less noticeable, and your skin more radiant.”

Stick to a routine

This includes the obvious: Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser. If you wear heavy eye makeup, invest in a dedicated eye makeup remover to avoid tugging at the delicate skin around your eyes more than necessary. You may also want to explore eye creams, which use many of the same ingredients found in wrinkle creams, but in gentle doses intended for the very thin skin under your eyes.

Wear sunscreen

The very best way to tackle wrinkles is to prevent them in the first place. Everyone we spoke to — dermatologists and chemists alike — noted that the most important wrinkle-fighting product you should own is sunscreen. And not just any sunscreen: a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 (as we learned when reviewing the best sunscreen). Stick with SPF 30; wear it every single day; and reapply as often as the instructions tell you to.

Skin tone doesn’t matter; season doesn’t matter; and being indoors most of the day doesn’t matter — you are still exposed to UV rays, which break down collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, accounting for 80 percent(!) of wrinkles. The best wrinkle creams work to combat those effects by boosting collagen production, but they don’t have to work so hard if sunscreen is helping them out.

And, this is very important to note: If you are using retinol and/or AHAs, be it in a wrinkle cream or other skincare product, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun. Wearing an effective sunblock daily becomes even more crucial.

Wrinkle cream FAQ

How should I store my wrinkle cream?

Wrinkle creams that come in tubes or pump-tops can be stored in a medicine cabinet or drawer with the rest of your cosmetics. But if you do opt for a wrinkle cream in a jar, we’d suggest the following precautions: Wash your hands thoroughly or use a clean applicator wand for each use, and keep your cream in the fridge (bacteria grow more slowly in the cold).

What’s the best age to start using anti-aging products?

Most people can start using anti-aging skin care products as early as 21. By the time you’re in your 30s, a lot of damage will already be done to your skin. The earlier you get regenerative ingredients like retinoids and AHAs into your routine, the less likely you’ll be to develop wrinkles in the first place.

What if I’m allergic to my wrinkle cream?

After using a wrinkle cream, “patients sometimes break out and think that means they’re allergic to the product as a whole as opposed to just one ingredient,” says Dr. Ford. The most likely culprit in these anti-aging products, she says, is actually vitamin E, an irritant that also showed up a lot in our review on the best lip balm. So before you bag wrinkle creams altogether, look for products that don’t contain vitamin E, commonly listed as tocopherol. If you find that you’re still having a bad reaction, Dr. Ford advises that you try a product that has just one of the powerhouse anti-agers.

What about wrinkle creams with peptides?

Like retinoids, peptides encourage the skin to regenerate. But they work even more slowly than retinoids, and are a more recent discovery with fewer clinical trials to support their efficacy. Their main draw is their gentleness: This is why, when we reviewed the best eye creams, we looked at a number of peptide formulas. But the skin around the rest of the face is less delicate than the very fragile eye area, so this isn’t a precaution most people need to take with a wrinkle cream. We opted to focus just on retinoid-based wrinkle creams.

The Best Wrinkle Cream: Summed Up

Application
Consistency
Scent
Hyaluronic acid
Dr. Dennis Gross Brightening Solution
Best All-In One
Dropper
Serum (thin
Herbal
La Prairie
Best Splurge
Pump-top
Lightweight cream
Unscented
Dr. Dennis Gross Anti-Aging Moisturizer
Most Pleasant Application
Jar
Lightweight cream
Orange
IT Cosmetics
Good Ingredients, Poor Packaging
Jar
Lightweight cream
Citrus
RoC
Budget Pick: Best Feel
Squeeze tube
Thicker cream
Baby wipes
The Ordinary
Budget Pick: Strong Retinoids
Dropper
Serum (thin)
Unscented

Our Other Skin Product Reviews

Wrinkle cream is just one piece of a great skin care routine. Check out some of the best products we’ve found: