Face Serums that Will Banish Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

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But with all the different types of serums and ingredients available—and all the hype that comes with new releases and cult products—it can be difficult to figure out which bottle can give your skin that much-needed rejuvenation. Hence, it’s important to understand the specific needs of your skin and how time, the environment and your lifestyle affect it.

How Wrinkles and Fine Lines Form

Fine lines and wrinkles are part of the natural aging process as skin gets thinner, drier and less elastic with age, says Dr. Rhonda Klein, a board- certified dermatologist in Westport, Conn. As early as your mid-to-late twenties, the production of the proteins collagen and elastin—the building blocks of healthy skin—slows down. Because they are being broken down faster than new ones are produced, this breakdown triggers the aging process that results in a dull complexion, sagging skin and folds and creases.

Do Wrinkle Serums Actually Work?

Unlike creams and lotions, serums are able to go deeper into the skin’s layers, says Heather Bennett, esthetician at Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center. “Anti- wrinkle serums are more liquid than solid and therefore are able to penetrate multiple layers of skin more quickly and easily. The major benefits of serums are that they offer the most lightweight formula and give the most intensive results,” adds Bennett.

“Anti-aging serums can help reduce environmental toxins, build collagen and elastin and smooth fine lines and wrinkles,” says Dr. Klein. They can also help prevent premature wrinkles and fine lines from developing in the first place, says Sivak. “There are many ingredients that can prevent oxidation and modification of cellular components, including the very important DNA mutations caused by UV radiation,” Sivak explains. “Other ingredients can prevent lipid oxidation, preserving cellular integrity.”

What Ingredients to Look For

Identifying your skin’s specific needs is the best way to choose an anti-aging serum. Below is a rundown of the best anti-aging serum ingredients that will plump up your skin, boost its defenses against environmental aggressors and keep signs of aging at bay.

  • Vitamin C—Known for its essential role in boosting collagen synthesis, vitamin C can leave you with a brighter complexion. It’s also a potent antioxidant that “can help reduce skin damage caused by free radicals, thereby reducing fine lines and wrinkles and improving texture,” Dr. Klein explains.
  • 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.
  • Peptides—A high concentration of peptides in a serum will help stimulate the growth of collagen and elastin. This results in the skin’s increased strength and elasticity, encourages skin healing and remodeling and smoothing away fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Epidermal Growth Factor— Epidermal growth factor is a molecular chain of amino acids that aids in healing and wound recovery. It works by stimulating tissue repair and cell growth at a cellular level as well as encouraging the formation of collagen and elastin fibers, explains Dr. Klein.
  • Stem Cell—While stem cells can’t actually regenerate your skin or magically erase wrinkles, they do contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and help “protect your skin against sun damage, prevent wrinkles and induce collagen synthesis,” Dr. Klein says.
  • Retinol/Vitamin A—“Retinoids bind to nuclear receptors and modify gene expression,” says 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. They also help in lightening brown spots or pigmentation caused by sun exposure.
  • AHAs—Alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic acids are primarily used as exfoliants but can also “promote collagen synthesis, correct discoloration and improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles,” explains Dr. Klein. They are also effective acne treatments and can help improve product absorption.
  • Vitamin E—This lipid- soluble antioxidant helps “protect cellular membranes from the damage done by free radicals, breaking the chain reactions initiated by them,” explains Sivak. It’s one of the most hardworking skin care ingredients, aiding in the prevention of photodamage, reduction of scars and plumping up the skin to diminish fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Niacinamide/Vitamin B3—This potent anti-aging ingredient can “visibly improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines and dullness,” says Dr. Klein. “It may even reduce the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers in high-risk patients.”
  • Soy Isoflavones—According to Sivak, these phytoestrogens “can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles caused by a decrease in hormone concentration during menopause.”
  • Resveratrol—Found in the skin of red grapes (and red wine!), resveratrol is “a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress and irritation,” says Sivak. In high concentrations, it can help improve the skin’s elasticity, radiance and firmness.

Best Anti-Aging Face Serums of 2021

Say goodbye to fine lines and wrinkles and give your daily skin care regimen a boost with our top recommended anti-aging serums, below.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

  • There’s a reason this serum has gotten over 2,000 five-star reviews on ishonest! Aside from vitamin E and ferulic acid, this antioxidant powerhouse also contains 15-percent pure l-ascorbic acid or vitamin C, making it truly worthy of its holy grail status. With a super-concentrated formula that’s effective for up to 72 hours, this serum enhances the skin’s defenses against oxidative stress and UV rays, smooths lines and wrinkles and firms and brightens.
  • SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum

  • When it comes to restoring your skin’s youthful glory, this serum is definitely not holding back. Featuring a combination of next-generation growth factors, innovative peptides, botanicals and marine extracts, it improves the look of wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin—with visible results in just two weeks.
  • Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment

  • Thank your stars if you’ve won the genetic lottery and have never spent a day in your life worrying about dryness or breakouts. Whether you were born with good genes or not, clear and radiant skin is within reach with this gentle serum featuring five-percent purified-grade lactic acid that works to clear skin and enhance collagen production. It also contains licorice, lemongrass and aloe, which reduce hyperpigmentation, boost radiance and soothe and refresh your complexion.
  • iS Clinical Active Serum

  • Featuring salicylic acid and herbal extracts, this multitasking serum works hard in providing anti-aging, anti-acne and brightening benefits by reducing hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, redness and inflammation.
  • Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex

  • We all know the importance of beauty rest if you want to maintain a healthy complexion. Infused with hyaluronic acid, this anti-aging treatment takes advantage of your skin’s natural nighttime renewal process using the brand’s trademarked Chronolux™ Power Signal Technology that helps increase skin’s natural ability for visible self-repair.
  • Obagi ELASTIderm Facial Serum

  • Over time, our bodies lose the ability to make elastin, the protein responsible for skin’s firmness and ability to “bounce back.” The Bi-Mineral Contour Complex in this serum helps to initiate and promote the formation of healthy, new elastin, leaving skin looking firmer, more resilient and less crepey after just eight weeks of use.
  • Eminence Organic Skin Care Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum

  • Sagging skin and loss of firmness are some of the most noticeable signs of skin aging, but they can easily be prevented with this botanically powered serum. Hyaluronic acid plumps up sagging facial contours and boosts your skin’s hydration, while salicylic acid from strawberry gently removes debris from your pores to prevent breakouts and even out your complexion. It also features a potent BioComplex that includes antioxidant boosters and coenzyme Q10 and extracts from rhubarb, aloe vera and honey that address fine lines and wrinkles and soothe and refresh skin.
  • PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum

  • This ultra-moisturizing face serum may be just the game-changer your skin is looking for. With its potent skin-perfecting formula that blends ceramides, niacinamide and a proprietary hyaluronic acid complex, it repairs and strengthens the skin’s natural barrier, plumps away fine lines and delivers up to 24 hours of hydration.
  • Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate

    Youthful skin has a natural resilience, and this strengthening serum can help your skin recapture its firm, supple qualities. Powered by the iconic Japanese beauty brand’s own ImuGeneration Technology™ and Ultimune Complex™, this dewy concentrate helps boost skin’s ability to defend itself from day to day damage.

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    With over 10 years of writing and editing experience, Janeca Racho has worked with clients in the fashion, entertainment, food, health and travel industries. An adventurer at heart, she will gladly trade her heels for a good pair of hiking shoes and skip hotels to camp under the stars. She loves horror movies, googling ingredients in her beauty products and backpacking trips with her toddler. Her newfound obsession: nude lipstick.

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