Moisturizing has been part of many people’s skin care routine for as long as they can remember — and for good reason. Overall hydration is important to keep your skin functioning as it should.
“When the skin barrier becomes disrupted, skin loses hydration and becomes inflamed,” says Dr. Joshua Zeicher, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s department of dermatology. While this isn’t always what directly causes wrinkles, which often form as expression lines after repeated behaviors, “wrinkles can also develop when the foundation of the skin becomes weaker, which happens with age and environmental exposures like UV light,” says Zeichner, who adds that such stressors can “damage the collagen and elastic fibers in the deeper layers of the skin, leading to wrinkles.”
While it’s impossible to turn back time — nor should you want to! — there are a few anti-aging moisturizers for people in their 40s and 50s that many derms recommend for their ability to keep the skin barrier intact. Plus, a lot of them are filled with powerhouse ingredients that keep mature skin hydrated, supple and protected. Ahead, the top moisturizers that derms recommend to age 40-plus patients.
Do moisturizers really prevent wrinkles?
In short: No. While simply hydrating skin can “temporarily lessen the appearance of lines and wrinkles, especially if you have dry skin,” to prevent wrinkles, “a product needs active levels of proven anti-wrinkle ingredients like retinol, firming peptides, AHA or vitamin C,” according to Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, a Miami-based board-certified dermatolgist and founder of Dr. Loretta skin care.
Still, both derms agree that keeping skin hydrated can help it to appear smoother and more plump. Plus, it creates a more suitable canvas for makeup. “Think of how lined our hands can look in midwinter and how much smoother they look after applying a thick hand cream,” adds Ciraldo.
Anti-aging moisturizers for dry skin
“Over the age of 40, the skin tends to get drier because the skin barrier weakens,” says Zeichner. “Look for products that contain a combination of emollient and occlusive ingredients to form a protective seal over the skin.”
Olay Vitamin C + Peptide 24 Moisturizer ($28.99, originally $38.99; olay.com)
“This combines vitamin C with lactic acid, the best hydrating AHA exfoliator, and skin-firming peptides for smoother, more hydrated and brightened skin,” says Ciraldo.
Dr. Loretta Intense Brightening Cream ($75; drloretta.com)
This brightening cream relies on potent vitamin C to “provide major anti-wrinkle and skin brightening benefits,” says Ciraldo. “Vitamin C enhances skin’s lipid production to hydrate and enhance skin vibrancy.”
Rodan & Fields Redefine Triple Defense Cream ($90; rodanandfields.com)
“This not only provides broad-spectrum UV protection but also specialized peptides that give an anti-aging effect and improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles,” says Zeichner. “It’s great for patients with dry skin because it contains fatty alcohols and skin-protecting dimethicone.”
Anti-aging moisturizers for sensitive skin
“Look for fragrance-free moisturizers if you are sensitive,” says Zeichner. “You may love the smell of your products, but fragrances commonly lead to irritation and allergies.” Additionally, antioxidants and peptide-rich formulas can help improve the skin’s barrier function, which when disturbed, can make skin temporarily sensitized.
It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream ($49.50; sephora.com)
A favorite of Ciraldo’s (and just about every beauty editor ever), this gel-like cream is packed with lipids and peptides that sink right into skin.
CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen ($14.99; target.com)
“This fragrance-free formula repairs the skin barrier using three essential ceramides,” says Zeichner. “It also contains broad-spectrum UV protection.”
Clinique Custom Repair Night Moisturizer ($62; ulta.com)
“This contains anti-aging but non-sensitizing peptides, lipids to help restore barrier function and hyaluronic acid to plump skin appearance,” says Ciraldo.” Like all Clinique products, this is artificial fragrance- and dye-free which is so important for sensitive skin.”
Anti-aging moisturizers for oily skin
“If you have oily skin, make sure your moisturizer is oil-free so it won’t weigh down the skin during the day,” says Zeichner.
Ponds Rejuveness Anti-Wrinkle Cream ($7.99; target.com)
“This a great option if you have oily skin,” says Zeichner. “It delivers AHAs to remove excess oil and provide an exfoliating effect. It also contains collagen which provides a skin protecting and hydrating effect, and it gives the skin broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection.”
Dr. Loretta Concentrated Firming Moisturizer ($70; drloretta.com)
“This features the most skin-friendly form of retinol, retinoic ester, combined with antioxidants lipochroman and CoQ10,” Ciraldo says of this pick from her own line. “Use this for more hydrated, firmed and smoothed skin with a reduced appearance of wrinkles and rough texture.”
Olay Regenerist Whip Face Moisturizer ($29.24, originally $38.99; olay.com)
“The cream to liquid technology goes on smoothly to oily skin surface and supplies skin with anti-aging benefits of skin firming peptides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid,” says Ciraldo. “And it does double duty with an SPF 25.”
Anti-aging moisturizers with SPF
“Using a moisturizer with SPF versus two separate products will be a matter of personal preference,” says Ciraldo. But she always recommends you use two separate products for moisturizer and sunscreen. “Here’s why: High concentrations of actives in a moisturizer typically don’t stay stable within an SPF formulation. And since SPF is meant to be reapplied every two hours when outside, you don’t want to get irritation from reapplying anti-wrinkle ingredients like retinol every two hours.”
Still, if you tend to forget sunscreen altogether, “a moisturizer with sunscreen is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, hydrating the skin and protecting it from the sun,” says Zeichner.
RoC Multi Correxion Hyaluronic Acid Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 ($32.99; ulta.com)
“This uses hyaluronic acid to pull in hydration to the outer skin layers along with broad-spectrum UV protection from the sun,” says Zeichner.
SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ($35; dermstore.com)
“Minimalists may go for the combined approach,” says Ciraldo. This pick from SkinCeuticals is also tinted, cutting out yet another step. She recommends reapplying every two hours for the most effective protection.
Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+ ($29; target.com)
“Any product that contains an SPF on the label will give you that level of protection so long as you’re using it the right way,” says Zeichner.