The term “anti-aging” can invoke a visceral response. It’s a loaded term with sexist implications, and yet, it’s the standard descriptor for beauty products formulated for mature skin. It’s unfortunate, given that these products often contain ingredients that can keep skin healthy long-term, which should be everyone’s priority. Aging is a privilege, and we are all about using high-quality ingredients that nourish the skin and repair past damage to leave it supple, bright and beautiful. That’s how you age gracefully.
So here, the term anti-aging is a catchall phrase for beauty and skin care products that have active ingredients that not only target visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, but also support skin’s long-term health. We tapped Dr. Y. Claire Chang, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology, to give us a rundown on anti-aging ingredients and specifically, the best anti-aging creams for all skin types. As usual, her guidance does not disappoint!
Chang finds that most anti-aging ingredients can be classified into a few broad categories, including preventative ingredients, reparative ingredients and regenerative ingredients.
Preventative ingredients focus on avoiding photoaging before it happens, and include sunscreens to block or reduce skin exposure to UV radiation.
Reparative ingredients protect and repair the skin from existing damage and include reactive oxidative species like antioxidants.
Regenerative ingredients help boost skin renewal and collagen production. These include retinoids, peptides and alpha-hydroxy acids.
However, it’s important to note that these categories are not mutually exclusive. For example, retinoids can be considered both preventative and regenerative. Look for products that include these anti-aging ingredients, which can target multiple different signs of skin aging, including fine lines, skin dryness and dull complexion, brown spots and uneven complexion:
Chang explained to HuffPost how each of the above ingredients work: Vitamins C, B3 (niacinamide) and E are strong antioxidants that have been shown to repair the skin from free radical damage as well as brighten the skin, improve the complexion and stimulate collagen production. Green tea has been shown to reduce UV-induced damage to the skin. Retinoids have been shown to stimulate the production of collagen and elastic fibers to reduce fine lines and improve pigmentation. Ceramides help replenish the skin’s natural lipids and maintain skin hydration.
Chang recommends starting anti-aging creams and treatments in your late 20s and early 30s, when skin starts losing collagen. It’s never too early to start with good sun protection and avoiding smoking, both of which accelerate skin aging.
Keep reading for Chang’s picks for the best anti-aging creams available at a range of price points. They’ll help your skin feel nourished, protected, healthy and vibrant.
SkinMedica TNS ceramide treatment cream
SkinMedica’s nourishing cream contains essential ceramides to repair the skin and maintain moisture alongside peptides that reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s a very healing cream for those with dry skin looking to upgrade their skin care routine with powerful actives without going the prescription route.
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni retinol cream
Perfect for nighttime use, Drunk Elephant’s cream is formulated with retinol and peptides to boost collagen production and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, as well as skin-nourishing ceramides and fatty acids. It’s certified “green” at Sephora, a retailer designation for brands that are committed to formulating products without ingredients that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment.