Skin Care 101 tells us that if you want to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles, you need more collagen. But I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Slathering on the topical version of the stuff isn't the best way to get it... which means that a lot of the "collagen" creams on the market are, well, complete and total BS. "Topical collagen is a very large molecule that cannot penetrate into living layers on the skin, so it doesn't help to replenish skin's collagen, firmness, or elasticity," says Loretta Ciraldo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare. To help you avoid wasting money on products that don't actually work, we asked dermatologists to spill on the best anti-aging moisturizers that will actually help to firm up your face.
In order to understand how to properly treat wrinkles, it's first important to understand why we get them in the first place. As we get older, we have less naturally-occurring collagen and elastin in our skin. "Our bodies make less of those very important proteins, we break down those proteins faster, and skin biopsies show that the fibroblasts that make these proteins lose their integrity and function," says Dr. Ciraldo. "Dermatologists believe that by the time we hit 40, we have 1 percent less collagen each year."
Instead of replenishing your supply with topical collagen (which, as Dr. Ciraldo mentioned, is too big to get into your skin), you'll want to use collagen stimulating ingredients to help kick these systems into high gear. Your best bet? Peptides. "One group of peptides that truly help firm and increase elasticity in skin are 'signaling peptides,' like tetrapeptide 21 and rice proteins," says Dr. Ciraldo. "Both of these ingredients contain amino acids, which are the building blocks of collagen, and since they are small molecules, they can penetrate down into the living layers of skin, where they signal the skin to start to make more collagen."
While peptides can be a helpful addition at any step of your routine, board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, suggests getting them by way of a cream-based moisturizer. These formulas are able to penetrate better than balms and oils, which means the actives will be delivered into the deepest layers of your skin so that they can really work to their full capacity.. With that in mind, here are four of the best anti-aging moisturizers that derms say will actually work to firm up your skin—no topical collagen in sight.
1. Dr. Loretta Anti-Aging Repair Moisturizer
With the help of tetrapeptide 21, this moisturizer will stimulate your body cells start to produce more collagen of its own. In addition to fending off fine lines and wrinkles, it's also formulated with ingredients that protect against free radical damage (which speeds up the skin-aging process) and brightens dark spots. It's no wonder Dr. Ciraldo herself uses it every day.
2. Skinfix Barrier+ Triple-Lipid Face Cream
This moisturizer is known for its skin-barrier-building abilities. It's got peptides, hyaluronic acid and three different types of lipids to firm and plump your skin, making it look smoother and healthier overall.
3. Shani Darden Skin Care Intensive Eye Renewal Cream with Firming Peptides
If you're dealing with wrinkles around your eyes, this peptide-packed eye cream will perk them right up. In addition to peptides, it's also got squalane, niacinamide, and ceramides, which hydrate your skin and seal in moisture to give your complexion an even, dewy finish. Plus, it's gentle enough to use on your eyelids, which happen to be where signs of aging first show up.
4. Elemis Peptide4 Adaptive Day Cream
This lighter-than-air moisturizer will leave skin looking instantly bouncy, and over time, it will give it the collagen it needs to stay that way on its own. In a clinical trial conducted by the brand, 95 percent of participants agreed this product blurred the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and as someone who's used it for years, I wholeheartedly agree.
To learn more about peptides (and why they're worth adding to your face-firming routine), check out the video below.
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