A laundry list of concerns comes with most email requests for help in choosing an anti-aging beauty product – everything from sagging jowls, fine lines, dark spots, deep wrinkles, marionette lines, lip lines and so on. There isn’t a magic bullet that will solve every skincare concern, and for most people it is impractical in terms of time and money to micro-target with half a dozen different products. The best advice I can offer is to hone in on your biggest concern and get a product that will be the very best for improving it.
That same product will likely go some way to helping with the other issues too. Once the primary concern seems to be showing signs of real improvement, you can move onto one of your other issues and find the best product for that.
So here are some suggestions for choosing the best anti-aging serum to tackle your biggest concern.
If your biggest anti-aging concern is forehead and 11 lines
Forehead and “11” lines – those grooves between the eyebrows – can be very stubborn. Therefore, I would choose a really good wrinkle repairer above a serum that tackles sagging, or goes all out to improve skin tone. This leads me straight to epidermal growth factors and I have personally had good results on forehead lines with Medik8 Growth Factor Serum ($160). The key active is sh-Oligopeptide-1, a peptide that is bioidentical to human EGF but synthetically produced. Medik8 says that it has been triple filtered and encapsulated in liposomes to ensure penetration into the skin.
Skinfinite Peptide Repair Serum ($69 in the shop) also has oligopeptide-1, but in this case it is recombitant human (rH). It is comprised of up to 53 amino acids and stimulates cell growth to repair wrinkles. There are some powerful antioxidants here, including thioctic (R‐lipoic) acid which does lots of useful things such as helping to recycle other antioxidants, containing free radicals, and serving as an anti-inflammatory.
Matrixyl 3000 is a peptide combination that seems to tackle wrinkles by boosting collagen production. Good formulations with this anti-aging active are typically well worth seeking out and MD Solar Sciences Evening Facial Repair Serum($96) is no exception. Users report softening of lines and smoothing of crepey skin. Indeed, this would be a good call if your skincare concerns also included hyperpigmentation as there is also retinol and niacinamide.
If your biggest concern is marionette lines
Marionette lines are mistaken for really deep wrinkles, but really they are due to the skin hollowing out. So what you need are serums that help plump up the skin with collagen builders. For instant gratification as well as long term results, there’s Michael Todd Knu Anti-Aging Face Lift Serum ($150). Upon application, there’s a notable tightening of the skin. This serum’s most dominant active is snail slime. Really! It's a rebuilder of collagen and elastin! This packed serum includes Syn-Coll, which is supposedly more powerful than Matrixyl at boosting collagen and the immune defense, but Matrixyl 3000 is still here for good measure, as well as epidermal growth factor.
Syn-Coll is also a big deal in Arcona Peptide Firming Complex ($72), a serum that is much more successful at plumping and firming than wrinkle erasing. Arcona has also added to this pared back formula an active called Syn-tacks. This stimulates a broad spectrum of things responsible for youthful skin - laminin V, collagen types IV, VII and XVII and integrin - all at once.
If your biggest concern is lip lines
I think this one trumps as my biggest concern and I am never without a bottle of Your Best Face (YBF) Define ($70 in the shop), which can be used on the lips as well as around them. Daily use does help with lip lines and Define also contours the lips and makes them darker. Collagen boosting Syn-Coll is here as well as Pentavitin, which attracts and locks in moisture, as does sodium hyaluronate. There’s also YBF’s suite of signature free radical fighters.
Personally, I haven’t found anything to beat the combination of YBF Define and AQ Skin Solutions Active Serum($149 in the shop). AQ’s formula is simple: a couple of vitamins, lactic acid and glycerin with the dominant ingredient (42%) being the active human fibroblast conditioned media. This is made up of growth factors that stimulate skin cells to repair damage.
If your biggest concern is sagging cheeks and jowls
Topical solutions for sagging skin (that actually work) are new territory for the skincare industry. One of the most promising new actives is called ChroNOline, based on a peptide that beefs up laminin 5, which is like the skin’s scaffolding keeping the epidermis adhered to the dermis, and collagen.
La Vie Celeste has made ChroNOline a signature ingredient and it can be found in the line’s latest serum Éclairage Restorative Serum ($98.50 in the shop). Éclairage is also a skin brightener with alpha arbutin and a peptide called B-white.
Syn-Hycan is another new ingredient that promises to lift sagging skin as it stimulates hyaluronan (HA) synthesis and expression of lumican. You’ll find it in Your Best Face Hydrate B ($45 in the shop), along with sodium hyaluronate and three forms of vitamin B.
E'shee Multi-Tensor Extreme Face Lift Serum ($159). After several weeks of using this, my jawline looked more contoured, my cheeks firmer and my forehead actually seemed a little lifted. The key ingredients are magnesium, copper, zinc and manganese.
For a quick fix there’s Hyalogic Episilk Instant Facelift Serum ($39.95) with Pepha-Tight. This is based on two ingredients, an antioxidant algae and a fungi derivative called Pullulan that is made into a film former. The latter forms a sheer film that instantly makes the skin feel tight and look clear.
If your biggest concern is crepey, dry and maturing skin
It’s tempting to run for the retinol, but that might make things worse for crepey, dry skin. Look instead for a gentler resurfacer such as vitamin C, rebuilding stem cells and rejuvenating hydrators. Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Booster Serum ($75) has a bevy of fruit stem cells, vitamin C and antioxidant resveratrol, plus hyaluronic acid and borage oil. The result is smoother looking skin with decreased wrinkles.
Another serum that smooths the skin and gives a more radiant complexion is one of my all-time favorites, Skin Nutrition Cell CPR ($170). Skin Nutrition's philosophy is that skin cells are complex things made up of phospholipids, proteins (enzymes, oligopeptides, amino acids), oligosaccharides, oxygen, vitamins and minerals. And so, therefore, is Cell CPR with a whopping 70 or so ingredients.
If Skin Nutrition is big on amino acids, so too is BRAD, especially with the Essential Elixir Multi-Peptide ($95 in the shop) serum, which has more than a dozen of them. My skin finds it extremely soothing and it leaves my complexion looking smoother, dewy and calm – as if it’s been on vacation.