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13 Best Anti-Aging Serums for Fine Lines and Wrinkles in 2022

best anti aging serums

Getty Image, Khadija Horton

Before we can dive into the best anti-aging serums, we need to discuss a few things first: (1) Aging is very normal. If you’re not aging, you’re not living, so aging is very much a good thing. (2) Changes to our skin, like the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots, that happen as we age are also very normal and are largely the result of years of UV exposure and a decline in collagen and elastin levels in the skin. So if you’re seeing signs of aging on your face, neck, and chest, don’t freak—this is a part of life and there are plenty of excellent anti-aging moisturizers and serums on the market to help amp up your skin’s elasticity.

So to help you narrow down all the options, I reached out to dermatologist Elyse Love, MD, and licensed esthetician

Brittany Blancato for their top picks and pulled together the most important things to know when shopping for a new anti-aging serum. But first, a sneak peek:

Our picks for the best anti-aging serums of 2022:

Ahead, the entire list of the 13 best anti-aging serums. Packed with tried-and true smoothing and brightening ingredients—like retinol, peptides, acids, and antioxidants—these serums are guaranteed to give your skin a dewy, smooth glow.

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1

Best Anti-Aging Serum with Retinol

Obagi Clinical Retinol 0.5

  • Time-released retinol is less likely to cause irritation
  • Has a thicker, cream-like consistency

This topical serum (it has more of a cream-like consistency, FYI) contains a gentle, time-released form of retinol—the most well-studied anti-aging ingredient in the skincare world—that’s designed to be easily tolerated by sensitive and redness-prone skin types, says dermatologist Elyse Love, MD. When retinol is time-released, it penetrates the skin more slowly, which in turn, reduces the likelihood of irritation. Basically, the ultimate retinol for sensitive skin.

THE REVIEW: “I know the importance of using a retinol, but in the past some formulas have been too harsh on my sensitive skin,” says one tester. “The Obagi 0.5 retinol does the trick and doesn’t bother or irritate my skin one bit.”

2

Best Anti-Aging Serum for Dry Skin

Alastin Restorative Skin Complex with TriHex Technology

  • Clinically proven to jumpstart collagen and elastin production
  • Not widely available at traditional beauty retailers

“The TriHex technology used in this formula is what makes it such a great anti-aging serum for daily use,” says licensed esthetician Brittany Blancato. “TriHex clears away damaged collagen and elastin and elastin and stimulates your tissue to rebuild, and regenerate new collagen and elastin in its place, resulting in smoother, healthier skin.” This serum also contains silver mushroom extract, a powerful hydrating ingredient (it’s ten times more hydrating than hyaluronic acid) that helps moisturize and plump skin, says Blancato.

THE REVIEW: “I’ve been using this serum for six months and my skin is absolutely glowing,” writes one tester. “I get complements from family and friends about how amazing my skin looks! This is a must-have for anyone skincare regimen.”

3

Best Cult-Favorite Anti-Aging Serum

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment

  • Visibly improves skin texture and tone with lactic acid
  • May be too intense for sensitive skin types

There’s a reason why this cult-favorite serum has like a gajillion five-star ratings: It really, truly works. It uses a multitasking AHA called lactic acid (think of it as glycolic acid’s chiller sister) to exfoliate skin and boost its hydration levels too. The result? An improvement in fine lines and uneven texture, a reduction in pore size, and fewer dark spots too.

THE REVIEW: “This stuff deserves 10 stars at least—it has totally changed by skin! It has smoothed out my texture texture, gotten rid of black heads and clogged pores on my chin, and even helped fade my discoloration too. I use this everyday now under my moisturizer before bed.”

4

Best Splurge Anti-Aging Serum

SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum

  • Clinically proven to improve skin’s texture and elasticity by week 2 of consistent use
  • Most expensive option on the list

This anti-aging serum is definitely on the pricey side, but reviewers say it’s worth every dollar. It uses a growth factor complex (it’s called TNS-MR technology) to support healthy skin function and jumpstart your skin’s renewal process, along with a blend of botanicals, marine extracts, and peptides to help increase collagen and elastin levels.

THE REVIEW: “This serum is absolutely amazing,” says a tester.”I’ve used it consistently for years and it’s taken a decade off my face, neck, and chest. It really gives your skin a gorgeous glow, smooths wrinkles. and makes your skin look virtually poreless too.”

5

Best Anti-Aging Serum for Sensitive Skin

Avene Retrinal Serum Advanced Correcting Serum

  • Contains bakuchiol, a gentle plant-based alternative to retinol
  • Takes time to see an improvement in skin tone and texture

This anti-aging serum contains bakuchiol (a plant-derived alternative to retinol that helps smooth fine lines and improve skin texture) that is a great option for those who have sensitive skin, are unable to tolerate regular retinol, or haven’t used anti-aging actives before, says Dr. Love. “It also contains hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to provide instant hydration and gradual improvement in skin discoloration.”

THE REVIEW: “This serum is amazing,” says one reviewer, adding “I love that I can use it in the morning along with my sunscreen. After using it, my skin feels like it is dewy, hydrated, and smooth.”

6

Best Celeb-Favorite Anti-Aging Serum

Shani Darden Skin Care Retinol Reform

  • Contains retinol and AHAs to smooth and resurface skin
  • Some reviewers say the scent can be off-putting

The beauty brainchild of celebrity esthetician Shani Darden, this anti-aging serum is a favorite among her A-list clients (including Shay Mitchell and Jessica Alba) for it’s ability to smooth fine lines and wrinkles, improve the appearance of large pores and uneven texture, and give skin a bright, even-toned glow. The magic? A blend of encapsulated retinol, lactic acid, and antioxidant-rich apple fruit extract.

THE REVIEW: “This product is amazing,” writes one tester. “After a solid month of use, my skin is brighter and smoother and I have less breakouts too.”

7

Best Anti-Aging Serum for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Clearing Serum

  • Helps prevent breakouts and reduce signs of aging
  • May increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun

I really like all of Skinbetter’s products, but I absolutely swear by this serum. It’s perfect for anyone who has acne-prone skin and is concerned about signs of aging (like fine lines and rough texture) thanks to a combo of retinol, salicylic acid, lactic acid, and zinc PCA. I’ve been using it nightly under a lightweight moisturizer for a few months now and my skin looks visibly smoother with smaller pores and I’ve had minimal breakouts too.

THE REVIEW: “I’ve been using this product now for a few months and have noticed a huge difference in the appearance and texture of my skin,” says one tester. “Other retinols have caused me to peel and this one does not—it works like a dream. And even though it’s a bit pricey, I’ve found that a little goes a very long way!”

8

Best Anti-Aging Serum with Growth Factors

ZO Skin Health Growth Factor Serum

  • Reviewers love the texture and the way it makes skin feel
  • Contains fragrance that me be irritating for some skin types

This anti-aging face serum makes your skin noticeably more glowy and plump, says Blancato. “It uses growth factors to regenerate skin and reduce all signs of aging, including fine lines, rough texture, and uneven skin tone.” Plus it has a velvety texture that absorbs nicely into the skin. “Every patient I recommend it to comes back and tells me how many compliments they’re getting on their skin.”

THE REVIEW: “I love how it feels on my skin,” says a tester. “It’s thick so a little goes a long way. My skin is so much softer now that use this and it seems to be helping with my fine lines and wrinkles too!”

9

Best Anti-Aging Serum for Dull Skin

BeautyStat Universal C Skin Refiner

  • Contains one of the most effective and stable forms of vitamin C
  • Some testers say the silky texture is prone to pilling

L-ascorbic acid—one of the most stable and effective forms of vitamin C—is the hero in this anti-aging serum from BeautyStat. The ingredient is the ultimate multitasker: it fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation, softens the look of fine lines, improves skin texture and pore size, and helps firm skin too. For best results, use it twice a day on clean skin and don’t forget to layer on an SPF during the day.

THE REVIEW: “This vitamin C serum doesn’t irritate my skin like other ones I’ve tried,” says a tester. “It has no smell and doesn’t turn brown in the bottle either. I haven’t gotten through the entire bottle yet, but I think my complexion already looks more even and smoother.”

10

Best Resurfacing Anti-Aging Serum

U Beauty Resurfacing Compound

  • Helps to smooth and plump skin with antioxidants and exfoliating acids and
  • One of the more expensive options on the list

Glycolic acid (one of the main ingredients in this anti-aging serum) has been shown not only to exfoliate but also to stimulate dermal collagen production—two key things for reducing the appearance of fine lines, large pores, and skin discoloration. In addition to glycolic acid, the formula contains hyaluronic acid to plump and smooth skin plus antioxidants (like vitamin C and E) to protect skin from the aging effects of free radical damage.

THE REVIEW: “This morning when I woke up I looked in the mirror and felt truly happy with my skin. This product is amazing—and took the place of three different products in my routine. Seems pricey but it’s worth it if you ask me.”

11

Best Drugstore Anti-Aging Serum

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ .5% Power Serum

  • Most affordable option on the list
  • Contains synthetic fragrance that may be irritating for some skin types

If you love drugstore skincare, this anti-aging serum from Neutrogena should be on the top of your list. The lightweight, fast-absorbing formula contains 0.5 percent retinol to smooth lines and wrinkles and improve skin firmness and elasticity too. Even better? At $43 dollars, it’s the least expensive option on the list.

THE REVIEW: “I have been using this for about three weeks now and I’ve already noticed the fine wrinkles starting to soften around my mouth,” reads one review. ” It leaves my skin feeling so soft and dewy too.”

12

Best All-Natural Anti-Aging Serum

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum

  • Made with all-natural and organic plant-based ingredients
  • Contains essential oils that may irritate some skin types

Listen up clean, green beauty lovers, because this one’s for you. Made with a blend certified organic ingredients (like vitamin C, fruit-derived stem cells, and resveratrol-rich grape extract), this ant-aging serum from Juice Beauty helps minimize the look of wrinkles and boost your skin’s glow. And because it’s infused with emollient butters and vegetable-based hyaluronic acid, it gives skin a silky smooth and plump texture that’s perfectly prepped for makeup application.

THE REVIEW: “This serum has definitely helped to erase my fine lines! I noticed an improvement within a few days after using it both in the morning and at night. This is definitely a staple in my routine now!”

13

Best Anti-Aging Serum with Peptides

Drunk Elephant Protini Powerpeptide Resurf Serum

  • Uses a combo of peptides and lactic acid to smooth fine lines
  • Testers say the swivel dispenser can be temperamental

A must-try for anyone who craves plump, bouncy skin, this serum from clean beauty brand Drunk Elephant checks all the right boxes when it comes to a good anti-aging product. It works on a cellular level to stimulate collagen and elastin production to improve skin’s firmness (ty, peptides), plus it contains 10 percent lactic acid to clear away dead skin cells on the surface of the skin for a smooth, even-toned glow.

THE REVIEW: “This is the only anti-aging product that works for my skin. I had severe redness and dryness and this product along with the Drunk Elephant luxury oil are heaven sent–my skin is so much smoother and happier.”

14

How to choose an anti-aging serum:

Assess the active ingredients in the formula.

There a ton of different ingredients used in anti-aging serums, and all they all have their own specific benefits. Use this lil cheat sheet below to help you narrow down the options.

  • Retinol: Derm-favorite anti-aging ingredient that jumpstarts cell turnover and stimulates collagen and elastin production.
  • AHAs: Exfoliating acids that resurfaces, smooths, and brightens skin.
  • Peptides, stem cells, and growth factors: Skin regenerating ingredients that improve skin function and signal collagen and elastin production.
  • Vitamin C and niacinamide: Two of the best skin-brightening antioxidants that protect skin from the aging effects of free radical damage.
  • Hyaluronic acid: Humectant that hydrates skin to temporarily plump fine lines.

Consider your skincare habits and current routine.

Your skincare habits and existing routine should influence the type of ant-aging serum you choose. For example, most serums with exfoliating acids and/or retinol are designed to be used at night, so if you’re the kind of person who forgets to wash their face before bed, they’re prob not the best formulas for you. And if you currently use a moisturizer or face mask with AHAS and BHAs, you may want to reconsider using a serum with acids or retinol as well since doubling up on exfoliating ingredients can cause skin irritation.

15

Meet the experts:

  • Elyse Love, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at GlamDerm in New York, NY. Dr. Love is an expert in clinical and cosmetic dermatologist and takes a holistic approach to skin wellness that includes fitness and diet.
  • Brittany Blancato is a licensed medical esthetician based in New York, NY. Blancato’s trusted expertise and simple but effective methods using the best technologies and devices in the medical-grade aesthetics world has made her one of the most sought-after experts in the industry.

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Why trust Cosmopolitan?

Lauren Balsamo is deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan with nine years of experience researching, writing, and editing skincare stories that range from the best retinol eye creams to the best lasers for acne scars. She’s an authority in all skincare categories but an expert when it comes to anti-aging products and treatments. She regularly tests and analyzes anti-aging serums for efficacy, while working with the industry’s top dermatologists and estheticians to assess new formulas, brands, and technologies.

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