I'm going to let you in on a little secret. It’s a secret that the beauty industry doesn't want you to know, but it's about time someone just laid it down for us: There is no such thing as anti-ageing. There isn't a single moisturiser, serum, cleanser, or mask with the power to knock five years off your face. Sure, there are ingredients around that can smooth very fine lines under a microscope, make skin look temporarily glowy and plump sagginess in the short-term, but as far as one hero product that guarantees eternal youth goes, it just doesn’t exist.
What's really frustrating is that, deep down, we all know this is true. We know it's true because we spend hundreds of pounds on skincare products that promise us age reversal, and they never live up to their claims. However, people will continue to buy every miracle-promising product out there. Why? Because the anti-ageing narrative is so deeply etched into our being through clever marketing techniques. No matter what the evidence says, as the decades tick by, we will continue to buy the next "wrinkle-reducing" cream that comes our way, just in case it's the one that actually works.
So as much as it pains me to admit, as long as we're going to spend money on anti-ageing products anyway, we might as well be spending our cash wisely. While it's true that no product can make us look substantially younger, there are "anti-ageing" products out there that can optimise our skin's function, making it appear healthier and more youthful. For example, retinol, peptides, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants won’t rid your face of wrinkles, but they can help plump the skin, boost radiance and slow down any further ageing.
In recent months, luckily, there has been an influx of anti-ageing products that harness formulas and technologies that can make a real difference to our skin's health and the way that it looks. I still don't believe in anti-ageing, but these are 17 products that I do think are worth adding to your skincare routine.
L'Oréal has spent years trying to perfect this formula, and it's finally here. No, it doesn't have laser-like results as the name would suggest (no skincare product does), but this little bottle houses a potent formula with a high concentration of retinol to boost cell turnover and reveal healthier-looking skin.
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Speaking of products that have taken some time to perfect, Beauty Pie's Overnight Skin Perfector has spent the last 18 months getting a reformulation, and the results are quite something. This powerful product contains a blend of gentle, slow-release retinol, plumping hyaluronic acid, nourishing shea butter and resurfacing AHAs. The glow come morning is unrivalled, but be warned: As with every AHA product, only use it once or twice a week.
Not only does this retinol cream help effectively plump and add luminosity to the skin (it contains a dual retinol complex for maximum results), but it also contains niacinamide to soothe and keep any nasty side effects at bay, meaning it's a good option for those with sensitive skin.
This targeted treatment can be applied directly to areas of concern (fine lines, wrinkles, etc.) to minimise irritation all over. It contains a blend of botanical extracts and a patented complex that helps to visibly improve radiance and even out pigmentation. Plus, it includes a retinol derivative to hurry the results along. Following a few weeks of use, I'm a big fan of this.
If you're wary of retinol, this cream from Clinique might be worth taking a look at. Yes, it contains a potent retinol to help smooth and soften, but it also utilises more comforting ingredients such as mango-seed butter and squalene to keep skin happy.
This clever serum utilises retinal, a stable, gentle form of retinol. It still promotes cell renewal and collagen production, but without any of the major irritation that retinol comes with.
Despite what you may read, collagen can't actually be absorbed by our skin (the molecule is too large). Instead, it just sits on the surface, making things look artificially plumped. However, certain peptides that can be absorbed by the skin have the power to kick-start our body's natural collagen production for healthier, plumper results. This stuff contains those clever peptides for a comparably affordable price.
Formulated with Matrixyl 3000+, an elasticity-boosting peptide blend, this serum can be mixed into your moisturiser or applied directly to fine lines to deeply plump and hydrate.
We often neglect our necks in our routine, but it is one of the first places on the body to show visible signs of ageing. This serum has a cooling roller for a calming, massage-like application and contains a tripeptide complex to firm skin without any irritation. Most of all, it's the ritualistic element that wins me over.
Looking for an exfoliant that packs a serious, high-tech punch? This Retexturizing Serum contains lactic acid to gently resurface and boost glow without compromising hydration. On top of that, it includes a special nonapeptide to boost luminosity. It's the definition of a glow booster.
When we go overboard on retinol and acids, our skin's natural function suffers, as it becomes damaged. Any form of damaged skin will only intensify the signs of ageing. This rather remarkable serum is formulated with irritation and upset in mind. Containing a tripeptide complex as well as hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, it works to help boost collagen and elastin production while restoring essential moisture and hydration. Think of it as the ultimate healthy-skin fix.
Copper peptide is a well-known collagen supporter. This serum helps to plump skin, boost collagen production and fend off free radical damage. It's a spa-like luxury that really works.
I'm not usually a fan of skincare produced by makeup-first brands, but this face cream has come as a really pleasant surprise. Although hyaluronic acid doesn't have any long-term effects on the signs of ageing, it is an essential hydrator. Giving your skin its daily dose is imperative for optimum health (especially if you're using potentially damaging acids and retinol). This cream contains eight different types of HA with three different molecular weights. This sounds overly sciencey, but what it means is that it can deliver hyaluronic acid to different layers of the skin for long-lasting results. Plus, niacinamide and squalane deliver extra smoothing, nourishing benefits.
It's no secret that we're big fans of Elemis's Pro-Collagen range here at Who What Wear. This new essence contains hyaluronic acid as well as the cult marine complex to hydrate and plump for instant glowing goodness.
Not only is this new brand pleasantly earth-friendly (its packaging is incredibly lightweight, and ingredients are certified by Soil Association), but the products are also a total joy. This stuff uses hyaluronic acid to soften and plump as well as fermented olive oil (which is full of fatty acids) to nourish and hydrate. It's by no means "anti-wrinkle," but it definitely delivers a healthy glow.
I will continue to wax lyrical about this product forever more. Antioxidants (like vitamin C and E) work to help our skin defend itself against the harmful free radicals found in the sun's UV rays and pollution that cause our skin to age dramatically faster. This stuff, if you ask me, is just about as good as it gets. It's really spendy, but vitamin C is incredibly hard to formulate with, and SkinCeuticals just seems to get it right. This particular blend is perfect for those with oily skin (it helps to minimise breakouts), but there are options for those with dry and pigmented skin, too.
These clever capsules help to prevent any sunlight from getting to the formula and breaking down the potency of the vitamin C inside (remember what I said about it being hard to formulate with?) Whenever your skin needs a boost of glowing protection, just squeeze the contents of one capsule into your hands and apply it all over the face like a serum.