a senior woman smiling and touching her cheeks

Do anti-ageing creams work?

Unless you have a special painting hanging in the attic (we are thinking about Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ here), it is a fact of life that we will all naturally start to look older eventually.

However, the age at which this process starts to show, along with the extent of it, is something we often aim to combat.

Many of us are prepared to pay a small fortune for so-called anti-ageing creams. They often promise to keep us looking like we are still in our twenties, even when we are queuing for our pension!

So, do these anti-ageing creams actually work, and if they do, which ones should we be buying?

The natural ageing process

The skin is the body’s largest organ, measuring approximately 1.67m² on the average adult.1

Due to the reduction in dermal mast cells, fibroblasts and collagen production, our skin ages from within and starts to lose its visible elasticity.

This contributes to the appearance of lines and wrinkles, as well as the sagging of the skin.

These are found in the deeper layer of the skin known as the dermis, which makes it difficult for topical products to reach.

Most creams and products applied to the skin cannot reach this far down into the skin, so they cannot impact on this side of the ageing process.

Due to environmental factors, skin also ages on the outside. This can lead to the appearance of age spots, pigmentation issues, spider veins and wrinkles.

These forms of ageing are easier to tackle with both lifestyle changes and anti-ageing products on the outer layers of the skin.

Anti-ageing creams

The process of ageing actually begins in our early twenties, so it is never too early to start using anti-ageing skincare.

You can find out more about this in our article on ‘When should you start using anti-ageing cream?’.

This can help to keep the signs of ageing away for longer.

Anti-ageing creams with retinol

However, if those tell-tale signs are already starting to show, then the best anti-ageing cream will be one which contains retinols.2

Retinols help by improving skin colour, reducing age spots and plumping the skin.

Anti-ageing eye moisturisers

Moisturising your skin is never a bad thing. The best moisturiser for mature skin is one that can be used daily to plump the skin. This helps to reduce the appearance of lines and create a glow that will always have a youthful appeal.

Anti-ageing eye creams

One of the key areas for ageing is around the eyes, which is why anti-ageing eye creams are so popular.

Since the skin around the eyes is so delicate, you will often start to see ‘crow’s feet’, puffiness and dark circles around this part of the face.

The best anti -ageing eye cream will need ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, peptides, retinol and antioxidants to have the greatest effect.3 These eyes creams will need to be gentle in order to protect this fragile skin.

Anti-ageing products for men and women – what’s the difference?

When it comes to the different types of anti-ageing products available, it is important to remember that male skin has a slightly different structure to female skin. This means men will need a specialist anti-ageing cream for males.

It is also important that anti-ageing face cream is very different to products used on the rest of the body.

The skin on the hands is much tougher and so anti-ageing hand cream will need a whole other set of ingredients.

Natural solutions

You can put the most expensive anti-ageing skincare in the world on your face, but if you do not look after your skin in other ways, the effects of such products will be limited.

One of the biggest contributing factors to ageing is sun damage, so make sure you wear sunscreen at all times (even in the winter) to better protect it.

Smokers will also find that the free radicals produced by the habit start to take their toll on skin, as will a poor diet, a lack of sleep and stress.4

Taking care of yourself as a whole will make you feel better on the inside and it will show on the outside.

We might not be able to turn back the hands of time, but we can certainly slow them down if we treat our skin in the right way.

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Last updated: 5 February 2021

Doaa Almosawi

Expertly reviewed by: Doaa Al Mosawi, Regulatory Affairs

  • Joined Holland & Barrett: March 2019
  • Qualifications: BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science

After completing her BSc in Biomedical Science, Doaa worked in Research and laboratory for 3 years. Doaa was also a member of a product development team in a manufacturing company specialising in sun care and personal care products, researching and providing regulatory advice regarding international regulations.

Doaa is now an International Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate at Holland & Barrett.
Anti-AgeingEye CareMale SkincareSkin HealthSkincare