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The best anti-aging skin care products of 2024 actually worth your $$

We've tested and reviewed hundreds of face creams, serums, peels, toners and masks — these are our favorites of 2024

beauty products on bright backdrop
The best anti-aging skin care products of 2024 are potent, innovative, multi-tasking — and ahead of their time. (Amazon, Sephora, CurrentBody)

Even for beauty experts like us, anti-aging skin care can sometimes feel frivolous, if not downright vain. We know we're lucky to be aging at all! Why do we obsess over a coupla jowls and some eyelid crinkling? Who cares about crepey neck skin? What of it if your once-defined chin is now a jiggly turkey wattle? The world is a harsh place, there are more important issues to take up brain space! But here's the truth: Adjusting to aging skin and an aging face is rarely easy (for all sorts of reasons— societal ageism, grieving one's youth, etc). Even at our most positive and accepting, it's can be an ongoing challenge to watch our jawlines sink, to witness the appearance of unsightly dark spots and wrinkles, to feel as if you look tired all the time due to under-eye bags or angry due to frown lines.

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And, while there are myriad ways to eradicate these issues in a dermatologist's or facial surgeon's office (and by handing over mountains of cash), the first step toward healthy, youthful-looking skin is to maintain a consistent, high-quality skin care routine that works for your particular needs. "As we age, our skin cannot recover or repair itself like it used to when it was younger," says Beverly Hills cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban, "we need to support it in new and different ways."

As two over-40 beauty editors, we talk to skin experts and test anti-aging products for a living. Over the past year, we've consulted dozens of dermatologists like Shamban to find what goes into the "ideal" anti-aging skin care routine. We've researched and reviewed hundreds of products to identify everything from the best vitamin C serum to the best face moisturizer. Though everyone's dermatological needs are different — and there are no "miracle" products that will turn back the clock — by prioritizing skin health, utilizing clinically-proven ingredients and consistently following a few universal rules, we can keep our faces soft, supple and more glowing overall. Read on for our favorite anti-aging products of the year (so far).

Benefits: Collagen boosting, wrinkle softening, complexion smoothing, redness reducing, brown spot diminishing | Formulation: Flexible silicone mask | Skin Type: All, but especially good for older skin | Device specs: 132 red and near-infrared bulbs

OK, let's just get this out of the way upfront: Wearing an LED face mask makes you look both ridiculous and terrifying, like a Jetsons-era zombie out for Astro's blood. These devices work when targeted, long-wavelength LED red light penetrates different layers of your skin, stimulating collagen production and sending your skin's natural healing process into overdrive along the way. For any kind of results, you have to use the masks consistently, for 10 minutes per day, every day, and in that 10 minutes you will for sure freak out anyone who encounters you, including your spouse and even your cat. 

But here's the good news: These suckers WORK. Within days of using CurrentBody's Light Therapy Mask, my skin looked tighter, particularly around my cheekbones. Within six weeks, the wrinkles on my forehead appeared less deep and so did those around my mouth. Within two months, my complexion was clearer overall. 

CurrentBody's version is my favorite of all the LED masks I've tried for a multitude of reasons. For one, it's powerful, with 132 bulbs (30% more than many popular masks) that deliver both red and near-infrared light enabling it to penetrate deeper layers of the skin. This mask is FDA approved. It's also clinically proven to significantly reduce wrinkles in 28 days. Additionally, it's more comfortable than many I've tried, made of a smooth, highly-flexible silicone that's easy to use and clean. However, while comfortable, the mask doesn't quite fit as snugly as I'd like, especially around the chin and jaw. This didn't seem to impact the results, but as many customers note, the fit is a little ... odd.

Last, a few safety notes: LED light masks are considered safe when and if you follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions — including protecting your eyes during use. Also important: Not everyone is a candidate for LED light therapy — for example, people with photosensitivity should avoid these devices, as should those with specific diseases like lupus and those taking certain medications. It's a good idea to consult with a dermatologist before purchasing and trying any LED light mask — including CurrentBody's. — Jennifer

Pros
  • Flexible silicone is comfortable and easy to wear and clean
  • 132 powerful bulbs deliver up both red and near-infrared light
  • FDA-approved
  • Clinically proven to reduce wrinkles within a month of consistent use
Cons
  • Could fit better around the chin/jawline
  • Some users complained nose plate was restrictive
  • Expensive
$380 at Current Body

Benefit: Helps reduce undereye discoloration, puffiness, the appearance of fine lines | Formulation: Cream | Size: 1.25 ounces | Skin target: Undereye area | Key ingredients: Caffeine, ginseng root, horse chestnut extract, lutein 

Sunday Riley's products are almost uniformly best-in-class and this extremely hydrating, almost instantly/magically de-puffing serum is no exception. It's packed with caffeine, ginseng and the anti-oxidant lutein and it's nearly scent-free, which makes it a great option for sensitive skin. The texture is silky and it both brightens dark circles and absorbs quickly, leaving behind a dewy glow I found pleasant. It also contains "light reflecting particles" which seemed like gibberish to me until I saw how it rendered my under eyes noticeably brighter within seconds of application.

One downside is the absence of retinol, which means it's not helping to build collagen in the area. Still, it's a high-quality cream I'd recommend to anyone concerned about fine lines, bagginess or, really, any under-eye issue you'll (annoyingly) find. — Jennifer

Pros
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Lightweight formula absorbs fast
  • Effectively brightens and depuffs undereye area
  • Silky texture
  • Ultra-hydrating
Cons
  • On the higher end, price-wise
  • Doesn't contain retinol
$65 at Amazon

Benefits: Skin cleansing, soothing | Formulation: Gel | Size: 8 ounces | Skin Type: Oily, combination, dry, normal | Key ingredients: Kale, spinach, green tea, alfalfa, vitamin C, vitamin E

Once I started using this cleanser, my first reaction was anger — I got mad at myself for taking so long to try it! Now, I use it almost every day. It works extremely well to remove makeup (especially black liquid liner and mascara) — so well, in fact, that sometimes I don’t even need to double cleanse. 

On the ingredients side, it’s chock-full of superfood antioxidants that provide all kinds of good stuff, like protection from free radicals and increasing hydration. At about $40, it can be pricey for some, but it’s lasted me a long time, heavy eyeliner and all. A couple of pumps go a long way. — Marie

Pros
  • Refillable glass bottle
  • Vegan and cruelty-free formula
  • Free of PEGS, dimethicone, parabens, phthalates and artificial dyes
  • Dermatologist tested
Cons
  • On the pricier side
$39 at Nordstrom
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$39 at Amazon$39 at Kohl's

Benefits: Skin cell turnover, smooths complexion, evens skin texture | Formulation: Wipes | Size: 30 treatments + 5 bonus | Skin Type: Normal, combination | Key ingredients: Glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, chamomile, retinol, resveratrol, green tea extract.

While interviewing celebrities about their beauty routines over the years, I’ve always taken note when a certain product keeps popping up to the point where it starts to feel like there's a skinspiracy going on. But sometimes it’s just a legitimately good product that people, famous or not, really love. One of those products is Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel pads. This popular chemical exfoliator does its magic via a two-step process. You use the first pad, which is soaked with five different AHA and BHA acids to lift away dead skin cells, then follow up with the second pad, which has retinol to fight wrinkles and lines.

While it's a celebrity favorite, you don’t have to take Sydney Sweeney’s word for it. When I use these regularly, my skin looks phenomenal, as if I’ve gotten a facial every single day. One time, my husband even asked me what I was doing with my face. I asked him why, and he said that I looked younger (kind of rude, TBH). The improvement in my complexion is noticeable enough that when I stopped using the pads, I actually stopped getting compliments (also rude). If you feel like you can’t be bothered to do a two-step product, which I understand, I’m here to tell you that it’s completely worth the extra couple of minutes to get that glow. There are also three types of peel pads, including "Ultra Gentle" for dry and sensitive skin and "Extra Strength" for oily skin, which is good for dark spots. — Marie

Pros
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Helps reduce the look of pores
  • Smooths texture
  • Contains 12 antioxidants
  • Reduces fine lines and hydrates skin
Cons
  • Requires two steps so it takes a little more time
  • Individually wrapped which is not eco-conscious
  • Pricey
$92 at Sephora

Benefits: Brightens skin and dark spots, reduces appearance of sagginess and fine lines, gives skin a "glow" | Vitamin C potency: 15% | Skin Type: Any, but may be too harsh for the most sensitive skin | Dosage: A few drops in the morning | Size: Just over 1 ounce in combination of serum and powder | Cruelty Free: Yes

Every dermatologist I've spoken to says vitamin C is an essential ingredient for any actually effective skin care routine. I love Drunk Elephant's C-Firma Fresh Day Serum for all sorts of reasons — including the fact that after six weeks of twice-daily use, it both lightened dark spots on my cheeks, noticeably tightened my skin and consistently gave my complexion a pretty, brighter glow. But what makes C-Firma superior to nearly any competitor is the unique way it's packaged: The formula arrives in two parts — a liquid serum along with an accompanying vial of pristine vitamin C powder. You mix the two just before your first use, maximizing the stability of the vitamin C molecules and thus ensuring freshness. Once mixed, the product remains potent for three to six months, depending how you store it (i.e., preferably in a cool, dark place, like a cabinet). 

And there's more to love: C-Firma contains ferulic acid and vitamin E, which boost its efficacy. It comes in an easy-to-use/easy-to-travel bottle with a convertible pump. It's lightweight and absorbs quickly, though the texture may feel a bit sticky for some. Finally, it's potent — it may even sting your skin a bit.  

As compared to its main competitor, Skinceuticals C E Ferulic, Drunk Elephant's C-Firma gains points for being both cruelty-free and free from a foul odor (C E Ferulic has a deeply unpleasant scent). While many beauty editors will tell you that C E Ferulic is the only vitamin C game in town, keep in mind that it's also $182 to $285 for just one ounce, making it inaccessible for most bank-account-having humans, at least for long-term use. (I don't care if it's made of gold, I am not spending that kind of money on something to dab on my face — and I don't think you should have to either!)

At $74, C-Firma is not exactly a steal, but the formula (plus the effect on your skin) is top-notch. My first bottle lasted four months with twice-daily use, so a little goes a long way. —Jennifer

Pros
  • Highest-quality ingredients
  • Innovative packaging means the product stays fresher longer
  • Brightens skin
  • Improves texture of aging skin
  • Lightweight
  • Absorbs quickly
Cons
  • Some may find the texture sticky
  • May be too harsh for the most sensitive skin
$79 at Kohl's
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$79 at Ulta Beauty$79 at Sephora

Benefits: Skin hydration, evens complexion, reduces the appearance of fine lines Formulation: Gel | Size: 1.5 ounces | Skin types: Normal, dry, combination, oily | Key ingredients: Niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, star flower, sacred lotus

Of all the serums I've ever used, Saint Jane's Star Flower remains on my favorites list. So much so that whenever I see the bottle, I can't help but pump out a couple of drops and apply it right then and there. Micro pearls, which house all of the active ingredients, burst when you apply it to your skin, and it is like heaven

Not only is the formula deliciously hydrating, but it makes the pores on my nose and cheeks look smaller. For that reason, I love using this in the morning before sunscreen and makeup. The star flower not only sounds pretty, but it helps with redness, while sacred lotus helps diminish pores. My skin always looks more even when I use it regularly. — Marie

Pros
  • Good for fine lines and wrinkles
  • Calms redness and reduces the look of pores
  • Beautiful packaging
  • Lightweight formula
  • Cruelty-free
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Some users with dehydrated skin say they need a thicker serum
$95 at Sephora

Benefits: Hydration, plumps up skin, reduces the appearance of fine lines, helps reduce "crepey" appearance | Formulation: Cream | Size: 3.52 ounces | Skin type: Dry, dehydrated | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, sea buckthorn water

CosRx has helped popularize snail mucin as a skin-care ingredient, but you shouldn’t sleep on its other products. Case in point: the Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Cream. A favorite among the K-beauty crowd, this face cream packs and seals moisture into dry, dehydrated skin to prevent further hydration loss. I love this moisturizer for its lightweight, fast-absorbing formula and antioxidant ingredients. The texture is perfectly rich without being too heavy and the product itself absorbs fast.

Bonus points: In addition to hyaluronic acid, this cream contains vitamin tree water (also known as sea buckthorn), which is filled with vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids that help strengthen the skin barrier and increase hydration even more. The midrange price point is the cherry on top. — Marie

Pros
  • Hydrates and plumps dry, dehydrated skin
  • Diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Dermatologist tested
  • Free of parabens
Cons
  • Some users say it feels oily
  • Might not be best for breakout-prone skin
  • Comes in a jar instead of an airtight pump
$17 at Amazon

Benefits: Reduces appearance of dark undereye pigment | Formulation: Cream | Size: .5 ounces | Key ingredients: Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid

This highest quality vitamin C eye cream from Paula's Choice is clinically formulated to brighten under eye discoloration while smoothing and firming the delicate skin in this area. The texture is lightweight and supple and it's packed with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which is a must for the undereye area — since the skin in that area holds less moisture than the rest of the face. 

While it doesn't contain retinol, this is my top pick for a (fairly) affordable undereye cream for dark circles because of its ideal mix of antioxidants and active ingredients. — Jennifer

Pros
  • Clinically proven formula
  • Brightens and lightens dark circles
  • Lightweight
  • Moisturizing
  • Highly concentrated ingredients
  • Reduces puffiness
Cons
  • Potent formula may not work for sensitive skin
  • Lacks retinol, so not the best for building collagen and softening fine lines
$39 at Dermstore

Benefits: Sun protection, hydration, disguises skin imperfections | Formulation: thin cream | Active Ingredients: Zinc oxide | SPF: 40 | Size: 1 ounce | Water-Resistant: No | Reef safe: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

At age 50, I started developing a bit of hyperpigmentation on my face and redness around my nose and chin, which means I now look better in makeup than I do without. Still, I despise foundation. It always feels too thick and too "done" for my everyday life, like I'm cosplaying (Kosplaying?) as a Kardashian at camp pickup. But once I came across this excellent tinted moisturizer (with bonus SPF!), I knew I'd finally found the complexion-smoothing solution this no-makeup makeup girl will actually use.

If you're searching for a light coverage foundation that will leave your skin dewy and noticeably luminescent like you got the best sleep of your life; with the kind of glow that suggests you actually drink all the water you plan on drinking and chase it down with a green juice, then Ilia's Skin Tint is for you. As a moisturizer-makeup-sunscreen hybrid, it's made for lazy people. It also comes in 26 shades and contains skin-fortifying ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide so you're treating your face while protecting it. —Jennifer

Pros
  • 26 shade choices
  • Evens skin tone/smooths imperfections
  • Leaves skin dewy
  • Skin nourishing
  • All-day wear SPF 40
Cons
  • Can be a bit greasy
  • Some reviewers complain of watery consistency
  • Pricey
$48 at Ilia

Benefits: Sun protection | Formulation: Cream | Volume: 2 ounces |Active ingredients: Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide

Ask any dermatologist for the most important step in an anti-aging skin care routine and they'll undoubtedly say high-quality sun protection. Of all the sunscreens I've tested, EltaMD SPF is the most consistently top rated, especially by doctors who recommend a tinted mineral sunscreen like this one, which provides broad-spectrum physical coverage and hydration — and works well under makeup. Its also made of natural ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and leaves a smooth finish, even on dry or sensitive skin. — Jennifer

Pros
  • Mineral sunscreen
  • Works well under makeup
  • Good for sensitive skin
Cons
  • Is expensive compared to drugstore brands
  • Some reviewers find the tint too light
$45 at Amazon
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$45 at BeautifiedYou.com$45 at Dermstore

Benefits: Reduces the appearance of enlarged pores, improves circulation, refines complexion | Key ingredients: 5% glycolic acid, ginseng, aloe vera, fructose, sucrose | Size: 3.4 ounces | Skin type: All

In the world of toners, Pixi's Glow Tonic is one of the most celebrated and well-rounded. Beauty editors and experts have counted on Glow Tonic to improve their complexion for years. It has 5% glycolic acid for exfoliation and witch hazel to reduce the appearance of pores (one of my main issues), but it's gentle and soothing thanks to aloe vera and other botanicals. Interestingly, it also has ginseng, which is believed to help improve circulation. Plus, it's decently priced. For $15, you get 100 milliliters, and for under $30, you get a huge bottle — 250 milliliters.

It's always a good idea to start slowly with acids. I'm always careful when using a glycolic acid product, but Glow Tonic is incredibly gentle. I can use it every day without issue, and it's easy to apply (just a couple of swipes using a reusable cotton pad). My skin is smoother, my pores look less prominent and I have an overall brighter complexion. — Marie

Pros
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Alcohol- and paraben-free
  • Not tested on animals
Cons
  • Contains added fragrance and color additives
  • Some reviewers say it's drying
$15 at Amazon

Benefits: Skin hydration | Size: 1 oz | Skin Type: Oily, combination, dry, sensitive, normal | Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, plum extract, polyglutamic acid, vegan collagen, silk protein, vitamin B

I'm not going to lie; I was first attracted to Glow Recipe’s Plum Plump’s good looks. That luscious, light purple bottle is divine! However, I was quickly pleased with how well the serum performed. The lightweight, soothing formula (that has a ton of antioxidants) feels incredible post-cleanse, absorbs nicely and makes my skin look fresh and dewy despite my feeling like a tired, wretched witch on the inside. (Note: You want to make sure your skin is a little bit damp when you apply for optimal absorption.)

Time for a quick lesson: Molecular weight is definitely a thing when it comes to hyaluronic acid. The smaller the molecule, the lower the molecular weight, and the further it can penetrate the skin (which is what we want). However, experts say the best thing to look for in a hyaluronic acid serum is a mix of differently-sized hyaluronic acid molecules. Glow Recipe's Plum Plump has five molecular weights: ultra-low, low, medium, high and ultra-high. — Marie

Pros
  • Good for all skin types
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Contains multi-weight hyaluronic acids
  • Antioxidant-rich ingredients
Cons
  • Some say it's sticky
  • If you're concerned with fragrance, this has a light fruit scent
$45 at Kohl's
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$45 at Sephora$47 at Amazon

Solawave is the hottest name in skin-care tech: Using light and heat therapy, along with therapeutic massage, these versatile wands help reduce wrinkles, smooth scarring, increase blood flow and give skin a more even tone. The Radiant Renewal Wand is clinically proven and award-winning. When customers used it consistently (for just three minutes per day!) they saw results within weeks. — Jennifer

$189 at Amazon

This ultra-nourishing salve is a favorite of professional makeup artists who often need to remove serious face paint without damaging their (often high-profile) clients' skin. It's filled to the brim with soothing ingredients like chamomile and lavender, and as the (many!) TikTok videos attest, it really works for both cleaning and plumping. — Jennifer

$18 at Amazon
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$18 at Nordstrom$18 at Elemis

This serum stick is the ideal delivery system for softening fine lines, prepping skin for makeup and targeting dry patches. It's made of 80 percent squalane — a known skin fortifier — and is also fragrance-free, cruelty-free plus dermatologist-tested. When we tried this ultra-silky balm it left behind a dewy finish wherever it was applied. Plus, it's beyond amazing for smoothing the undereye area before applying concealer, to deter makeup from settling into fine lines. —Jennifer

$49 at Amazon

E.l.f.'s Holy Hydration! line of products is solid, so it's a natural choice as the top honorable mention for the best cleanser. Packed with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, it leaves skin clean, plump and hydrated, of course. And it's only $6! — Marie

$6 at Amazon
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$6 at CVS Pharmacy$6 at Target

I've interviewed approximately 7 million beauty experts in my life. The most honest usually say something along the lines of "You don't need expensive products; high-quality drugstore creams will do." Case in point: A few years ago, legendary beauty guru Jean Godfrey-June told me she uses this rich, all-natural, chamomile and calendula body cream on her face in the winter, that it's the best product she's found for protecting and treating chapped skin. It's also a gentle, non-irritating formula for dry hands, rough heels, scaly elbows or anywhere you might need a hydrating boost. I myself keep a tube by the kitchen sink to use after dishwashing duties. It's the best kind of gift in that it smells good and feels rich. —Jennifer

$18 at Amazon
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$20 at Macy's$20 at CVS Pharmacy

An easy, lightweight, affordable skin-care product that, when used consistently, softens wrinkles, smooths skin texture and even lightens age spots. I know snail secretions may seem weird, but truly this works: I've been raving about this product for years. — Jennifer

$13 at Amazon
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$25 at Nordstrom$25 at Macy's

Like we've said, there are no miracles here — you're not looking 25 again by dabbing on a $75 cream. However, research shows that with consistent use, certain ingredients (like vitamin C) and certain devices (like red LED light) can actually refine pores, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, replenish moisture and help re-build collagen, the main structural protein that makes our skin look bouncy and firm when we're young and which we lose rapidly as we age.

"This will differ depending on your skin needs but: protectors [like SPF], correctors [like dark spot creams] and ingredients for cell turnover, collagen and elastin production are all key categories to look for," says Dr. Ava Shamban.

She emphasizes that a quality anti-aging skin care doesn't have to be complicated, though it should involve a few steps you follow both in the morning and before you go to bed. "During the day, your skin handles important tasks like protecting against UV damage and pollutants," Shamban advises. "At night, it focuses on repairing and renewing itself. Focusing on keeping skin in sync [with these tasks] will help it function optimally and keep your skin looking and acting younger."

Here's an example of an effective night and daytime routine, culled from interviews with dozens of dermatologists, including Shamban.

Skin care must haves for day:

  • Face cleanser

  • Antioxidants — specifically a stable form of vitamin C

  • High quality sunscreen SPF 40 or higher ("Sunscreen should go without saying!" Shamban explains.)

*optional: Toner, hyaluronic acid, other serums, moisturizer

Skin care must haves for night:

  • Face cleanser

  • A resurfacing exfoliant with acids AHA / BHA, 2-3 times per week

  • Antioxidants — specifically a stable form of vitamin C

  • Eye cream

  • Prescription retinol 3-4 times per week

  • A heavier moisturizer to seal in moisture levels

*optional: cleansing balm for a double cleanse, hyaluronic acid, toner, serum, face oil, dark spot cream

Skin care must haves for anytime:

  • An at-home device to help support collagen production

Skin care is highly personal and making decisions about the products you'll use consistently often comes down to personal preferences and how your individual skin reacts. Here's a rough step-by-step guide to an "optimal" at-home skin treatment process. Remember to spot test any new product to see how your skin reacts and — outside of sunscreen — take or leave any guidance according to your particular skin needs.

Step 1: Cleanser

Step 2: Toner

Step 3: Serums (vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, snail mucin, etc)

Step 4: Retinol (at night)

Step 5: Eye cream

Step 6: Moisturize

Step 7: Sunscreen

Dr. Ava Shamban, Beverly Hills cosmetic dermatologist