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Best anti-ageing cream 2021: Keep your skin looking fresher and younger with these anti-wrinkle creams with these Black Friday savings

25 Nov 2021

Look younger for longer with our pick of the best anti-ageing creams on the market in 2021

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that as we grow older our skins change, usually becoming thinner, drier, less elastic and more prone to lines and discolouration. While no pot of cream can promise eternal youth and beauty, the wide range of anti-ageing creams on the market can slow the effects of ageing, and offer targeted ingredients to make maturing skin feel more comfortable.

So, which products are worth the investment? We’ve worked our way through jars, tubes, and pots of day and night creams to discover the formulas that really do smooth your skin, soften lines and wrinkles, and leave you with a youthful glow. We've also put together a buyer's guide with some key information to consider before you make a purchase.

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Save over £10 on the Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream (was £66; now £55)

The Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream is our best day cream as it is super-hydrating yet suitable for all skin types. Now you can get it for less thanks to Amazon's Black Friday deals, as it is now reduced to the new low price of £55. You can read more about it in our mini-review below. Buy Now

The best anti-ageing creams at a glance

  • Best day cream: Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF30 | Buy now
  • Best neck cream: Prai Ageless Throat & Décolletage Crème | Buy now
  • Best anti ageing cream under £30: Body Shop Oils of Life Sleeping Cream | Buy now
  • Best for normal to combination skin: Clarins Multi-Active Nuit | Buy now

How to choose the best anti-ageing cream for you

What are the effects of ageing on skin?

As we grow older, skin tends to produce fewer of the natural oils that help keep younger skin dewy, plump and healthy-looking. As a result, the face can become dry and appear dull. Levels of elastin and collagen - skin-repairing ingredients produced naturally by the body - also start to decrease, so skin bounces back less after we smile or frown, and fine lines and wrinkles start to appear. Skin may also start to show dark spots, especially after sun exposure, and dark circles under the eyes may become more pronounced.

Skin products targeting the first signs of ageing focus on hydrating the skin and smoothing out fine lines. Products for more mature skin provide more intense nourishing and repair for skin that has lost elasticity, and include ingredients that help reduce dark spots and discolouration.

How much does my skin type matter?

It’s worth taking the time to research your skin type so you can match the ingredients accordingly. Your skin type will impact how your skin ages in the first place, and therefore which treatments will be most effective. Oily skins tend to benefit from exfoliating ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid that encourage the natural skin renewal process, while dry and sensitive skins may benefit from hydrating creams with antioxidants to limit damage from the sun and pollution, and boost healing.

A lighter cream or serum may suit you in your 30s, but as you grow older you’ll probably find you need a richer, more nourishing cream. Don’t forget that the delicate skin around the eyes responds best to specialist eye products.

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Do anti-ageing creams really work?

How a product performs will depend on the ingredients, how often and the period of time over which you use it, and whether the one you buy is appropriate for your skin type and age (see above). Don’t expect miracle results – an anti-ageing cream can’t reverse deep, static wrinkles. However, scientists have found evidence that some can be effective at addressing fine lines, and they can at least stem the tide of wrinkles, even if they can't get rid of them completely.

As well as using your chosen cream, you can help reduce the signs of ageing by avoiding smoking, staying out of the sun (use a good SPF cream throughout the year with both UVA and UVB protection) and steering clear of harsh soaps and cleansers that can strip the skin of its natural oils. Cleanse gently using a cream cleanser or balm, and keep that sun hat on!

Which ingredients should I look out for?

Skincare ingredients recommended by the Mayo Clinic – a non-profit academic medical centre – include retinol (a vitamin A derivative originally used in prescription creams), hydroxy acids (exfoliants), vitamin C (an antioxidant that some claim helps protect against skin damage), peptides (originally used for wound healing and stretch marks) and niacinamide (also an antioxidant). Also look for anti-ageing creams with a built-in sunscreen – at least SPF15, and ideally broad spectrum so it can block both UVA and UVB rays.

Some of these ingredients, particularly retinol, can make skin more sensitive to the sun, which makes using an SPF cream even more important. Retinol can also cause irritation when first introduced so it's best to use retinol-based products every other day at first to build up tolerance. And, if you have skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea, do a patch test first or speak to a dermatologist before adding anything new to your skincare routine.

How much do I need to spend?

There’s really no limit to how much anti-ageing products can cost, with some creams costing hundreds or even thousands of pounds. But the good news is that there’s no evidence that those high-cost creams are any better than those available at only a fraction of the price: a clinical trial declared that a relatively cheap Boots anti-ageing cream really worked, with stores running out of the product within a fortnight.

How do I apply my anti-ageing cream?

Apply the cream after cleansing, toning and serum, if you use one. Wait a few minutes before applying your makeup (day cream) or getting into bed (night cream), so it has time to sink into your skin. Some creams are made for use both morning and evening; thicker night creams or overnight masks are designed to sink into the skin overnight and are better suited to use as part of an evening routine.

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The best anti-ageing creams you can buy

1. Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF30: Best day cream

Price: £66 | Buy now from Amazon

We love this world-renowned day cream, widely considered the best anti-ageing cream you can buy. Formulated with soothing rose and Mediterranean marine algae, this cream is light in texture but big on results. In fact, you can expect fewer lines in just two weeks.

Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, it’s super-hydrating and has a fresh, clean smell. Apply a pea-sized amount to your face and neck every morning after your favourite serum, and the cream will soak into your skin in an instant, so you can get on with applying your makeup straight away. For sun protection we recommend the SPF 30 version shown here; there’s also an ultra-rich version for drier skins at the same price, and a men’s version at £58 for 30ml), which is ideal for use after shaving.

Key features – Quantity: 50ml; Best time to apply: day

2. Prai Ageless Throat & Décolletage Crème: Best neck cream

Price: £20 | Buy now from Marks and Spencer

The skin on our necks and chests is thinner than that on the face, and more prone to sagging and wrinkling. So, it’s important you don’t neglect to give the throat, neck and décolletage some love in the same way that you look after your face. Two of the best neck creams on the market are PRAI Beauty’s best selling Ageless Throat and Décolletage crème, in day (pictured) and night versions.

Both creams are rich in hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump skin, as well as Vitamins A, E and F to combat the signs of ageing while protecting skin from the elements. As with all anti-ageing products, it’s best to use these with an upward stroking motion to massage the skin and counteract the effects of gravity.

Key features – Quantity: 50ml; Best time to apply: morning (day cream) and evening (night cream)

Buy now from Marks and Spencer

3. L’Oreal Revitalift Brightening Moisturizer SPF 30

Price: £27 | Buy now from Amazon

L’Oreal’s brightening moisturiser blends retinol, which is a powerful ingredient known to soften skin and promote healing, with a protective SPF30 sunscreen and Vitamin C to target dark spots and discolouration. Use daily to see smoother, brighter, more even-toned skin. The pleasant-smelling moisturiser goes on smoothly and absorbs quickly; use the cream twice daily after cleansing to see results in a matter of weeks.

Key features – Quantity: 30ml; Best time to apply: day

4. Body Shop Oils of Life Sleeping Cream: Best anti ageing cream under £30

Price: £29 | Buy now from the Body Shop

This intensely nourishing, rich and dense night cream combines vegan oils of Nigella and Camelina seeds, Black Cumin, and vitamin-rich rosehip oil to soften the skin and restore elasticity. Perfect for dull and dehydrated skin, Oils of Life uses time-tested ingredients to put back moisture and bounce as you sleep. The cream feels luxuriously heavy and is best applied last thing at night so it can sink in as you slumber. Pair with the Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil (£30) in the same range for a really rejuvenating result.

Need an overnight moisture boost for skin showing the first signs of ageing? Try the Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleep Mask to smooth fine lines and freshen up tired skin.

Key features – Quantity: 80ml; Best time to apply: night

Buy now from the Body Shop

5. Omorovicza Intensive Hydralifting Cream: Best luxury cream for dry or mature skin

Price: £138 | Buy now from Omorovicza

The rose scent is the first thing you’ll notice about this sumptuous cream, which combines hydrating hyaluronic acid with the healing power of rose oil to smooth out fine lines. Arabian myrrh plumps the skin and bifida ferment gives its immune system a kick-start. Omorovicza’s patented ‘healing’ concentrate, meanwhile, will firm it.

This light and fluffy cream, similar in texture to whipped cream, is soothing and moisturising, and leaves a radiant glow. Dry skins will love this luxurious treatment cream, which leaves skin feeling like it’s just enjoyed an exotic spa day.

Key features – Quantity: 50ml; Best time to apply: day (night cream also available)

Buy now from Omorovicza

6. Clarins Multi-Active Nuit: Best for normal to combination skin

Price: £46 | Buy now from Amazon

Combination skin, where cheeks are dry and the T-zone on the nose and forehead is oily, can be difficult when it comes to anti-ageing products: harsh exfoliants may irritate dry cheeks, while anything too rich and oily can make oily zones look and feel worse. Clarins’ Multi-Active Nuit offers a great solution. It’s a night cream that has been created specifically to tackle both skin types in one.

With heavenly floral scents of jasmine, heliotrope, and freesia, which smell light and fresh at bedtime, this is a lightweight cream that will give tired-looking skin a brightening lift by morning.

Key features – Quantity: 50ml; Best time to apply: Night

7. No7 Advanced Retinol 1.5% Night Complex

Price: £35 | Buy now from Boots 

Boots No. 7 cornered the market in high-street skincare in 2009 after a BBC documentary found that the brand’s iconic Protect and Perfect serum really did work. Queues outside stores didn’t die down until stocks ran out after only two weeks. This more recent addition to No. 7’s ever-expanding range of anti-ageing skincare harnesses the power of Retinol to boost the skin’s own natural renewal processes, revealing a softer, fresher face; and skin-building peptides to firm and plump up skin cells. The hydrating formula goes on smoothly and sinks in well; if you’re new to Retinol, apply every other night after cleansing to begin with. Softer, noticeably glowy skin will reveal itself in 3-4 weeks.

Key features – Quantity: 30ml; Best time to apply: night

Buy now from Boots

8. Jurlique Herbal Recovery Signature Moisturising Cream: Best for first signs of ageing

Price: £62 | Buy now from Feel Unique

This cream, suitable for all skin types, is worth buying when you notice fine lines just beginning to appear on your youthful complexion. From an Australian brand that’s known for pushing boundaries in skincare, it contains concentrated Viola Tricolor extract to prevent signs of ageing and reduce dullness, as well as Yarrow extract for tackling fine lines.

The cream also includes the botanicals red clover flower, Japanese cedar bud and Persian silk tree. It can be used day or night, sinks in easily and keeps skin soft and glowing. Rich in antioxidants, this is a great cream to use in your late 20s and 30s when skin starts to become more delicate.

Key features – Quantity: 50ml; Best time to apply: morning and night

Buy now from Feel Unique

9. L’Occitane Immortelle Divine Cream: Best for mature skin

Price: £92 | Buy now from Amazon

This is popular the world over, and is the kind of cream that will make you feel as though you’ve just had a facial. It’s rich but sinks in easily, and the scent is one of the best we've come across. The name comes from the key anti-ageing ingredient Immortelle Flower, the 'flower that never dies.'

Use it regularly with the new Immortelle Overnight Reset Serum and you could give the appearance of wiping years off your looks. In particular, it tackles that tired look that can come with thinner skin, replacing it with a healthy, youthful glow. We were initially dubious about the use of the word ‘divine’ in the title of the cream, dismissing it as a typical marketing blurb – but it really is just that.

Key features – Quantity: 50ml; Night or day cream: both

Image of Immortelle Divine Cream - 50ml/1.7oz

Immortelle Divine Cream - 50ml/1.7oz

£80.99 (£161.98 / 100 ml) Buy now

10. Creme de la Mer 60ml: best premium luxury face cream

Price: £245 | Buy now from Cult Beauty 

If money is no object, this world-renowned ultra-premium face cream really is the creme de la creme of hydrating, nourishing, rejuvenating products. Famous as the cream that kept the female cast of Friends looking fresh throughout the 1990s, Creme de la Mer is frequently found backstage at Fashion Weeks worldwide, soothing the faces of busy supermodels. Developed by physicist Dr Max Huber as a burn repair cream, the formula contains algae, citrus extracts and a trademarked Miracle Broth™ of ultra-soothing ingredients, and is famed for its ability to make the skin appear softer, smoother, more evenly textured and super-radiant. Warm the opaque balm in the hands first, then apply by pressing gently into the face and neck. If you have the budget to buy in bulk, the 500ml jar comes in at a mere £1,630.

Key features – Quantity: 60ml; Best time to apply: day and night

Buy now from Cult Beauty