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In theory, all skincare is anti-aging in nature. If a product helps to maintain healthy skin, even in a small way, it technically counts. But when we use this polarizing term, what we mean is a more proactive push towards keeping the skin firmer, brighter, clearer and smoother for longer that those conditions would last without using these products. The best anti-aging creams, serums, oils and other products shower your face with antioxidants to shield the skin against everyday damage from pollution and UV exposure. Their extra doses of vitamins and other active ingredients go a step above and beyond the standard-issue moisturizer.
To set a bar, let’s define what moisturizers do: The job of these everyday workhorses is to trap moisture inside the skin, as well as reinforce the skin’s barrier defenses against pollutants, bacteria and the like. They usually have a light blend of nourishing ingredients to soothe and strengthen skin, and daytime moisturizers might even have SPF. But they usually wear light and focus more on primary function instead of a more aggressive, age-reversing and time-slowing effort. And by ‘aging’, we mean visible signs of time moving forward, such as fine lines, wrinkles, rough texture, hyperpigmentation, looseness and so forth.
Because most top-performing anti-aging creams are denser than everyday moisturizers, most of them are parsed off for nighttime use. That’s not a universal rule, but it is certainly the norm. This is because your body replenishes itself while you sleep, and these highly concentrated night creams can sync with your nocturnal regeneration to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck. (And let’s face it, sometimes it’s a lot of bucks that need some bang—hundreds of dollars per cream, in some cases.) Still, there are many great daytime-use creams that pack on the proactive anti-aging benefits—because why shouldn’t your daytime regimen work as hard? Not to mention, there are plenty of budget-minded picks that go above and beyond the baseline expectations.
Here are 10 of the best anti-aging creams for men, with picks for every budget and priority.
Best Natural Anti-Aging Cream
Ursa Major has long since earned a grooming gold medal for its eco-conscious, effective formulas. This day-or-night cream can do more in an afternoon than a soccer dad in a minivan: It soothes the skin with calendula, softens with phytosterols, firms with carotenoids and Vitamin A, builds defenses with antioxidants and Vitamin E, brightens with Vitamin C and then doubles down on all of the above with fatty acids including omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 oils.
Best Quick-Firming Anti-Aging Cream
Orveda takes a firm stance on anti-aging: No retinol, ever. It’s not that the notorious age-reversing ingredient is necessarily bad, but the company believes in slowly reinforcing the skin’s natural barrier, rather than risking irritation with a high-grade ingredient. The brand’s day cream proves you can do without retinol with its notoriously fast-acting blend of botanical ingredients, which contains 12 actives as well as hyaluronic acid. Daily use gives you long-term tautness, and occasional use delivers a radiance and firmness you can see soon after application.
Best Anti-Aging Cream for Minimalists
Garance Doré’s new skincare line is pared down for minimalists and is cost-effective at the same time. This day-and-night cream plumps skin and preserves buoyancy with hyaluronic acid and counters environmental damage with white lily extract. Its sea algae helps to reinforce your skin’s natural collagen and elastin.
Best Proactive Anti-Aging Cream
The youngest cream in this roster is also “anti” the term “anti-aging”—at least that’s what co-founder Brad Pitt told us. All Benjamin Button jokes aside, this cream might get you the closest thing to a no-filter, camera-ready mug, thanks to a heavily researched, patent-pending, proactive formula: It harnesses the antioxidant, skin-reinforcing powers of grapes (from the very same Rhône Valley vineyard that grows Château de Beaucastel’s beloved Châteauneuf-du-Pape), and contains two active compounds (known as GSM10 and ProGR3) that might best retinol as a time turner.
Best Anti-Aging Cream with SPF
Few ingredients are truly as “anti-aging” as SPF. That’s because daily exposure to UV rays (even on cold, gray days) is one of the biggest contributing factors to accelerated signs of aging. While defending against UV rays, this SPF also firms, smooths and lifts skin with the help of floral and botanical extracts, as well as hyaluronic acid.
Best Anti-Aging Face Oil
We’ve been a fan of this face oil since it launched last year, and love it as an extra layer over top of a night cream. Skin Caviar Oil is enriched with caviar-derived retinol—yes, you read that right—as well as caviar lipids to hydrate and protect your skin as you slumber. In the short term, it helps you wake up with consistently refreshed and radiant skin. In the long term, it can decrease the most noticeable signs of aging: fine lines and wrinkles.
Best Lightweight Anti-Aging Cream
We’re big fans of La Mer’s signature moisturizing cream and are equally enthusiastic about its lightweight kin, this Soft Cream. It makes for breezy daytime wear, overnight summer wear, and everything in between, especially for oily-skinned individuals. And yes, it’s rich in the brand’s signature Miracle Broth, a sea-sourced, fermented secret that keeps signs of aging at bay.
Best Drugstore Anti-Aging Cream
Following the notion that “all skincare is anti-aging”, here’s one product I will always buy in a pinch—and it’s not a cream at all. Neutrogena’s hyaluronic acid gel delivers instant hydration and fullness to the face, and continued use prevents steady degradation due to moisture depletion. It’s lightweight, wears well year-round on all skin types and is a great low-cost approach to anti-aging through regular use. It is also an easy item to buy whenever you are without your go-to product (and are in need of an interim holdover).
Best Anti-Aging Night Mask
An overnight mask is very similar to a nighttime moisturizer (and the terms are often used interchangeably), but in general, you use them every few days, or weekly at least. The best ones, like this deliciously scented Narcyss night mask, work even harder than night creams to give you fully replenished, rejuvenated skin come morning. The core active ingredient here is Schisandra, a berry rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.