When you've been interested in skincare for over five decades, you definitely learn a thing or two along the way. Such is the case with my beautiful 68-year-old mom, Lucy. When I asked her to review some of her favorite anti-aging night creams for this story, she sent me back a novel chronicling her entire experience with beauty products—even before high school—leaving me to edit it down and extract the good stuff. (Love ya, Mom!) But trust me when I say there is plenty of good stuff to go around.
"At age 12, I fell in love with my lovely grandmother's favorite skin treatments from Dorothy Gray," my mom told me about her first interest in beauty products. "She bought them from elegant cosmetic saleswomen in white coats at the Rexall Drugstore. Her skin was luminous." Since then, my mom has honed her product-testing skills and uncovered the most effective products for her dry/combination skin. "Years after learning about Dorothy Gray, I fell in love with everything French and became a devotee of Lancôme, my first department store brand," she says. These days, she still loves Lancôme but also has a lot more brands in her repertoire, making her a great source of intel since she's tried so many products. Below, I had my mom reveal her favorite anti-aging night creams that she says are tried-and-true.
"As my face has started to sag, I have really appreciated this stiff, rich cream that is supposed to act as a sling of sorts, holding up your face! This is a super-popular cream that literally firms and lifts. I like to use it under my jaw, and I apply it with quick upward strokes from the base of my neck upward. It has a thick, smooth consistency and stays put (thus the lifting effect)."
"This is a thick, almost gel-like treatment to put on at night. It works like a hydrating and moisturizing mask which is absorbed overnight. You don't need to rinse it off. It's light, not greasy, and I like its plumping effects in the morning."
"One of the most soothing and nurturing lines for my skin, when I want to change things up, is good old Aveeno. I like to buy its richest cream Absolutely Ageless Restorative Night Cream. This is affordable, really moisturizes my dry skin, and since its Aveeno, you know its hypoallergenic. It works on lines and wrinkles and really calms my skin if I've been out on a windy day or in the pool or ocean. So it ticks a lot of boxes!"
"It seems to really do what it says in that your skin drinks in the hydration after applying and stays dewy. I noticed my lines were minimized, a bit like a cosmetic filler is supposed to work, but of course more temporary. If I apply it often, I believe it changes my dry skin profoundly."
"I've appreciated that RoC has every face and neck product one could want at really reasonable prices. For a drugstore brand, this has a very generous percentage of hard-working retinol in it. It smooths on nicely, and an occasional light tingle lets me know the retinol is doing its thing. Retinol works overtime to restore wrinkled skin by uncovering new skin. It doesn't feel harsh, though, on my thinning skin, and it is less expensive and gentler than Retin-A from a dermatologist. I like to use it on my forehead."
"Over 30 years ago, I fell in love with everything French and became a devotee of Lancôme, my first department store brand. Even the names of Lancôme skin products, like Rénergie Lift, sound better than 'wrinkle creams.' This product really helps with dark circles under the eye and crow's feet. It has caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and shea butter, which means it's super moisturizing for the delicate eye area."
"I was once given a bottle of La Mer Crème de la Mer moisturizer, one of the most luxuriously priced formulas for transforming your skin. It went on beautifully, and I felt like it was doing very special things for my skin since it was so moisturizing and soothing. I would not feel right spending that kind of money myself at the moment, but perhaps I'll indulge myself at some point!"
"My daughter uses this Japanese brand's Water Cream and turned me onto this formula, which is designed to help with dullness and fine lines. I have to say I love the luxury of the golden spoon for applying the product. I read Tatcha's product description and was instantly sold: 'Seven rich botanical extracts—squalane from olive fruit, green tea, wild thyme, ginseng root, licorice root, sweet marjoram, and jujube fruit—work to improve skin tone, clarity, and texture.' I particularly love that it's earned the Clean at Sephora stamp of approval."
"I often use Caudalie's lightweight Vinoperfect Radiance Serum during the day, but this formula feels much more substantial in terms of hydration for nighttime. This is supposed to help with lifting and firmness, and I think it does the job quite well. Of course, you can't expect miracles overnight, but when you wake up to better skin than you went to sleep with, it's always a good sign. Resveratrol is a great ingredient to look out for. It's made from grapes and definitely helps smooth wrinkles over time."
"I actually first heard of Glow Recipe from Who What Wear co-founder Hillary Kerr's podcast, Second Life, where she interviewed the founder. After hearing how popular it is at Sephora, I wanted to try it out for myself. Admittedly, the packaging and brand aesthetic seems geared to a younger audience, but the ingredients are definitely the real deal for older women too. It has encapsulated retinol that's gentler than regular retinol, along with avocado and coffeeberry."
Yes, the price tag is expensive, but Tata Harper has a cult following for a very good reason. For starters, the brand is all-natural and formulated at Harper's own farm in Vermont. This cream, in particular, has rave reviews at Sephora because of its ability to plump skin and give a glowy look.
This overnight facial particularly helps with brightening dark spots thanks to vitamin C. Don't recognize the "wild rose" ingredient? Korres explains what it is in the product description: "a precious heritage ingredient from the Korres Herbal Apothecary delivers maximum moisture and plumpness to the skin from the rich source of fatty acids."