Experts Reveal the 18 Best Skincare Brands to Unlock Plump, Youthful Skin

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Shopping for skincare products is no easy feat. Sure, the task of finding the perfect serum, cleanser, retinol, or night cream might not sound all that daunting, but once you're faced with the thousands (yes, thousands) of skincare lines on the market and the seemingly infinite number of products within each line, the idea feels equivalent to cleaning a ninth-floor apartment bathroom in 90-degree heat. (AKA incredibly overwhelming.) When shopping for skincare products, there are so many things that need to be considered: skin type, skin tone, skin concerns, skin goals, budget, and even time constraints.

Products geared toward anti-aging, in particular, have reached fever-pitch demand, especially in a year like 2020 when in-office treatments and procedures have, for the most part, been made impossible. Since the at-home protocol is the name of the game right now, I reached out to four amazing skin experts who could provide professional insight into the best skincare lines for anti-aging.

Below, I asked each expert to share their favorite brands for achieving youthful-looking skin and the products they recommend from each. Keep scrolling!

The Expert: Sean Garrette, Esthetician and Founder of Sean Garrette Skin

Favorite Anti-Aging Skincare Lines

Paula's Choice

"This retinol serum is formulated with peptides, vitamin C, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid," says Garrette. "It helps firm and plump the skin while also providing brightening and resurfacing benefits."

"This is a great peptide-enriched serum that delivers a concentrated dose of highly targeted peptides, hydrating amino acids, and repairing ingredients."

According to Garrette, this silky, antioxidant-rich sunscreen is one of the best options for aging skin thanks to its supreme moisturizing perks.

Allies of Skin

"This is a super-charged vitamin C serum with stabilized ascorbic acid, superoxide
dismutase, and glutathione," explains Garrette. Together, these ingredients help to plump and rebuild the skin for a brightened, youthful appearance. It also helps protect the skin from the visible side effects of pollution, stress, and/or lack of sleep.

"This is a hydrating facial overnight sleeping mask enriched with peptides and time-released retinol that reduces the appearance of blemishes, fine lines, and sun damage." 

If you're concerned about skin damage or premature aging, Garrette loves this daily leave-on treatment which helps tighten and firm the skin while also providing a skin-loving dose of antioxidants.

PCA Skin

"This serum features a super-advanced complex of epidermal growth factor, adenosine, and peptides, which work together to help diminish fine lines and wrinkles," says Garrette.

He cites this lush cream from PCA Skin as one of the best if you're looking for a formula to correct, soften, and hydrate the skin. It features strategic ingredients like snow algae, peony extract, chicory leaf extract, niacinamide, vitamin E, shea butter, and retinol.

According to Garrette, this is a great treatment to simultaneously boost skin brightness while reducing discoloration. The MVP ingredients include 20% ascorbic acid, vitamin E, 1% hexylresorcinol, and 1% silymarin.

NIOD

Garrette loves this potent and effective copper peptide serum, which he says helps heal, repair, and target signs of aging.

This is a richer version of the Copper Amino Isolate Serum listed above, and it's jam-packed with copper peptides and lipids to help restore dehydration and sagging skin that's lost its elasticity.

"This is a multi-peptide complex that helps target hyperpigmentation and discoloration plus early signs of aging," Garrette shares. Ultra-light but extremely potent, this product boasts a multi-pathway approach to better penetrate the skin.

The Expert: Vanessa Lee, Esthetician, RN and Founder of The Things We Do

Favorite Anti-Aging Skincare Lines

SkinMedica

"SkinMedica is a medical-grade skincare line owned by Allergan," shares Lee. "I have been to the labs and the headquarters of this company, and the amount of science and the number of studies that go into approving each product is unparalleled. I love their HA5, in particular, which is essentially topical Juvederm that plumps the skin beautifully."

"I recommend SkinMedica's TNS Essential Serum for more mature skin that needs help with human growth factors. However, I don't suggest this serum if you're acne-prone since it's really meant for skin that is prone to dryness and thinning."

"I also love their sunscreen—it's strategically infused with antioxidants so it provides skin with anti-aging treatments and protection all in one." (You can choose from two different levels of SPF—34 or 50, and there's also a tinted version available for the former.)

Glytone

"Glytone is a great line that is often used in dermatologist offices," Lee tells us. "Fun fact: Pharrell Williams has been said to use this line and he looks amazing for his age! I love their Age-Defying Antioxidant Night Cream, which is enriched with red tea and glycolic acid."

According to Lee, this epic formula reaps similar results to a spendy in-office peel without the downtime.

"The Enhance Brightening Serum is amazing for addressing and treating skin discoloration. It's a lightweight solution that tackles stubborn dark spots and the mix of exfoliating glycolic acid and hyaluronic provide aging skin with a super-radiant glow."

Tata Harper

"Tata Harper is a luxe, eco-friendly line that is no-fail when it comes to anti-aging. I love their Clarifying Mask, which has a key mix of salicylic and lactic acids that are great for optimal skin renewal."

"This Illuminating Eye Crème has a light iridescent pearl to it (the formula is made from real diamond dust!), which lights up the eye frame." 

Harper's Boosted Contouring Serum is a great option for improving skin elasticity and the natural production of collagen, which slows as we age. Lee says it's also one of the best products to try if you're looking for a plump, dewy, and all-around glowy complexion. 

The Things We Do

"My line is geared towards getting medical-grade results with safe, quality ingredients for all skin colors," Lee shares. "The Do Over Gentle Retinol is fantastic for boosting skin renewal without the irritation of a traditional retinol formula."

"The Liquid Lift Sleeping Mask provides a healthy dose of organic oats, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to help plump skin and diminish fine lines."

"Lastly, our Pigment Remedy addresses sun damage and hyperpigmentation and is a great addition for anyone who's looking for a brighter, more even skin tone."

The Expert: Candace Marino, Celebrity Facialist

Favorite Anti-Aging Skincare Lines

Biologique Recherche

"Biologique Recherche focuses not only on the appearance of the skin but the skin's structure and function," explains Marino. "There are hundreds of products available in this range which makes it hyper-customizable for each individual's skincare needs and concerns. The products are pure, highly concentrated, and virtually raw, meaning you're getting the most unadulterated ingredients in every formulation.

"This product, in particular, has a cult following and is available in several formulations all containing alpha, beta, and polyhydroxy acids, along with apple cider vinegar. There is so much mystery around this product, but I'll break it down, P stands for 'peel' and 50 stands for 50 days (or about two epidermal cycles, which is how fast skin cells take to regenerate and renew). The product is intended to be used after cleansing as a toner, but instead of wiping it all over the skin, I recommend pressing it into the skin in an upward motion, starting on your chest and working up towards the hairline." 

Editor's note: Pricing for all Biologique Recherche products is available upon logging into Shop Rescue Spa's website.

"This serum is great for prevention and anti-aging. It stops the glycation process of the skin in which sugars attack and breakdown our collagen and elastin fibers, weakening the skin and causing laxity and wrinkles. The serum protects the building blocks of our skin which keep us plump and youthful-looking while reducing signs of fatigue, deep wrinkles, and improving the overall radiance of the skin. It also features antioxidants that provide overall protection against UV rays, pollution, and heat, which may exacerbate the glycation process."

According to Marino, this intensive anti-aging cream is well-renowned for smoothing and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. "It contains stimulating antioxidants which prevent the skin from cutaneous aging, and it boasts an instant supporting and firming effect while improving elasticity and preventing environmental damage that further breaks down the integrity of the skin. It's enriched with myorelax peptide, which is known for its relaxant effects on the micro-contractions that lead to the formation of expression lines and wrinkles. It's best used morning and evening!"

IS Clinical

"IS Clinical is the longest-running brand I use and recommend," Marino shares. "They formulate with pharmaceutical-grade ingredients that warrant real results, so you're spending your money on ingredients, science, formulations, and clinical studies versus marketing dollars. The brand's primary focus is targeting the skin's overall health, and achieving beautiful skin is a secondary benefit—each and every product is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients.

"I know this sounds harsh, but I say this all the time, and I'm saying it louder for the people in the back: If you're not wearing SPF every single day, you might as well not invest in any skincare at all. If you're not protecting your skin from the sun, you are literally flushing money down the drain, and putting yourself at risk for skin cancers, collagen breakdown, pigmentation, sensitivity, and more. Sunscreen is hands down the most effective way to keep your skin healthy and young. Extreme Protect SPF 30 is my all-time favorite skincare product on the planet. It's so much more than a sunscreen—it's an anti-aging and nourishing treatment that protects the skin from the sun and the environment. It features antioxidants to fight off free radicals and blue light in a moisturizing base that nourishes and protects the skin."

"In my opinion, antioxidant serums are the second most beneficial product for all skin types during the day, after SPF," notes Marino. "They're meant to protect the skin from environmental aggressors like sun and pollution that reach the cells and have the potential to damage them by breaking down collagen, weakening elastin, stimulating pigmentation, and mutating cells which could cause cancer. One of the most notable antioxidants in skincare is vitamin C because it is essential for the formation of collagen in the skin. This particular antioxidant serum features 20% L-Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) alongside Kakadu plum (a potent antioxidant that yields 100x the vitamin C of an orange) with superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant-rich natural enzyme that protects against the visual effects of the sun while protecting and rejuvenating skin cells."

"The Active Serum is one of my all-time favorite night time serums. This is a multi-acid serum (it features lactic, glycolic, and salicylic) to improve cell-turnover, brighten the skin, improve texture and tone while preventing and treating breakouts. This serum is good for all life stages and skin concerns—whether you're dealing with a hormonal breakout or you're concerned with fine lines and wrinkles. It's known as a 'retinol-free retinol' due to how effectively it turns over skin cells and stimulates collagen production."

SkinBetter Science

"SkinBetter Science is a medically dispensed brand that partners with skincare professionals who work under the direction of a physician," Marino tells us. "Their products are designed to address targeted concerns, achieved by selecting the highest quality ingredients as well as patented technology platforms that allow the products to produce visible results. The proof is in their clinical trials and before-and-after photos. The brand rigorously tests their final formulations and technologies in dermatologist-conducted clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy, therefore you're paying for real results.

"This is by far my favorite retinol product available on the market. It features retinoic acid, the most potent form of retinol, delivered in a nourishing overnight cream. The ingredients in this product require zero conversion within the skin, causing little to no irritation. The patented technology binds with lactic acid and alpha hydroxy acid, which further improves its exfoliating, brightening, and hydrating properties."

"You can think of this product as a no-needle filler," Marino shares. "It uses high molecular weight, injectable grade hyaluronic acid to topically fill in deep lines and wrinkles, alongside four other verifying molecular weights of HA to bind water to different levels of the skin, which supports the overall appearance and integrity of the skin. It also features peptides and vitamin C to support long-term collagen synthesis.

"This is a targeted treatment, meaning you're not using it on the entire face. Instead, you'll apply it to specific areas where you have deep wrinkles and lines like the forehead, nasolabial folds, marionette lines, crow's feet, and upper lip lines."

According to Marino, this is a highly coveted favorite amongst people with skin laxity and deep wrinkles on the face, neck, and decollete. "It features a patented technology that delivers the ingredients quickly into the skin to restore the skin's firmness and tone," she notes. "It's a peptide-based formula that helps strengthen the skin by promoting collagen synthesis and strengthening elastin to help support the structure and integrity of the skin. Peptides are considered the building blocks of collagen and elastin fibers, which rapidly decrease as we age."

SENTÉ

"Senté is the first and only skincare line with patented Glycosaminoglycan Analogs featuring Heparan Sulfate Analog (HSA) technology," Marino shares. "Heparan sulfate, a relative of hyaluronic acid, plays a more crucial and multitasking role in the skin than just hydration and acts as a glue to perform a variety of very important functions including the binding and stimulation of growth factors, helping to control inflammation, and promoting repair. 

"This is the brand's holy-grail product and number-one best-seller! It’s a multitasking anti-aging hydrator with the highest concentration of Senté's patented HSA technology combined with antioxidants for patients with dehydrated, sensitive skin who suffer from fine lines and wrinkles, redness, and photo-damage. It also doubles as a pre-/post-care repair product for in-office procedures."

"This contouring serum is the brand's newest innovation hybrid anti-aging serum formulated with patented HSA Technology combined with CSA (Chondroitin Sulfate Analog) and DSA (Dermatin Sulfate Analog)—two new Analogs recently created by Senté," Marino explains. "It's designed to support the skin's natural ability to help bundle, strengthen, and protect collagen and elastin fibers. It is designed to firm, volumize, and help the skin achieve a 'rebound' effect. I often recommend it to patients who regularly undergo tightening procedures, and I find it to be the perfect product to compliment fillers to retain the face's youthful contour."

"Preventing and treating pigmentation is crucial to maintaining a healthy, youthful-looking complexion, and I'm a huge fan of products that help inhibit pigment production, specifically for people suffering from Melasma, which is a chronic lifelong pigment condition that is oftentimes brought on by hormones, as well as heat and sun exposure. This product is a standout because it's a non-hydroquinone, non-retinol, non-exfoliating, non-prescription formula that warrants no downtime and zero photosensitivity making it safe for year-round use. It literally shuts down the skin's ability to create pigment, while delivering powerful antioxidants to the cells to prevent and repair existing damage."

The Expert: Shani Darden, Esthetician and Founder of Shani Darden Skin Care

Favorite Anti-Aging Skincare Lines

IS Clinical

"Antioxidant protection is essential for protecting your skin from environmental stressors like pollution and UV exposure," notes Darden. "Not only can it help to protect your skin from the effects of oxidative stress, but it can also help to reverse the signs of it as well! This serum from IS Clinical is one of my favorite vitamin C serums because it’s a powerful formula yet it's still very nourishing. Antioxidants like vitamin C will help to increase cellular turnover which boosts collagen in the skin to minimize fine lines and wrinkles as well as reduce pigmentation for brighter skin."

Cosmedix

"I have used so many eye creams, and one of my absolute favorites is the Cosmedix Opti-Crystal Eye Serum. Antioxidants and liquid crystals work together to minimize fine lines and wrinkles and brighten the under-eye area for more youthful eyes."

Shani Darden Skincare

"When I became an esthetician, I was fortunate enough to work under a dermatologist named Dr. Erma Benitez," shares Darden. "This was such an amazing opportunity for me to learn about different skin types and skin conditions. This was also where I learned about the amazing, transformative effects of retinol. I couldn’t find a retinol on the market that had all of the benefits of a prescription formula without the dryness, peeling, and irritation, so I decided to create one. 

"Retinol Reform was the first product I developed. It’s an amazing multitasking product to address anti-aging concerns and keep skin glowing overall. It combines retinol with lactic acid to boost collagen in the skin, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, reduce dark spots and even out the skin tone, along with keeping it blemish-free."

"For those who have more sensitive skin, I created Texture Reform. It features retinyl palmitate, a gentler form of retinol, along with lactic acid to gently exfoliate and provide anti-aging benefits like increased cellular turnover, increased collagen production, and more even-toned skin. These are the two serums I recommend to all of my clients to keep their skin glowing in-between facials."

Dr. Dennis Gross

"Keeping your skin exfoliated is essential for anti-aging," Darden notes. "Dr. Dennis Gross has created a line of at-home peels that combine multiple Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Beta Hydroxy Acids (known as AHAs and BHAs) to effectively exfoliate and reveal brighter, smoother skin. As you age, the process in which fresh new skin cells are brought to the surface through cellular turnover slows down, so the skin may appear more dull and lackluster. These pads help remove dead skin cells on the surface to brighten the skin and they'll also help minimize any dark spots or pigmentation."

Déesse

"LED light therapy is one of my absolute favorite treatments for aging in reverse. It boosts collagen in the skin, minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, and boosts circulation to give you an amazing glow. The Déesse Pro LED Mask features 770 LED lights, which is more than most masks on the market. (Many only have a quarter or third of that amount.) I’ve seen firsthand what an amazing anti-aging effect LED light can have on the skin, and I can’t live without my daily 20-minute session to get all of the benefits!"

Supergoop!

"The most important thing you can do for anti-aging is to wear sunscreen every single day. All of the things that people often complain about like dark spots, loss of elasticity, and wrinkles can be prevented by wearing sunscreen and staying out of the sun. Supergoop! makes amazing sunscreens, and they have a sunscreen for all skin types in so many different forms like moisturizers, sprays, lip glosses, and even eye shadows! My favorite is their Play Everyday Lotion with SPF 50 because it is lightly hydrating, so it doubles as my daily moisturizer yet it won’t cause any congestion in the skin."

Next: Makeup Artists Say These 8 Tightening Face Creams Are Injection-Level Effective

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