These Nine Anti-Aging Creams Help Reverse the Effects of Time for Under $45


(Image credit: @thetennillelife_)

I'll be the first to admit that I often feel overwhelmed when scanning the endless drugstore shelves for products that will make a difference in the health of my skin. As a 20-something, one of my biggest goals is to do what I can to protect my complexion from environmental aggressors (which, for me, can mean anything from blue light damage to my cold-weather walks), but I do spend a good chunk of time taking cues from the women around me who are pros at keeping their mature skin healthy. 

The countless conversations we Who What Wear beauty editors have had with skin experts also allow us to not rely entirely on social media for popular recommendations, as your skincare routine should be tailored to personal needs. As much as I love aesthetic-looking and high-performing products, one rule of thumb I use while deciding on skincare products is to avoid judging their effectiveness by the price point or packaging. It's easy to step into a drugstore and misjudge a product's contents.

Below, I'm decoding the complexities of anti-aging creams and diving into everything from the most effective ingredients to be on the lookout for to which products pair well with them.

Shopping for an Anti-Aging Cream

If you pay close attention to the ingredients in each of our anti-aging cream picks below, you'll notice that many of them have one in common: retinol (also commonly referred to as vitamin A). The ingredient has been witnessing what can only be described as renaissance in the past couple of years, making appearances in everything from liquid exfoliants and serums to hand creams and targeted topical ointments. But is it ideal for everyone? The answer is heavily dependent on your skin type, with mature skin perhaps benefiting the most from a retinol treatment.

Retinol is popularly used in skincare to renew the appearance of skin by promoting epidermal cellular turnover. As skin matures, skin cell turnover and collagen production slows, resulting in the signs we associate most with aging: fine lines, dark spots, and wrinkles. When used safely, retinol can vastly improve skin texture, reduce fine lines, and prevent dullness. However, retinol at a high strength can result in irritation, itchiness, and scaly patches. These side effects are noticeable in first-time users of retinol products, particularly for individuals with sensitive or easily irritated skin.

Retinol use can also make your skin more sensitive to UV rays, so it's crucial to get your hands on a good sunscreen for protection (we're talking at least SPF 30). In other words, it can be beneficial but shouldn't be treated as a one-size-fits-all ingredient. If you're worried about the effects of certain ingredients in your anti-aging cream, it's best to receive guidance from a dermatologist. Before adding any new product to your skincare lineup, it's also a good idea to try a patch test.

There are also hundreds of anti-aging creams on the market that use retinoid alternatives that provide all the same benefits without putting your skin at risk. If you're on the hunt for effective anti-aging creams to add to your skincare routine, you'll want to keep scrolling. We've rounded up eight of our top creams and corresponding serums with the help of thousands of glowing reviews, notable qualities, and details from the internet's biggest sellers. Get ready to screenshot and bookmark links nonstop—you'll definitely want to pull these up on your next trip to the drugstore.

Best Overall: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

Pair It With:

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream

Pair It With:

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

Pair It With:

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Day Cream SPF 30

Pair It With:

L'Oréal Revitalift Triple Power Anti-Aging Moisturizer

Pair It With:


(Image credit: @greceghanem)

The Inkey List Bio-Active Ceramide Repairing and Plumping Moisturizer

Eucerin Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Face Creme

Pair It With:

Olay Regenerist Whip Cream

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Derma E Anti-Wrinkle Renewal Cream 

Pair It With:

Maya Thomas
Assistant Beauty Editor
Maya Thomas is Who What Wear's assistant beauty editor based just outside of Seattle, Washington. Her strong love for all things beauty and fashion stems from a strong childhood interest in the fine arts. During a gap year spent in Paris studying the history of French fashion, she shifted her focus to English literature and journalism as a student at Loyola Marymount University with the goal of one day pursuing a career in fashion. After graduating in May 2021, Maya began freelancing for as a contributing commerce writer while also building a following on her lifestyle blog, When she's not writing, Maya spends her free time catching up on reading, perusing art galleries, and enjoying a night out at the ballet every now and then.