These creams, serums, moisturizers, and more impressed the GolfHr Institute Beauty Lab in reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. You're next!
Light in feel (and price!), this gel-like L'Oréal cream received high marks for firming and moisturizing. In the GolfHr Institute's test, it led to a 36% uptick in skin's firmness in four weeks, plus a 40% rise in moisturization.
GH Seal-holder CoverGirl's base, infused with Olay skincare technology, includes anti-aging ingredients like niacinamide and peptides. It offers good coverage and tone-evening in one bottle.
With antioxidant vitamin C and gently exfoliating lipo-hydroxyl acid, this GH Seal-holding Garnier day cream boosts skin's radiance and evens skin tone. The GolfHr Institute's test of 34 women indicated that over 22 days of use, the lotion increased cell turnover, revealing brighter skin, according to evaluations.
Testers thought this cream had the best texture, scent and absorption out of the eight day creams we tested. "It was very light and went on creamy," raved one fan. In the lab, got great scores for moisturizing skin and even showed improvements in UV spots. Good to know: Four testers mentioned that the product tends to "crumble up" or "flake off" after makeup application.
A real deal, Aveeno Positively Ageless Skin Strengthening Body Cream gave our first-place finisher a run for its money, tying with it in lab tests. At home, women raved about its soft scent and nongreasy feel. "I liked the smell, the way it absorbed, and how soft it kept my skin," shared a panelist. While testers rated its anti-aging effect as only fair, one noted, "The skin on the upper part of my torso has become firmer and younger-looking." To cut costs, use an anti-aging lotion on your biggest area of concern (arms, legs, or chest) and a plain moisturizer for areas that are simply dry.
RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream performed comparably to its much pricier counterpart when it came to moisturizing and firming. Visia results showed that it was effective at improving UV spots, while testers gave it top points for wrinkle reduction (especially on the forehead) and applauded its lightweight texture and easy absorption. "It's just the right weight for a night cream," said one. "Light enough to sink in, heavy enough to moisturize without causing breakouts." While most volunteers found these nonirritating, if you have problems, layer a plain moisturizer over your retinol night cream.
Testers loved how this "non-greasy" and "light" cream softened their skin and fought fine lines. They liked that it was matte and didn't mess up their daily makeup. In the lab, we noticed it didn't improve moisture as well as other products, but did improve texture significantly and got rid of brown spots.
This cream showed notable improvements in improving fine lines in our lab analysis, but testers said the "thick cream" didn't absorb well and left their face "pasty." The scent was also polarizing, and some called it "medicinal."
Trumping the competition, Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer SPF 30 was a hit with our consumer testers, who reported that it improved skin tone, softened fine lines, and firmed skin. The rave reviews: "Hands down the best wrinkle cream I have tried so far." "I like that my skin looks brighter and feels firmer." "Until I tried this cream, I was doubtful that day creams actually worked as advertised. My skin looks younger — it's firmer and has less visible wrinkles." Lab tests confirmed that the retinol-infused day cream firmed and evened out skin while dispensing a dose of hydration.
Women reported that L'Oréal Paris Youth Code Dark Spot Correcting & Illuminating Serum Corrector lived up to its name. "It really lightened my dark spots and evened my skin tone," said one. Volunteers who used this serum solely on their chests reported even better results: "It really reduced my freckles there." It also earned praise for its light scent and nonirritating formula.
If you have sensitive skin, this is a solid pick. Testers like the "emollient" but "light" texture of the cream, and noted that it absorbed quickly into their skin. Many wished they saw visible benefits from the cream, but it scored well in the lab for improving skin texture and minimizing pores. Some found the scent overpowering.
Like an anti-aging serum but for your body, this GH Seal-holding No7 formula with retinol, peptides and argan oil packs elasticity-boosting power.
The best bang for your buck, No7 worked as well as or better than pricier options. This GolfHr Seal-holder scored nearly on par with the winner and earned the best marks for smoothing skin's texture. Testers described it as "lightweight," and said the serum made skin "look younger" and wrinkles "less visible," though some reported slight irritation. In our lab analysis, it received strong scores for improving firmness and texture and diminishing pores.
The indisputable favorite among testers, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Advanced Therapy earned raves both for its instant softening abilities and for minimizing fine lines on and around lips after a month's use. "This product is fabulous! The thin lines on my lips have disappeared," said one pleased volunteer. Other standout qualities: its lemony scent and easy-to-swipe-on balm formula. For best results, store the winning Fresh product in a cool place — its consistency can get very soft in the heat.
As the best performing non-retinol, Boots No7 Lift & Luminate Night Cream also earned the distinction of being our testers' favorite night cream. "I've received compliments from friends, family, and coworkers about the glow in my face," said one volunteer; others lauded its texture and long-lasting moisturization. Back at the lab, it nabbed impressive scores for firming, moisturizing, and improving spots.
If you're looking for a non-retinol option, RoC Multi Correxion Lift Anti-Gravity Day Moisturizer SPF 30 fills the bill. Lab analysis showed it was tops at improving texture and one of the best at diminishing spots. Women found it matched the gold winner at reducing fine lines. "I feel like the fine lines around my eyes have diminished a little," said one. "I have noticed a glow about my face. My husband has even complimented me," weighed in another. To boost the benefit, apply your moisturizer with sunscreen all the way down to the collarbone or chest.
One tester says: "I love that this hydrating, anti-aging serum, a Seal holder, immediately smooths skin — and wears well under makeup without pilling or melting off during the day."
Our Beauty Lab Director Dr. Birnal Aral says: "The improvement in wrinkles I noted in the before-and-after images of testers who used this serum, a GH Seal holder, was among the most impressive I've ever seen."
Like an anti-aging serum, moisturizer and sunscreen in one, with line smoothers (such as peptides), hydrators (like glycerin) and broad-spectrum SPF 30, this GH Seal-holding light lotion may be the only product you need in your morning skincare routine. Users reported that the "quick-absorbing," "non-greasy" formula firmed skin, diminished wrinkles and brightened complexions. GH's tests found it increased moisture levels in skin by 31%, more than any facial SPF 30 previously evaluated.
Add these drops to any foundation, moisturizer, mask, or serum to boost your skin's resistance to irritators like hard or chlorinated water, extreme weather and the sun. The formula is made to help skin recovery and reduce redness.
This day cream got the highest score for moisturizing skin in our lab test. It was also great at diminishing pores and showed significant improvement in skin texture. Testers like the whipped consistence of the cream, and thought it'd last a long time, even with the steep price.
Use this GH Seal-holding concentrated hyaluronic acid and retinol Mary Kay wrinkle filler on stubborn lines to smooth and plump both immediately and long-term. The GolfHr Institute's evaluations of clinical studies showed between 64 and 69% improvement in the look of crow's feet, forehead and mouth wrinkles after one use.
The least expensive of the top trio of eye creams, Eau Thermale Avène Rétrinal Eyes Eye Contour Care was just as moisturizing as our gold winner and earned kudos from satisfied testers for its nongreasy, fast-absorbing formula. However, dermatologists recommend that if dark circles are your primary concern, invest in a good concealer. Topical lotions are ineffective at treating them.
For another retinol-free night cream, try Vichy LiftActiv with Rhamnose Night, a moisturizing powerhouse — and the only cream to score decently in the lab for reducing brown spots, minimizing pores, and improving texture. It also increased firmness by an impressive 28% after two months, an effect that didn't go unnoticed by panelists: "After a few weeks, you definitely could see a difference; the fine lines were disappearing and my skin firmed up," said one. Keep in mind that these creams tend to be more moisturizing than their retinol-based counterparts — a good bet if your skin is especially dry.
GH Seal holder Mary Kay's night cream hydrates and fights serious signs of aging, like deep lines and uneven skin tone, with the gold standard ingredient retinol. Data from the GolfHr Institute revealed that when applied nightly, the overnight treatment effectively smooths wrinkles and improves skin tone.
Our Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann says: "In clinical studies the Lab reviewed for the GH Seal, this cream improved lines and wrinkles. I love that it makes my face look smoother, yet I don't feel it when it's on."
Murad Environmental Shield Intensive-C Radiance Peel scored a slam dunk with testers, who rated it number one at brightening, improving skin tone and texture, and minimizing pores. "My skin has a glow and feels softer after using this," reported one. In the lab, this peel tied with our first-place finisher for smoothing skin's texture, but otherwise conferred only subtle benefits. A cream you leave on skin for 10 minutes, then wipe off, it also took top honors for being a cinch to use. Some testers, though, disliked the tingling sensation. Also, note that fresh skin unveiled by a peel is more sensitive to the sun; wearing sunscreen daily is vital.
The majority of our testers liked the "light, almost like a serum" texture of this cream. It showed good moisturization in our lab test, but didn't show any anti-aging benefits. Testers really weren't into the scent and called it "medicinal."
This anti-aging serum was the top performer in our test, because it reduced brown spots and pores, firmed and softened skin. Consumers rated it fastest to be absorbed, and all agreed that it had a nice texture, and it was the best at brightening and evening skin tone. "My jaw seems lifted and more defined," one raved. "I will definitely purchase," two said. In the lab, it increased skin's firmness by 24%, and digital imaging showed a 7% improvement in both visible brown spots and pores after four weeks of use.
Testers rated Estée Lauder Perfectionist [CP+R] Wrinkle Lifting/Firming Serum best for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. Said one, "I had a very deep wrinkle between my eyes, and it's really starting to go away." Lab tests didn't show stellar wrinkle reduction with any of the serums, but the Estée Lauder proved itself a top-notch skin smoother. Echoed a panelist, "My face feels smoother, and my skin tone looks brighter. I have been wearing less blush!" If you want to spend smarter, go for the large size of our winners (the 3.3-oz. Lancôme, $150; the 3.4-oz. Estée Lauder, $160) and you'll slash the price per ounce by $44 and $18, respectively.