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An effective, nonirritating wrinkle cream is the holy grail of beauty products. But do home antiaging products really work? And do you have to spend a lot to find a good one? We gave real women wrinkle products to try for one month. Here, the honest-to-goodness results:
Murad Resurgence Age-Diffusing Serum, $60 The promise: Made with soy and wild yam extracts, this product says it will stop the breakdown of collagen and encourage elasticity, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles. It's specially formulated for perimenopausal and menopausal women. The product: Julie, 55, used the serum once a day in the morning. It wasn't greasy and absorbed easily. Only a squirt was needed, so the product lasts a long time. The result: Although she liked the way it felt on her skin, Julie didn't notice any change in her skin.
Olay Regenerist Collection, $19.99 per product The promise: Fortified with amino-peptides, these products promise to decrease wrinkles by regenerating the outer layer of skin. The product: Winnie, 56, applied the daily regenerating serum at night, which caused a slight tingling sensation. This was relieved by application of the perfecting cream and enhancing lotion, which she also used under her makeup in the morning. She has sensitive skin, but this product proved gentle. The result: Her skin felt soft and touchable, and she noticed a slight softening of the lines around her eyes.
L'Oreal Wrinkle De-Crease, $19.99 The promise: This cream's secret weapon is Boswelox, a phyto-complex which claims to reduce the appearances of lines. The product: Brenda, 61, used the product at morning and at night, massaging it into skin as directed. While it didn't feel oily, it did take more time to absorb than other creams she'd used. And it tingled slightly upon application, especially when she'd just washed her face. The result: While smile lines remained the same, Brenda did notice an improvement in fine lines.
Philosophy Lift Kit, $50 (includes When Hope is Not Enough A.M. Facial Firming and Lifting Serum, and Hope and a Prayer Topical Vitamin C Powder) The promise: This cutely packaged product says it will firm and hydrate skin with peptides, as well as counteract the effects of sun damage and pollution. The product: Joan, 48, started with small amounts of the vitamin C powder added to the serum, which went on smoothly and did not irritate her skin. It had a slightly medicinal smell, which was different from other products she was used to. The result: The change was subtle, but Joan did notice that her skin felt smooth, firmer, and seemed to have a soft glow. She also noticed the product slowed facial hair growth.
Almay Kinetin Skincare Advanced Anti-Aging Series, $15.99 for each product The promise: The only over-the-counter Kinetin-based skincare on the market, these products promise to undo the effects of sun damage, like brown spots and, of course, wrinkles. The product: Emily, 45, said the cream went on easily, with no tingling or redness. She applied the daily lotion during the day, and the Repair and Rejuvenate Night Concentrate before bed. She is acne-prone, but this cream did not cause breakouts, although it left her face a bit shiny. The result: Emily loved the way the cream felt when she put it on. Friends commented that her skin looked soft, but it did nothing to diminish wrinkles.
Clinique Repairwear, $45 The promise: Repairwear claims to firm natural collagen -- reducing the look of lines -- and replenishes skin's antioxidants. The product: Denise, 36, used the Repairwear Extra Help Serum, which went on smoothly and without tingling. A few minutes later, her sensitive skin felt a little tight. To sooth the tightness, she applied the Intensive Night Cream over the serum the next evening. Her skin felt moisturized but two days later she broke out on her chin and nose. The result: Although it appeared dewy, Denise's skin became more ruddy from using the cream. Lines did seem a bit smoother, though.
Neutrogena Visibly Firm, $19 The promise: Using active copper, Visibly Firm promises to replenish the copper naturally found in your skin, making it firmer and more elastic. The product: Dottie, 44, has oily skin and thought the cream felt a bit "filmy" for warm weather. It made the skin around her eyes too oily, causing makeup to rub off easily. The result: Although her skin did feel smoother, Dottie felt the product was clogging her pores and would work better for someone with dry skin.
N.V. Perricone Vitamin C Ester Amine Complex Face Lift, $85 The promise: This product claims to lift skin instantly, using NTP complex. Vitamin C ester boosts antioxidants, so skin is protected from environmental damage. The product: Kate, 54, found a little bit went a long way. She didn't find the product greasy, and needed to add moisturizer to hydrate her dry skin. It did not irritate her fair, dry skin. The result: After increasing her use to twice a day, she did notice that her skin was firmer after application, although it didn't seem to change her wrinkles in the long term.
Although some test participants did see some minor changes, no one was wowed by the results. So is there any hope for over-the-counter wrinkle products? "Women are looking for miracles in a bottle," says San Francisco cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Richard Glogau, "but as a general rule of thumb, if a topical agent has a significant effect, it's going to be regulated by the FDA and classified as a drug." He recommends looking for a product containing glycolic acid or retinols, which can have some subtle effects over time. He also encourages healthy eating and sunscreen every day, as skin can repair itself over time if it is protected.