Swiping on a bold red lipstick, packing on a light-reflecting eye shadow, and feathering through unruly brows — makeup is full of moments of instant gratification. Skin care? Not so much, especially when we’re talking about face creams that are tasked with minimizing the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

But, before we delve into how long it takes to see a wrinkle cream’s effect, let’s discuss why exactly they exist in the first place. Nashville-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Curcio Dermatology, Natalie M. Curcio, MD, says that as we age, our skin experiences two forms of aging: extrinsic aging (which refers to external or environmental causes of aging like pollution, smoke, and, most commonly, sun exposure) and intrinsic aging (or chronological aging, a genetically determined process that leads to loss of collagen and elastin in the skin). “Both types of aging lead to wrinkles, sagging, and other signs of maturity,” she says. Your skin is also likely to become drier with aging, which is due to decreased sebum production and cumulative sun damage, says Ava Shamban, MD, a Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Five Medical Spas.

While you can’t reverse signs of aging altogether — and we’re of the opinion that aging is something to celebrate, always — you can certainly invest in a wrinkle cream. These potent moisturizers are formulated with active ingredients and designed to temporarily improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles — all while making up for lost moisture.

There are three things to consider when it comes to wrinkle creams. 1) They have to be formulated with the proper wrinkle-reducing ingredients, like peptides, hyaluronic acid, retinol retinol (a.k.a. vitamin A), and ceramides, to name a few. 2) You won’t see results from most, if not all, skin-care products overnight, and your expectations have to be realistic. “If you are looking for benefits, including the improvement in skin tone, texture, redness, and reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, it usually takes 8 to 12 weeks of twice-daily application with a moisturizer to see results,” says Dr. Curcio. In other words, patience is truly a virtue. 3) The earlier you start using wrinkle cream, the better. “Used early and consistently, a wrinkle cream can reduce the appearance of many of the fine lines and wrinkles we see developing in our 30s that become more permanent in our 40s and 50s,” says Dr. Shamban.

That being said, if you’re looking for a more intensive method of minimizing wrinkles, Ontario-based board-certified dermatologist Patricia Oyetakin, MD, recommends combining your topical products with cosmetic procedures like Botox or laser resurfacing.

For now, we tapped our dermatologist friends to learn which wrinkle serums and creams actually work — here are the best 13.

Our Top Picks:

  1. Best with SPF: Cosmedix Peptide-Rich Defense, $63
  2. Best for Long-Lasting Hydration: SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, $184
  3. Best Night Cream: EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer, $41
  4. Best for Forehead Lines: Irene Forte Prickly Pear Face Cream, $175
  5. Best for Traveling: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, $25
  6. Best Plumping Cream: Isdin Isdinceuticals Age Contour Night Face Moisturizer, $125
  7. Best for Oily Skin: Youth To The People Superfood Air-Whip Lightweight Face Moisturizer, $48

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