Many wrinkle creams and lotions sold in department stores, drugstores, and on the Internet promise to reduce wrinkles and prevent or reverse sun damage. With so many anti-aging skincare products on the market, it’s hard to know which ones work — and which ones don’t.

How well a skincare product works often depends on its ingredients and the manner in which it should be used. Because over-the-counter wrinkle creams aren’t classified as drugs, they’re not required to undergo scientific research to prove their effectiveness. If you’re looking for a facelift in a bottle, you probably won’t find it in over-the-counter wrinkle creams. That being said, wrinkle creams do have the ability to help prevent and treat fine lines, as well as adequately moisturize the skin.

The effectiveness of an anti-wrinkle cream depends in part on its active ingredients. Here are 13 ingredients that actually make a difference.

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been shown to increase collagen production — including dermal collagen, which is significant for wrinkle reduction. It also reduces the appearance of skin discoloration, strengthens skin’s barrier response, enhances its repair process, reduces inflammation and helps skin better withstand exposure to sunlight, whether it’s protected by sunscreen or not.

2. Alpha Hydroxy Acids(AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)

AHAs are best for normal-to-dry or sun damaged skin because they help bind moisture and improve healthy collagen production and smooth an uneven skin texture. "AHAs also have humectant properties, meaning they hold moisture to your skin," StyleCaster reports. BHAs are best for normal-to-oily or breakout-prone skin while also being excellent for reducing redness caused by rosacea.

3. Retinol

Simply put, retinol helps skin cells create better, healthier skin as increases the amount of skin-support substances. It has been shown to increase your skin’s collagen production and glycosaminoglycans content. And this firms skin, improves texture, and enhances barrier function.

4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E works in several different ways including helping to protect cell membranes from oxidative damage and preventing collagen from being destroyed. It also enjoys a powerful synergistic relationship with vitamin C. Vitamin E on an ingredient label may be listed as tocopheryl acetate, tocopheryl linoleate, tocotrienols, alpha tocopherol and tocopheryl succinate.

5. Niacinamide

This component of vitamin B3 has been shown to increase ceramide and free fatty acid levels in skin. "One of the unique benefits of niacinamide as an anti-aging ingredient is that it enhances barrier function," Dermatology Times reports. That is, it prevents skin from losing water and stimulates microcirculation in the dermis. It also has a growing reputation for being able to lighten skin discoloration and reduce acne.

6. Green tea

Green tea’s antioxidant component works to reduce inflammation, build collagen, and reduce cell damage by impeding the harmful effects of sun exposure. When found in cosmetics, epigallocatechin gallate (an abundant catechin in tea) is a more potent, stable way to get the antioxidant benefit on skin.

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7. Resveratrol

Like most antioxidants, resveratrol has incredible protective benefits for the skin. HuffPost reports that "resveratrol appears to help increase the activity of mitochondria, which produces energy within cells, potentially extending their lives." When applied topically, resveratrol protects against sun damage, improves collagen synthesis and reduces cell damage. It is a stable, potent antioxidant that makes any a skincare product containing it a must-have.

8. Grape seed oil

This antioxidant-rich oil significantly reduces free-radical damage. Combining it with other antioxidants greatly enhances its efficacy. It also has wound-healing properties. These alone make grape seed oil one of the top superstars for fighting wrinkles.

9. Curcuminoids

Curcuminoids are found in the spice turmeric, and they have potent anti-inflammatory properties, both internally and externally. They also work to suppress excess melanin production in the presence of sunlight, and help alleviate the chronic inflammation, irritation, and sun damage that causes the skin to look older and become unable to repair itself.

10. Soy isoflavone extract

Research shows soy and its components to be powerful antioxidants that are extremely beneficial for skin. "A form of soy isoflavone called aglycones shows promise in improving the appearance of aging skin, including the diminishing of fine lines and wrinkles," LiveStrong reports. Studies show that these derivatives inhibit environmental damage, reduce irritation, improve skin texture, build collagen, and fight sun damage.

11. Ceramides

Ceramides make up about 20% of the skin’s intercellular matrix — the glue that holds skin cells together — helping skin maintain its appearance while protecting it. When your skin suffers from sun damage, a dry environment or irritating skincare products, ceramides decrease, leaving the skin vulnerable. Replenishing the ceramide content of your skin is a powerful way to protect it, helping it to act and look younger.

12. Linoleic acids, linolenic acids, and phospholipids

These fatty acids replenish the skin’s intercellular matrix, which preserves its appearance. All fatty acids function as cell-communicating ingredients, working to tell the appropriate skin cells how to function in a healthier manner. They also help reduce inflammation, which is believed to be a key factor in how the skin ages.

13. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

This ingredient may help reduce fine wrinkles around the eyes and protect the skin from sun damage. A handful of studies have shown that CoQ10 may have an effect on skin and the appearance of wrinkles, most notably by reducing ultraviolet light damage, stimulating healthy collagen production, and reducing substances in damaged skin that wreak havoc on its support structures. The latest research also suggests that CoQ10 has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, making it one of many helpful antioxidants for skin.

A proactive approach to skincare

Here are three smart ways of getting the most from your skincare cream.

• Prep your skin with a toner

A staggering 10-15% of makeup remains on the skin after cleansing. If your skin isn’t totally clean, it stops anything you apply next from absorbing well. A toner removes impurities such as residual cleanser and traces of makeup, which block pores and can cause blackheads. Without it, even the most effective moisturizer is unable to work completely because it hasn’t been able to penetrate your skin all the way.

• Put on eye cream before you put on a moisturizer

Your eye area is more delicate than the rest of your face, so the product is lighter. By applying an eye cream first, you form a barrier against a heavier moisturizer that can cause puffiness. Most experts advise applying your skincare products in the following order to get the most out of each beauty product: cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, and moisturizer.

• Wear a daily moisturizer that contains SPF of 15 or higher

Daily use of sunblock every day helps to protect your skin against damage caused by UVA and UVB rays. It also prevents facial brown spots and skin discoloration. And it slows down the development of wrinkles. Though your night cream doesn’t have to contain sunblock, your day cream most definitely should. By taking a proactive approach to your skincare, you’ll keep your skin looking radiant.

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