Finding the right skin care routine that actually works can be daunting. We all want amazing results, and we want to see them ASAP. However, topical products typically require several weeks of consistent use to prove their worth. But, that’s not to say there aren’t super potent formulas that make a noticeable difference in your skin’s appearance much quicker than their counterparts. Here are seven picks from top dermatologists.
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“I have absolutely fallen head over heels with this product. In my opinion, every woman could use a little retinol in her regimen. And with this award-winning anti-aging retinol formula, it won’t be long before you start to see noticeable results. It comes as a cream, not a sticky serum, and it combines retinol, peptides and antioxidants to improve skin texture, soften fine lines and wrinkles, and greatly improves discoloration in the skin caused by the sun. The key ingredients include magical peptides that stimulate collagen growth (YAY, COLLAGEN!)—myristoyl tripeptide-4 and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7—as well as green tea extract (it helps prevent overdrying) and hyaluronic acid (hello moisture!).
Apply it at night to your entire face, especially on areas of concern, like your forehead, cheeks and temple areas, and the smile lines around your mouth. Be careful to avoid applying to the sensitive skin directly surrounding your eyes.”
—Elmer, NJ, dermatologist Ingrid Warmuth, MD
“This is my favorite product for fast results. It’s a lightweight moisturizer that helps target early signs of photo aging, dullness and discoloration, and it uses vitamin B3 and tripeptides to increase cell turnover and restore the natural skin barrier. It also helps to increase hydration, tighten the skin’s surface, and improve skin tone and texture. I use it daily because as busy as I am, I need products that are ‘two-in-ones’—I get the benefits of moisturizing and anti-aging properties all at once!”
—Greenwich, CT, dermatologist Kim Nichols, MD
SENTÉ Dermal Repair Cream ($150, Available at select physicians’ offices)
“For fast results, I find that a two-part approach works best with topical products—you need retinoids for long-term collagen stimulation and hyaluronic acid for immediate skin plumping, as it attracts water into the skin. However, I don’t think hyaluronic acid has to be the main ingredient in a product for it to deliver benefits, and I love SENTÉ Dermal Repair Cream for its potent blend of hydrating ingredients.”
—New York dermatologist Estee Williams, MD
SkinMedica Retinol Complex ($62–$93 depending on the strength you choose)
“On its own, the Retinol Complex—it comes in three different strengths and is time-released for better absorption and less irritation—will change skin’s texture and tone, as well as diminish the appearance of fine lines and coarse wrinkles, and help minimize large pores. However, if I want my patient to see dramatic, rapid changes in their skin, I’ll recommend what I call the ‘dynamic duo,’ which pairs the retinol with SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum ($320), which is the highest concentration of growth factors available to treat lines and texture. The result is rapid-fire skin care correction.”
—Greenwich, CT, dermatologist Mitchell J. Ross, MD
HydroPeptide Nimni Cream ($220)
“I call this my ‘dream cream.’ It goes to work while you sleep, turning on collagen production below the surface so you awake with plumper, radiant, more youthful-looking skin. For years, women who wanted to turn back the hands of time had to get a prescription retinoid cream from their dermatologist or invest in expensive laser treatments. Now you can achieve similar results in the comfort your own home. My patients have been delighted with the results!”
—Norwell, MA, dermatologist Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD
“This product is not a retinol like its over-the-counter counterparts, but rather a retinoid. Retinoids are our tried-and-true vitamin A molecules that produce collagen, increase hyaluronic acid, and exfoliate, brighten and repair skin. The results of AlphaRet are comparable to the retinoid tretinoin, but without the redness and flaking of the skin. It also combines alphahydroxy acids like lactic acid and 10-percent glycolic acid to help further brighten and exfoliate skin, and it’s chock-full of antioxidants, too, to repair skin from daytime pollutants, infrared radiation and ultraviolet radiation.
Apply it before bed, and keep in mind that many skin changes occur at night, such as an increase in microcirculation and a decrease in hydration. This combination of factors results in a condition where the skin is drier and more vulnerable as it undergoes its renewal process. AlphaRet not only combines repair ingredients such as a retinoid and alphahydroxy acids, but is also loaded with moisturizing ingredients such as squalane, ceramides, fatty acids, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.”
—New York dermatologist Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD
“I love Metacell B3! It’s lightweight, fresh-smelling and has the right mix of ingredients—vitamin B3/niacinamide, peptides and glycerin—in the perfect concentrations to moisturize skin and leave it feeling soft while decreasing redness and delivering a firming effect.”
—Miami dermatologist Janice Lima Maribona, MD