The Anti-Aging Products Our Editors Actually See Results From

Stepping up your skin-care routine — especially in your late 20s and early 30s — can feel overwhelming. You’re likely still battling breakouts, while simultaneously feeling like you want to invest more in your skin. But, you know, not that much more than what you’re spending now, which means you can’t go trying every last anti-aging gimmick willy-nilly.

You may be wondering: Where the hell do I start? The fact is, dipping your toes into the world of anti-aging is far from straightforward — something we beauty editors know firsthand, because it’s one of the questions we get asked the most from our friends. "Just tell me what I need to get!" they demand. Have the same query? Well, consider yourself our newest buddy, because we’re doling out the advice we give to our brunch crew right here, right now.

Ahead, the R29 team is sharing the high-performance products that we actually see making a difference in our complexions. So join our club, but know this: On Wednesdays, we all mask.
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Caroline Stanley, Refinery29 Executive Editor
"I have naturally oily skin — particularly around my forehead — so finding a serum that helps combat my scowl lines without turning my face into an oil slick has proven tricky. When our beauty director gave me a sample of this to try, it was a total 'aha' moment for me. It's lightweight, it smells great, and I've noticed that my skin looks a lot smoother since I started using it. A++."

REN Flash Hydro-Boost Instant Plumping Emulsion, $42, available at Sephora.
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Cat Quinn, Refinery29 Beauty Director
"I started struggling with really bad acne in my mid-20s, so I picked up this overnight serum. Not only did it eliminate tiny whiteheads and reduce the size of pimples overnight, but I started noticing my entire face looking visibly brighter and the stress lines on my forehead diminishing. This was my first introduction to anti-aging products, and I never looked back."

Ole Henriksen
Invigorating Night Treatment, $48, available at Ole Henriksen.
3 of 20
"I then graduated to incorporating retinol in my routine, too. I started with this oil, which visibly transformed my skin (brighter, clearer, softer lines) without the terrible side effects that everyone warned me about with retinol (dryness, redness, patchiness). The oil really helps coddle your skin if you're a baby, like I am. I'm still waiting for the day I face irritation from retinol, but it hasn't come."

Sunday Riley
Luna Sleeping Night Oil, $105, available at Sephora.
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Riva Syrop, Refinery29 Sales Director
"I've tried so many expensive daytime moisturizers. But I keep going back to Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer because it hydrates my skin well, doesn’t make it mad, and has an SPF. So when I find myself in the sun for the zillionth time having forgotten my sunscreen, I at least have something on to protect me. I also put a little of this on my hands every day."

Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer, $16.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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"For my serum I have a long-term love affair with Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair. Like my moisturizer I’ve tried a ton of other serum options, but keep going back to this. It keeps my skin looking better than anything else. This is another one that makes it onto my hands, always. "

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Complex, $92, available at Sephora.
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Mi-Anne Chan, Refinery29 Beauty Writer
"Once I started using retinol on my face, I decided to pick up something for my eyes, too. This stuff is seriously — for lack of a better word — the shit. Not only have I yet to spot a single crow's foot, but the minute I sweep it on, it makes my under-eyes look instantly brighter because of some light-reflecting magic in the formula. I recommend it to everyone."

Glow by Dr. Brandt
revitalizing retinol eye cream, $55, available at Dr. Brandt Skincare.
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"I'm 22 years old, so reversing signs of aging isn't on my radar just yet, but having a clear, smooth, and hydrated complexion definitely is. This is my favorite serum. It contains a host of alpha hydroxy acids that slough off dead skin cells and prevent breakouts while fading scars. The best part? It's one of the only AHA serums I've tried that doesn't leave my skin feeling tight and dry."

Drunk Elephant
T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, $90, available at Sephora.
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Alix Tunell, Refinery29 Senior Beauty Editor
"This nightly glycolic treatment visibly smooths bumpy texture and lightens discoloration on my cheeks and around the outside of my face without ever making my skin red, tight, or flaky."

Advanced 10% Exfoliating Pads, $70, available at BeautyRX.
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"It's totally counterintuitive to everything I stand for as a skin-care obsessive — and I know how important it is — but I'm not really into retinol. I'll play with it here and there, but I haven't seriously incorporated it into my life yet.

"Instead, I use this moisturizer, which contains a natural retinol alternative complex, smells great, and can slightly extend the time I go between Botox appointments."

Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer, $50, available at Dermstore.
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"This is one of the only eye creams that does more than hydrate for me — it makes a noticeable difference in brightening my dark circles and making me look well-rested."

Tata Harper
Illuminating Eye Crème, $95, available at Sephora.
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Lexy Lebsack, Refinery29 West Coast Beauty Editor
"I’ve tried a lot of different retinols, but most either do nothing or irritate my skin, so I never last long enough to see results. This one is different. It’s a mix of glycolic acid and retinol and it makes my skin look so damn good by morning. Think: fewer clogged pores and dark spots, but also a smoother surface, and less noticeable (baby) crow's feet.

"I apply two pumps at night to damp skin, right after I wash my face. If I need extra hydration, I will top it off with lotion 20 minutes later (allowing it this much time to soak in alone is very important, the pros say). I use it two or three times a week and I initially saw results within a week or two. It's strong, but my skin never feels dry, red, or irritated. I tell friend after friend about this and get rave reviews a few weeks later — it’s one of the things I splurge on and have no plans of stopping."

Resurface by Shani Darden
Retinol Reform, $95, available at Shani Darden Skin Care.
12 of 20
Megan McIntyre, Refinery29 Beauty Features Director
"I never considered tightening or lifting products things I would need in my skin-care arsenal — until one day, I looked in the mirror and noticed the very beginning of a drooping, less defined chin. Suddenly I was throwing everything I could find that had words like lifting, defining, shaping, contouring, and what have you in my Sephora cart.

"This mask from Clarins is by far one of my favorites. It gives me an instant perk and makes my skin look tighter and more toned. I like to put it on before I do my makeup in the morning, or before a night out. The impact, while temporary, is still satisfying."

Shaping Facial Lift Wrap, $55, available at Sephora.
13 of 20
"I’ve talked about this mask a lot, both on my own Instagram and on R29, but it’s one of those products I just can’t shut up about. The results are immediate, and it’s very easy to use — in fact, it’s been my go-to mask for years.

"Once a week or so, I smooth on a layer after I wash my face, let it chill until it starts tingling, then rinse off and finish with a light moisturizer. Immediately, the skin is smoother and brighter. Over time, I've also seen lessening dark spots. It’s the one skin product that I’ve gone through jars of."

Renée Rouleau
Triple Berry Smoothing Peel, $86.50, available at Renée Rouleau.
14 of 20
"As I've gotten older, I've noticed that when my skin is dry and dehydrated, all those tiny little lines around my eyes and mouth become very obvious. Cold temps, hangovers, long flights — any skin stressor can do it.

"This mask solves the problem in no time flat, which I happily learned after a long day of travel last winter. I slap it on, let it sit while winding down for the night, and tissue it off. In the morning, my skin is plump and glow-y — and the little laugh lines are far less noticeable."

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, $26, available at Sephora.
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Kelsey Castañon, Refinery29 Beauty News Editor
"The first real anti-aging cream I loved was kind of an accidental discovery. I was testing for a beauty awards section of a magazine I worked at a few years ago and stumbled across the Clarins Super Restorative Age Spot Cream. It's loaded with plant extracts meant to fade fine lines and hyper-pigmentation, but really, I just fell in love with the scent, which made me want to use it religiously. Then, a few weeks later, I noticed my skin looked brighter and healthier — and you better believe it won that award."

Clarins Super Restorative Night Wear All Skin Types, $134, available at Clarins.
16 of 20
"I’m obsessed with the Dr. Gross Daily Peel Pads. My old boss swore by in-office peels to keep her looking radiant (which I saw working), but I was afraid to try the pro-grade treatment. So I reached for this gentle at-home version, which has exfoliating salicylic acid and AHAs that completely shrink my pores and even out my skin tone. The difference is so obvious that you’d think I saw a derm for the real thing."

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare
Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel, $16, available at Sephora.
17 of 20
"It’s great if you love your crow's feet or smile lines — but mine drive me absolutely crazy. The only eye cream I’ve noticed really make a difference is the firming eye cream from Kate Somerville, thanks to its heavy hit of retinol and antioxidants."

Kate Somerville
+ Retinol Firming Eye Cream, $85, available at Kate Somerville.
18 of 20
Samantha Sasso, Refinery29 Beauty Editorial Assistant
"I truly didn't know what I had until I hit bottom on this glass pot. The only under-eye concern I have is dark circles. After tapping a bit of this under my eyes every morning and night, the skin around the area feels refreshed and moisturized for hours. I'm hooked!"

Lotus Youth Preserve Eye Cream, $43, available at Sephora.
19 of 20
"This lactic acid treatment made me nervous at first, but it's so gentle my skin doesn't freak out. I use it, at most, twice a week because I don't want to overdo it, but I always wake up with a softer, smoother complexion."

Sunday Riley
Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, $158, available at Sephora.
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