The 18 Best Anti-Aging Creams, According to Dermatologists

How and when you apply the product also makes a big difference:

1. Use different products at different times of the day. “I recommend using different products in morning and night so that you can stimulate collagen and prevent damage by using different mechanisms, like an antioxidant in the morning and a retinoid at night or a peptide product in the morning and an AlphaRet at night or a discoloration product in the morning and a collagen-stimulating product at night,” Gmyrek says. “Use them at different times of day—morning and night as opposed to layering them, which might cause them to be inactive, give a contact dermatitis, or limit the penetration of the second product.”

2. It’s never too early to start. Del Campo recommends people start using an anti-aging cream when collagen production starts to decrease, which is in the mid-to-late 20s: “It’s not just about correction—it’s about prevention.”

3. Don’t layer with reckless abandon. “I see on social media and print everywhere that you should layer multiple products to get all the benefits, but what I want people to understand is that these active ingredients—retinoids, vitamin C, polyphenols, peptides, etc.—are all very unstable and must be formulated and stored in proper packaging,” Gmyrek says. “If they are exposed to light or air, they will denature and become inactive. So if you layer them, they may also (likely) become inactive and ineffective! Also, they are tested as a single product on the skin. If you hope to achieve the results promised by the company, use them directed, as a single product.” Unless an anti-aging product comes as a multiple-step program, she recommends not combining products. Sunscreen and makeup aren’t included in this, though.