Sales of anti-aging serums are expected to triple in the next 10 years to $150 million. There already are thousands of over-the-counter products making promises of fewer lines and wrinkles. How do you decide which one to try? Start by looking for these key ingredients in the formula, says dermatologist Angela J. Lamb, MD…

Retinol. This is a mild retinoid derived from vitamin A. Retinoids can brighten skin and ease the appearance of fine lines. The topical retinoid with the best anti-aging properties is tretinoin (Retin-A), available by prescription. It has been proven to increase cell turnover and stimulate collagen to refresh the skin. I like: Philosophy Ultimate Miracle Worker Fix Face Serum Roller Uplift & Firm, which also contains hyaluronic acid and glycolic acid.

For sensitive skin: An alternative is bakuchiol, made from the seeds of the babchi plant. I like: Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum from Herbivore Botanicals.

Hyaluronic acid. This substance, found naturally in the body, can plump skin from the outside, easing lines and wrinkles and creating a dewy look. I like: Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier from SkinCeuticals.

Ferulic acid. This powerful antioxidant protects skin from free radicals in the environment and, when included in formulas with vitamins C and E, can intensify anti-aging effects. I like: C E Ferulic from SkinCeuticals.

Copper peptides. Copper has anti-inflammatory properties to help skin heal, and it can boost collagen, make skin more supple and soften wrinkles. I like: Bioevolve Serum with a copper peptide complex and various botanicals from Veracity.

Glycolic acid. One of the milder alpha-hydroxy acids, it helps exfoliate dead skin cells and boosts skin tone along with texture. I like: Regenerating Infusion with 8% glycolic acid, niacinamide (vitamin B-3) and benthi plant peptides (another retinol alternative) from Veracity.

Get the Most from Your Serum

Aim for consistency. You won’t see a dramatic improvement after just one week, but over time, you’ll notice better texture, tone and light reflection.

Cost contributes to effectiveness. Higher prices often reflect active ingredients with a higher potency or better quality antioxidants than less expensive brands.

When You Need More than serum

If topicals just aren’t enough, ask your dermatologist about treatments. Lasers are great for natural-looking rejuvenation—they help your skin rebuild collagen and stimulate regrowth. Next in line are muscle-relaxing injections, such as Botox, and fillers, such as Restylane, that bolster collagen.

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