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Are you using the right moisturizer for your mature skin? Here’s what experts say

These are the ingredients you should be looking for.
Kara Birnbaum / NBC News

While skin changes are completely normal and largely inevitable as we age, it’s safe to say we all want to do what we can to keep our skin looking and feeling its best. The good news is there are many different ways that can be achieved, from making healthy lifestyle choices to using sunscreen on a daily basis (yes, even when it’s cloudy out). 

Whether your skin care regimen is three steps or 10, everyone needs a good moisturizer. With a myriad of options on the market — from drugstore gems to luxury formulas — it can sometimes be overwhelming to determine which ones are worth your money. That’s why Shop TODAY tapped multiple medical experts for their insight on what to look for in a moisturizer for maturing skin, along with their personal recommendations. 

What to look for | What to avoid | Expert picks | How we chose | Meet the experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

What should you look for in moisturizers for mature skin?

Because collagen and elastin levels plummet as we age, our experts say it’s crucial to look for moisturizers with ingredients that can help stimulate production of these essential proteins, as well as replenish hydration. Internal medicine physician Dr. Glenicia Nosworthy and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick recommend looking for moisturizers that contain clinically-proven ingredients such as the following:

  • Hyaluronic acid and glycerin to increase moisture levels.
  • Retinol (vitamin A) and peptides to help stimulate collagen production.
  • Antioxidants like vitamins C and E to help protection the skin from free radical damage and environmental stressors.
  • Niacinamide (vitamin B3) to help with discoloration and redness.
  • Ceramides to help strengthen the skin barrier and prevent moisture loss.
  • AHAs and BHAs to promote skin cell turnover for smoother, more supple skin.
  • Plant oils such as argan, grapeseed, chamomile and rosehip oils for nourishment, protection against free radical damage and soothing from redness and irritation.

“Those with mature skin may prefer a rich creamy moisturizer as opposed to a lightweight lotion or gel as this helps to lock moisture in,” adds Garshick. “Look for ingredients that draw moisture in, support and strengthen the skin barrier, as well as ones that soothe and calm the skin.”

What should you avoid in moisturizers for mature skin?

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Pooja Rambhia recommends steering clear of moisturizers that contain alcohol and fragrance. “These can cause stinging and burning when applied to inflamed skin and can further dehydrate the skin,” she says. “It’s also best to avoid heavily fragranced moisturizers as they can potentate skin irritation on an already compromised skin barrier.”

Nosworthy advises against moisturizers that contain high levels of essential oils, as they can be irritating on sensitive and aging skin. “Synthetic colors and dyes can be irritating to the skin and may cause allergic reactions,” she adds. “Choose moisturizers that are free of artificial colors and opt for products with natural or plant-based colorants.”

The best moisturizers for mature skin, according to experts

Eucerin Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream

What we like
  • Has a nice, thick consistency
  • Good for sensitive skin
Something to note
  • Might not absorb well
  • Left a sticky, gummy residue

Size: 1.7 oz | Key ingredients: Coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, glycerin, shea butter, biotin

“Enriched with coenzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant, this moisturizer helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while also improving skin firmness and protecting against environmental damage,” says Nosworthy of this budget-friendly buy. In addition to containing antioxidants, vitamin E and glycerin, it's also alcohol- and fragrance-free.

CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream

What we like
  • A little goes a long way
  • Affordable
Something to note
  • Greasy texture
  • Burns around eyes

Size: 1.7 oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, ceramides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, peptides

Rambhia loves this night cream because it’s non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores), fragrance-free and it contains both peptides and ceramides to help improve age-associated skin changes. The presence of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide also help keep the skin hydrated and calm.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Cream

What we like
  • Good for combination-type skin
  • Lightweight application
Something to note
  • Sticky residue left afterwards
  • New formula is different

Size: 1.7 oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, hyaluronic acid

While not everyone will prefer a lightweight gel cream like this one, Garshick highly recommends it for anyone whose skin doesn’t play well with richer formulas. “Containing hyaluronic acid, this water gel moisturizer is lightweight and absorbs easily while still providing long-lasting hydration,” she says. “It can be used on the face and neck and helps to lock in hydration, leaving the skin looking dewy and refreshed.”

Cetaphil Healthy Renew Night Cream

What we like
  • Non-greasy application
  • Truly hydrating
Something to note
  • Has an unpleasant smell
  • Some had irritation, breakouts

Size: 1.7 fl oz | Key ingredients: Niacinamide, panthenol, glycerin, shea butter

This rich, fragrance-free formula from Cetaphil specifically targets aging skin that’s sensitive and prone to redness, dryness and irritation. “The formula contains peptides to minimize the appearance of fine lines in a hydrating base of hyaluronic acid, glycerin and niacinamide,” says Nosworthy. 

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream

What we like
  • Nice, smooth texture
  • Truly helps with wrinkles
Something to note
  • Has a slight scent
  • Brand issued a sunburn alert

Size: 1 oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, glycolic acid, squalane, shea butter, retinol

Another pick from Nosworthy, this nourishing night cream is an amazing affordable option for those looking to try retinol without breaking the bank. “This night cream contains retinol and essential minerals to help reduce the appearance of deep wrinkles, improve skin texture and promote smoother, more youthful-looking skin,” she says.

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

What we like
  • Skin feels softer, more supple
  • Lightweight application
Something to note
  • Some had reactions near eyes

Size: 1.7 oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, niacinamide, panthenol, hyaluronic acid

A favorite of Rambhia’s, this drugstore moisturizer specifically targets sagging skin around the eye, neck and jawline. “The formula is enriched with amino-peptides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to hydrate skin, improve elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says.

No7 Future Renew Damage Reversal Night Cream

What we like
  • Works almost immediately
  • Leaves skin glowing
Something to note
  • Package and delivery issues

Size: 1.69 oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, niacinamide

“This moisturizing cream works to hydrate and nourish the skin while also delivering peptides to the skin using the patent-pending technology, Pepticology,” says Garshick. “It can be applied to the face and neck and improves the appearance of skin tone and texture while leaving skin feeling soft and smooth.”

In addition to peptides, it also contains hero ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and an antioxidant blend, all of which work in tandem to protect and promote skin health. 

TruSkin Longevity Moisturizing Cream

What we like
  • Long-lasting feeling
  • Gentle, although it's retinol
Something to note
  • Some noticed no difference
  • Has a slight scent to it

Size: 2 fl oz | Key ingredients: Coconut oil, glycerin, bakuchiol, aloe vera

Garhsick says this is a great option for anyone who can’t tolerate retinol (aka vitamin A). “This moisturizer contains snow algae to help slow down the aging process, as well as bakuchiol to help address fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation without irritating the skin,” she explains. “It’s especially good for those with mature skin to help reduce signs of skin aging without irritating the skin.”

Vichy Neovadiol Replenishing Firming Day Cream

What we like
  • Truly firming, creamy
  • A little goes a long way
Something to note
  • Pricey
  • Packaging and delivery issues

Size: 1.6 oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, niacinamide, salicylic acid

“Specifically designed for peri- and post-menopause, this cream combines a blend of proxylane, cassia extract, vitamins B3-C-E, omega fatty acids and Vichy volcanic water,” explains Garshick. “This combination helps to improves the appearance of dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles, while also firming the skin and improving radiance and hydration.”

Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30

What we like
  • Non-greasy application
  • Non-comedogenic
Something to note
  • Irritating, dry, for some
  • Package and delivery issues

Size: 1.7 fl oz | Key ingredients: Antioxidant blackberry complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, SPF, glycerin, shea butter

Using a moisturizer with SPF during the daytime is an excellent way to thwart the effects of UV damage and this is one of Nosworthy’s go-to recommendations. “This moisturizer contains antioxidant-rich blackberry complex and broad-spectrum SPF 30 to protect the skin from UV damage, hydrate and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream

What we like
  • Pairs well with makeup
  • Absorbs easily into skin
Something to note
  • Some had breakouts, acne

Size: 1 oz | Key ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, oat kernel extract, aloe vera, sunflower seed oil, rose extract, hyaluronic acid, peptides

“This cream contains a combination of hyaluronic acid, peptides, vitamins C and E and glycerin to help plump the skin as well as improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Garshick. “It works to boost moisture and hydration was found to increase by 213% after just one hour.” 

How we chose

Shop TODAY consulted an internal medicine physician and two board-certified dermatologists to get their insight on the best moisturizers for mature skin. The products featured in this story came recommended by each of the experts.

Meet the experts