6 Best Skin-Tightening Creams That Are Dermatologist-Approved
The best skin-tightening cream gives you firmer, tighter skin without the expensive trip to the doctor's office.
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As you get older, you’ll find there’s no shortage of products aimed at tightening and firming aging skin. From affordable face serums to anti-aging face creams and eye creams, it’s totally understandable if your bathroom is overrun with skin care products promising to hydrate, tighten, firm and smooth your complexion. The best skin-tightening cream can actually deliver these results—without painful surgeries or other uncomfortable procedures.
Unlike everyday face moisturizers, these skin saviors restore elastin and boost collagen production, which give you a more firm look. “In general, skin-tightening creams help to support the dermal structural components of the skin,” says Marisa Garshick, board-certified dermatologist. Though these creams won’t provide the same dramatic results as a facelift, consistent (twice daily) use helps give skin a more taught and toned appearance, she adds.
How, exactly, do they work? Thanks to active ingredients, the best skin-tightening cream will show results instantly and continue over time, explains Rebecca Marcus, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Maei MD. “Immediate effects are often the result of ingredients, such as caffeine, which tightens skin via vasoconstriction, the narrowing of blood vessels by small muscles in their walls,” she says.
Peptides, which she says are also popular, “can form a non-perceptible ultra-thin film on the surface of the skin that smooths lines.” Some creams also contain hydrating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, which helps plump the skin and also has a tightening effect, she adds.
What to look for when buying skin-tightening creams
Always read the ingredients label. In addition to peptides, caffeine, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, also look for retinol, which helps to address skin cell turnover and is proven to visibly improve fine lines and wrinkles. If you’re new to skin-tightening creams, the sheer volume of products promising to perform miracles can be overwhelming.
That’s why we went straight to the experts for their recommendations. Dr. Garshick and Dr. Marcus weighed in on their favorite products for the face, neck and body, so you can rest assured that whichever cream you choose, you’ll see results.
Best overall skin-tightening cream
Isdinceutics Age Contour
While most of the products on our list are specifically for your face, Isdinceutics Age Contour is formulated for use on both your face and neck, making it a worthy investment and deserving of our top spot as the best skin-tightening cream. This pick contains a tripeptide complex, as well as hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated, while also firming and improving skin elasticity. It’s free from fragrances, parabens, sulfates and mineral oil, making it safe for all, including sensitive skin types.
- Created for all skin types
- Formulated to use on the face and neck
- Contains peptides and hyaluronic acid
Best value skin-tightening cream
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Cream
When it comes to skin care, you’ll find plenty of products on the market with price tags in the triple digits. However, there are affordable picks that work just as well as the pricier options. If an expensive tightening cream just isn’t in your budget, Dr. Marcus recommends this firming cream. The moisture-rich formula, she says, creates a tightening effect by supporting and repairing the skin barrier.
“Hydrated skin that is able to retain moisture will certainly appear more firm and supple than dehydrated skin, so this product works by calming inflammation and setting the stage for intense hydration,” she explains. Apply it to clean, dry skin before bedtime and let it work its magic while you get some shut eye. Speaking of sleeping, here are more dermatologist-approved night creams for every type of skin.
- More affordable than other options
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Contains niacinamide to restore bounce and tone
- Made with colloidal oatmeal to relieve dry skin
- Might be too strong for sensitive skin
Best skin-tightening cream on Amazon
Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
According to Dr. Garshick, Olay Regenerist is a multi-tasking cream that helps to hydrate, firm and improve elasticity, thanks to its vitamin B3, amino peptides, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. Apply it as the last step in a nightly routine to lock in moisture and keep skin feeling hydrated as it tightens the skin.
Not only is it a dermatologist-approved drugstore beauty product, but shoppers on Amazon love it, too (there are over 9,000 five-star ratings!). Verified purchaser, VSmith, calls it the “the best face cream,” saying, “I have used Olay Regenerist cream for many years. I have also tried other very expensive face creams that do nothing compared to this skin cream. For smoothing fine lines or creepy skin, this is the holy grail.”
- Widely available and affordable
- Doesn’t leave skin feeling greasy
- Contains peptides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin B3 and antioxidants
- Some users say this cream isn’t truly fragrance-free
Best skin-tightening cream for the body
SkinCeuticals Body Tightening Concentrate
Not every face skin-tightening cream is also suitable to use on your body (like these body scrubs). Before you make a purchase, Dr. Garshick advises paying close attention to the labels. “Since some skin-tightening creams may contain retinol, it is always important to check the ingredients prior to applying on different parts of the body to minimize any potential for irritation,” she cautions.
She recommends SkinCeuticals Body Tightening Concentrate, which tightens and firms sagging, loose skin on the abdomen, upper arms, buttocks, thighs and knees. Dr. Garshick also highlights the fact that this formula includes 2 percent hydrolyzed rice protein, which helps the skin feel taught, and delivers a cooling effect for an instantly tighter appearance.
- Specially formulated for use on the body
- Doesn’t contain retinol, so less likely to irritate skin
- Paraben- and fragrance-free
- Can take at least eight weeks of consistent use to see results
Best skin-tightening cream for the neck
StriVectin Advanced Tightening Neck Cream
Whether you’re a woman of a certain age or you’re constantly on the phone and starting to experience “tech neck,” this StriVectin pick is the best skin-tightening cream to address below-the-chin concerns. It’s Dr. Garshick’s go-to product, because it “helps to visibly tighten, lift and firm the neck, while also improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
She adds, “The patented Nia-114 Complex helps to strengthen the skin barrier, keeping skin hydrated.” Want to get a head start to prevent sagging skin? Find out when to begin vital skin care practices by age.
- Specially formulated for the neck and décolleté
- Available in three different sizes
- You may see results in as little as four weeks
- Some may not like adding another cream to their routine
Best natural skin-tightening cream
Andalou Naturals Age Defying Lift & Firm Cream
There are tons of benefits to using products with retinol, but if you prefer something more natural, then Dr. Garshick suggests this Age Defying Lift & Firm Cream. “This cream combines fruit stem cell complex, resveratrol CoQ10 and hyaluronic acid to help support collagen and elastin, leaving the skin looking firmer and tighter, and improving its overall appearance,” she explains. This vegan formula is 98 percent nature-derived, as well as gluten- and cruelty-free. Additionally, the majority of ingredients are certified organic and Fair Trade.
- 98 percent nature-derived, organic ingredients
- Affordable price point
- Can also be used on the neck
- Some users don’t like the scent
How we found the best skin-tightening cream
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
Do skin-tightening creams actually work?
“While one is likely to see more dramatic results with in-office energy-based procedures, such as laser, ultrasound and radio frequency, skin care products are certainly a valuable part of the equation,” says Dr. Marcus. “There are many beloved tightening creams on the market that do have noticeable immediate effects, as well as longer term benefits. Depending on the ingredients, certain firming creams may have hydrating, plumping and even collagen-stimulating effects.”
Can you use skin-tightening cream on your neck?
According to Dr. Marcus, there are firming products made specifically for the neck, which has different properties than the skin on your face. That being said, there are some creams that are formulated for both the face and neck.
When and how often should you use skin-tightening cream?
Consistency is key here. Both Dr. Marcus and Dr. Garshick agree that you should use a skin-tightening cream on a daily basis. Dr. Marcus says to apply it after serum, and before sunscreen and makeup. It may also replace the moisturizer you are currently using.
When should you consider adding skin-tightening cream to your skin care routine?
When you begin using a skin-tightening cream is up to you. According to Dr. Garshick, a skin-tightening cream has benefits for all ages, and can be started at any time. “We begin to lose collagen in our 20s, so even though we may not see the clinical impact of that until our 30s or 40s, starting young can help to slow down the skin-aging process,” she explains. That being said, Dr. Garshick adds that many people start using skin-tightening creams in their 40s or 50s when skin laxity tends to be a top concern.
- Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology
- Rebecca Marcus, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, and founder of Maei MD
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