Winners of Good Housekeeping’s First Annual Anti-Aging Awards

Goodhousekeeping LogoThe Winners of Good Housekeeping’s First Annual Anti-Aging Awards
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In our 2010 Anti-Aging Awards — an annual feature — the Good Housekeeping Research Institute tested 90 products on 820 volunteers, conducted more than 3,000 lab tests, and tallied 1,800+ questionnaires to find the 26 best anti-aging beauty products. Find out how we tested anti-aging skin products during 18 months of research and see how the testing equipment works. Also, meet the anti-aging experts behind this massive undertaking.

By Leesa Suzman

Additional reporting by Abbie Kozolchyk and April Franzino

Anti-Aging Awards

It all started with a wish: to find the best anti-aging skin care on the market. The products that really work. The only way to do that is with scientific studies — the kind Good Housekeeping is famous for. So we asked beauty companies for their hardest-working treatments in 12 categories, and enlisted a slew of women ages 35 and up to incorporate these lotions and potions into their routine for a week…or four…or even eight. Our volunteers gave us loads of feedback and let the scientists at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute photograph, poke, and prod their skin with state-of-the-art equipment. Eighteen months of research later, here’s the news: Some of these products do make a difference — and while a few are pricey, many drugstore brands beat their high-end competitors. These 14 winners and 12 honorable mentions are proven to outperform the rest.

Best Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15+: The Winner

The contenders: Daily moisturizers with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher promising benefits that include a firmer, more even-toned, less lined complexion.

Testing time: Eight weeks.

And the winner is… Admittedly pricey, Chanel Ultra Correction Lift Lifting Firming Day Cream SPF 15 ($150, department stores or proved to be an all-around MVP (most valuable product). It rated highest overall with consumers and was also the most moisturizing. While the Visia Complexion Analyzer images showed very little reduction of age spots or wrinkles with any of the 10 products tested, using the Chanel did result in a slight improvement in beneath-the-surface UV spots (which turn into splotchy skin over time). Testers also gave Chanel the top score for firming, softening, smoothing, and adding radiance to their complexions. “I liked the creamy texture and the way it went on,” reported one pleased panelist. “It really helped my skin look plump and younger.”

Best Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15+: Honorable Mentions

Olay Definity Deep Penetrating Foaming UV Moisturizer SPF 15 ($28, and Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Plump Perfect Ultra Lift and Firm Moisture Cream SPF 30 ($68, department stores or; tied for the second spot. Olay — the most affordable of the top three — shared the highest lab score with Chanel for moisturizing and with Arden for minimizing age spots. “I was surprised that I liked the mousse texture” of the Olay, reported one tester. Consumers ranked Arden a close second behind Chanel, citing the reliable sun-protective powers as a plus. One tester wrote, “Although I’m very sensitive to the sun, I had no burn or redness, even with sun exposure.”

Tip: In case your daily sunscreen use was ever in doubt, Visia images taken for this study proved that you can reduce UV spots with regular use of an SPF 15 (or higher) moisturizer.

Best Night Cream: The Winners

The contenders: Creams and lotions created to keep skin moisturized and boost its overnight-repair function. These formulas often include antioxidants and wrinkle-fighting ingredients such as retinol.

Testing time: Eight weeks.

And the winners are… It’s a tie! When lab and consumer results were tallied, L’Oréal Paris Advanced RevitaLift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair Night Creme ($20, drugstores or and Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Night ($42, shared the top spot.

The differences between them: Pro-retinol-A–infused L’Oréal received the best overall consumer performance score, including the highest ranking from panelists for firming and reducing wrinkles. Budget-friendly L’Oréal was also tops, per lab results, in minimizing forehead lines and wrinkles. Visia analysis showed that Vichy, on the other hand, was best at evening out skin tone and addressing fine lines and wrinkles around two other age-sensitive areas — the mouth and nose. Both treatments received impressive moisturizing scores and high praise from consumers for their light textures and unobtrusive scents, and for not causing skin irritation. “A couple of people have commented on how nice my face looked in the past month,” said one volunteer who tried the Vichy. “I don’t know if it’s the product, but this has never happened before.”

Tip: While panelists were generally pleased with the softening and smoothing benefits of night creams, the treatments were less successful at minimizing age and UV spots than more targeted treatments, such as the winning age-spot faders.

Best Eye Cream: The Winner

The contenders: Treatments promising to improve signs of aging around the eyes, including dryness, crow’s-feet, fine lines, puffiness, dark circles, and sagging lids.

Testing time: Eight weeks.

And the winner is… Olay Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex ($42, or ranked highest in the lab and proved to be a standout hydrator, according to the Corneometer moisture study. Visia analysis also showed Olay to be one of the top performers on undereye crinkles, though the results were modest. Consumers noted that the cream reduced their crow’s-feet, puffiness, and undereye bags. Several liked the nonirritating, soothing properties as well. “It felt nice going on, moisturized my skin, and was very gentle,” reported one.

Best Eye Cream: Honorable Mention

Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology Intensive 3-in-1 Eye Cream ($32.50, or Bath and Body Works) tied for highest consumer score overall and finished just behind Olay in the lab. This balm-like moisturizer excelled in three key lab criteria: ability to reduce crow’s-feet, dark circles, and fine lines (tied with Olay). Consumers liked that it firmed the eye area well and did not irritate delicate skin. “This product is soothing and extremely effective,” stated one tester. “I saw both immediate and longer-term results.”

Tip: Where eye creams are applied make the biggest difference: According to Visia analysis, they were most effective at reducing fine lines beneath the eyes.

Best Anti-Aging Serum: The Winner

The contenders: Concentrated blends of vitamins, peptides, antioxidants, and botanicals formulated to avert or minimize fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and uneven tone.

Testing time: Eight weeks.

And the winner is… Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Beauty Serum ($23, or Target) was a superior performer overall and shared the highest consumer score with the second-place finisher, Mary Kay (details to follow). Consumers gave this vitamin A- and E-enriched formula high marks for its tone-evening and skin-firming properties; the latter victory was echoed in the lab, where Boots received a perfect firming score, according to our Cutometer measurements. “It’s easy to apply and nongreasy,” said one panelist. “My skin has never looked better.”

Best Anti-Aging Serum: Honorable Mention

Mary Kay TimeWise Replenishing Serum+C ($55, garnered a high score in every category rated by panelists. But they found it slightly more irritating than Boots. In the lab, however, Mary Kay proved to be just as firming. It also reduced wrinkles, though this benefit was modest at best in all the serums. Testers cited how easily they could incorporate Mary Kay into their routines. “It absorbed right away, leaving my skin feeling great…My makeup also went on better after using it,” said one volunteer.

Best Body Lotion: The Winner

The contenders: Moisturizers that, over time, can also firm, smooth, and even out skin, plus enhance radiance.

Testing time: Four weeks.

And the winner is… It may be packaged — and priced — like a royal indulgence, but Fresh Sugar Açai Age-Delay Body Cream ($65, or is also a real worker bee. This lightly scented formula, laced with antioxidant açai oil, skin-smoothing sugar, and softening citrus fruit acids, was the only body lotion that received top lab scores for both moisturizing and firming. Fresh also earned one of the highest consumer grades for its skin-tone-evening and radiance-enhancing properties. Panelists raved about the rich-but-not-too-greasy texture as well: “Easily applied and clean,” said one tester. “Left a nice glow.”

Best Body Lotion: Honorable Mention

Olay Body Quench Plus Age Defying Body Lotion ($7.77, or drugstores) imparted a luxury feel plus anti-aging benefits for a fraction of the price. Lab scores showed it to be just as moisturizing as Fresh, and almost as firming. Consumers also praised its pleasant fragrance and fast absorption: “I loved how it softened my skin but didn’t feel like I was putting anything on,” said one.

Tip: Our winners in this category may deliver firmer, better-toned skin, but they do not shield against the biggest ager of all: sunlight. Always apply traditional sunscreen or a daily moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher when your skin is exposed.

Best Hand Cream with SPF 15+: The Winner

The contenders: Hand lotions and creams with a minimum of SPF 15. These moisturize and address roughness, wrinkling, and brown spots, some with ingredients commonly found in face creams: antioxidants, peptides, and retinoids, to name a few.

Testing time: Four weeks.

And the winner is… Dior Capture Totale Multi-Perfection Hand Repair Creme SPF 15 ($56, or department stores) had the best overall performance score, rating first in a key hand-cream measure: ability to moisturize after six hours. Testers raved about the soft feel of their skin, and several singled out the scent — an unsurprising bonus from a company known for its fine perfumes. Most comments reflected these perks: “What a difference,” raved one 49-year-old tester. “My hands look much smoother, as if I am in my 30s.”

Best Hand Cream with SPF 15+: Honorable Mention

Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Hand Cream SPF 15 ($14, received the second-highest moisturizing score in the lab behind Dior and was the favorite in almost every consumer category — from perceived wrinkle reduction to increasing smoothness. The low price is an extra perk.

Tip: Another way to ensure that your hands won’t reveal your age: Always smooth any extra anti-aging face cream on them once you’re done applying it to your complexion.

Best Instant Wrinkle Smoother: The Winners

The contenders: Fast-acting topical treatments promising to diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles. These temporary smoothers work by either plumping up the skin or filling in creases with a spackle-like serum.

Testing time: 15 minutes in the lab (to test the instant claims); one week at home.

And the winners are… Boots No7 Intensive Line Filler ($18, and Olay Regenerist Filling + Sealing Wrinkle Treatment ($19, showed their might in somewhat different areas when our experts and panelists rated skin changes in three wrinkle-prone hot spots: the forehead and around the eyes and mouth. Olay ranked highest in the lab for reducing forehead lines, and came in first with consumers for minimizing wrinkles all over the face. Boots won for ease of use and performed slightly better than Olay on eye wrinkles. As one tester reported about the Boots: “Very fast results, not irritating, and it gave me a fresh look when I was tired.”

Tip: The wrinkle-flattening effects our lab experts noted on the Visia 15 minutes after application were definitely subtle. But if you don’t have a cosmetic dermatologist on your speed dial, or months to wait for your skin care to kick in, our winners can provide you with a quick pick-me-up.

Best At-Home Peel: The Winner

The contenders: Facial peels infused with glycolic and salicylic acids, among other exfoliants. Inspired by in-office dermatologist treatments, these at-home versions aim to slough off dead cells in order to improve radiance, skin tone, and smoothness — and soften the look of lines.

Testing time: Four weeks.

And the winner is… Boots No7 Advanced Renewal Anti-ageing Glycolic Peel Kit ($25, won most-appealing peel. This twice-weekly Boots kit, a glycolic acid solution that’s left on for five minutes and neutralized with soothing pads, was the top performer both in the lab and with volunteers at home — a hit on all fronts. Visia imaging showed that the peel evened tone and smoothed skin, which consumers echoed; they also reported that it minimized the look of creases while leaving skin soft and radiant. “It made my face smoother and silky as a baby’s bottom,” one woman raved. “I was tempted to use it every day!” (She didn’t.)

Best At-Home Peel: Honorable Mention

Testers loved how easy it was to apply Clarins Bright Plus HP Brightening Peel ($44, or department stores). The least irritating, this one-step fruit and-glycolic-acid serum also boosted glow and improved tone. “I looked at least 10 years younger,” one volunteer said. “My skin was brighter, and the wrinkles weren’t as obvious.”

Tip: Exfoliation can make skin extra sensitive to sunlight, so wear SPF 30 or above, and avoid other exfoliators, like scrubs or retinoids, until a week after you finish treatment.

Best Facial Firmer: The Winner

The contenders: Creams and serums that claim to firm, tighten, lift, tone, and/or sculpt sagging skin with active ingredients like peptides. Some also aim to hydrate and reduce the look of lines and wrinkles.

Testing time: Four weeks.

And the winner is… Peter Thomas Roth Firmx Growth Factor Extreme Neuropeptide Serum ($150, This treatment proved splurge-worthy; lab tests showed that it toned and firmed the jawline, and more than half of consumers agreed that it increased firmness. “I even feel as though my face looks thinner due to firming around the jaw,” one participant claimed. The creamy serum also scored well for hydration in the lab, but didn’t improve the look of lines and wrinkles — none of the treatments in this test did.

Best Facial Firmer: Honorable Mentions

Kinerase Restructure Firming Cream ($98, and Avon Anew Clinical Derma-Full X3 Facial Filling Serum ($54, or tied for a close second. While not as moisturizing as the winner, Kinerase came out on top in the Cutometer firmness measurements, and testers loved its tightening and smoothing effect. One commented, “My skin looked plumper, and the sagging along my jawline diminished noticeably.” Avon was a great hydrator and firmer in the lab, and volunteers said the gel-like formula left skin feeling soft.

Best Age-Spot Fader: The Winner

The contenders: Serums and lotions aimed at fading dark splotches. These manifestations of UV damage are among the major signs of aging — right up there with wrinkles and sagging.

Testing time: Eight weeks.

And the winner is… Roc Multi Correxion Tone Perfecting Treatment ($13.80, proved to fade age spots noticeably, according to Visia analysis — and, even better, to do so for under $15, a lot less than you’ll pay for the other age-spot faders we tested. This lotion, which you can wear alone or under moisturizer, also happened to be the product best tolerated by skin and least likely to cause irritation. Still, not even the winners erased spots outright. Said one tester: “Although it did not lighten all my spots, it worked remarkably on the ones it did lighten.”

Best Age-Spot Fader: Honorable Mention

DDF Discoloration Reversal-Pod ($72 for 28, garnered the second-highest lab score and the top consumer rating for lightening spots. “The results were dramatic,” said one tester. “I would recommend this product to any woman who wants to spend the eight weeks necessary to see results.” Be prepared to splurge: An eight-week supply of once-a-day lightening “pods” costs $144.

Tip: Use a day lotion with an SPF of at least 15 over the spot treatment, as unprotected UV exposure can redarken spots or create new ones.

Best Instant Redness Reducer: The Winner

The contenders: Remedies — whether in cream, serum, or powder form — that claim to reduce facial redness and soothe skin both immediately and over time. Though their anti-aging qualifications may not be immediately obvious, uneven skin tone can add years to your appearance.

Testing time: 15 minutes in the lab (to test the instant claims); one week at home.

And the winner is… Clinique Redness Solutions Instant Relief Mineral Powder ($32.50, nearly swept the category, with top scores for ease of use, consumer performance, and overall performance (a measure of lab and consumer results). “This face powder worked immediately,” said one tester, adding that “it definitely minimized the amount of redness I have and did not take a lot of work to apply.” Another liked its calming effect on her inflamed skin: “It felt soothing and worked great under my makeup.”

Best Instant Redness Reducer: Honorable Mention

Though panelists reported the greatest redness reduction with the Clinique powder, the Chroma Meter lab results showed even less redness with Lierac Apaisance Anti-Redness Cream ($40, or CVS). Lierac rated second-highest among testers for minimizing facial redness immediately after use. And fans appreciated the cream’s esthetics as much as the skin-tone-evening effect: “Nice scent and feel — and it worked,” said one.

Tip: Those redness treatments that failed to reduce discoloration immediately did not produce any improvements over time, either. Whenever possible before a purchase, try the product on a red area of your skin to see if it works.

Best Body Sunscreen with SPF 30+: The Winner

The contenders: Water-resistant or waterproof broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher. Sun damage is the number-one cause of wrinkles and age spots, so not all the sunscreens were required to make specific anti-aging claims; instead they had to be formulated and packaged in a way that would appeal to women 35 and over.

Testing time: A single summer.

And the winner is… Banana Boat Ultra Defense SPF 50 Lotion ($10, Volunteers gave it outstanding marks for both preventing a sunburn and resisting water. Surprisingly, testers also preferred this product over lower-SPF options for ease of absorption, not feeling oily and greasy, and not causing any burning or stinging — three areas where lower-SPFs usually perform better. Testers noted that it was “easy to apply” and “felt rich and creamy on dry skin.” They also liked the fact that it didn’t have a strong fragrance. And considering the price ($10 for eight ounces), you never feel guilty about using too much.

Best Body Sunscreen with SPF 30+: Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention goes to Shady Day Daily Sun Protection Wipes SPF 30+ ($16 for 15, These SPF-infused wipes won acclaim for convenience and the fact that they didn’t stain or smear clothes. “I can just toss them in my purse and not worry about a bottle opening up,” said one enthusiast. Shady Day also received the top score for its fragrance, and tied with Banana Boat for water resistance.

Tip: Using the recommended amount of sunscreen is essential, even with these winners. For lotions, use at least an ounce (or shot-glass-full) on your body. To get full coverage with a wipe or spray, aim to create an even sheen on your skin.

Anti-Aging Awards: How We Tested

Get an inside look at how the Good Housekeeping Research Institute evaluated products for our first-ever Anti-Aging Awards.