Ask Karla: Can I Remove Wrinkles Without Going Broke?

Photo (cc) by tess/

I’m 29 and have lived in sunny South Florida for most of those years. So I suppose I should feel lucky that my only wrinkles are one or two deep-set lines under my eyes – souvenirs I picked up while running my college newspaper.

But I’m also busy monitoring the barely perceptive fine lines that have begun to populate the outside of my eyes. It doesn’t help that I’m dating a younger guy who enjoys teasing me about turning 40 next year.

So I could relate when reader Kathe G. asked about wrinkle products…

I would like to know if there are any reasonably priced products that really work on removing/lessening wrinkles.

I’ve already thoroughly researched wrinkle treatments and preventions in fear of the day that my faint lines become full-fledged crow’s feet. The truth is that no over-the-counter wrinkle product will remove wrinkles. A few might reduce them, but not by much.

The best way to become wrinkle-free is to prevent lines before they appear. Unfortunately, most of us don’t worry about wrinkles till they’ve already settled in. At that point, effective wrinkle products are hard to find – but they do technically exist.

An ounce of prevention

Cosmetics expert Paula Begoun has identified seven primary causes of wrinkles, like genetics and time. We can control only one of those causes: sun damage.

“Repeated exposure to the deadly, carcinogenic rays of the sun or tanning beds destroys collagen, elastin, and produces abnormal skin cells that cannot behave like young skin,” Begoun says. “It is the major cause of wrinkling.”

Sun protection is therefore considered the No. 1 way to prevent wrinkles – or to prevent them from worsening or multiplying. “Use sunscreen 365 days a year,” as the American Academy of Dermatology plainly puts it in Skin Care on a Budget. “This helps prevent sun damage that could lead to wrinkles, age spots, or even skin cancer.” (But don’t overpay for sunscreen. Check out How to Save Money While Saving Your Skin.)

For more wrinkle prevention tips, I highly recommend…

Slim pickings

Earlier this year, Consumers Union’s ShopSmart magazine tested seven anti-wrinkle creams. None worked for everyone, and all but one worked “not very well.” Even the winner – Garnier’s Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizer SPF 15 – was only marginally more effective: “The results weren’t dramatic, but after 12 weeks of use, this cream slightly reduced fine lines and wrinkles on more testers than other products.”

Last year, Consumer Reports Health tested nine anti-wrinkle serums. Once again, no product worked for everyone, and all results were “slight at best.” DermaSilk’s 5 Minute Face Lift and Neutrogena’s Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle proved slightly better than the rest, and Burt’s Bees’ Naturally Ageless Intensive Repairing proved slightly worse.

Do your homework

So, if even the experts have a tough time finding an effective anti-wrinkle product, what are the rest of us supposed to do?

What not to do…

Manufacturers routinely make inflated, if not false, promises. They get away with it because, as I spelled out in How to Read Beauty Product Labels, the FDA does not oversee product claims. So never judge a wrinkle product by its container’s claims.

This leaves two options…

1. Educate yourself. Product ingredient lists are the only part of product packaging that requires FDA approval, so they constitute the most (if not only) useful information a consumer can find on a product container. So if you want to buy an effective product, learn which ingredients are most effective. The experts explain these details best, so I’ll leave it to them. I highly recommend:

2. Research ratings and reviews. In addition to publications like WebMD and Consumer Reports – especially their report on the best wrinkle products – I swear by Beautypedia. This extensive database of personal care product reviews by Paula Begoun’s team is free and allows you to search all the reviews or jump right to the best products in every category.

You could also consult customer reviews on sites like Amazon and MakeupAlley, but I don’t advise it. No one wrinkle product works equally well for everyone, and Jane D. Consumer may not have followed the product directions correctly.

3. Save what you can. Any money spent on an ineffective product is a waste, and no effective wrinkle product is cheap. Penny-pinchers seeking to reduce wrinkles are actually better off worrying about wrinkle reduction first and price reduction second. Here’s how I do it…

  1. Using what you learned from steps 1 and 2 above, narrow down all the relevant products out there to the well-reviewed options with quality ingredients.
  2. Narrow those options down again by tossing out any products that aren’t drugstore brands.
  3. From the remaining options, pick the cheapest.
  4. Buy it wherever and however you can get it for the least, making sure to compare the prices of brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Drugstore brands offer more coupons and go on sale more often than higher-end brands, so keep an eye out for coupons and sales like you’ll find on our Deals page. For example, I use an Olay serum at night, and as I pointed out to readers in my Oct. 28 Today’s Deals post, all Olay products were recently on sale for 25 percent off at CVS.
  5. When you find your wrinkle product of choice for less than retail, buy more than one. That way, it will last you until the next time it goes on sale or the manufacturer puts out a coupon.

For more ways to find affordable products, check out 6 Tips to Save on Beauty Products.

Karla Bowsher runs our Deals page; writes “Today’s Deals” posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and covers consumer and retail issues. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment or contact her at [email protected].

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today
15 of the Fastest-Growing Jobs Today

Times are tough, but these career fields are thriving.

8 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances
8 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances

These items put an end to the daily irritations that bug you the most.

13 Small Gadgets Under $20 That Make Life Better
13 Small Gadgets Under $20 That Make Life Better

These inexpensive electronics will make your day-to-day life a little easier — and happier.

The 5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
The 5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

7 Mistakes Guaranteed to Ruin Your Retirement
7 Mistakes Guaranteed to Ruin Your Retirement

Make even one of these money mistakes, and you’ll probably end up eating ramen noodles in your golden years.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car
This Is the Cheapest Place to Buy a Used Car

Looking for a good deal on a set of wheels? This should be your first stop.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

10 Things the Pandemic Is Making Obsolete
10 Things the Pandemic Is Making Obsolete

Even if a COVID-19 vaccine is discovered tomorrow, it’s unlikely we will ever return to these ways of life.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value
7 Surprising Features That Boost Your Home Value

You can add value to your home without hiring a contractor to do expensive renovations.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.