11 of the Best Skin Firming Creams to Help Tighten and Tone

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

12.07.21DISCLAIMER
Best bet. The Carrot & Stick skincare bundle worth up to $240 for $88. Details below.

If you’re past age 30, perhaps firming creams have been on your mind. It’s a fact of life that everything changes with time, including our skin. While most of us got used to a dewy, healthy glow and plump, toned complexion in our teens and 20s, everything changes as we approach our 30s and beyond. 

One of the most challenging aspects of the aging process is when taut skin starts to sag. While there’s no such thing as a miracle product that can reverse the loss of tone, there are skin tightening creams on the market that can help improve skin laxity. 

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2022?

Not sure what to look for in a firming face cream? No worries. Here at the Derm Review, we’ve reviewed hundreds of products with a scientific lens to ensure you’re creating a skincare regimen that’s safe and effective. Ahead, 11 of the best skin firming creams and face tightening creams to help you restore a more youthful-looking complexion.

 

Best Firming Cream: The List

 

BEST OVERALL
Carrot & Stick The Moisturizer, $60

Best bet. The Carrot & Stick skincare bundle worth up to $240 for $88. Select 3 products, including our favorite Carrot & Stick The Moisturizer. Use code DERM25A for 25% off.

FULL LIST
Formulyst Lifting and Wrinkle Smoothing Cream, $80

Deep Science Collagen Quench, $70

Chanel Le Lift Cream, $165

Estee Lauder Resilience Lift, $99

SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Interrupter, $162

Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Face Moisturizer, $38.99

La Prairie Anti-Aging Night Cream, $255

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Night Cream, $40

Clarins Extra-Firming Wrinkle Control Firming Day Cream SPF 15, $88

Dior Capture Totale Multi-Perfection Creme, $70-$110

StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer, $79

The Science Behind Firming Creams

Firming the skin comes down to stimulating collagen production. Starting around the age of 25, collagen production declines at a rate of approximately 1% each year. Since collagen is the component that gives the skin structure, it progressively becomes less firm and saggier as we get older. 

When we reach our early 50s, collagen production ceases, and any existing collagen that remains gradually breaks down and becomes weaker, exacerbating skin laxity. There’s also elastin to consider because it gives the skin its elasticity — or bounce. It’s around a thousand times more flexible than collagen. Together, collagen and elastin are the main structural protein components of the skin.

The best firming creams have something in common: ingredients that can help stimulate collagen and elastin production — although some products suitably deliver these compounds into the skin better than others. Even so, don’t expect your skin to go back to what it used to look like in the past.

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Best Skin Tightening Cream Ingredients

  • Retinol: When it comes to the best firming face cream over-the-counter, vitamin A (retinol) is the most effective (OTC) ingredient for stimulating collagen production to firm up the skin because it directly stimulates our skin cells. 
  • Peptides: These messengers help keep the firm and smooth by communicating with your skin cells to do a specific job. The first peptide to be developed stimulates collagen, so they are often found in firming creams to improve elasticity and firmness while strengthening the skin. 
  • Antioxidants: Certain antioxidants like B3 (niacinamide), E, and coenzyme Q10 neutralize free radicals (sun exposure, pollution, cigarette smoke) that can lead to the breakdown in collagen, while vitamin C may stimulate it. 
  • Alpha-Hydroxy Acids: AHAs stimulate collagen production and firm the skin, among several other benefits.

What to Expect from a Firming Face Cream

Creating new collagen doesn’t magically happen by applying a topical cream, so don’t expect miracles. Even the best face moisturizer or firming face cream in the world can give you the same results as a cosmetic procedure. However, with consistent, daily use, a face tightening cream can provide a temporary tightening effect to help make sagginess less noticeable.

 

Woman with firm skin smiling

Best Firming Creams

Best firming face cream for sagging skin? You may already have a lot of the best skincare products, but we’ve got 11 top picks to address laxity.

BEST OVERALL
Carrot & Stick The Moisturizer, $60
Say goodbye to lax skin with the plant-powered The Moisturizer. It helps to hydrate, firm, and revitalize the skin. Suitable for all skin types, The Moisturizer from Carrot & Stick is formulated with plant proteins, vitamins, peptides and amino-collagen. A caffeine boost helps perk up lax skin, while five distinct coconut elements help with cell renewal and overall conditioning.

FULL LIST
Formulyst Lifting and Wrinkle Smoothing Cream, $80
Wrinkles and sagging skin are no match for Formulyst’s Lifting and Wrinkle Smoothing Cream. The rich cream is formulated with a powerful blend of botanicals and lipids to help keep the signs of aging at bay. Moringa seed oil delivers intense hydration, while evodia ruteacarpa fruit extract brightens and refines the complexion. Rounding out the ingredients list is peony extract which helps leave the skin looking smoother and firmer.

Deep Science Collagen Quench, $70
A unique blend of 3 low- and high-molecular-weight and hydrolyzed hyaluronic acids to help estore a plump, smooth appearance to dry, dehydrated skin.

Chanel Le Lift Cream, $165
This key ingredient in this firming face cream is dicaffeoylquinic acid, or 3.5-DA, derived from the Edulis morning glory. Chanel researchers labored for 12 years to isolate this potent extract that promotes collagen synthesis to improve skin elasticity. 

Estee Lauder Resilience Lift, $99
This lightweight anti-aging moisturizer sculpts, contours, plumps, and lifts, thanks to Estee Lauder’s advanced Photo-Activated Lift Complex. Plankton extract and Thermus thermophilus ferment strengthen the skin, provide deep hydration, and protect fibroblasts — the cells that produce collagen — against free radicals. 

SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Interrupter, $162
SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Interrupter seeks to reduce damage from advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, resulting from excess sugar that negatively impacts collagen and elastin, causing the skin to sag. 

This firming cream helps counteract collagen and elastin loss with potent ingredients like proxylane, blueberry extract, and phytosphingosine. Pro Xylane helps support the skin’s glycosaminoglycan (GAG) synthesis. GAGs like hyaluronic acid keep skin plump, firm, and hydrated. 

Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Face Moisturizer, $38.99
Olay’s proprietary formula, including a vitamin B3 (niacinamide) and retinol complex, delivers noticeable improvements in a loss of tone due to collagen degeneration. As the name suggests, this collagen-boosting cream hydrates the skin for an impressive 24 hours. It’s also fragrance- and dye-free, so it’s perfect for those with sensitive skin who are looking to fight skin laxity. 

La Prairie Anti-Aging Night Cream, $255
La Prairie is known for its luxurious formulations, and this firming face cream is no exception. The main ingredients that address the loss of tone are peptides. Hexanoyl dipeptide-3 norleucine acetate is a synthetic peptide that helps overall skin renewal, accelerating the speed at which cells renew to reveal a more refined complexion. Palmitoyl tripeptide-8 soothes by reducing inflammation, while acetyl decapeptide-3 stimulates collagen and elastin to firm, tighten, and sculpt the skin. 

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydra-Firm Night Cream, $40
This cream is an excellent choice for sensitive skin that needs firming and sculpting. Colloidal oatmeal — one of First Aid Beauty’s core ingredients — calms, soothes, and relieves dry, distressed skin. Sodium hyaluronate boosts the skin’s moisture, which helps diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Finally, niacinamide restores a healthy bounce, tone, and texture to the skin.

Clarins Extra-Firming Wrinkle Control Firming Day Cream SPF 15, $88
Sun exposure is the root cause of collagen and elastin deterioration, which causes saggier, less tight skin. While we wish this day cream from Clarins had a higher SPF, we love that it contains kangaroo flower extract, a new plant discovery that leaves skin looking smooth, firm, radiant, and more renewed day after day. Bonus for being formulated with Clarins’ Anti-Pollution Complex to help fight the effects of pollution and free radicals.

Dior Capture Totale Multi-Perfection Creme, $70-$110
The key ingredient in this firming and toning cream from Dior’s Capture Totale anti-aging skincare line is longoza, a flower from Madagascar that Dior researchers discovered approximately 20 years ago. According to the company, this ingredient revitalizes skin by boosting fibroblast, collagen, and elastin production, which helps skin look tighter and firmer. 

The firming cream is available in three textures — light, rich, and universal — to accommodate various skin types, including sensitive, oily and dry.

StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer, $79
Retinol is one of the best ingredients to help improve elasticity, tone, and texture. However, it can cause the skin to be irritated — especially those who are sensitive. The good news is this firming cream is formulated with StriVectin’s patented NIA-114 technology to help lessen any potential irritation associated with retinol. Thanks to the addition of hyaluronic acid, copper tripeptides, and plant lipids, you’ll wake up with a more radiant, supple, and toned complexion.

Best Lifting and Firming Face Cream: The Bottom Line

What’s the Best Firming Cream on the market? Overall, we suggest Carrot & Stick The Moisturizer

Use a serum as part of your anti-aging routine. Serums penetrate deeper and contain a higher concentration of active ingredients. We recommend Carrot & Stick Repair Serum.

A caffeine boost, peptides, and amino-collagen help perk up lax skin, while five distinct coconut elements help with cell renewal and overall conditioning.

Firming the skin comes down to stimulating collagen production. Starting around the age of 25, collagen production declines at a rate of approximately 1% each year. Since collagen is the component that gives the skin structure, it progressively becomes less firm and saggier as we get older. 

When we reach our early 50s, collagen production ceases, and any existing collagen that remains gradually breaks down and becomes weaker, exacerbating skin laxity. The best firming creams have something in common: ingredients like retinol, peptides, antioxidants, and alpha-hydroxy acids that can help stimulate collagen and elastin production.

What’s the best firming face cream, in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below!

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about firming creams.

 

FAQs

While the natural aging process is responsible for collagen loss, the sun is one of the biggest culprits of sagging skin. Over time, prolonged exposure to the sun’s damaging rays breaks down the elastin in the skin and weakens it. Think of it as a rubber band that has lost its bounce-back quality and has started to sag and droop.

Also, as we get older, our skin loses its ability to retain moisture, so it becomes drier. Significant weight loss and medications such as steroids can also lead to crepey-looking skin. Environmental and lifestyle factors also wreak havoc on the skin. The degradation of elastin is also accelerated by a poor diet, alcohol consumption, inadequate sleep, and smoking.

As the saying goes, necks don’t lie. Loss of firmness is often seen on the neck and décolletage first, as the skin is thinner.

Gravity doesn’t help either, especially as most of us spend hours hunched over screens, which can also lead to “tech neck.” The neck also contains fewer oil glands than other parts of the body, which means it doesn’t get as much moisture naturally.

The best firming and tightening creams take a multi-prong approach. First and foremost, they are powerful moisturizers because adding a good dollop of moisture to the skin gives the skin a plumper, fuller look. The added hydration makes fine lines and wrinkles less noticeable.
Some firming creams contain caffeine to restrict or tighten the skin, which gives it a temporary “lift.” Other products rely on skin exfoliators to create a smoother-looking surface and minimize the appearance of fine lines.
Some firming creams are packaged in tubes with roller ball massage applicators to help stimulate circulation and boost skin smoothing effects.
Retinol is the gold standard ingredient for tightening the skin from the outside in. It’s the most potent over-the-counter ingredient that helps build collagen and elastin, resulting in tighter, smoother skin.
A well-formulated firming cream can make noticeable improvements. However, the reality is, even the best firming face cream or skin tightening cream will not provide the same results that can be achieved from medical procedures such as lasers, chemical peels, IPL (intense light therapy), radiofrequency, or thermal skin tightening.
Laser resurfacing is the most effective procedure for tightening loose skin. However, it requires 5-7 days of downtime, unlike other laser treatments. Laser resurfacing also provides the fastest results.
Some DIY home mask recipes for skin tightening include pure aloe vera gel, egg whites and honey, ground coffee and coconut oil, and rosemary oil mixed with cucumber paste.
Just because you’re using a topical firming face cream doesn’t mean you can’t work on your skin from the inside out. To help tighten loose skin, including vitamin C- and zinc-rich foods, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, and egg whites.

Sources:
Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin,” US National Library of Medicine National Center for Biology.
An anti-aging skincare system containing alpha hydroxy acids and vitamins improves the biomechanical parameters of facial skin,” US National Library of Medicine National Center for Biology.
Photoaging: What You Need to Know About the Other Kind of Aging,” Skincancer.org.

  • Claudia Original review: Apr 07, 2014. Reply

    As soon as you reach your 30’s, you need to take extra care of your skin. Although your skin may not show signs of aging, but there are many changes that are taking place. They might not be visible to the naked eye and this does not mean that you can ignore it. This is the time you can actually take a few steps to delay skin aging. I have met many women who have sagging skin and they are usually around 40 when they notice it. It’s too late. The process of aging has already begun. They become alarmed and use many firming creams together. The other day I saw my neighbor at a cosmetics shop. The old lady was buying a skin firming cream, body firming cream and a separate neck firming cream!
    It’s not a good idea to do this. I think if we start using one good firming cream when you turn 30, you can avoid wasting a lot of money. Just search for a good brand and buy one product. Do not get tensed after the damage is done. It’s not going to help!

  • Donna Original review: Feb 15, 2014. Reply

    PREPARATION-H OINTMENT is a great skin firming cream for the face!!! I suffer with Psoriasis and this product was recommended by a retired Dermatologist and it works great! Not the best smelling treatment, but it DOES WORK.

  • R Causse Original review: Feb 14, 2014. Reply

    Have used various products for cellulite and skin firming over the course of the recent few years whether it be over the counter products or homemade recipes.

    More recently I have found that seeking a natural approach would be more beneficial, and within the recent two weeks of using Made from Earth’s Firming Serum twice a day, I already see a difference. This will more than likely remain my go to product. The Made from Earth Firming Serum is for the face, but I use it on my cellulite and it does work! Its a bit pricey – but hey, I need to get rid of this cellulite before summer! It does work and worth the $40

  • Belinda Original review: Dec 30, 2013. Reply

    I am a senior, have tried several products. In all honesty I purchased Nuface, I have been consistently using it, and have experienced drastic results. I state this because I have been questioned by friends what Am I doing that my skin looks so tight. The money I spent on creams I could have purchased several machines. I also have tried skin tightening which does work, and the results last for well over a year. You must have several treatments in order to see results. So it depends on your budget, and if you have the time and patience. hope this helps.

  • Claudia Original review: Dec 18, 2013. Reply

    Hey!! I am wondering if any ladies have tried a product called Clarins Extra Firming Day Cream? Could you use this product on the breast, neck and body? I am using Kinerase Restructure Skin Firming Cream but disappointed with the results.

  • Belinda Original review: Dec 17, 2013. Reply

    The best skin firming face cream is DDF Advanced Firming Cream. This is the perfect products for women who are worried about skin firming. You dont need a seperate eye firming cream as it is very gentle to use but if you really want to use something else try Mary Kay Firming Face Cream.

  • Lilith Original review: Dec 05, 2013. Reply

    What is the best firming face cream?
    Is ddf advanced firming cream any good or do you know of a better product?

  • Martha Original review: Aug 25, 2013. Reply

    I’ve tried peter thomas roth firming cream and that seemed to work nicely on my face. I have been using it for a few years and I know it is 2013 and I don’t know if there is a better firming cream out there or not. I just need some lift on my cheeks and always go or non surgical over surgical.

  • Carla Original review: Aug 12, 2013. Reply

    I have been reading about Algenist Firming Cream and it looks interesting. Apparently they use some form of algae that they discovered was capable of firming the skin on the face and neck. Not sure if it works or not but they only sell it at Sephora so next time I am in town I am going to buy it and let you know if it is the best firming cream or their just good marketers.

  • Best Firming Cream Original review: Jul 27, 2013. Reply

    The best firming cream is loreal revitalift. Cheap. It works. And it lasts for 4 months.

  • Mina Original review: Jul 23, 2013. Reply

    Do firming wrinkle creams really work and if they do what is the best firming cream?

    Are the brand names like Lorea, Olay, Neutrogena any good or do you need to spend more?

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