January 30, 2023

If I had to highlight only one term that has the power to make a beauty editor shudder unlike any other, it would have to be “anti-ageing”. Because the truth is (and brace yourselves for this one), no beauty product truly has the power to totally reverse the signs of ageing. No serum, cream, oil or mask that money can buy can actually eradicate wrinkles. 

With that being said, there are a very small number of ingredients that can definitely help minimise signs of ageing (and even more so when they’re used alongside youth-preserving massage techniques). But when I say very small, I mean it. In fact, there is only a handful of ingredients that have been scientifically-proven to reduce the appearance of age-related skin issues. From wrinkle-reducing retinol to skin brightening vitamin C, it’s hard to comprehend why beauty companies expect us to pay premium prices for ingredients that actually work, right?

Best Affordable Anti-Ageing Products: @greceghanem

You might be familiar with vitamin C as a brightening and glow-boosting ingredient, but first and foremost, it should be recognised as an incredibly powerful antioxidant. And it’s cool, I get it. No one actually knows what antioxidant means, right? When it comes to age-defying skincare, though, it’s actually really beneficial to be in the know.

Things like pollution and UV rays trigger our skin to produce harmful particles dubbed “free radicals” which cause long-term DNA damage and speed up the ageing process. What antioxidants do is help counteract and reduce that free radical production, thereby protecting our skin from further premature ageing. “Antioxidants [like vitamin C] support cells, boost collagen and brighten existing skin pigmentation. It is a key anti-ageing ingredient,” says Borysiewicz.

So why the standard hefty price tag? Unlike cheaper, less efficacious ingredients, vitamin C is highly unstable and volatile. This means the minute it is exposed to light, heat and even oxygen, its effectiveness rapidly starts to decline. Formulating an effective vitamin C product can be very costly for a brand, so it is common for great vitamin C products to cost an arm and a leg (see SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic for reference). However, things like dark bottles, airless pumps, booster formulas and single-use designs can help bring the price of effective vitamin C down, so always look for such things when shopping.

Eucerin Face Cream Hyaluron Vitamin C Booster
Face Cream Hyaluron Vitamin C Booster

Cleverly designed to keep vitamin C at its most potent, you activate this booster on first use and it remains potent for a full 21-day course. 

The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%
The Ordinary
Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

Vitamin C in the form of L-ascorbic acid is considered to be one of the most universally glow-boosting and protective ingredients around. This product champions L-ascorbic acid as well as hydrating and plumping hyaluronic acid. 

Olay Vitamin C + AHA24 Day Gel Face Cream
Vitamin C + AHA24 Day Gel Face Cream

Formulated with both antioxidant vitamin C and glow-boosting alpha-hydroxy acids, this day cream gets to work fast. 

Shop Other Affordable Anti-Ageing Products

Versed On the Rise Firming Serum
On the Rise Firming Serum

This powerhouse serum utilises peptides to help stimulate collagen production and plump. On top of that, it also contains powerful antioxidants including vitamin C and resveratrol.

The Inkey List Bakuchiol
The Inkey List

Considered nature’s alternative to retinol, bakuchiol is thought to deliver very similar results, with minimal irritation. Personally, I swear by this stuff.

Garnier Skin Naturals UltraLift Night Cream
Skin Naturals UltraLift Night Cream

This rich night cream harnesses the power of plant cells to help regenerate and improve the appearance of fine lines.

Olay Regenerist Whip Light As Air Moisturiser For Firmer Skin
Regenerist Whip Light As Air Moisturiser For Firmer Skin

Formulated with a clever amino-peptide complex, this lightweight, airy moisturiser makes skin appear plumper and more hydrated.

Byoma Hydrating Serum
Hydrating Serum

No, this serum doesn’t contain any super-powerful actives, but it does contain a very impressive concoction of hydrating, skin-loving ingredients, such a ceramides, squalane and glycerin, to keep dehydration lines at bay and restore a youthful glow.

Q+A Peptide Facial Serum
Peptide Facial Serum

It’s affordable but powerful. This serum contains peptides to help stimulate collagen production and hyaluronic acid to rejuvenate and hydrate.

Next up, makeup artists say these 6 moisturisers will age you in reverse.

This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.