Do anti-aging creams and serums really work?

HOUSTON If you're determined to make your wrinkles disappear, there are plenty of potions promising help, including lots of new serums. But do they really work? Consumer Reports puts several to the test.

Skin damage can be hard to spot, until it's too late. This instrument can help people actually see the damage better than the naked eye. But is there any way to undo what's already been done?

"Americans spent roughly $1.5 billion on anti-aging face products last year alone," said Gayle Williams of Consumer Reports.

The smorgasbord of options now includes a growing number of anti-wrinkle face serums, which are thinner than creams and soak into the skin quickly. Consumer Reports tested nine serums, including ones from Olay, Lancôme, and Neutrogena. They cost anywhere from $20 to $65 and claim to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. One even promises a five-minute face-lift.

Using an instrument with a high-resolution digital camera, testers photographed 79 participants before the test, shortly after the first application and again after six weeks. That's longer than any of the tested serums say it takes to see visible results. Then the photos were evaluated for signs of improvement.

The results were underwhelming.

"None of the products we tested are the fountain of youth. Some did slightly reduce the appearance of wrinkles in some people, but the changes were very subtle," Williams said.

Burt's Bees Naturally Ageless Intensive Repairing Serum, ounce per ounce one of the most expensive serums tested, was the least effective.

If you're still interested in trying one, consider either the Dermasilk 5-Minute Face Lift for $40 an ounce, or the Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Serum for $20 an ounce.

If you're after bigger changes, talk to a dermatologist about using a prescription retinoid. Those are the only topical products proven to reverse the loss in collagen that causes wrinkles to form.

Consumer Reports says your best bet with wrinkles is to minimize skin damage in the first place by protecting your skin with sunscreen and moisturizing regularly.

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