What’s The Deal With Products That Claim To “Fill In” Wrinkles?

Foundation is designed to even out skin tone and mask imperfections. But slather it over fine lines and wrinkles, and it can actually accentuate those signs of age. (Just think of all the times makeup settled into your smile lines, or cozied up in those horizontal forehead etches).

Instead of piling on more makeup, consider laying some groundwork instead. Primers have been lauded for their ability to smooth the entire face, but if you’re looking for a more targeted treatment for a specific wrinkle (or two!), you might need a product that’s specifically designed to fade etches. Brands have created “wrinkle-filling” products — and some might just work.

“By using [one of these] products before applying foundation, you are filling in all of the nooks and crannies of your skin that make foundation application look cracked and uneven,” explains NYC-based makeup artist, Markphong. Similar to how ridge-filling products smooth out lines on your nails, these products can do the same for your face.

To create the “filling” effect, you’ll need a product containing one of two noteworthy ingredients. “One key ingredient to look for is hyaluronic filling spheres,” notes Markphong. These spheres work to “fill in” deep wrinkles by temporarily plumping up the skin with intense hydration. When they come into contact with skin, these spheres expand with moisture (they can hold over 1,000 times their weight in water!) and consequently smooth out the appearance of wrinkles. Try the Dermelect® Confidence Injection Crease Concentrate ($79) or SkinMedica® HA⁵® Rejuvenating Hydrator ($150), which rely on the water-rich substance for an immediate smoothing effect. (Read our senior editor’s review of this SkinMedica product.)

The Algenist® Targeted Deep Wrinkle Minimizer ($45) works similarly, though it relies on spheres of alguronic acid (the brand’s water-rich algae complex) instead of hyaluronic acid. The concept is similar: the spheres expand upon contact with skin to smooth the appearance of wrinkles.

In addition to moisture-rich ingredients, another popular substance used in topical wrinkle-smoothing products is silicone. Instead of expanding with moisture, the malleable substance literally sits in deep etches to temporarily smooth them over (it’s no wonder it’s such a common ingredient in pore-smoothing primers). It can be found in many forms (though usually listed as “dimethicone” in primers) and works differently from moisture-rich ingredients.

One popular silicone-based product is the No7TM Photo Fix Wrinkle Filler and Primer ($20). In addition to “filling in” those crevices with dimethicone, it contains light-diffusing particles to further enhance the illusion of smoother, more flawless-looking skin, Markphong notes.

To use any of the above products, apply the formula directly on the wrinkle you are trying to mask, Markphong says. Wait a few seconds to be sure it adheres to the skin. “Then, use your fingers or a blender to smooth on your foundation,” he advises.

To remove, simply wash your face as usual — you shouldn’t sleep in your makeup, after all — but take extra care when cleansing after using a silicone-based primer. As effective as it is to temporarily improve the appearance of imperfections, it can clog pores, Markphong warns. (For that reason, you might want to save it for special occasions!) Unfortunately, any wrinkle-filling benefits you saw from your primer will wash down the drain with the product.

Product prices may vary from the time this article was written.

Allergan® may receive commission for purchases made through links in this article.

SkinMedica® is an Allergan®-owned skincare line.