Once you hit your mid-twenties, you may have noticed certain facial features that you once overlooked now jump out at you in the mirror — like your forehead. It’s around this time that many start to notice dynamic wrinkles developing in this part of the face. These forehead wrinkles can become more prominent due to a few things: excessive sun exposure, repetitive facial movements, and, of course, aging — all of which cause the breakdown of elastin and slow production of collagen in the skin. This all results in crinkling and creasing that no amount of concealer can hide.
If you are ready to soften and smooth the appearance of some of those forehead lines, and (hopefully) cease over-examining yourself in the bathroom mirror, you have multiple options. One of your choices includes topical treatments — however, there are so many on the market, it’s hard to sift through them all to find the cream of the crop. To help narrow down your options, we consulted board-certified plastic surgeons nationwide, who shared eight line-addressing creams for every budget.
The Treatment: Neutrogena® Rapid Wrinkle Repair® Daily Hyaluronic Acid Retinol Moisturizer ($18)
The Plastic Surgeon Superfan: David Cangello, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon in NYC
Why He Recommends It: By now, you should know all about the powers of retinol, but they bear repeating: the vitamin A derivative can deliver a plethora of benefits to your skin, including stimulating collagen production and cellular turnover, reducing pore size, improving the look of fine lines, and even reducing hyperpigmentation.
[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]
It’s why Dr. Cangello is so fond of the ingredient and recommends using either classic retinol or topical tretinoin (a prescription-strength form of retinol). “If you don’t want prescription tretinoin, you can see some minor improvement by religiously using a good cream with a strong retinol,” he explains, including this one from Neutrogena. The affordable formula also contains hydrating hyaluronic acid (which plumps the look of fine lines) to help smooth the appearance of forehead wrinkles.
The Treatment: SkinMedica® Retinol Complex 0.5 ($78)
The Plastic Surgeon Superfan: Mokhtar Asaadi, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon in West Orange, New Jersey
Why He Recommends It: Bring on all the rapid retinols, pumping gels, and hydrating serums, because reducing the appearance of forehead wrinkles at home starts with a solid skincare regimen, according to Dr. Asaadi.
His personal skincare regimen consists of a combination of various SkinMedica® products: he uses the SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5 or stronger at night to renew skin, SkinMedica HA⁵® Rejuvenating Hydrator to immediately smooth the appearance of fine lines, and SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum® to rejuvenate the skin. All in favor of stealing Dr. Asaadi’s skincare routine, say, “I.”
The Treatment: SkinBetter Science® AlphaRet® Overnight Cream ($120)
The Plastic Surgeon Superfan: Wendy Wong, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon from Monterey, California
Why She Recommends It: If you’ve found that your skin has been easily irritated by retinol in the past, give this cream a go — it was developed specifically for more sensitive complexions. It pairs a gentle retinoid with glycolic acid, peptides, and skin-soothing shea butter and green tea to help smooth, firm, and brighten. "I myself use and love this product because I have extremely sensitive skin. Yet, it's important to me that I use something that is anti-aging and effective,” explains Dr. Wong. “This product satisfies all the important criteria for me."
The Treatment: iS Clinical® Active Serum ($84)
The Plastic Surgeon Superfan: David Stoker, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon from Marina Del Rey, California
Why He Recommends It: Even though the coveted Active Serum by iS Clinical is not a “cream,” it definitely deserves a spot in this plastic surgeon-approved list. It’s an anti-aging, anti-acne serum that contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid to aid in cellular turnover. Over time, increased cellular turnover will result in smoother-looking wrinkles and fine lines. Dr. Stoker attests it is one of the top-selling products in his practice, and a product that he personally never goes without. “The best part about this product is that it’s safe for all skin types,” he shares. “It is also safe for pregnant or nursing women and those with retinol sensitivity.”
The Treatment: Genetically Blessed™ by Honor MD® ($185)
The Plastic Surgeon Superfan: John Diaz, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, California
Why He Recommends It: If you’d prefer to slather your forehead with a clean and natural formula, check out Genetically Blessed. According to Dr. Diaz, this formula is the ultimate "multitasker" that contains numerous powerful super antioxidants derived from botanicals. “It stimulates skin cell turnover, skin cell production, and collagen production,” he shares. “It even contains a plant-derived protein called gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). When applied topically on the skin, [it can] decrease in the amount and depth of wrinkles.”
The Treatment: Emma Hardie® Vitamin C Intense Daily Serum ($75)
The Plastic Surgeon Superfan: Dara Liotta, MD, double board-certified plastic surgeon in NYC
Why She Recommends It: According to Dr. Liotta, whenever a patient comes to her talking about their forehead lines, she notes that they should look for two specific ingredients: “Retinol and vitamin C are going to be your two ‘powerhouse ingredients’ when wanting to treat forehead lines topically.” Both work to accelerate cellular turnover to help smooth out the look of lines. She recommends the Emma Hardie Vitamin C Intense Daily Serum, which contains a pretty hefty dose of vitamin C, as well as retinol, for smoother-looking skin.
The Treatment: ZO® SKIN HEALTH Growth Factor Serum ($115)
The Plastic Surgeon Superfan: Daniel Barrett, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills, California
Why He Recommends It: When talking about forehead lines and dynamic movement, growth factors come to Dr. Barrett’s mind. Many growth factors can help manage essential skin tasks, like replicating cells, reducing inflammation, and stimulating collagen production. “By applying them topically, growth factors strengthen the skin’s extracellular matrix, stimulate collagen, and trigger the skin’s natural ability to heal — making growth factors an invaluable component of anti-aging skincare,” says Dr. Barrett. He’s particularly fond of this ZO SKIN HEALTH formula, which also contains ginseng to help smooth and refresh skin.
The Treatment: Julius Few MD™ R●Nol 20™ ($99)
The Plastic Surgeon Superfan: Julius W. Few, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon from Chicago, Illinois
Why He Recommends It: Dr. Few says that the most powerful and effective form of retinol is all-trans-retinol. So, what is an all-trans-retinol? Well, retinol comes in more than one molecular configuration. The straight chain configuration is called all-trans, and is the most biologically active in terms of desirable topical efficacy. “All-trans-retinol takes your mom's tretinoin and puts it on super-charge,” he says. “You can see clinical results as early as six weeks.” Dr. Few is so passionate about the ingredient that he formulated his own product, R●Nol 20. It also contains antioxidant-rich green tea and hyaluronic acid to minimize visible signs of aging and achieve smoother, firmer, more evenly toned skin in a matter of months.
Dr. Julius W. Few is a paid Allergan® consultant.
SkinMedica® is an Allergan-owned product line.
Product prices may vary from the time this article was written.
Allergan may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this article.