You spend precious morning minutes putting it on, and another chunk of time taking it off at night, day after day after day....No wonder you want your makeup to deliver even greater benefits! Beauty companies have embraced this multitasking approach. Increasingly, foundations, blushes, and lipsticks boast the same wrinkle-fighting ingredients, double-digit SPFs, and botanical boosters you've come to expect from skin-care creams, sunscreens, and masks.
The promise: Youth-boosting skin-care ingredients such as retinol, peptides, and antioxidants are popping up in foundations, lipsticks, and blushes, with claims they'll help minimize wrinkles and brown spots by improving their appearance even after you are no longer wearing the makeup.
The reality: When makeup is loaded with proven wrinkle-reducing ingredients like retinol and peptides, it can be effective, says Patricia Farris, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. But to see an improvement over time, these ingredients must be present above certain concentrations. For vitamin C, it's 5 to 10 percent, says Dr. Farris. For retinol, it's at least 0.1 percent. Two products that have that 0.1 percent: GloMinerals GloCream Blush in Fig or Guava ($25 each, gloskincare.com). Beauty companies don't often tell you these percentages, though you can hedge your bets by checking that active ingredients like vitamins and retinol are higher up on the ingredient list — and by choosing creamy formulas over powders. Retinol and vitamin E, for example, are oily materials. "They're difficult to blend in powder at high levels because they make the particles stick together," says Perry Romanowski, an independent cosmetics chemist. Instead, try a liquid such as L'Oréal Paris Visible Lift Line-Minimizing & Tone-Enhancing Makeup ($14.25, drugstores) with pro-retinol and SPF 17.
Also look closely at the claims. Few anti-aging cosmetics explicitly promise to eliminate wrinkles or sun damage, says Brandith Irwin, M.D., a Seattle dermatologist and author of The Surgery-Free Makeover. Instead, they "minimize the appearance of wrinkles" or "visibly reduce fine lines." As for those studies showing a reduction in wrinkle depth, dermatologists often credit the moisture in makeup, not the anti-aging ingredients, for doing most of the heavy lifting. "The quickest way to make a wrinkle look better is to smear moisturizer on it," Dr. Farris says. Skin is like a sponge, wrinkled and rough when dry, soft and smooth once you add water. Infusing it with hydrators is faster (and cheaper) than adding enough retinol or peptides to makeup to smooth skin long-term.
Bottom line: Turn-back-the-clock makeup may offer some benefits, but it probably won't get you carded at the wineshop. What it can do: soften the look of your wrinkles with light-scattering pigment and moisturizers. Try: Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Plump Perfect Makeup SPF 15 ($39.50, department stores), Avon Anew Youth-Awakening Lipstick SPF 15 ($10, avon.com), and Raw Natural BeautyPrimal Pigments Botanical Lipstick ($20, rawbeauty.com).