Sagging skin is an unfortunate plight following the most valiant of efforts: With age comes wisdom… and sagging skin. After nine grueling months of pregnancy and labor and delivery… comes sagging skin. Following significant periods of weight loss… sagging skin.
You get the idea.
Recently, a reader asked me what to do about sagging skin on Instagram. Here’s my best advice:
Best Skincare Products for Sagging Skin
There are two ways to treat sagging skin. The first is to treat it cosmetically, with agents that are likely to give an instant “lift” to the skin. The second is to treat it with ingredients that have been shown to increase collagen and/or elastin production, or to decrease the action of enzymes that destroy collagen and/or elastin, in peer-reviewed studies.
Personally, I think the best way to treat sagging skin is to utilize both approaches — treat it cosmetically now, but be using ingredients shown in peer-review studies to promote collagen production later. Below, I recommend my favorite product for skin sagging from each skincare product type. Whether you choose one or incorporate them all, you should see some results in 4-6 weeks. That said, all of the products below are designed to work well together.
Best Cleansers for Sagging Skin
The key to cleansing sagging skin is to use ingredients that are gentle enough to not abrade what tends to be thinner skin, but deep-cleansing enough to remove debris that can stretch out the pores over time and make sagging skin worse.
My two favorite cleansers for skin sagging are SkinCeuticals Biomedic LHA Cleansing Gel and La Roche Posay Effaclar K Daily Renewal. These cleansers contain high concentrations of LHA, which has been shown to stimulate the skin in a manner similar to retinoids — that is, by renewal of epidermal cells and the extracellular matrix (Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2009). Although LHA is undoubtedly weaker in this effect than, say, 1.0% retinol or prescription retinoids, its exfoliating action is potent enough to nonetheless make it appealing to many a skin care fanatic, and without damaging the skin.
Best Toner for Sagging Skin
- FutureDerm Specialist Customized Toner ($59, Custom.FutureDerm.com). This toner contains up to 8% argireline. In the literature, 8% argireline was found in a 2002 study to reduce wrinkles in depth by 30% when it was injected into the skin, similar to BotoxTM. When injected into the skin, argireline works on the same muscle-to-nerve connections as BotoxTM, which makes sense, given that it is actually a shortened peptide sequence of BotoxTM.
- One note about argireline: It works really well for some people and not for others. I’ve found personally that argireline works best for those with thinner, older skin. That said, our FutureDerm Specialist Customized Toner also contains other ingredients recommended for sagging skin, like wrinkle appearance-reducing Matrixyl (in concentrations of up to 8%) and antioxidant green tea. So it’s worth a shot — honestly!
- I also like using argireline in a toner, as it is the first ingredient applied to the skin post-cleansing.
Best Day Serums for Sagging Skin
During the day, I recommend using two serums: A “lifting” product (for short-term improvement) and a vitamin CE serum (for long-term improvement in the appearance of sagging skin). As always, follow up with a sunscreen or moisturizer with sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50, and a four- or five-star UVA rating.
- My favorite vitamin CE serums are FutureDerm CE Caffeic (best for normal to dry skin) and Skinceuticals CE Ferulic (best for normal to oily skin). Of all the dupes out there, these two are the best because they have a low pH and keep the skin exfoliated.
- My two favorite “lifting” products are AminoGenesis E.Y.E. Control Lid Lifting and Dark Circle Serum and ERASA XEP-30 Extreme Lifting Concentrate.
- AminoGenesis E.Y.E. Control is designed with an ingredient called Diisostearyl Dimer Dilinoleate, a skin-conditioning agent with major staying power. Chemically, DDD is a very large molecule. It is not soluble in water, so it doesn’t come off easily. Instead, it binds to fats, like the oils in your skin. DDD has been found to be safe in concentrations up to 53% (International Journal of Toxicology, 2003). So you’re absolutely fine with AminoGenesis E.Y.E. Control. It can be used on areas other than the eyes — like crepey neck or jowls. I find it produces a bit of a lifting effect that lasts for 3-4 hours.
- ERASA XEP-30 contains the specially-designed peptide X-50 Myocept. The Infinitec website (company manufacturing the ingredient) notes that X-50 Myocept was designed to mimic the effects of Botox without Botox’s characteristic drawbacks. X-50 Myocept may work by minimizing neuronal exocytosis and blocking the formation of the SNARE protein complex, a protein that can play a role in intercellular fusion (Infinitec).
Best Night Serums for Sagging Skin
At night, I recommend using two serums: A retinoid and a specialty skin firming product.
- Of course I recommend our FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5, or our new FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.75 or FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 1.0 (coming soon!).
- As a specialty product, I recommend using Your Best Face Control next, for two reasons.
- Relistase. In your skin, there is an enzyme, elastase, that breaks down your collagen. Elastase activity increases naturally with age, but it also increases with exposure to environmental toxins, stress, and other factors (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 1988). Relistase has been shown in peer-reviewed studies to inhibit elastase. By taking down the activity of the enzyme that breaks down collagen, this would increase the appearance of firmness of the skin.
- SYN®-HYCAN. This peptide is designed to help improve the appearance of sagging skin. SYN®-HYCAN has been shown in peer-reviewed studies to boost hyaluronan content and increase the expression of decorin and lumican within the skin (Clinics in Dermatology, 2008; Nature, 2003). Both of these activities of SYN®-HYCAN may work to combat sagging, aging skin. According to the company that produces SYN®-HYCAN, fresh hyaluronan and stronger collagen fibrils result in a visible remodeling effect and a firmer skin (The Center for Chem).
Best Moisturizer for Sagging Skin
- If you’re looking for a moisturizer to cover all of your bases under $100, my FutureDerm Specialist Customizable Moisturizer cannot be beat. We can make it for you with the concern of sagging skin replete with 8% argireline, 0.5-1.0% retinol, 4% niacinamide, 4% hyaluronic acid, and 3% Matrixyl. I don’t know of any other moisturizer out there with these kinds of ingredients under $100!
- If you’re willing to spend more, the MDSUN Collagen Lift moisturizer has every specialty ingredient associated with improving the appearance of skin lifting, including growth factors, synthetic human stem cells, peptides, plant stem cells, and more. It is $715, but sometimes I get people asking me for the full monty — and this is it!
Significant skin sagging results often from rapid changes in the skin: rapid weight loss, the hormonal changes associated with menopause, or following pregnancy. Some skin sagging occurs gradually over time with age, however.
No matter the cause of your skin sagging, using a mix of ingredients designed to cosmetically “lift” the skin, and ingredients designed to firm the skin long-term (vitamins C and E, retinoids, Relistase, Argireline, SYN-COLL) may help. Whether you choose one or all of the products I recommend above, you should see some results in 4-6 weeks. That said, all of the products below have been selected to work well together.
Disclaimer: I have not been compensated for this review by any brand. All opinions are my own. It may contain affiliate links, for which we may be paid by an independent third-party for compensation if you make a purchase.