Sure, in-office procedures like freezers, fillers, and lasers make the most dramatic difference in your skin. But if you're not ready to take the leap, anti-aging answers from the cosmetics counter are more effective than ever -- no needles required.

By Ellen Miller
May 06, 2016

Fine lines Popular injectables Botox Cosmetic and Dysport rely on botulinum toxin type A to smooth forehead wrinkles for about three months. For a topical alternative, look for a serum with retinol or a combo of antioxidants and peptides to boost collagen and elastin production. "Depending on the product, lines will typically look less noticeable in about a month," New York dermatologist Francesca Fusco says. Try: Avon Anew Clinical Pro Line Eraser Treatment ($39.99; or Goldfaden MD Needle-Less Line Smoothing Concentrate ($115;

Dark spots Dermatologists use laser treatments like Fraxel to zap away sun-related hyperpigmentation. With patience, over-the-counter remedies can help lighten and brighten. A serum or cream that contains hydroquinone, vitamin C, niacinimide, or kojic acid will begin to fade spots in a few weeks. Continued application and wearing sunscreen daily will preserve results. Try: Physicians Formula Laser Resurfacing Serum ($21.95; drugstores) or Olay Pro-X Even Skin Tone Spot Fading Treatment ($39; drugstores)

Deep wrinkles Hyaluronic acid-based injectable fillers like Restylane, Juvéderm, and the newer Belotero Balance plump up creases for about six months. A cream that boasts hyaluronic acid—a heavy-duty hydrator—and retinol will start to soften wrinkles in a month or two. Because deep creases are notoriously tough to treat, tapping a silicone primer directly into crevices can make them look a whole lot better. "The ingredient sits on top of the skin, creating a smoother canvas for foundation," Fusco says. Try: Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate for Deep Wrinkles ($65; and L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Miracle Blur ($24.99; drugstores)

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