Consumer Reports ShopSmart tested to see if creams can make fine lines and wrinkles disappear the way a skilled photographer can.
Photographer Cathy Pinsky often uses computer software to help people look their best.
"I'll use Photoshop to minimize the wrinkles, take out some of the crow's feet and my clients are thrilled. They just love that," Pinsky said.
Look at how the wrinkles disappear in this photo! But you can't just click away wrinkles in real life. Consumer Reports ShopSmart tested to see how well anti-wrinkle creams work.
"We tested seven products with a really wide price range, from eight to 80 dollars!" said Jody Rohlena, of Consumer Reports ShopSmart.
The creams included big names like L'Oreal and Lancome, as well as Equate from Walmart and the CVS store brand.
"We used an outside lab and a total of 79 people. The test took 12 weeks. The people applied two different creams in the morning, one on each side of their face," Rohlena said.
The lab took 'before' and 'after' photos. Then Consumer Reports' sensory panelists examined the results - more than 600 photos in all.
Panelists also evaluated the creams to assess how they feel on your skin and their smell.
"All of the products smelled pretty good and they didn't leave much of a tacky residue behind, but they didn't make that much of a difference," Rohlena said.
After 12 weeks, only one cream did a little better than the others, Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift. But it only helped about half the people in the test. And as you can see in these before and after photos, the results are not very dramatic.
"The thing with wrinkles, once you get them, they're very hard to get rid of. So the best thing you can do is prevent them in the first place," Rohlena said.
To do that, stay out of the sun as much as possible. And wear sunscreen as well as a wide-brimmed, tightly-woven hat when in the sun.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart says drinking plenty of water also helps keep your skin looking healthy. And it's important to moisturize your skin day and night. But you don't need expensive anti-wrinkle creams to do that.
This report is based on an article in the current September 2011 issue of Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine, pages 17-19. The issue will be on newsstands until September 12th.