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Do firming creams and serums really work?

From the Experts | Sep 29, 2023
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If your skincare goals centre around eradicating fine lines and wrinkles, there’s a certain type of formula you need in your routine: a face firming cream. Sagging and loss of elasticity are the key causes of wrinkles, so once you master how to tighten facial skin, you can enjoy a smoother, more youthful-looking complexion.

But do firming creams really work? Here we explore the science behind line-plumping formulas, as well as common misconceptions around firming creams…


What are firming creams?

They’re exactly what they sound like; hard-working formulas that plump, tighten and lift your skin – whether that’s on your neck, your décolletage or your face. Wrinkles and skin sagging are a completely normal part of the ageing process, and how you choose to approach them is entirely up to you.

If tightening the skin is your goal, firming face creams are key to your skincare routine, with new, cutting-edge formulas allowing you to redefine your favourite features. By using the right treatment, you can eradicate fine lines and lift your facial contours, lending your complexion a youthful-looking glow from day to night.

Understanding skin elasticity

Before we go into whether firming creams really work – as well as how they do – let’s look at the key cause of skin sagging: loss of elasticity.

Your skin’s elasticity has the biggest effect on how firm your complexion looks and feels. It relates to how well your skin is able to stretch and, most importantly, bounce back to its original shape.

Over time, this bounce-back power declines due to something called ‘elastosis’. Put simply: the vital fibres that give skin their stretch, such as collagen and elastin, start to gradually break down. This largely happens because of ageing, but it can also be accelerated by UV damage, pollution, smoking, poor sleep, and even forgetting to wash your face at night.

Hyaluronic acid, which is a naturally occurring moisture magnet in your skin, also dials down over time, leaving your complexion more susceptible to dryness and, in turn, fine lines and wrinkles. Meanwhile, our faces can lose fat deposits as we get older, which means our contours have less ‘padding’ to keep them plump. Cue gravity taking over, and pulling the skin down.

The science behind firming creams

So, how do firming creams and face serums help to improve skin elasticity? While every formula is unique, many of them target two of your skin’s biggest supporters: collagen and elastin. These essential fibres are responsible for keeping your complexion plumped-up from the inside out, maintaining not just your skin’s elasticity but also its volume and moisture levels.

Both collagen and elastin decrease over time, but by boosting their production, firming creams can help to restore the tightness of your skin. It’s important to remember that you’re not looking for face creams that feature collagen and elastin on their ingredients list, as these fibres can’t be absorbed topically. Instead, you’re looking for clever technology that enhances your own collagen and elastin levels by interacting with skin cells.

Common ingredients in firming creams

It takes a powerful blend of ingredients to trigger collagen and elastin production. Here are just some of the key players to look out for in your face-tightening cream:

KURENAI-TruLift Complex: Found exclusively in Shiseido products – and a star performer in Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Cream – it targets fibroblast cells to promote skin's collagen regeneration.

Watercress Extract: This natural wrinkle-fighter supports collagen production across the complete Vital Perfection collection, while teaming up with Rose Water to leave dry, crepey skin beautifully hydrated. It has a similar effect to retinol, increasing your skin’s elasticity and thickness, to maintain a firm, smooth complexion.

Hyaluronic Acid: Like collagen and elastin, Hyaluronic Acid naturally occurs in your skin, and it helps your complexion feel more elastic so it’s able to spring back into shape. Applied topically, you can actually boost levels of this moisture magnet molecule. This not only fills out fine lines on the surface of skin, but supports fibroblasts so they can produce extra collagen too.

Choosing the right firming cream or serum

Loved by Vital Perfection Ambassador, Anne Hathaway, the Vital Perfection collection has your complete skin-tightening routine covered. “I’ve always admired the philosophy of Vital Perfection, how it combines simple elegance, complex tradition and knowledge gained over time in such a balanced and nuanced way,” Anne says “To believe that your own potential is always there, where your past, present and future meet.”

Find your perfect formulas…

For All Skin Types: Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Cream

Not only does this luxurious cream visibly lift skin in just one week(1), but it also firms and brightens in four weeks(1) for a natural-looking, luminous glow. How, exactly? The iconic cream harnesses ReNeura Technology++™ for fast anti-ageing results, KURENAI-TruLift Complex to promote resilience and elasticity(2), and brightening VP8 complex with 4MSK for true radiance. Apply morning and night to target loss of elasticity, sagging, wrinkles and dark spots in all skin types. If you want sun protection built in too, try the Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Day Cream SPF30.

For Dry Skin: Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Cream Enriched

Whether your skin is persistently dry or just needs extra care in the face of the elements, this extra-rich firming cream offers all the benefits of the original (above), but with boosted nourishment. Use it all year round or swap it into your routine during the cooler winter months, and the sumptuous texture will leave even the most parched complexions feeling soothed and comforted.

For Overnight Lifting: Vital Perfection LiftDefine Radiance Night Concentrate

Wake up to firmer, lifted skin with our newest and most advanced innovation; an overnight treatment designed to support your skin’s natural anti-gravity system while you sleep. After just one week of use, skin is visibly lifted, sculpted, and face contours are redefined(3). Meanwhile, it’s clinically proven to correct sagging in the jawline and cheeks in just two weeks(4), resulting in a 41% reduction in double chin and facial contours sagging(5).

For Tired Eyes and Dark Circles: Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Eye Cream

Designed to target dark circles, eye wrinkles and skin sagging, this illuminating, Retinol-infused eye cream is perfect for enhancing collagen production in the most delicate area of skin. It’s lightweight enough to lend a smooth canvas for makeup, while giving even sensitive lids a dose of hydration from day to night.

3 common myths about firming creams – debunked


“If I already have wrinkles, it’s too late for firming creams”

The verdict: FALSE

While facelifts and neck lifts are highly effective, they’re not your only option for a tighter complexion. You only have to look at the results from our Vital Perfection trials to see how effective firming face creams and serums can be. Non-invasive and natural-looking, they work with your skin’s natural functions, allowing you to unlock a youthful glow from the comfort of your home.


“Surgery is the only way to tighten your skin"

The verdict: FALSE

While facelifts and neck lifts are highly effective, they’re not your only option for a tighter complexion. You only have to look at the results from our Vital Perfection trials to see how effective firming face creams and serums can be. Non-invasive and natural-looking, they work with your skin’s natural functions, allowing you to unlock a youthful glow from the comfort of your home.


“Firming creams are too rich for oily skin”

The verdict: FALSE

While the Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Cream is nourishing, it’s not too rich for oily skin types to reap its firming rewards. The original face cream and the Day Cream both effortlessly sink into skin to deliver benefits, while the Enriched edition gives those drier complexions the extra moisture they crave.

Face firming FAQs

How long does it take to see results from firming creams?

It depends on the firming cream you’re using. If it’s Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Cream, you can expect to see a visible lift in your skin in just one week(1). Meanwhile, the new and ground-breaking Vital Perfection LiftDefine Radiance Night Concentrate redefines face contours(3) also in just one week, and is clinically proven to correct sagging in the jawline and cheeks in just two weeks(4). A true break-through.

How can you tighten your face skin naturally?

Follow a firming routine for sagging skin to tighten your face naturally. Your number one essential is a face firming cream, like Vital Perfection Uplifting and Firming Cream. By teaming it up with a hard-working serum or concentrate, you’ll see enhanced results. Remember: consistency is key, so apply your routine daily, morning and night, to see the best results.

Does vitamin deficiency cause sagging skin?

Diet and environmental aggressors have a big impact on the look and feel of your skin, so lacking certain vitamins may lead to wrinkles, fine lines and sagging. It’s thought that vitamins C and D play a key role in keeping your complexion supple and smooth, so try to work them into your daily routine to benefit your skin – and your overall well-being.

(1) Clinical test on 35 volunteers. Evaluation by an expert after 12 weeks.
(2) In vitro data.
(3) Consumer Test on 102 women.
(4) Clinical Test on 31 women.
(5) Self-assessment scoring by 102 women. % after 2 weeks.
(6) Instrumental test on 20 volunteers.

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