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Putting anti-aging creams to the test: Are they worth your money?

In the past two years, more than 100 new products at all price points have hit the market.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio — In our quest to stay forever young, sales for anti-aging products have become a multi-billion dollar business...driven primarily by luxury brands.

Do you really need to spend a ton of money to turn back the hands of time? We used science to compare some of the best-selling brands at The Parker Skin & Aesthetic Clinic.

Dr. Lydia Parker, who is a Board Certified Dermatologist, turned to a multi-spectral imaging machine called the Visia to evaluate the effectiveness of the products we asked her to test. She said it is “the best objective measure of skin quality. To measure quantitatively fine lines, wrinkles, pore size, brown spots, age spots.”

And it shows the results through detailed photos taken of the face, which many of our testers were not too happy to see.

"I'm horrified, actually," said Sue Allen. "I know that I spent way too much time in the sun when I was younger, but this is a pretty graphic representation."

Meanwhile, Mary Beth Bruner’s results showed that the level of her UV spots were worse than 57 percent of women tested.

“I'd like to see a little bit of plumpness," Bruner said. "A little more life. Not be so dull again.”

We sent a total of five women home with creams ranging from a drug store brand priced at $14 per ounce to a department store skin reviver, which will run you about $239 an ounce.

We asked our testers to use the products as directed in the instructions, for 16 days. Then get scanned again to see which brand succeeded in turning back time.

When we asked Dr. Parker whether we would be able to see results in two weeks, she told us, "When we do studies on creams to see how effective they are, we'll commonly have the person use the cream for a good 8, 12, 16 weeks. So, though we're not seeing the full benefits of any of these creams, the Visia can pick up on very small changes."

Based purely on the numbers, here are the results:

Our luxury brand, Chanel Sublimage La Crème, which retails for about $239 an ounce, didn't quite cut it. Kathy Sypher was our tester for that product.

The Visia machine showed that the texture of her skin got slightly worse, as did her UV spots and brown spots, when she switched from her original routine of organic coconut oil crème.

The only thing that improved slightly was the porphyrins, or bacteria in her pores.

When we asked why such a pricey brand would yield these kind of results, Dr. Parker explained, "A luxury product like Chanel commonly, it feels so nice and the packaging is so nice. It might smell nice and someone may actually enjoy using it. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to give better anti-aging results."

For our mid-priced brands, Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty Crème de Serum – Melon Extract Night Moisturizer, which sells for $65 an ounce, was queen of the catwalk.

Buner tested that product, and her skin improved in nearly every category across the board, most notably in reducing brown spots by 17 points, and improving her skin texture by nine points.

Skinceuticuals Triple Lipid Restore, at $93 an ounce was a stunner though. It improved Lisa's Raines’ skin texture by a whopping 37 points.

She described it as being "Very, very soothing on my skin. It stayed moist all night long. And I noticed down here (on her neck), that I had a lot less crepiness.”

Finally, Allen used our budget brand, Olay Regenerist Anti-Aging Cream, which sells for $14 an ounce. The Visia showed that the Olay improved Sue's pores and spots. It also reduced her UV skin damage by 29 points.

"She had a fair amount of sun damage to surmount,” said Dr. Parker. She went from damage that was worse than 98 percent of women tested, to better than 31 percent of women.

Bottom line, all of the brands improved something. When selecting a product, you just need to decide which problems are most important for you to improve. But the lesson learned is that fixing your face, doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

“Number one, stay out of the sun," Dr. Parker said. "Number two, sunscreen. And then number three, to just be a little smoother, is to just be hydrated.”

Now, according to the Visia, none of the brands reduced wrinkles around our tester’s eyes. Dr. Parker said that may take more time. We reached out to Chanel to discuss the test results, they never got back to us.

But, we also had Mary Peto test the generic version of Retin-A, called Trentoin, which requires a prescription. It sells for $128 an ounce. Video of her results is below: