When it comes to skin care, beauty lovers know to turn to dermatologists for any questions and concerns. But have you ever wondered what products they actually use themselves?
It makes sense when you think about it: if a cleanser or moisturizer is deemed worthy enough to put on their own skin, it has to be good. So when trying to find tried and true products that actually work for your own routine, it helps to go straight to the experts for some personal recommendations.
Five board-certified dermatologists spoke with
Bustle to share the skin care products they swear by. Cleansers, serums, eye creams, moisturizers, sunscreens, and more — they got you completely covered. And the best part? Each product is $20 or less.
Read on to see what skin care products under $20 these dermatologists love.
Meet The Experts:
dr Hadley King, MD, board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
dr Nkem Ugonabo, MD, board-certified dermatologist and member of the Skin of Color Society.
dr Cula N. Dautriche, MD, board-certified dermatologist and member of the Skin of Color Society.
dr Shereene Idriss, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Idriss Dermatology.
dr Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology.
We at Bustle only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Cleanser — CeraVe
If three dermatologists recommend the same product, that’s a great sign. Levin, Ugonabo, and Dautriche all like CeraVe’s Hydrating Foaming Cleanser because it leaves skin feeling clean without stripping its natural oils. It contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides to help lock in moisture and strengthen skin’s natural barrier.
Cleanser — AcneFree
King’s pick for cleanser is AcneFree’s Blackhead Removing Scrub. It’s made with 2% salicylic acid and charcoal to help absorb excess oil, keep pores clear, and banish breakouts.
Cleansers — Vanicream
Sometimes simple is where it’s at. For that reason, Idriss recommends the Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser. “Cleansers don’t necessarily have to have actives in them because you’re literally going to wash them down the drain,” she says. “It’s a gentle enough cleanser that it can do the basic lifting of the day off your face without having to over strip your skin.”
King likes The Ordinary’s Buffet Signs of Aging Serum because it pretty much does everything. It combines several peptide complexes, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids with glycerin and castor oil so that it promotes the production of collagen and has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and hydrating properties.
Serum — Cocokind
Idriss likes Cocokind’s Barrier Ceramide Serum because it is infused with nourishing ceramides, which help an inflamed skin barrier. It is also made with lactic acid and squalane to hydrate skin and support skin’s natural ceramide production.
Serum — naturium
Ugonabo’s pick, the Naturium Mandelic Acid 12%, is made with mandelic acid and niacinamide to provide gentle exfoliation and help improve the appearance of dark spots.
Eye Cream — Pond’s
King likes Pond’s Rejuveness Lifting & Brightening Eye Cream because it contains vitamin B3 to strengthen skin’s moisture barrier and smooth out fine lines, as well as niacinamide and retinol to improve tone and stimulate collagen.
Eye Cream – Vaseline
While not technically an eye cream, Idriss still says this is a no-brainer for her favorite eye cream. “No, it’s not an eye cream,” she says. But is it my favourite? Yes, because it’s a great occlusive that helps to hold in moisture, especially on the delicate skin around your eyes (and no, it is not comedogenic [but] don’t worry about that).”
Eye Cream — No7
With ingredients like hyaluronic acid to hydrate the eye area and vitamin C to brighten and protect your skin from environmental aggressors, the No7 Youthful Eye Serum was an easy pick for King. It also has vitamin A and peptides to reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Moisturizer — La Roche-Posay
Rich in panthenol and zinc to reduce inflammation, the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5 is Idriss’ favorite. “I absolutely love it,” she says. It also has shea butter and glycerin to soothe and hydrate your complexion.
Moisturizers – Neutrogena
Duatriche says that the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Face Moisturizer is intensely moisturizing without weighing the skin down with product. Its gel formula is non-comedogenic and ideal for acne-prone skin.
Idriss’ pick, Sun Bum’s Original SPF 70 Sunscreen Lotion, is a lightweight sunscreen that provides the ultimate sun protection with its SPF 70 broad-spectrum protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays. It also contains vitamin E to protect skin from environmental aggressors.
Sunscreen — Supergoop!
Dautriche likes the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen because it works for all skin types. It goes on lightweight and contains frankincense and meadowfoam seed to soothe and hydrate skin. Its smallest size just hits $20 and is perfect to throw in your bag when you’re on the go.
For sensitive skin especially, Levin’s pick is the Blue Lizard Mineral Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50. It is made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide protection from UVA and UVB rays without irritating the skin, and also water and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
Toner — MELE
For melanin-rich skin, in particular, King recommends the MELÉ Even Tone Post Cleanse Tonic. “It contains lactic acid to gently exfoliate and hydrate, and vitamin C to brighten [skin],” she says. “It’s [also] free of alcohol, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and mineral oil.”
Body Wash — PanOxyl
Ugonabo likes PanOxyl’s Maximum Strength Antimicrobial Acne Foaming Wash because it works for your face and your body (so yes, say goodbye to bacne with this). It contains benzoyl peroxide to fight acne-causing bacteria and humectants to keep skin hydrated.
Acne Spot Treatment – Differin
Looking for an acne spot treatment that won’t cost you an arm and a leg? dr Levin recommends Differin’s Acne Treatment Gel. She says it’s an effective and proven acne-focused (and first over-the-counter) retinoid to prevent acne breakouts while also reducing the appearance of pores and treating blackheads, whiteheads, and hyperpigmentation.
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