Great skin doesn’t have to cost a fortune, no matter your age.
Walk into any high-end department store and you’ll find an array of products that promise to smooth fine lines, make your skin glow, and hydrate like nothing else.
The catch: You have to take out a second mortgage to pay for them.
While a few pricey beauty products might be worth the investment, it’s totally possible to score major skin care bargains at your local drugstore. The following products aren’t just cheap—they actually work, say dermatologists.
Here are a few expert favorites that will help you pamper your skin without stressing your wallet.
1. Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
“This cleanser is fragrance-free, paraben-free, lanolin-free, and preservative-free, so it’s safe for all skin types and great for dry skin,” says Lauren Ploch, M.D., a dermatologist with Georgia Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center in Augusta, Georgia, and Aiken, South Carolina. “Unlike most gentle cleansers, this one lathers to a slightly foamy consistency that’s easy to apply and wash off.” ($9, walgreens.com)
2. Aquaphor Healing Ointment
This multipurpose ointment is “absolutely one of my favorites,” says Noelani González, M.D., director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West in New York City. Use it to soothe chapped lips, heal dry and cracked skin, and treat eczema.
“It even helps with wound healing, such as after burns or scars,” she says. ($5, target.com)
3. Differin Gel
Need something with serious wrinkle-fighting power? “This is an over-the-counter prescription-strength retinoid, which is antiaging and also helps prevent acne and breakouts,” Dr. González says. “It’s gentler than other retinoids, so my patients with more sensitive skin tend to prefer it.” ($14, cvs.com)
4. Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner
A toner can help refresh your skin and get it ready for other products—provided you pick the right kind. This one “helps to refine pores, remove excess oil, soothe irritation, and maintain skin’s natural balance,” says Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. “It won’t strip skin like many other toners.” ($7, cvs.com)
5. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral SPF 50 Tinted Face Sunscreen
It’s unanimous: Dermatologists agree that wearing sunscreen year-round is the best thing you can do to protect your skin against fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer. This lightweight option is perfect for everyday wear, Dr. Engelman says.
“It has a great texture with a little tint. The antioxidant complex also protects the skin from free radicals caused by UV rays,” she says. ($34, walgreens.com)
6. Blue Lizard Sensitive Sunscreen
Heading to the beach or going for a long walk on a scorching day? This thicker sunscreen will stay in place even when you’re getting sweaty, yet it’s gentle, Dr. Ploch says.
“While all sunscreens require reapplication every 40 to 80 minutes, this one sticks around for a bit longer when used liberally, and it’s one of the only sunscreens that my patients with the most sensitive skin can tolerate.” ($15, walmart.com)
7. CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion
“This is one of the first moisturizers on the market that brings ceramides—natural fats that seal in hydration—to the skin in a very inexpensive way,” says Tanya Kormeili, M.D., a dermatologist in Santa Monica, California. ($13, target.com)
8. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
Also made with top-notch ingredients—in this case, hyaluronic acid—this oil-free moisturizer is “light and elegant with good science behind it,” Dr. Kormeili says. ($23, cvs.com)
9. Cetaphil Extra Gentle Daily Scrub
As you age, your skin can get drier and duller, which makes it all the more important to exfoliate. But highly abrasive products can be irritating. This one “gently buffs away dry, dull skin while cleansing to support natural surface cell turnover,” Dr. Engelman says. ($8, walmart.com)
10. CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
“I really like this product because it hydrates as it cleanses and is very gentle on skin,” Dr. González says. “It contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides to moisturize and plump your skin.” ($11, walmart.com)
11. Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
An oldie but a goodie, this product is hypoallergenic and doesn’t contain lanolin, which some people are allergic to, Dr. Ploch says. Use it as a lip balm or to help with wound healing. ($4, target.com)
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