There are a couple ways to go about finding a solid new skin care staple that works for you. That being said, trying out a few products that dermatologists swear by might just be the most reliable method. Sure, you could head to the drug store and blindly pluck a few products off the shelves, but this method is tricky if you're not well-versed in skin care ingredients and the many names they go by. You could also ask your friends what they use every morning, or trust the reviews sections of online retailers and hope for the best. At the end of the day, though, dermatologists are certified experts that have seen just about every skin issue you could possibly imagine, and if they're making direct recommendations, you know it's the good stuff.
That's why I reached out to seven different skin care experts and asked them which surprising products they regularly recommend to their patients for common skin ailments — such as persistent acne, sensitivity, or dryness. These dermatologists were loaded with great insights about products I probably never would have tried otherwise, and some even told me which essentials they trust enough to incorporate into their own skin care regimens.
1. This Alcohol-Free Toner And Cleanser For Sensitive Skin
According to Debra Jaliman, assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine, "Lierac Micellar Cleansing Water is not drying like a toner or astringent since it contains no alcohol. I like to use it after a cleanser to take off the last traces of makeup. This one has honey and flower extracts that make it soothing to the skin. It can be used on sensitive skin."
2. The First Prescription-Strength Retinoid For Acne Available Over The Counter
According to Melanie Palm, MD, MBA, and board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, "Differin Gel (adapalene) is the FIRST prescription-strength retinoid that has become available over the counter. [Retinoids] fight fine lines, help with pigmentation, possibly prevent precancerous spots, help other active topical creams penetrate more effectively, and allow skin to heal more quickly after laser procedures performed in office. Simply put, retinoids are the best thing next to sunscreen you can apply on the skin." This gel helps with breakouts, blackheads, whiteheads, blemishes and clogged pores, and restores both tone and texture.
3. A Moisturizer With Glycolic Acid To Help With Keratosis Pilaris
According to Dr. Howard Sobel, NYC dermatologist, "Glycolic acid moisturizer used on the back of the arms after a shower while the skin is still damp will clear up the little bumps." This alpha hydroxy acid body lotion from Paula's Choice contains 10 percent glycolic acid, which helps with exfoliation and cell turnover, and features a creamy formula that's rich in antioxidants to leave skin smooth and hydrated.
4. This Gentle Mineral-Based Tinted Sun Screen That Brightens And Protects Skin
Another favorite from Jaliman's is EltaMD UV physical broad-spectrum sunscreen, because its mineral-based formula is "good for skin prone to irritation like eczema and rosacea." It "offers UVA/UVB protection" with its slightly tinted mineral formula that smooths and brightens skin tone while simultaneously protecting it from the sun.
5. Argan Oil Actually Helps To Balance Sebum Production
"I love Argan oil for the face, especially for dry or acne-prone skin," says Dhaval G. Bhanusali, MD. "While it may seem counter-intuitive to put oils on your face with acne, the Argan oil actually helps regulate sebum (oil) production and can be a great supplement to your routine. As an added bonus, it’s great at leaving the skin hydrated and supple." This VoilaVe Organic Argan Oil is USDA-certified, cold-pressed, and comes in a convenient pump bottle for easier application.
6. This At-Home Light Therapy Mask For Acne
"The other I like is the new LED mask by Neutrogena," says Dr. Bhanusali. "I’ve had a ton of my patients on red and blue led light therapy in my office (for acne and rejuvenation) and it’s great to see an at-home version. While it’s not as strong as what the office treatments are, I’ve certainly seen benefit in my patients who use it as a supplement to their acne regimen. It also helps with texture and tone if used consistently." Treatments only take ten minutes, and can improve texture, fight bacteria, and reduce inflammation.
7. This Exfoliating Gel That Creates A Blank Canvas For Makeup And Product Absorption
Another recommendation from Dr. Palm is Sakura Silk Gel. "This gentle exfoliating gel is great for a variety of patients. Originally from Japan, it uses a K-Link Complex that complexes with keratin in dead and dry skin cells, causing it to ball up and be gently lifted off the skin. I use it morning and night after a glycolic wash." Dr. Palm says that it creates a smooth, clean palette for makeup in the morning, and a blank canvas at night for active topicals and creams. "If you have dry skin from acne treatment, winter skin, or just need to get your grime from the day off effectively, it is so gentle and effective after cleansing."
8. This Incredible Serum That Helps Your Skin Renew Itself And Respond Better To Other Products
Vivian Bucay, MD, FAAD, recommends SENTE Bio Complete Serum. "It minimizes the risk of skin irritation while still providing the well-known benefits of retinol, such as increased cell renewal, increased collagen production, and smoother texture," Dr. Bucay says. It also contains a sugar-derived compound called heparan sulfate, without which "cells cannot survive, period... Our cells [also] cannot respond to growth factors, peptides, retinol, etc. In other words, this products allows us to make the best use of other skin care products we use or it can be used alone with a good sunscreen."
9. Dermatologists Agree — Coconut Oil Is A Skin Care Essential
According to dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Dr. Michele Green, "Coconut oil is antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and antiviral. It also aids in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. It can he used as moisturizer, lip balm, make up remover, and conditioner." Unlike regular coconut oil, Invivo Essential Fractionated Coconut Oil stays liquid at room temperature, so you can easily pump and apply to the skin or hair. That being said, it's still loaded with hydration, nutrients, and all the aforementioned benefits.
10. For Dry Skin And Eczema, Try An Oatmeal Bath
"Oatmeal is amazing for dry, itchy skin," says Dr. Green, "and eczema sufferers can benefit from an oatmeal bath. It will leave the skin feeling soft and soothed. Grind 1 cup of oats in a food processor to a fine powder to create your own colloidal oatmeal. Add it to any bath and soak for at least 15 minutes." Another option is this Coconut Milk Bath Soak, which is made with real oatmeal alongside other softening and gentle ingredients. Reviewers love the heavenly smell, the hydrated skin, and the fact that there's no residue leftover in the tub.
11. A Reliable Vitamin A Cream Might Be The Most Effective Staple In Your Skin Care Regiment
Dr. J. Matthew Knight, dermatologist of the Knight Dermatology Institute, says "There's nothing more effective than Vitamin-A based creams when it comes to the treatment/prevention of wrinkles, fine-lines, age spots, and photo aging... Recent studies show that OTC retinol at higher strengths may be almost as effective as prescription Retin-A, but with lower cost and less irritation." About Face Organic Vitamin A Night Cream contains two percent retinol, and it's gentle, non-greasy, and extremely nourishing. "The key, though," says Dr. Knight, "is consistency — it should be used every night for a lifetime."
12. These Awesome Pads To Clear Up Breakouts, Exfoliate, And Even Skin Tone
"Glycolic pads are usually used for acne on the face," says Dr. Sobel, "but I often recommend that they be used on the neck and chest before moisturizer to exfoliate and leave the skin with a glow." The Magic Pads have two percent glycolic acid and are packed with USDA-certified organic ingredients. And since they come in convenient round cotton pads, they're beyond easy to apply. "Let me tell you, these things work! My skin is soft, no acne break outs, and my skin tone is even," says one reviewer.
13. Lactic Acid Can Help With Dry, Cracking Skin
Dr. Knight also stresses the importance of a basic moisturizer with lactic acid. "There's nothing fancy about these creams, but alpha hydroxy acids like lactic acid are excellent keratolytics and humectants. This means that they remove dead skin cells and help draw water into the skin's outer layers. Lactic acid is derived from milk and can be used at higher concentrations than other hydroxy acids (like glycol acid) without irritation. Creams with 12 percent lactic acid are widely available, usually inexpensive, and are incredible options for folks with dry, scaly, or rough skin." Beauty Facial Extreme Exfoliating Body Lotion uses Dr. Knight's recommendation of 12 percent lactic acid, and it's extremely hydrating and helps with ailments like Keratosis Pilaris and acne.
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