Holy Grail Skincare Products That Dermatologists Swear By
These are the products that experts say are well worth your time and money.
Exciting new skincare products are launched, seemingly, every single day. One week, it could be a mask that promises to give you a brighter complexion in just two minutes. The next, a serum that claims it can take five years off your face in a single night's sleep. However tempting it might be to try every product launch, we've learned that it's important to get a dermatologist's input before testing anything new. The reason? Because skin experts don't jump for trends. They're not swayed by a celebrity's perfect complexion and their endorsement of a particular product. As experts in their field, they rely on cold, hard science to determine whether a product or ingredient is beneficial or not.
That's why we listen when a dermatologist recommends a product. And when multiple dermatologists recommend the same product, we write it down. And when multiple dermatologists continue to recommend the same products for years, we buy them, stock our medicine cabinets, and never look back. In the last few years, we've accumulated a running list of the products that these pros consistently endorse—today, we're putting them all in one place, in an attempt to help you build, or add to, your ultimate skincare routine. These products are effective, chock-full of beneficial ingredients, and scientifically proven to do what they say will.
Ahead, the top 10 holy grail skincare products that dermatologists won't live without; since they've been recommended over and again, you can take the guesswork out of determining which to buy and simply start building your regimen, stat.
More than any other sunscreen, dermatologists repeatedly recommend Elta MD. Why? Its main sun-protecting ingredient is zinc oxide, a physical block that sits on top of your skin, acting as a shield to deflect rays (other formulas allow the sun's rays to penetrate your skin, where they're disseminated by chemical blockers); overall, zinc oxide is thought to be healthier than chemical blocks like oxybenzone. Derms also love this one because it's effective and safe for every skin type, from acneic and oily to dry and sensitive.
Shop Now: Elta MD Sunscreen SPF 46, $35, amazon.com.
Dermatologists always tell us there's no need to splurge on an expensive cleanser—there are plenty of inexpensive ones that cleanse effectively without stripping the skin. One of their all-time favorites? Cetaphil, which is fragrance-free, gentle, and safe for all skin types.
Shop Now: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $11.99, amazon.com.
In addition to the fact that dermatologists love this anti-aging serum, it's also won a slew of beauty awards. It contains growth factors, antioxidants, and moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid (basically, everything you need for gorgeous, youthful skin).
Shop Now: SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum, $281, dermstore.com.
Ask any dermatologist what his or her favorite anti-aging product is, and you will, without a doubt, get retinol as a response. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that speeds up cell turnover to reduce and prevent wrinkles, thicken skin, reduce pore size, and even skin tone. Aside from sunscreen, it's the number one proven anti-ager. Derms love this retinol in particular, thanks to the fact that it combines the active ingredient with exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids, skin-protecting antioxidants, and moisturizing ingredients to ensure it won't be too drying, as many retinols can be.
Shop Now: SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream, $120, skinbetter.com.
If retinol is a dermatologist favorite nighttime product, vitamin C serum is their go-to morning option. The potent antioxidant prevents aging by protecting skin from free radicals, which we encounter on a daily basis. So many experts love this vitamin C serum in particular because it also contains ferulic acid, which helps to stabilize vitamin C and increase its effectiveness.
Shop Now: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, $166, dermstore.com.
Differin Gel, a now-over-the-counter retinoid treatment for acne, works double duty: It helps fight the aging process and stubborn blemishes.
Shop Now: Differin Gel, $12.88, amazon.com.
Oil-free, with skin-barrier strengthening ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid, CeraVe's moisturizing lotion contains all of the essential ingredients for healthy, hydrated skin, which is why it's recommended by dermatologists to everyone, regardless of their skin issues.
Shop Now: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion, $11.99, target.com.
Put it on cracked, dry heels, lips, cheeks, wherever—this tried-and-true multipurpose ointment gets the dermatologist seal of approval all of the time. (There's a reason it's been around forever!)
Shop Now: Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $9.59, amazon.com.
Glycolic acid is an expert favorite when it comes to exfoliation. The alpha hydroxy acid reduces pore size, increases cell turnover, evens skin tone, and gives the complexion an instant radiance. Glytone's peel gel is no fuss—it contains just the ingredients needed for it to work, and offers a nice home alternative to in-office peels.
Shop Now: Glytone Rejuvenating Mini Peel Gel, $64, dermstore.com.
Dermatologists often name check Alastin as a brand they love and trust, and this eye cream is just one reason why. It helps to decrease puffiness and dark circles in the short-term, and firms skin and decreases wrinkles over time.
Shop Now: Alastin Restorative Eye Complex, $85, alastin.com.