We Shopped for Drugstore Skincare Products With NYC's Top Dermatologists
There's a consistent debate regarding drugstore products—whether they're as effective as their pricey counterparts. Can something half the price (if not more) of another product made to serve the same purpose actually work just as well? We set out to answer those questions with two top dermatologists.
The experiment went like this: We asked each expert to go to their local drugstore with only $100 to spend. Then, they were meant to choose their favourite products, ones they'd recommend to their clients, and explain what about those formulas makes them so special. They even took over our Instagram so each one of you could go along for the ride. That way, wading through the confusing, often convoluted marketing and product-packed aisles is a bit easier to master. Below, find each derm's top picks.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+ ($17)
Neutrogena's lightweight formula contains Helioplex, a sunscreen complex that helps block harmful UVB (burning) and UVA (ageing) rays from your skin. The moisturiser offers up an antioxidant blend with pure vitamin E and lots of hydration.
"Evenings are a time for repair," Zeichner says. He notes, "I chose a moisturiser to layer underneath a topical retinoid, as topical retinoids treat acne and stimulate collagen to strengthen your skin's foundation and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles." His picks? CeraVe PM Face Moisturizer for Nighttime Use, as it's a really reliable, non-irritation formula enriched with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to help calm, protect, and retain moisture.
"For face and body," Zeichner says, "you want to choose the right cleanser to remove dirt and oil without compromising your skin barrier. True soaps have an alkaline pH and can cause irritation and inflammation in your skin." Instead, he says, you should stick to soap-free cleansers for your face and body, like Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($17).
"For those with dry skin," Zeichner says, "apply Aveeno's Daily Moisturizing Lotion within five minutes of getting out of the shower for optimal penetration and effectiveness. Light lotions are easier to spread and don't feel heavy or greasy."
Clean & Clear Advantage Spot Treatment ($9)
"If you're looking for an acne spot treatment, find one with salicylic acid," suggests Zeichner. "It helps to dry up a pimple if it pops up," he says. Salicylic acid clears away dead skin cells and other pore-clogging impurities from the surface of the skin, which helps to quickly clear up breakouts and alleviate inflammation.
"Dove's Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar is my long-standing favourite," Nazarian says. "It's a non-drying cleanser that doesn't disrupt your natural skin oil. I'd always buy the unscented form to avoid skin irritation from unnecessary fragrance," she suggests.
Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment ($8)
"This product is a major multitasker," Nazarian says. "Bacteria can't grow in it, so it's perfect for preventing infections after a cut. It also works well to prevent loss of moisture in dry environments so can be used nicely as a lip balm or on fingertips and cuticles to keep them hydrated throughout winter," she adds.
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer ($40)
"This is one of the best retinol creams available over the counter," Nazarian says. "It's inexpensive and effective for minimising superficial wrinkles and fine lines. Plus, the silver container blocks light and allows it to remain stable longer."
FYI: Here's how to combat dry, itchy skin this winter.