If there's anyone I'll take skincare shopping advice from, without question, it's dermatologists. They are the certified experts in the field after all. When I'm doing research for beauty stories, I love getting their takes on the products that they think are the most effective. It makes a big difference to have a product that works for you than getting stuck with something that's completely wrong for your skin type, or that doesn't do anything at all. The last thing I want to do is waste some money on an expensive buy.
Luckily, we've gotten so much intel from dermatologists to shop smart. They've guided us on how to purchase everything from moisturizers to exfoliants to products with buzzy ingredients like hyaluronic acid and peptides. The amount of knowledge they've dropped on us is enough to fill a bathroom vanity and then some.
Sure, you can read through our many skincare articles (and you should!) to soak in their expertise, but to make it even easier for you if you're looking to add to your cart right now, I've compiled some of their most compelling recommendations below.
Moisturizers and Creams
This gentle moisturizer can help with inflammation because it contains niacinamide, says Nancy Samolitis, MD, FAAD, co-founder and medical director of Facile. "Niacinamide is a more newly recognized anti-inflammatory ingredient that works particularly well for adult female acne and also has anti-aging benefits as a bonus," she adds.
For a product that's packed with peptides, Robyn Gmyrek, MD, of Park View Laser Dermatology suggests picking up this moisturizer from Vichy. "It contains peptides, vitamin C (an antioxidant), and a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen and is moisturizing. This way, if you are using it in the daytime, you do not have to layer products!" she says.
Neutrogena's gel-cream moisturizer is a favorite with several dermatologists. Some even suggest using it as a night cream. Elyse Love, MD, of GlamDerm says it's ideal for oily skin. And Karen Chinonso Kagha, MD, adds it's good for drier skin types because it provides overnight hydration thanks to hyaluronic acid.
Eye Creams and Gels
This is another peptide-infused pick from Gmyrek. "It contains a proprietary blend of four different peptides including Syn-Coll, tetrapeptide-3, oligopeptide, and the neuropeptide Argireline (hexapeptide). This product also contains retinol (vitamin A), known to stimulate collagen and elastic tissue, and includes glycerin and lactic acid as humectants, providing moisture," she says.
Exfoliants and Peels
Celebrity dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD, is not just doing self-promotion when he recommends his Alpha Beta Peels. They're a cult favorite and have been around for 20 years for a reason. They really work to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, and pores. Associate beauty editor Courtney Higgs says she uses the pads religiously to help refine her skin after a bout of hormonal acne left her face covered in hyperpigmented marks.
For gentle exfoliation, Tatcha's Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder gets the job done. "You can control the exfoliation strength by mixing it with different amounts of water," Frank says. You can use it daily to target fine lines, uneven skin tone, and hyperpigmentation.
Anna Guanche, MD, is a fan of Sunday Riley's Good Genes: "[It's an] all-in-one lactic acid serum. Good Genes smoothes out fine lines and wrinkles and brightens skin." Other ingredients include licorice, lemongrass, and prickly pear extract.
This foaming cleanser is ideal for normal, dry, and sensitive skin types. It has moisturizing ingredients such as apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, and squalane. "It's a lightweight gel formula that foams up when water is added. It cleanses your face without overdrying it," says Shari Sperling, DO.
For a face wash with exfoliating properties, Caroline Robinson, MD, FAAD, founder of Tone Dermatology, likes this one from Ursa Major, which has a blend of AHAs and BHAs. It also contains lemon, aloe, sugarcane, green tea, and rice seed extract, which work to tighten pores, reduce oil, and soothe, protect, and moisturize skin.
New York–based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, recommends this daily cleanser, especially for treating maskne. The product is pH-balancing and is made with ingredients such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, green coffee bean extract, and niacinamide.
Gmyrek recommends this peptide-packed serum: "It contains retinoid (vitamin A), bakuchiol (not a retinoid but acts on the retinoid receptors in a similar way to produce collagen and is less irritating), vitamin C (antioxidant), and palmitoyl oligopeptide (peptide), which is listed fairly high on the ingredient list. This product also contains glycerin and ceramides, which are moisturizing and hydrating to the skin." The formula targets fine lines and wrinkles, plus uneven skin tone and texture.
SkinMedica's serum provides a whopping eight hours of hydration. It got the seal of approval from two dermatologists: Gmyrek and Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, FAAD, owner of Vibrant Dermatology and Skin Bar MD. The formula has five different types of hyaluronic acid, including small-chain HA, plus a peptide complex and vitamin E.
If we had a dollar for every time a dermatologist recommended EltaMD's sunscreens, well, we'd treat all of you to a fancy dinner. In short, it's beloved. This facial sunscreen not only protects against harmful UV rays, but it also goes on smoothly, reduces shine, and moisturizes.
If you have sensitive skin, Ted Lain, MD, FAAD, chief medical officer at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas, advises looking for sunscreens with titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, which are the mineral ingredients. CeraVe's 100% mineral sunscreen is one of his top suggestions.
If you want maximum sun protection, Love recommends Neutrogena's UltraSheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen. It's fast-absorbing and leaves a non-greasy, matte finish.
For an acne skincare routine, Samolitis suggests adding a retinoid as a step. "Vitamin A derivatives (like retinol and adapalene, the active ingredient in over-the-counter Differin gel) help to normalize skin cell turnover and keep skin cells from sticking in the pores. They can also stimulate healthy collagen growth, improving acne scars," she says.
For body acne, Love suggests treating it with Panoxyl, a body wash that is formulated for face, chest, and back acne. It contains 10% benzoyl peroxide, which is the highest over-the-counter amount available.