I'm a Dermatologist With Hyperpigmentation—These Are the 21 Products I Swear By

The Lineup is a monthly series where we’re giving you an inside peek at the beauty lineups of cool fashion people, editors, makeup artists, hairstylists, and estheticians—all the people we trust the most. Get ready for a behind-the-scenes look at all the can’t-live-without products that make their worlds go round.

As someone with a pretty big sweet tooth, the last thing I want to hear is "you are what you eat," especially when it's coming from Shereene Idriss, MD, an NY dermatologist. Now she's not just any dermatologist, she's an expert in facial rejuvenation and has garnered a following for her minimally invasive approach to cosmetic dermatology. Not to mention she's also the brains behind #pillowtalkderm, a Sunday night Instagram series where she lies in bed answering questions from her followers on everything from laser treatments to Botox and fillers. (She's even managed to get special guests like Emily Ratajkowski, Gucci Westman, and Ashley Graham to join in on the fun.)

I was instantly drawn to Idriss for her fun, snarky humor and ability to make skincare less intimidating. (She's even candid about her own struggles with hyperpigmentation and breakouts.) She doesn't just push expensive products or treatments on her clients—she wants to educate them on everything from the ingredients to use and avoid and which skin myths are not worth buying into, like the higher the SPF, the better.

"Above a certain level, a higher SPF has little added benefit compared with a lower one, so in most circumstances, it isn't worth the extra cost," she tells me. But if someone does want to splurge? "Invest in the time needed to understand your skin," she says. "The next best thing would be a treatment to help even out pigmentation as most often than not people think they look old or tired, but it's discoloration in their skin that gives off that appearance."

Since I'm all the way in Los Angeles, the next best thing for me (and probably many of you!) is for Idriss to share her personal lineup of must-have products. The good news? Many of her picks are drugstore buys.

"If you’re not into taking off your makeup first, then this is perfect for taking off makeup, but it’s also much more than a makeup remover! It transforms easily from gel to oil, and although it’s quite thick, it’s not greasy. It spreads easily over the skin and doesn’t leave a residue."

"Because you must follow removing your makeup with a gentle wash, and this one is IT! No frills, no thrills—effective and affordable."

"The most gentle yet effective micellar water I have ever come across. With a single sweep, it clears my face of any makeup residue without leaving me irritated."

"The heavy-duty exfoliator that gives my skin the weekly cleanse it needs. Now more than ever with daily mask-wearing, residue build-up is happening at an accelerated speed. Prior to COVID-19, I would use this two-to-three times a week. Now I use it once a week as my skin is slightly more sensitive than before. #maskne"

"My favorite drugstore buy if you’re looking for a regular chemical exfoliant."

"This is my go-to as the weather warms up, and lighter is better. Plus, it acts as a great primer before makeup!"

"The truest retinoid available over the counter, for when I forget to pick up my prescription or it runs out!"

"A cult favorite—lighter than a retinol but delivers an amazing impact! I use this in the winter and wake up to skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom."

"Because everyone needs to indulge every once in a while and fill all the cracks and crevices on their skin. This one, although pricey, goes a long way and lasts me the full season."

"My most-recent drugstore discovery I have fallen in love with! A great, easy hydrating serum without hyaluronic acid."

"I love this toner’s super-silky texture, which is super hydrating given its glycerin base and provides an immediate soothing effect before exfoliating dead skin cells and toning the skin’s surface layer. I don’t waste a drop by applying a couple of drops immediately onto my skin and skipping the cotton pads."

"Pigmentation is one of my biggest issues, especially post-pregnancy. I use this, which contains tranexamic acid in conjunction with vitamin C."

"If you're looking for an eye cream with retinol that doesn't irritate, look no further."

"My current favorite vitamin C as it is less oily and better suited for acne-prone skin, an issue I’ve most recently been dealing with due to masks."

"My final step in skincare and even makeup-wise! I don’t use foundation but always end my routine with this on top for the perfect glow to start my day (protected)."

… And adding another sunscreen recommendation from Idriss for good measure. This one has a universal tint that gives every skin tone a boost of radiance.

If you want a brighter, smoother-looking complexion, Idriss says this is the answer.

"I suffered from hair loss postpartum and the stress of COVID-19 did not help. Rogaine is my newest BFF. I use the men’s foam. (I don’t waste my time on anything less than 5%.)"

"I use this on day two post-wash to help give my hair that extra oomph it needs. Plus, it smells divine."

Idriss always has this on hand to provide shine, hydration, and UV protection to her hair.