Drugstore products get a bad rap for having lesser quality ingredients than costlier department store and designer products. We consulted skin care expert Dr. Debra Jaliman, author of “Skin Rules” and a world-renowned dermatologist who has appeared on programs like “America’s Next Top Model” and been featured in countless print magazines, for her advice on just what to bring home from the drugstore.
Dr. Jaliman's Views On Skincare
"It's a constant refrain of mine—nobody has to go broke to have good skin. Yes, some specialized treatments, such as Botox and lasers, can be pricey. So can department store brands, many of which are effective but really over-priced. The truth is the essential products for good skin are usually available at most drugstores, and they certainly won't break the bank."
Sonic Cleansing Machine
"Like many dermatologists, I sell the Clarisonic cleansing system in my office, but at over $100 not everyone will want to buy it. Now there are at least two relatively inexpensive alternatives on drugstore shelves that work very well. Olay Pro-X Professional Advanced Cleansing System ($29.99, ulta.com) and Neutrogena Wave Sonic Spinning Power Cleanser ($14.99, target.com) cost a fraction of the Clarisonic's price, but will still make a difference and leave your skin cleaner than your hand or a washcloth can. Do not use if you have rosacea or eczema."
Aquaphor Healing Ointment
"I have a big jar of it on my nightstand and smaller tubes that I buy for my bag, my desk drawer in the office and my coat pocket. For some reason, many drugstores put it in the baby section. It's certainly good on babies' bottoms, but I also recommend it for patients of all ages. In many ways, Aquaphor ($14.99, walgreens.com) is the ideal product: It's very inexpensive, and it works really well. In winter, slather it on damp skin to lock the moisture in and on lips before going out; in summer, use it over scratches and cuts to keep the skin moist and promote healing."
Retinol Night Cream or Serum
"Retinol is a proven ingredient to reverse sun damage and improve the appearance of fine lines. Try to buy one that comes in tubes or pumps, because retinol products degrade quickly when exposed to light and air. It is very important to use retinol only at night, because it increases sun sensitivity, and you should never apply a retinol to damp skin, because it will cause irritation. Olay Age Defying Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream ($11.39, soap.com) and RoC Retinol Correxion ($24.99, cvs.com) are two great options available."
Zinc-Based Sunscreen or Moisturizer
"Zinc not only physically blocks sun rays, it is also soothing to the skin. Try to get one that is SPF 30 or higher and make it a part of your daily routine, even if you plan to stay indoors. Remember, sun rays coming through a window can also damage the skin. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer ($11.99, drugstore.com) contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxode (another good physical ray blocker), while Eucerin Sensitive Skin Everyday Protection Face Lotion ($9.99, walgreens.com) is gentle and effective."
A Mild Cleanser
"Try to find one that is free of fragrance, or at least not too heavily scented. This is one area where buying expensive products is just throwing money away. Remember, the key word is mild. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser ($10.29, drugstore.com) is one of my favorites; for very sensitive skin, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($7.29, walgreens.com) can't be beat."
A Good Exfoliating Product
"Exfoliating can lead to a dramatic improvement, with skin looking more clear and glowing after just a couple of weeks of daily treatment. The ingredients to look for are salicylic acid (especially good for acne-prone skin), alpha-hydroxy acids, or glycolic acid (recommended for sensitive skin). Like retinol, these products should be used at night. Exfoliating creams, toners, pads—all of them will work. Stridex Daily Care Acne Pads ($7.94, walmart.com) with salicylic acid are good, and so is Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Clear Skin Cream ($14.99, cvs.com), which contains both salicylic acid and retinol."