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Ever wish you could sneak a peek inside the medicine cabinets of the country’s top dermatologists? Now you can! Here, they share the products they actually use to keep their skin looking young.
While a few are a bit pricey, some cost under $20! Regardless, according to our experts, all of them will leave you with younger, fresher-looking skin.
1. VI Derm Clear HQ Free, $60, Dermstore
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“This serum was created as an alternative to hydroquinone for people suffering from brown spots and fine lines. But it’s safe to use long-term because it doesn’t bleach the surrounding skin. It’s also packed with powerful anti-aging ingredients like kojic acid and licorice root extract, which fight free radicals that damage collagen. I just love this product and my friends and patients love it, too! It can be applied once or twice a day, just be sure to use sunscreen with this product,” says Dr. Dina Strachan, M.D., a NYC-based dermatologist.
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2. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Extra-Dry Skin, $15, Amazon
“I've been applying hyaluronic acid to my skin for years. It’s a substance naturally found in the skin and works to maintain water for a fuller, more youthful look. Its unique, moisture-binding feature allows it to hold many times its own weight in water. I used to apply a high-grade version of hyaluronic acid topically to my face, but the molecules were large, making it difficult for them to absorb into my skin. Today, smaller molecules of high-grade hyaluronic acid with better topical absorption capabilities can be found in over-the-counter products, including this gel cream which I apply nightly. Bonus: Its hydrating properties curb the irritation caused by retinols.
"I still use a few tricks to enhance absorption, such as applying it after I shower while my skin is still damp or using it after an exfoliating wash,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian, M.D., assistant clinical professor at The Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Dermatology.
3. Avon Anew Clinical Line Eraser with Retinol Treatment, $40, Avon
“I love this product because it’s sensitive enough for first-time retinol users. Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, does a lot. It minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, diminishes hyperpigmentation, blackheads and dark spots and reduces inflammation, pore size and the appearance of blemishes. The only issue is that it can be harsh on the skin, leaving it dry and irritated. But not this product!
"Two things to remember when using a retinol: Always use with a moisturizer and less is more. You only need a penny-size for your whole face at night,” says Dr. Kim Nichols, M.D., a Connecticut-based dermatologist.
4. Chanel’s UV Essentiel Daily Defense Sunscreen SPF 50, $55, Nordstrom
“Sunscreen is the world's best anti-ager and this is my go-to secret weapon! I love it because it contains 17.1 percent zinc oxide, which is one of the highest concentrations of broad-spectrum sunscreen available.
"It’s also the most cosmetically elegant sunscreen I have ever used. It rubs in easily, doesn’t feel greasy, doesn’t clog pores and is compatible with my moisturizer and makeup. I apply it in the morning to any exposed skin and wear it every day, no matter the weather because I never want to be caught unprotected from the sun. It’s also great to apply before a flight, as UVA rays can penetrate airplane windows,” says Dr. Amy Wechsler, M.D., assistant clinical professor in dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
5. Slip Silk Sleepmask, $45, Sephora
“One of my patients gave me this sleep mask as a holiday gift last year and I liked it so much, I bought several for my girlfriends. Now that I'm headed toward my 50th birthday, I'm noticing the sleep creases around my eyes take longer to smooth out. This mask is made of mulberry silk, which is softer than cotton and produces less friction against your skin. The slippery fabric slides over your pillow, so there’s less pulling and tugging. Friction creates more pressure on the skin, which can deepen skin creases.
"The original one I got was pink, but I've since ordered one in charcoal, so any specks of leftover mascara and eyeliner don't show. Unlike other masks I've tried, the elastic band that goes around your head is also covered in silk, so it's gentler on your hair. It also blocks light to help me sleep — in fact, I can’t sleep without it!” says Dr. Jessica Wu, M.D., a Los Angeles-based dermatologist.
6. Dr. Brandt Power Dose Vitamin D, $55, Sephora
“I have dry skin, but I also tend to break out if I layer on a night cream that's too rich. This product provides the perfect solution — I simply take a quarter size of my night cream, add a few drops of this serum, and smooth it onto my face, neck and cheeks. Whatever’s left goes on my hands. It basically supercharges my moisturizer, giving me more hydrated skin without clogging my pores. I tell people using these two products together freezes my skin in time,” says Dr. Whitney Bowe, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist.
7. Avalon Organics Brilliant Balance Enzyme Scrub, $10, Amazon
“As the skin ages, its cellular turnover capabilities slow down. A gentle, weekly scrub promotes cell turnover and can help keep skin glowing and healthy-looking. Used once a week, this scrub gently exfoliates my skin without irritation and contains ingredients like lavender and probiotics to help calm things down. I have rosacea and I'm able to use this product without any issues. I consider it a nice wake up for my skin,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, M.D., assistant clinical professor, Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center.
8. Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer, $12, Amazon
"Dry skin is one of the first signs of aging. As we get older, sebaceous gland secretion decreases gradually, which can cause the skin to become drier and more prone to itching and discomfort. In fact, fine lines and wrinkles are more pronounced on dry skin so moisturizer is one of my favorite anti-agers.
"The key is to apply the product to freshly showered skin, which allows the moisturizer to absorb immediately and repair the skin’s barrier. I also love that it’s completely greaseless,” says Dr. Michelle Henry, M.D. a clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
9. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30, $12, Amazon
“While there are many expensive skin care treatments on the market, nothing is better at preventing both skin cancer and premature skin aging than sunscreen. Studies have shown time and time again that regular use of sunscreens prevents the development of skin cancers, including melanomas, which can be potentially fatal. In one recent yearlong study, regular sunscreen use was even shown to improve the cosmetic appearance of the skin, likely because protective skin was able to heal itself. The best treatment for aging skin is preventing ultraviolet light damage to begin with. Skipping one day will not result in too much loss, but if you regularly take a pass, your skin will ultimately pay the price.
"I was introduced to this product when I was a resident. I love that it not only protects from UV exposure, but it’s the one product that really brightens up the skin, thanks to its soy complex and light diffusers,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research, Department of Dermatology, The Mount Sinai Hospital.
10. Vaseline Intensive Care Mature Skin Rejuvenation Healing Lotion, $5, Amazon
"Believe it or not, the best anti-aging steal under $10 is petroleum jelly. Just like any other part of the body, your skin is made up of cells. And skin cells are made up of water. If your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky. Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling. It also loses its function as a protective barrier to keep moisture in and environmental stressors out — like allergens, dust and bacteria. Skin cells are layered like bricks and dry skin creates gaps in these layers, allowing stressors in. So protecting this barrier is crucial to keeping your skin looking young,” says Dr. Julie Russak, M.D., volunteer facility at Mount Sinai Hospital.
11. Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 30, $7, Amazon
“I love this anti-ager because it’s dual acting: It’s an oil- and fragrance-free moisturizer, plus it’s a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide but doesn’t leave your skin looking pasty and chalky. It's a must-wear for your face, neck, décolleté and hands. I recommend it to treat and prevent dark marks and it’s my secret weapon for fighting rough knees and elbows,” says Dr. Sonia Badreshia, M.D., clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.
12. EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41, $30, Dermstore
“Sunscreen is the most important anti-aging product because the sun is responsible for 90 percent of skin aging. This is my favorite face sunscreen because it doesn’t irritate even the most sensitive skin — we even use it on patients after laser procedures. It’s water-resistant and adds a light tint to your skin, which is great for when you want to go sans makeup. I apply it after my moisturizer and before my makeup. Just be sure to reapply if you’re outdoors all day,” says Dr. Arielle Kauvar, M.D, a New York City-based dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology at Langone NYU Medical Center.
13. Olay Pro-X Anti-Aging Hydra Firming Cream, $27, Amazon
“This is the best anti-aging product in the drugstore! It addresses most concerns associated with premature aging of the skin including tone, texture, wrinkles and discoloration by containing the right combination of ingredients. This product has been evaluated in clinical trials — in fact, one study published in the British Journal of Dermatologyshowed that it was as effective as Renova, an FDA-approved prescription product for the treatment of wrinkles.
"Applied at night, it’s the perfect solution for those who want an effective anti-aging product in one jar,” says Dr. Diane S. Berson, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
14. ZO Skin Health Offects TE Pads Acne Pore Treatment, $62, ZO Skin Health
“Exfoliating the skin helps fight signs of aging by sloughing away dead skin cells that clog our pores, stimulating circulation and increasing cell renewal to help improve skin’s feel and texture. The glycolic acid found within this product acts as an epidermal exfoliant, while the botanical extract blend provides anti-irritant properties to soothe skin and reduce redness.
"I rinse and dry my face, then swipe a pad over my face until the pad is dry. You can use it twice a day unless you get dry, then limit application to once a day or every other day,” says Dr. Maria Garcia, M.D., a Florida-based dermatologist.
15. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, $34, Dermstore
“This sheer, tinted sunscreen goes on smooth and acts as a great, lightweight primer before makeup, smoothing out any skin imperfections. It's also a great product to use at the beach when you don't want to wear heavy concealer and foundation, but still want a little coverage,” says Dr. Sherry Ingraham, M.D., a Texas-based dermatologist.
16. Drunk Elephant Dayglow, $23, Sephora
“I started researching natural skin lines a few years ago when I was looking to replace my underperforming hydrating gel. That’s when I discovered this gel and serum combo. I was initially attracted to the hypoallergenic and non-toxic nature of these two products, but after I tested them, I was immediately drawn to their silky texture and smooth application — and their results.
"I apply the serum every morning — its powerful antioxidants brighten my complexion and help prevent UV and environmental damage. Then comes the gel, which contains hyaluronic acid, which gets ‘set’ over the smaller molecular nutrients and vitamins in the serum. The combination leaves my skin glowing, radiant and perfectly prepped for sunscreen, the final and most important step of my skin care routine,” says Dr. Jessica Weiser, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist.
17. Skin Medica Age Defense Retinol Complex 1.0, $93, Dermstore
“I swear by retinoids! Every dermatologist learns about this form of vitamin A in residency as part of our training. As an anti-ager, retinoids help soften wrinkles and lines and decrease pigmentation caused by the sun. But they also treat breakouts and stimulate collagen and elastin fibers. Want more? Retinoids can improve pigmentation issues, like brown spots and melasma, thanks to its exfoliating properties and they can shrink the size of your pores and give your skin a glow.
"Here’s how I use this product: I place some cream (about the size of 1-2 green peas) on my index finger and dab it on two places on my forehead, on my nose, each cheek and chin, before slowly rubbing the product into my skin in a large circular motion — first clockwise, then counterclockwise. Any product that's left on my fingers goes right to the backs of my hands for some anti-aging there,” says Dr. Gary Goldenberg, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
This article was originally published in April 2017 on TODAY.com.