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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 less than $20! According to TODAY Style's experts, all of them will leave you with younger, fresher-looking skin.
Anti-aging serums and retinols
1. VI Derm Clear HQ Free, $39, Walmart
“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,” said Dr. Dina Strachan, a New York City-based dermatologist.
2. Avon Anew Clinical Line Eraser with Retinol, $13, Amazon
“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," said Dr. Kim Nichols, a Connecticut-based dermatologist.
"Two things to remember when using a retinol: 1) Always use with a moisturizer and 2) less is more. You only need a penny size for your whole face at night.”
3. Drunk Elephant Rise + Glow Duo, $23, Amazon
“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 nontoxic nature of these two products, but after I tested them, I was immediately drawn to their silky texture and smooth application — and their results," said Dr. Jessica Weiser, a New York City-based dermatologist.
"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.”
4. Skin Medica Age Defense Retinol Complex, $93, Amazon
“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," said Dr. Gary Goldenberg, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
"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 my forehead, my nose, each cheek and my 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.”
Anti-aging face moisturizers
1. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Extra-Dry Skin, $17 (usually $19), Amazon
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“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," said Dr. Rachel Nazarian, assistant clinical professor at The Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Dermatology.
"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 that I apply nightly. Bonus: Its hydrating properties curb the irritation caused by retinols," she continued.
"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."
2. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15, $14, Walmart
“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," said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research, Department of Dermatology, The Mount Sinai Hospital.
"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.”
3. Eucerin Daily Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Moisturizing Face Lotion, $8, 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,” said Dr. Sonia Badreshia, clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco.
4. Olay Professional ProX Hydra Firming Cream Anti Aging, $33, 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 Dermatology showed that it was as effective as Renova (an FDA-approved prescription product for the treatment of wrinkles)," said Dr. Diane S. Berson, associate clinical professor of dermatology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
"Applied at night, it’s the perfect solution for those who want an effective anti-aging product in one jar.”
1. EltaMD UV Physical Tinted Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 41, $31, Amazon
“Sunscreen is the most important anti-aging product because the sun is responsible for 90% 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,” said Dr. Arielle Kauvar, a New York City-based dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology at Langone NYU Medical Center.
2. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50, $42, Amazon
“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,” said Dr. Sherry Ingraham, a Texas-based dermatologist.
Anti-aging face scrub
Avalon Organics Brilliant Balance Lavender Enzyme Scrub, $12 (usually $17), Walmart
“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,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, assistant clinical professor, Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center.
Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer, $7 (usually $9), 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," said Dr. Michelle Henry, a clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
"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.”
Anti-aging eye mask
Slip For Beauty Sleep 'Slipsilk' Pure Silk Sleep Mask, $47, Amazon
“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," explained Dr. Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles-based dermatologist.
"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!”
This article was originally published April 17, 2017 on TODAY.com.
For more beauty buys, check out:
- Our complete A-to-Z skin care glossary
- 19 drugstore moisturizers that beauty editors can't live without
- 16 face washes to help curb pesky breakouts