I’m a Dermatologist and These Are the Skin-Care Investment Products That Are Actually Worth It

There are two kinds of beauty shoppers: those who spend weeks ruminating on whether a new cleanser deserves a coveted spot in their routine, and those who impulse-buy and hope for the best.

But no matter which camp you fall into, you can probably relate to how frustrating it is when that new beauty gem fails to perform for your skin—especially if it wasn't cheap. To prevent this beauty betrayal, board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD, says those who fall into that first shopping personality are onto something (sorry, impulse buyers).

"It’s important to evaluate and investigate the active ingredients in each product and not simply choose a product based on its marketing, packaging, or promises."

"It’s important to evaluate and investigate the active ingredients in each product and not simply choose a product based on its marketing, packaging, or promises," Dr. Nazarian says.

But since researching skin-care ingredients can amount to a full-time job (hey, beauty editors), starting by shopping at a trusted retailer like Saks Fifth Avenue can save you time.

Even more helpful, Saks curates worth-their-salt clean beauty essentials without sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, hydroquinone, and more, so your ingredient research is automatically cut in half. And for the rest of the ingredients to look for, we asked Dr. Nazarian for her expert opinion on which types of beauty products are worth the splurge.

Let's cut right to the chase—these beauty products are worth the splurge, according to a dermatologist.

Pai Skincare Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil, $29-$49

There's a seemingly infinite number of cleansers on the market, but this gentle, oil-based one stands out, thanks to its star ingredient: rosehip oil. The oil has high amounts of linoleic acids (an omega-6 fatty acid) and is "incredibly hydrating and moisturizing to the skin," Dr. Nazarian says.

Hydration is a win for anyone with skin, but Dr. Nazarian specifically likes oil-based cleansers for people who usually wear makeup. "It’s the easiest way to remove product without scrubbing or irritating your skin," she says.

Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum, $300

If you're curious where to allocate the majority of your beauty budget, Dr. Nazarian suggests splurging on "products that have more potent ingredients with good delivery and absorption, such as serums and oils." Makes sense.

Consider a hyaluronic acid serum like this one, which combines a blend of hyaluronic molecules with purslane ("a great natural ingredient that comes from a wild plant that contains vitamin A and vitamin E," Dr. Nazarian says). "Hyaluronic acid can attract water and hydration and keep skin moisturized over time," she says. "As we age our skin is less capable of making and maintaining this natural substance, and as a result we appear dry and less youthful and 'plump.'"

Joanna Vargas Super Nova Serum, $295

BTW, "all ages can benefit from a serum," says Dr. Nazarian, "Whether it’s one that’s used to protect skin (such as those that contain antioxidants), or those that repair skin (with retinol), there’s a useful one for everyone and every skin concern."

If you're shopping for the latter, this next-level serum combines all the benefits of a traditional retinol with additional antioxidants and glow-boosting ingredients. To get all the benefits without any dryness, Dr. Nazarian recommends using a tiny amount two to three times a week, after application of a lightweight moisturizer. And don't forget your SPF!

Supergoop! Glow Screen Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40, $17-$36

Speaking of SPF, you've got to go for broad-spectrum and a minimum of SPF 30, Dr. Nazarian says, to ensure you're getting proper protection. Also important, Dr. Nazarian looks for sun-care products that are cosmetically elegant, meaning, it's got a nice texture, smell, and feel, so you'll want to apply it every day, no matter what.

"It's worth it for people to pay for a product that they enjoy applying and that feels really good on their skin, in all the ways that they subjectively may want it to feel," Dr. Nazarian says.  This one checks all of Dr. Nazarian's boxes, plus it contains niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3 that can help calm inflammation), and makes skin look extra-glowy.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask, $65

Dr. Nazarian's preference when it comes to face masks? Anti-inflammatory, calming, and ripe with antioxidants. For all-over glowy benefits, this mask leans on pomegranate enzymes, which according to Dr. Nazarian, are "basically a super antioxidant and used for conditioning skin because of their fatty acid concentration."

It also contains salicin (by way of white willow bark), "which has been shown in studies to have anti-aging benefits such as improving wrinkles and pore size," Dr. Nazarian says.

Codex Beauty Bia Eye Gel Cream, $65

Eye creams can be tricky since they often require long-term use to see results. As for Dr. Nazarian's rec: "I look for ingredients that increase collagen, improve skin texture, improve pigment, and brighten this area without causing irritation."

Thanks to aloe vera, this under-eye brightener is soothing and calming, while arnica oil reduces puffiness and amino acids help plump the skin. Need another reason to add to cart? This gel-based formula quickly absorbs, and on the days you wear eye makeup, it acts like a primer (no creasing or running in sight). And just like that, you're an informed, beauty-splurge enthusiast.

Top photo: Saks Fifth Avenue

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