Quality skin care has a hard-to-kick reputation for being pricey. And fair: It’s totally possible to empty your wallet on extravagant formulas. However, dermatologists are quick to tell you that many drugstore diamonds are just as worthy of being in your makeup bag as the luxury products that star in shelfies. To prove it, we asked derms to design a full skin-care regimen for under—wait for it—$30 bucks.
Of course, your skin and my skin aren’t the same, but Mamina Turegano, MD, a dermatologist with Apostrophe, says that all skin types can benefit from using a certain three products. “Everyone benefits from a daily cleanser, sunscreen, and moisturizer,” she says. “Daily cleansing gets rid of the build-up of pollutants and toxins that the skin is exposed to on a daily basis.” And bonus points: Many moisturizers contain SPF, which means that so long as you’re applying enough of the formula, you can combine two steps into one.
To get a little more specific about the needs of your particular complexion, we asked Maggie Kober, MD, Joshua Zeichner, MD, and Dr. Turegano to use their imaginations to formulate five inexpensive routines fit for those with dry, oily, normal, sensitive, and combination skin. Here, the $30 affordable skin-care routine you need for your skin type.
For dry skin, go with $30 worth of hydration
Dr. Turegano says that those with dry skin should remember one word: moisture. “When it comes to cleansers, I recommend products that can hydrate,” she says. “I tend to recommend thicker and hydrating moisturizing ingredients in sunscreens and moisturizers.” Stick to cream or balm cleansers and make sure to top them off with moisture-binding ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
Shop: The Ordinary Squalene Cleanser ($8) and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream with Hyaluronic Acid ($22)
For oily skin, go with light-as-air products
“Oily skin can be prone to acne breakouts. Removing all makeup and avoiding heavy ointments and creams is an important part of preventing breakouts,” says Dr. Kober. Also, it goes without saying, but those with oily skin should abso-freaking-lutely be wearing just as much sunscreen as anyone else. Despite hear-say that SPF can clog your pores and bring on breakouts, dermatologists agree that those who experience acne can use formulas that work with their skin to keep it protected, without provoking a breakout. Opt for physical blockers such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in your SPF formula.
For balanced skin, go mild
Dr. Zeichner says that those with skin that isn’t too oily or too dry, should more or less use the mildest products they have access to—with the addition of an inexpensive retinol if you’re willing to spend a little more than $30. “If you have normal skin, look for a gentle cleanser to remove dirt and oil without disrupting the skin barrier,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Shop: BioClarity Cleanse ($15) and Burt’s Bees Daily Face Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin ($12)
For sensitive skin, stick to no-fuss formulas
Fellow sensitive skin friends, raise your hands! Dr. Zeichner says that even your dramatic complexions can benefit from inexpensive beauty products without it throwing a fit. At night, he recommends focusing on repairing skin from the daily aggressors that have taken place overnight. “At night, a moisturizer like CeraVe p.m. helps repair the skin barrier with ceramides and delivers niacinamide to help brighten the complexion,” he says.
For combination skin, skin care is a little bit of this and a little bit of that
Those with combo skin have to be a little bit more thoughtful about what goes on their face, says Dr. Kober, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. “Combination skin requires a balancing act. The T-zone commonly is the area that becomes shiny and oily,” she adds—so play close attention to that area. You can use products from above on the oilier parts of your skin and spot treat the dry parts, or look for these formulas, which can help balance skin and keep it well functioning all around.
Shop: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser ($15) and e.l.f. Cosmetics SuperHydrate Moisturizer ($12)
BTW: Here are the best-of-the-best dermatologist-approved beauty products from our Dear Derm star Mona Gohara, MD.
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