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How a LA dermatologist would spend $75 on beauty products


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People in the beauty industry get tons of goods to test out, so when someone spends their own money on something that they’ve run out of, you know it’s good. In this series, we give beauty buffs $100, and ask them how they’d spend it on the best-of-the-best cosmetics from around the internet. 

Ever wish you had a derm BFF when your skin started freaking out? Annie Chiu, MD, the Hermosa Beach, California dermatologist behind the The Derm Institute, is pretty much that in the flesh. A scroll through her well-edited Instagramwhere she, in fact, calls herself the #DermBFFis pretty much the next best thing to having her on speed dial.

In her feed, she switches back and forth between in-office procedures and product recommendations to do things like boost collagen, squelch acne, and nix fine lines, hitting home that good skin starts by building a healthy regimen. No matter your age, background, or budget, Dr. Chiu has made it her mission to teach people the attainable steps to achieving glowing skin. BFF, indeed.

Keep scrolling to find out some of her favorites, all for under $100.

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Clinique vitamin C serum
Photo: Clinique

Clinique Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C 10%, $20

“This vitamin C formula is stable,” says Dr. Chiu. “So, it provides oxidative stress protection from sun damage, pollution, and other environmental stressors while performing double-duty as a skin brightening ingredient.”

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Laniege Water Bank Gel
Photo: Laniege

Laneige Water Bank Eye Gel, $36

“This is a great de-pufferc that works on all skin types,” says Dr. Chiu. “It’s paraben and phthalate-free, it helps eyes look more awake by diminishing the appearance of under-eye circles, and it adds hydration under the eyes [to diminish] fine lines and under eye wrinkles. Lastly, the gel formula doesn’t cause eye makeup to run.”

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Burt's Bees Lip Balm
Photo: Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm, $3

“Don’t forget your lips,” reminds Dr. Chiu. “Pomegranate oil provides antioxidants and smoothes lips, while coconut oil and beeswax seal in hydration. This keeps this lips smooth, soft, and hydrated. Plus, its sheer tint makes it a dual purpose product that is safe on the environment and easy on the wallet.”

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Differin Gel
Photo: Differin Gel

Differin .1 OTC Gel, $13

“It’s marketed for acne, but retinoids—its main active ingredient—are among the most well studied and proven anti-aging ingredients,” explains Dr. Chiu. “Most retinoids can be irritating, but this formula is much gentler and can be used on sensitive skin types. Also, unlike other retinoids, Differin is stable during the day or night.”

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Dove beauty bar
Photo: Dove

Dove White Beauty Bar, $1

“You don’t need to spend a lot on a cleanser,” admits Dr. Chiu. “This one is gentle, simple, effective, and budget friendly.”

Dr. Chiu isn’t alone in her pursuit to make good skin a reality for everyone reading this article. Dr. Engelman and Dr. Idriss are also have picks that won’t break the bank.

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