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A derm’s guide to shopping the buzziest skin-care ingredients at the drugstore


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Photo: Getty Images/Alto Frederic Cirou

Certain beauty ingredients have an aura of prestige surrounding them. Whether it’s due to their skin-boosting powers, love from celebs, or time in the trending spotlight, you just know when you hear them that they’re something you’ve gotta have in your beauty bag.

That’s not to say that you have to shell out serious money at beauty boutiques or department stores in order to get the retinols or vitamin C serums of the world—because your trusty drugstore has them, too. “I’ve been telling patients for years that there’s no reason why you can’t have an excellent, robust skin-care regimen that can address many of your cosmetic and a few of your medical needs (like acne or dandruff) from a drugstore,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, a New York-based dermatologist.

If you think that the buzzy skin-care ingredients need to be fancy in order to be effective, Dr. Fusco begs to differ. “Drugstore brands don’t have a lesser quality,” says Dr. Fusco.”Glycerin is glycerin, retinol is retinol—if there’s .01 percent retinol in a pricey product and the same amount in a drugstore one, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the expensive one is going to behave differently.”

Really, it all comes down to one major difference between your cheaper finds and brand name products: packaging. “Sometimes drugstore packaging just isn’t as sexy,” says Dr. Fusco. “And sometimes fragrance is a big part of it—sometimes pricier brands have a scent that people find attractive. Other than that I don’t see much more of a difference.” So there you have it—you  don’t need to be a big spender to have glowy skin. Here’s how to lock down your top beauty buys ingredient-by-ingredient.

Keep scrolling to shop the dermatologist-approved ingredient guide at the drugstore.

To round out your routine, here are the best drugstore mascaras and beauty products for your décolletage

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