When it comes to skin care, many people assume that higher price tags are associated with higher-quality, dermatologist-recommended formulas. In reality, you don’t have to peruse the shelves of luxury beauty retailers and skin-care counters of high-end department stores, nor do you have to spend upwards of $50 in order to find formulas that really work. Believe it or not, a simple trip to your local drugstore (or click over to Amazon) is all it takes to stock your vanity with top-rated, fan-favorite formulas.
Don’t believe us? We chatted with NYC-based cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green, MD, who revealed the five best Neutrogena products money can buy. Keep reading to find out what they are. (Jaw-dropping spoiler alert: not a single one costs more than $25.)
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Although cleansers are designed to be washed off, they can still greatly affect the look and feel of your complexion. With this in mind, Green says that gentle cleansers are great for everyone, but especially people with sensitive skin.
“This Neutrogena cleanser is a non-comedogenic product that cleanses away dirt, oil, and makeup from the skin without stripping away the skin’s natural oils,” she says, noting that glycerin is one of the main ingredients in this product, which is a type of moisturizing agent that pulls water into the outer layers of the skin from the air to leave your skin smooth and moisturized. The product is so gentle, it can even be used on eczema, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis.
Anyone prone to blemishes (or who’s dealing with marks from breakouts past) knows how difficult it can be to balance oily, acne-prone skin. Thankfully, Green says that this Neutrogena toner offers a solution. “Toner can be used as a secondary cleansing step after using a cleanser best suited for your skin,” she explains. “This toner contains chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid and glycolic acid, which are great for acne-prone skin.” Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), renowned for diving deep into the skin to dissolve the buildup of makeup, oil, dirt, and other bacteria. And glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that disrupts the bond between the dead skin cells and the outer layer of the skin, making it a more gentle exfoliant. With the two together, breakouts don’t stand a chance.
“Ingredients such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid help to deep cleanse pores to prevent future acne breakouts while exfoliating the top layer of dead skin cells to expose healthy, glowing skin,” says Dr. Green. One thing she wants you to keep in mind when using this formula? “It is important to note that AHAs and BHAs increase photosensitivity, so nighttime usage of chemical exfoliants and daily use of SPF 50 is highly recommended.”
If your goal is to find a more affordable but still highly effective anti-aging product, Green recommends this retinol-infused free cream. “Retinol is a form of vitamin A that, when applied topically, is converted by enzymes in the skin into retinoic acid,” Green explains. “Retinoic acid is clinically proven to improve lines and discoloration issues while also revitalizing the skin.”
According to Green, retinol is able to do this by stimulating collagen production, which improves blood flow, decreases pigmentation, and reduces acne and the appearance of wrinkles. What’s more, since this particular anti-aging retinol cream is fragrance-free, Green says that it’s a great option for those with sensitive skin. And since it’s formulated with hyaluronic acid, it helps to boost skin’s hydration and strengthen the moisture barrier, too.
There’s a common misconception that folks with dry skin can only benefit from incredibly heavy, ointment-like moisturizers. On the contrary, well-formulated gel creams can be just as, if not even more, effective. “Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan that is naturally found throughout the body’s connective tissue,” Green explains. “It helps to maintain the skin’s natural protective barrier by restoring moisture to the skin at every level. Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, and it aids in moisturizing by holding water molecules onto the surface of the skin.”
In addition to helping to hydrate your skin, incorporating the ingredient into your daily skin-care routine via this gel cream can help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by enhancing the skin’s moisture content.
No matter the weather—sunshine, rain, or snow—sunscreen is a daily essential. “Sunscreen is an important step in any skincare routine as it helps protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can cause cancer, discoloration, and wrinkles over time,” says Green. “Zinc oxide, the primary ingredient in Neutrogena’s sunscreen, works by scattering the UV radiation.” She goes on to explain that sunscreens with zinc oxide are considered physical sunscreens because they sit on the skin and physically block the sun rays.
Check out the video below to see which other derm-approved products are worth adding to your drugstore haul.
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