Here’s How Dermatologists Would Spend Their Sephora Gift Cards. And Spoilers: Everything Is On Sale

Photo: Getty/The Good Brigade
Now that the holidays have come and gone, you probably have a bunch of gifts you love and some that you...don't. Gift cards fall into that first category, especially if they're from Sephora because you can basically go shopping with someone else's money. And there's no better time to stock up on some new beauty and skin-care products than now when so many former "stocking stuffers" are on sale.

Sephora has hundreds of products you can get at great prices. If you don't know where to start, we've done the legwork for you and asked dermatologists to share their picks that are as good as in-office options. Good skin is straight ahead (and from the comfort of your home).

Best Sephora Products, According to Dermatologists

Clinique Shut Eye Essentials Set
Clinique Shut Eye Essentials Set — $11.00

Originally $15, on sale for $10.50

No matter how much you want to jump into bed, it’s important to make sure you remove all your makeup, both for the sake of your skin and your pillowcase. This set includes micellar cleansing towelettes, a cleansing balm for your eyes, and an eye cream to make sure you head off to dreamland with a fresh, clean face.

Says board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian MD FAAD, the Clinique set is a gentle way to remove makeup and clean skin at night. And the eye cream tackles so many eye issues at once: “caffeine to decrease puffiness, green tea and olive extract to fight free radicals damage and minimize premature aging, and fatty acids to hydrate and improve moisture.”

Sephora Collection Triple Action Cleansing Water
Sephora Collection Triple Action Cleansing Water — $8.00

Originally $12, on sale for $8

Remove your makeup without having to use aggressive scrubbing or leaving behind raccoon eyes from stubborn mascara. This cleansing water helps take off all the day’s dirt and makeup of your face gently and effectively, and requires no rinsing afterward. “I’ve always loved and used micellar water as a facial cleanser,” says Jeannette Graf, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “Instead of using makeup remover wipes which can be slightly harsher to the skin, using micellar water applied to soft cotton pads and wiped over the skin is able to gently and effectively remove excess oil and dirt without stripping the skin of the important moisture barrier.”

Murad Renewal at Home With Murad
Murad Renewal at Home With Murad — $60.00

Originally $86, on sale for $60

This four-piece Murad set is packed with anti-aging and hydrating ingredients like retinol and hyaluronic acid to help reduce fine lines and keep your skin looking as young as you feel. It includes travel-size versions of cleansing cream, serum, eye serum, and night cream.

“Retinol is perhaps the all-time best-studied ingredient to address aging skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “It stimulates the production of collagen to strengthen the skin’s foundation and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I recommend it to all of my patients. You just need to be careful because it can cause irritation if you apply too much or if you apply it too frequently. Stick to every other day or even every two days as you adjust over the first few weeks.”

Note: This item was so popular at Sephora that it sold out. We’re providing an alternate way to buy.

Experts In This Article

tarte Pout Prep Lip Exfoliant
Tarte Pout Prep Lip Exfoliant — $8.00

Originally $16, on sale for $8

Our faces need exfoliating every now and then, and that includes the lips. This lip scrub has raw sugar granules to slow away dead skin and maracuja and shea butter to hydrate so you’re ready to show off your best pout.​

Mona A. Gohara, MD, a dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine adds, “I like a mechanical grit for lip exfoliants. This is a perfect way to smooth out the lips minimizing lines while optimizing shine.”

Note: This item was so popular at Sephora that it sold out. We’re providing an alternate way to buy.


Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Brightening Serum
Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Brightening Serum — $45.00

Originally $69, on sale for $45

Brighten up your skin with this serum, which can help even out skin tone and reduce the look of wrinkles. You can use it on your face, eyes, and lips, making it a versatile product for all skin types.

Dr. Zeichner says vitamin C is a powerful ingredient to fight aging skin because it puts out inflammation in the skin from environmental causes (e.g. UV light and pollution), blocks the production of abnormal pigment to brighten dark spots, and is essential in producing collagen and helping supporting skin cell function. The form of vitamin C in this serum is Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THD Ascorbate), which he says “is perhaps the most stable form of Vitamin C on the market, as it resists oxidation and degradation. Plus, it is often less irritating than pure ascorbic acid.”

Note: This item was so popular at Sephora that it sold out. We’re providing an alternate way to buy.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Magic Kit
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Magic Kit — $43.00

Originally $49, on sale for $43

Not only is watermelon refreshing and delicious, but it’s great for your skin too. This Glow Recipe kit includes a trio of hydrating watermelon ingredients, including a facial mask, toner, and dew drops. The products contain niacinamide to brighten skin, poly-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids to exfoliate and refine pores.

“Polyhydroxy acids are the best-kept secret in skin care,” says Dr. Zeichner. They’re exfoliating but more gentle on the skin than other acids like glycolic acid, so they can be used even by people with sensitive skin. “If you are driving cross country, you’ll still make it to California from New York, it will just take you longer than flying. In this scenario, glycolic acid is like flying and poly-hydroxy acids are like driving,” he says.

Note: This item was so popular at Sephora that it sold out. We’re providing an alternate way to buy.

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