Shop at a Drugstore for Skin Care with a Board-Certified Dermatologist

Today, I take you on a trip to CVS and outline the best over the counter skincare options that are both affordable and natural. My goal is to identify the best inexpensive skincare products that have great effects.

Medical grade products can get really expensive if they fill your full routine. There are some great drugstore alternative products on the market that utilize the same active ingredients at a fraction of the cost. These are the most useful active ingredients to look for in drugstore products:

  • Adapalene cream for acne and anti-aging
  • Glycolic Acid for acne and dark spots
  • Retinol and Pro-retinol cream and eye cream for anti-aging
  • Charcoal masks, peels, and cleansers for detox and anti-inflammatory
  • Benzoyl peroxide 5% or LESS (in my opinion better than glycolic and salicylic acid) for acne
  • Hyaluronic acid for dry skin and hydration
  • Ammonium lactate (AmLactin) for body anti-aging
  • Colloidal oatmeal for body hydration
  • Niacinamide for eye and face anti-aging cream
  • Zinc or Titanium 8% or higher for sunscreen

Myths Debunked

It’s important to understand the myth of Hyaluronic Acid and Parabens. 

Hyaluronic Acid is great for making the skin feel softer but it’s too big of a molecule to get through the epidermis, so it sits on top of the skin which causes the skin to feel soft. This is both a blessing and a curse because this makes the skin feel hydrated.

Also, there is no reason to be afraid of parabens unless you are allergic, you don’t have to buy into the hype of “paraben-free.” Next, I review Neutrogena Triple Age Repair. This product makes the claim, “Improves the look of wrinkles, uneven tone, and firmness.” This is hard to believe without any medical grade or active ingredients.

A few other tips and tricks: 

  • Use medical-grade Vitamin C products so you know you are getting high-quality vitamin c. 
  • Products with grape seed extract can be beneficial. 
  • Common ingredients like lavender and blackberry extracts can be brightening but also irritating for the skin. 
  • Be careful with peel-off masks because when you rip them off they can stretch out the skin and cause wrinkles in the long term. 

To get even more specific, when shopping at a store like CVS: 

  • For anti-aging products, look for retinol as an ingredient or retinol derivatives. 
  • For sunscreens make sure to purchase options with minerals. 
  • For acne washes and masks, look for Benzoyl Peroxide at 5% or less.
  • For detox and purifying products, make sure charcoal is an included ingredient. 

While I prefer medical-grade products that have gone through board certification and trials, there are alternatives that contain good active ingredients in products that are “on a budget.”