Who says you have to blow the budget for really effective skin care? These derm-backed product picks prove you definitely don’t.
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If she were stuck on a deserted island, New York dermatologist Heidi A. Waldorf, MD would want sunscreen and Vaseline. “My number-one skin care product under $10 is Vaseline petroleum jelly ($4). It can be used as a moisturizer, lip balm, makeup remover, wound dressing, blister blocker, and cuticle softener. And it’s just petrolatum—there’s no lanolin—so anyone can use it.”
New York dermatologist Jody A. Levine, MD agrees: “It’s amazing for moisturizing the skin, for taking off makeup and for use on scrapes or cuts to hasten healing—assuming antibiotic activity is not needed.”
Louisville, KY dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis, MD says her pick helps anyone say good-bye to dry lips—simply: “Dr. Dan’s Lip Balm ($6.50) is a must! Who doesn’t always want to be kissable?”
While Santa Monica, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD readily admits to a very real “the toner debate,” taking place, she backs the use of Bioré Witch Hazel Pore Clarifying Toner ($8). “Astringents and toners have gotten a negative reputation, but oily skin often needs the benefits of some of the ‘drying”; properties of toner such as witch hazel to keep excess sebum at bay.
For those who are blemish-prone or have an oily skin, using this witch hazel with salicylic acid is a great mix. It is a basic blend, but it gets the job done to soothe and calm skin, all while reducing inflammation.”
Spokane, WA dermatologist Wm. Philip Werschler, MD and his wife, Pam, love this Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum product. “It’s organic, there’s nothing synthetic, there’s no parabens and it’s unscented,” they say, recommending that you try patting it over the top of an eye cream or hands every night. “It soaks right in and the best part is that it runs about $4 on Amazon and we pay $5 at the health-food store here in Spokane!”
“The wonderful thing about skin care is that, sometimes, effectiveness can come in very inexpensive packages,” Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. Honet, MD succinctly says (she’s a fan of Aquaphor and the slightly-above $10 pick of CeraVe Moisturizing Cream). “Since self-care has been on everyone’s radar, I absolutely adore Seche Vite ($10) as a top coat for nails. It gives a beautiful shine and dries nails fast, and also can extend the life of your manicure and keeps it looking fresh.”
“Vanicream is a wonderful line developed for sensitive skin and eczema, formulated free of dyes, fragrance, masking fragrance, lanolin, parabens, and formaldehyde. The CREAM (not the lotion) is particularly hydrating and emollient. I use it myself,” says Campbell, CA dermatologist Amelia K. Hausauer, MD, who adds that the 4-ounce tube is usually around $7, but if you want the huge, one-pound tub, that’s less than $15.
A second must from Dr. Hausauer: The Cetaphil Baby line. “Most of the products are less than $10 and the range helps restore the skin’s barrier function, while keeping it hydrated and moist.”
“Aquaphor ointment is a great inexpensive topical,” says Greenwich, CT dermatologist Lynne Haven, MD. “It is useful for chapped lips, superficial abrasions, eczema, and after certain laser procedures.” Greenwich, CT dermatologist Kim Nichols, MD also gives the product an A-plus—especially during this time of year. “Whether in a tube or a container, this is a must-have for lips, dry patches, feet and hands! It both hydrates and soothes chapped skin from the winter.”
It took five years of testing and 54 different prototypes, but Omaha, NE, dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD, and his son, Daniel, developed the $10 FixMySkin 1% Hydrocortisone Lip Balm after wondering why regular lip balms didn’t work on dry skin on the body (VERY good question). “This product is a great product for dry lips and other areas of the body, especially during these cold, winter months,” Dr. Schlessinger says. “The beauty of it is that it contains essential oils and no petrolatum, so it glides on easily and coats the lips nicely without the bitter taste of petrolatum. It works on many conditions, ranging from eczema to psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis and is particularly great for lips that are dry from medications such as Accutane.”
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