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20 Dermatologist-Approved Skin Care Finds Under $20

20 Dermatologist-Approved Skin Care Finds Under $20 featured image
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It sure seems like we’re living in a golden age of effective, affordable skin care. The evidence? While on the hunt for budget-friendly, dermatologist-recommended options, I noticed I suddenly had no less than two dozen tabs open on my laptop filled with $20-and-under products that had glowing reviews straight from the experts. To organize these top-rated products and the derms who love them, keep reading.

20 Affordable Skin Care Products Derms Love That Won’t Cost You More Than $20

1 / 20

Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer ($15)

Looking for a true fragrance-free moisturizer? Nanuet, NY dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD has a pick that’ll soothe even the most sensitive skin types.

“Note that even ‘fragrance free’ products often contain ‘masking fragrance’, an undetectable fragrance that masks the smell of the underlying ingredients, and many patients with a true fragrance allergy can’t tolerate a masking fragrance,” Dr. Waldorf explains. “The Vanicream line of products is my go-to for those patients. I particularly like this moisturizer, but the line also has cleansers, body lotions, sunscreens, shampoos and conditioners.”

BUY ON AMAZON – $15

BUY ON TARGET – $17

2 / 20

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($17)

“[CeraVe‘s Moisturizing Cream] is a nice budget-friendly hydrating moisturizer with ingredients including hyaluronic acid and ceramides that help to hydrate the skin and protect it from external damage by strengthening its barrier function. These ingredients help make older, drier skin look better by hydrating and plumping it up,” says Boston facial plastic surgeon Jaimie DeRosa, MD.

New York dermatologist Shari Marchbein, MD, calls it a favorite because “as someone who has both acne and eczema” it’s “hypoallergenic and fragrance-free and contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid.”

“I am a big fan of ceramides as an essential component to a moisturizer and prefer a cream over a lotion for treating dry skin,” says New York dermatologist Jody Levine, MD.

Davie, FL dermatologist Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD counts CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream as one of the products she’s “sworn by” for over 10 years “to protect and reinforce the skin barrier.”

BUY ON AMAZON – $19.50

BUY ON TARGET – $17

3 / 20

Dove Soothing Relief Body Wash ($10)

“This fragrance-free body wash is good for sensitive skin, as the creamy formula works to nourish the skin while also cleansing,” says New York dermatologist Marisa K. Garshick, MD. “It’s sulfate-free and has the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, making it a good option for those with eczema-prone skin, too.”

BUY ON AMAZON – $10

BUY ON CVS – $10

4 / 20

Neutrogena Stubborn Acne Ultra-Thin Patches ($8)

Affordable and non-irritating, these patches are a go-to for West Palm Beach dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD. They adhere seamlessly to your skin, targeting stubborn pimples while minimizing irritation. “They are priced well and effective without causing unnecessary discomfort,” he adds.

BUY ON AMAZON – $8

BUY ON TARGET – $10

5 / 20

The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (starting at $7)

Straightforward ingredients are the ethos behind the beauty editor- and influencer-loved brand The Ordinary. It also has the seal of approval from dermatologists. Washington, D.C. dermatologist Farhaad Riyaz, MD recommends the Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (hyaluronic acid) moisturizer.

“It’s a hydrating, nongreasy option for dryness that layers well with serums. It contains plant-based NMFs (natural moisturizing factors) such as amino acids, dermal lipids, saccharides and hyaluronic acid, which provide lightweight moisturization.”

BUY ON ULTA – $7

BUY ON SEPHORA – $7

6 / 20

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser ($17)

“I love this cleanser because it’s so gentle, but cleans the skin effectively. It’s a milky, non-foaming cleanser that can easily be wiped off instead of rinsed off without leaving any residue. Great for all skin types, especially dry and sensitive skin,” says East Greenwich, RI dermatologist Caroline Chang, MD.

BUY ON AMAZON – $17

BUY ON ULTA – $20

LaRochePosay TolerianeHydratingGentle
7 / 20

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Itch Relief Balm ($20)

Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda C. Honet, MD recommends this Aveeno balm because it “contains ceramides” with the “added benefit of colloidal oatmeal to help with itching and inflammation. I use this when my skin needs extra barrier protection overnight with intense moisturization,” she explains.

BUY NOW – $20

8 / 20

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($15)

“I recommend this for my patients with normal or dry sensitive skin on their face,” says Glenn Dale, MD dermatologist Valerie Callender, MD.

BUY ON AMAZON – $15

BUY ON TARGET – $17

9 / 20

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream ($16)

Another top-recommended moisturizing cream comes from drugstore favorite, Cetaphil. “This moisturizing cream is rich and goes onto skin so smooth,” says Dallas dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, MD. “I love it as a body moisturizer and recommend applying it within three minutes after getting out of the shower for best results. It absorbs quickly and hydrates completely!”

“This is a great option for patients who have dry skin all over their body,” notes Dr. Callender.

“Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream is a great all-around moisturizer for body, hands and feet,” adds Rochester, NY dermatologist Lesley Loss, MD.

BUY NOW – $16

10 / 20

Lipikar Baume AP+M Triple Repair Moisturizing Cream ($20)

Dr. Waldorf says she uses this everything moisturizer on both face and body. “With shea butter, glycerin and niacinamide, it calms, pulls in moisture and seals it in.”

BUY ON ULTA – $20

BUY ON CVS – $20

11 / 20

CeraVe SA Lotion for Rough & Bumpy Skin ($20)

Containing the gentle exfoliating power of salicylic acid, this moisturizer is perfect for softening rough, dry skin. Perfect for sensitive skin, this moisturizer delivers exfoliation without the abrasive damage physical exfoliators can cause. The combination of gentle exfoliation and powerful moisture is topped off by niacinamide to calm irritation.

Dr. Waldorf likes it for “particularly scaly, dry skin…to help exfoliate and moisturize,” while New York dermatologist Libby Rhee, MD recommends it for back acne, or “bacne,” scars. Fellow New York dermatologist Elaine Kung, MD and Dr. Loss both say it’s a top pick for the knees and elbows. The salicylic acid “softens these rough areas of skin,” explains to Dr. Loss.

BUY ON AMAZON – $20

BUY ON TARGET – $20

12 / 20

Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch Nose ($17)

Ideal for treating acne on the nose, this patch uses absorption instead of adhesion, reducing skin irritation. Dr. Waldorf prefers it over traditional nose strips. “It works by absorbing, not by sticking, so there’s less risk of irritation,” she explains.

BUY ON HERO – $18

BUY ON AMAZON – $17

13 / 20

RoC Retinol Correction Deep Wrinkle Night Cream ($20)

Dr. Loss calls this a “great drugstore retinol.” According to the brand, it reduces the appearance of deep wrinkles by up to 50 percent while you sleep and is clinically proven to make skin look 10 years younger by fading dark spots, evening skin tone and visibly firming and lifting sagging skin.

BUY NOW – $20

14 / 20

Vichy Minéral 89 Face Serum with Hyaluronic Acid ($20)

“I like the Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Serum,” says Chicago dermatologist Jordan C. Carqueville, MD. “It moisturizes the skin using a hyaluronic acid, is fragrance-free and acceptable for sensitive skin.”

BUY NOW – $20

15 / 20

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Anti-Aging Serum ($17)

“I like the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum, which has retinol and hyaluronic acid,” says Dr. Chang. “This mild retinol is easy to tolerate and the HA helps to hydrate.”

BUY NOW – $17

16 / 20

Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Face Sheer Tint ($17)

Calling it his “travel go-to,” Phoenix, AZ dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal praises this affordable mineral sunscreen for “giving a great vacation glow” with a light tint. “It’s also safe for all skin types.”

BUY ON ULTA – $17

BUY ON TARGET – $17

17 / 20

Vaseline Lip Therapy ($3)

According to Dr. Callender, Vaseline Lip Therapy ($2) is the best solution for dry, chapped lips, which is great news because it also happens to be one of the cheapest.

BUY ON TARGET – $3

BUY ON AMAZON – $9 FOR 3 PACK

Vaseline
18 / 20

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($13)

Dr. Loss suggests Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser for morning and night cleansing. “It’s gentle if you have sensitive skin and gets the job done.”

BUY ON AMAZON – $13

BUY ON TARGET – $13

Award Photo: Gentle Skin Cleanser
Award Photo: Gentle Skin Cleanser
19 / 20

Cetaphil Sheer Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50 ($12)

Recommended by Aventura, FL dermatologist Bertha Baum, MD for acne-prone skin, this 100 percent mineral sunscreen has a non-greasy formula that won’t leave a residue on skin. This chemical-free sunscreen is water resistant for up to 80 minutes and perfect for sensitive skin.

BUY ON AMAZON – $12

BUY ON TARGET – $13

20 / 20

FixMySkin 1% Hydrocortisone Healing Lip Balm ($14)

Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD says this is his “number-one must-have affordable product.” It “soothes and heals skin irritations from eczema, bug bites, seborrheic dermatitis, poison ivy, chapped dry skin and allergic reactions.” He says everyone, from kids to seniors, can benefit from this easy-to-apply balm.

BUY NOW – $14

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