- An effective skin care routine can be both uncomplicated and affordable.
- There are a wide variety of over-the-counter products for you to choose from.
- Specific concerns can be dealt with by simply adding another product to your skin care regimen.
Are you looking for an inexpensive, easy-to-follow skincare routine? Does the plethora of choices online or at your local drugstore leave you feeling overwhelmed or uninspired?
A healthy skin care routine doesn’t need to be complex or cost an arm and a leg. A basic routine only requires three essential products: a skin cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen — all available at reasonable prices.
No need to waste your time wading through dubious online reviews and deciphering cryptic product ingredients — we spoke with five dermatologists to find out which products they recommend to their patients. Here are their top picks.
Dr. Gary Goldenberg is a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist, and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Dr. Kristina Goldenberg is a board-certified dermatologist with extensive training in medical and cosmetic dermatology. Together with her husband, the duo combines their expertise to provide comprehensive medical and cosmetic dermatology care to their patients in New York City.
Dr. Kathleen L. Behr is a board-certified dermatologist in Fresno, CA. Dr. Behr specializes in dermatologic surgery, including Mohs micrographic surgery, cosmetic dermatology, and laser therapy.
Dr. Fayne Frey is the founder of FryFace.com, the nation’s first skincare information and product selection service. A New York-based board-certified dermatologist for more than 25 years, she has made it her mission to clarify and simplify cosmetic choices for consumers.
Dr. Bobby Buka is a board-certified dermatologist in New York City who has a wealth of dermatologic experience in both cosmetic and medical treatments. Dr. Buka is renowned for combining his cutting-edge dermatology practice with the intimacy of a down-to-earth, neighborhood doctor.
Affordable skin cleansers
Cleansers are used to remove makeup, dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and other types of impurities from the face. They help to unclog pores and prevent skin conditions such as acne.
Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Mild
This product is a gentle cleanser that works wonders for those with sensitive skin. Dr. Gary Goldenberg recommends using lukewarm water to wet skin and then work the cleanser in a clockwise and then counterclockwise direction. “Then use a soft washcloth and lukewarm water to wash off the product. Remember to treat skin gently and not scrub.”
Neutrogena Deep Clean Purifying Hydrating Hydrogel Mask
This two-in-one facial cleanser and face mask targets impurities while helping to preserve skin’s essential moisture. ”The foaming cleanser, which contains clay in the ingredients, is a great scrub for acne-prone skin,” explains Dr. Kristina Goldenberg.
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansers
A mild, soap-free formula, this product cleanses without irritation, while preserving the skin’s organic protective oils and natural pH. Dr. Kristina Goldberg says, “Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is a staple. It is inexpensive and works well with all skin types, but is especially useful for dry and sensitive skin.”
Pond’s Cleanser, Cucumber
This product is infused with cucumber. Its deep cleansing formula removes makeup and debris, leaving skin feeling clean and refreshed — never taut or dry. Dr. Kristina Goldenberg assures, “Pond’s cleanser is hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested, and is suitable for all skin types.”
Eucerin Gentle Hydrating Cleanser for Face & Body
A gentle cleanser, this product nourishes dry or sensitive skin with a moisture-rich lather. Once rinsed off, it leaves your skin feeling soft, refreshed, and free of soapy residue. “This hydrating cleanser is fragrance-free and will not irritate dry, sensitive skin,” says Dr. Frey.
SkinCeuticals Simply Clean
This cleanser gently exfoliates dead skin cells and is ideal for combination or oily skin. It removes excess oil and makeup, and clarifies the skin while smoothing out rough surfaces. “Simply Clean contains botanical extracts like chamomile and aloe to help soothe and heal, and leave skin feeling pure and fresh,” explains Dr. Behr.
FAB First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
“I always sing the praises of FAB First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads,” notes Dr. Buka. “These pads can be used daily, and contain just the right amount of glycolic acid to safely and effectively exfoliate, tone, and brighten all skin types — including sensitive.”
Dry skin can exacerbate wrinkles by deepening the appearance of lines while making the skin appear waxy and dull.
Moisturizers help replenish, hydrate and plump the skin’s deeper layers. They also smooth away fine lines, slow moisture loss, and protect skin from environmental irritations such as harsh wind and dry climates.
Water tends to evaporate from the skin’s surface into the environment. When used properly, effective moisturizers prevent this water loss, resulting in skin that appears more hydrated and healthy.
DermaTopix Ultra Lite Moisture Dew Cream
This sheer, oil-free cream utilises pure aloe vera. It is ideal for oily or sensitive skin types and those in need of a daily lightweight moisturizer; it soothes skin and helps to restore its natural moisture balance. Dr. Behr says, “It is an elegant moisturizer with an exclusive blend of lipids and marine extracts.”
Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid
This lightweight, oil-free moisturizer with hyaluronic acid provides instant hydration to skin, locking in moisture to protect your skin from dryness. “Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion with Hyaluronic Acid is an oil-free moisturizer that absorbs quickly. This product is fragrance-free and dermatologist-tested,” says Dr. Frey.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture, Combination Skin
This moisturizer is oil and fragrance-free, and is marketed toward combination skin types. Dr. Frey says this lightweight, dual-action formula moisturizes dry areas while it controls oily shine. “It leaves you with softer, smoother skin and a natural matte finish that lasts all day.”
Olay Active Hydrating Facial Cream Original
Dr. Frey also recommends this facial cream, saying “Its light, non-greasy formula moisturizes and hydrates skin while helping to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
Sunscreen on a budget
When it comes to protecting yourself from the sun, the best defense is a good offense. Applying a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher every day will protect your skin against collagen-damaging UV rays.
Keep in mind the sun can penetrate through clouds, rain, and even windows. That is why dermatologists recommend patients apply a sunscreen every day — regardless of weather conditions — to protect their skin from premature wrinkling, skin rashes, and skin cancer.
Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 35
This sunscreen is formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and is oil and fragrance-free. Dr. Frey describes it as a physical block sunscreen that is a superb choice for individuals who frequently participate in outdoor activities.
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50
Dr. Frey also recommends this broad spectrum sunscreen. “It is a lightweight formulation that is oil-free and fragrance-free.”
Building upon the basics
Once you’ve implemented these basic products into your skin care regime, you can then begin adding a few more products to deal with specific skin concerns, such as acne or aging.
If you have issues with eczema, rosacea, or severe acne, make an appointment with a dermatologist who can help you to develop a skin care routine that is best-suited for you.
» For more advice on skin care products, consult our medical review team.