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Dermatologists Share the Best Drugstore Skincare Products: "Anything More Is Not Necessary"

These are the non-negotiable parts of your morning routine.

The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

If your busy morning gets in the way of having a consistent skincare routine, you may be looking for a more pared-down plan. The great news? Most doctors agree that you can achieve glowing, healthy skin in a matter of minutes—and at a drugstore price point. In fact, Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and content creator with over 1.4 million followers, recently took to TikTok to share the four drugstore products that make up the "easiest, most effective, most affordable skincare routine."

"This is what you need at baseline. Anything more than that is extra and not absolutely necessary," she notes. Read on to learn which drugstore skincare products Zubritsky and other doctors recommend.

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Cetaphil Gentle Facial Cleanser

Cetaphil gentle facial cleanser

Choosing the right cleanser can make all the difference in your skincare routine. Harsh cleansers that strip the skin of moisture can interfere with its natural barrier function, making it more vulnerable to external threats such as chemicals, allergens, and infectious agents. That's why many dermatologists agree that it's crucial to start your morning routine with a cleanser that protects as it purifies.

"Every single morning you're going to start your skincare routine off with a very gentle or hydrating cleanser like this one from Cetaphil," Zubritsky says, endorsing the fragrance-free product, which is often recommended for people with sensitive skin.

At the time of writing, a 16-ounce bottle of the cleanser was $18.99 at Walgreens, on sale with a "buy one, get one 50 percent off" deal. Or, a 20-ounce bottle that normally costs $15.99 on Amazon was on sale for $13.97.

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Vitamin C Serum

Vanicream vitamin C serum

Zubritsky says that the second step is to apply an antioxidant serum, and she recommends a product that retails for about $35.

"This one from La Roche-Posay contains 10 percent vitamin C and salicylic acid—it's going to fight against free radicals with antioxidants and it's also going to help to brighten the skin. It pairs super well with sunscreen. Everyone needs an antioxidant in their morning routine," she says.

Shereene Idriss, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and an expert in facial rejuvenation, says that vitamin C is "everyone's favorite ingredient" and agrees that it's an important step in your daily routine.

In a recent TikTok post, she recommends Vanicream Vitamin C Serum for sensitive skin or Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Serum for a product that works "at the highest level of efficacy."

These drugstore skincare products retail for about $19 and $13, respectively.

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Neutrogena Hydroboost Moisturizer

Neutrogena Hydroboost Moisturizer

Perhaps a bit counterintuitively, wearing a daily lightweight moisturizer can help you avoid both skin dryness and oiliness by preserving your skin's natural moisture and balance.

Zubritsky notes that two of her favorites are from Neutrogena (roughly $15) and Bliss (about $28).

"They're really lightweight, they're gel-based, they're hydrating without being too heavy on the skin. And yes, you absolutely need to be moisturizing regardless of your skin type," she says.

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e.l.f. Suntouchable sunscreen

Finally, Zubritsky endorses sunscreen as the crucial last step in any basic skincare routine. "Every single morning routine needs to end up with SPF as your final step—no ifs, ands, or buts about it," she says.

The dermatologist adds that there are plenty of great options available at drugstores, so you don't have to overspend on this essential skincare.

"This invisible sunscreen from Elf is amazing. It's super affordable, it acts like a primer, it goes on invisible and doesn't leave a white cast," she shares. It's $14 at CVS.

"I also love this new daily face [sunscreen] from Sun Bum. It has a milky texture and kind of mimics that Korean sunscreen feel," she adds. This one is about $17 at CVS.

"If you're lazy and want to combine a step, try a moisturizer-SPF combo like this one from Eucerin," she says, holding up Eucerin's Immersive Hydration Daily Lotion (marked down to $19 on Amazon). "It's super hydrating, goes on really smooth with no white cast—a great option if you're short on time," the dermatologist adds.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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