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As someone who’s had sensitive and acne-prone skin for basically my entire existence, I trust my dermatologist with my life. She’s seen me through the greasy whitehead and blackhead phase in middle school, the cystic acne in high school and many recent bouts of hormonal adult acne (fun, right?).
While my skin has fluctuated throughout the last 15 years, one thing that’s never changed has been her tried-and-true product recommendations. The routine she established for me — and all of her clients — is so good that I’m probably going to name my first-born child after her. Oh, and it’s super affordable, and everything is available on Amazon. We love to see it.
Her trick for perfect healthy skin is super easy: Stick to a minimal routine filled with gentle and hydrating products. It’s a surefire way to get your best skin ever — besides, obviously, seeing a dermatologist of your own.
Step 1: Cleanse with a gentle cleanser
The first thing you need to do is throw out those grapefruit-scented cleansers filled with brightly colored microbeads and any harsh scrubs. They’re doing way more harm than good! Next, get yourself a gentle hydrating cleanser that’s fragrance-free to clean your face of any makeup, sweat and grime that has accumulated throughout the day.
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, $15.99
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Daily Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin, $8.22 (Orig. $8.77)
Step 2: Apply topical retinoids
Topical retinoids like retinol and tretinoin are not at all a requirement in your skin care routine, but they really are the GOAT when it comes to fighting acne, hyperpigmentation and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. While tretinoin requires a prescription, there are plenty of dermatologist-approved retinoids that are available over the counter.
Since retinoids are a very strong active ingredient, you should always consider consulting with a dermatologist before diving in. My derm recommends using a pea-sized amount for your entire face (yes, it’s enough) once a week for the first week, twice a week for the second week, three times a week for the third week and then every other day.
Acne Treatment Differin Gel, Retinoid Treatment, $14 (Orig. $14.99)
CeraVe Retinol Serum for Post-Acne Marks and Skin Texture, $16.40 (Orig. $17.99)
Step 3: Use a (very) simple moisturizer
While all skin can benefit from fragrance-free moisturizers packed with hydrating and restorative ingredients, this is especially true for acne-prone and sensitive skin types. Look for simple but powerful ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid and avoid moisturizers that use any exfoliating ingredients like lactic acid, salicylic acid or glycolic acid (unless your dermatologist says so!).
These three from CeraVe, La Roche-Posay and Neutrogena are Amazon best sellers for a reason: They work.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $17.78
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5, $14.99
Step 4: Top it off with SPF in the morning
Here’s the deal: You are wasting your money if you’re not following up your morning skin care routine with sunscreen. To prevent dangerous sun damage to your skin, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of at least 30. And no, the SPF in your moisturizer or foundation is not enough. Luckily, these two sunscreens blend like a dream, layer beautifully under makeup and don’t leave behind any white cast.
CeraVe Tinted Sunscreen with SPF 30, $13.97 (Orig. $15.99)
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