The Only 3 Skincare Brands Worth Buying, According to a Top Dermatologist

dermatologist-approved skincare brands: woman with clear skin

To say that the skincare market is overwhelming is an understatement, right? Even your local supermarket leaves you faced with a stress-inducing plethora of products that all promise great skin. We’re forever on a quest to trial new formulas and give you the best beauty advice, but even we can feel somewhat floored by the sheer volume of choice out there.

It’s in these moments that we call on the help of an expert dermatologist. Namely, London-based cosmetic dermatologist Sam Bunting. She’s a veritable hive of skincare advice (her YouTube channel is a testament to that) who treats all manner of complexion concerns—from melasma to acne and rosacea. We asked her, “If you had to choose just three skincare brands to recommend, what would they be?” Keep reading to see the ones that made the cut.


“It’s a French pharmacy brand that’s my go-to for sensitive skin,” Bunting says. “The Tolerance Extreme range is wonderful. It has a specially designed packaging system that avoids the need for preservatives in the formulation. It’s fragrance-free and non-clogging too, so it’s perfect for acne-prone yet reactive skin.

“I also love its Trixera ($29) and Xeracalm ($34) range for the body. These feel luxurious and are perfect for those with dry skin and a tendency to eczema.”

Avène Eau Thermale Spring Water Spray
Avène Eau Thermale Spring Water Spray $19.00

This one is so much more than a face mist. The silica-rich spray promises to smooth sunburns, razor burns and even parched complexions. Use it post-cleansing and your skin will feel instantly hydrated.

Avène Very High Protection Fluid SPF 50+
Avène Very High Protection Fluid SPF 50+ $28.00

Safeguard summer skin with this high-protection SPF. The feather-light formula melts down to a matte, non-sticky finish and the dose of spring water tops up skin’s moisture stores.

Avène Xeracalm Cream
Avène Xeracalm Cream $33.00

This rich body lotion promises to help even the angriest, itchiest skin chill out. Its cooling formula is definitely worth trying for anyone who has eczema or sunburns.

Elta MD

“This U.S. brand is my absolute go-to for sunscreens,” says Bunting. “The products are incredibly well formulated and contain my favorite ingredient—zinc oxide—at good percentages. Think more than 5%.

“It’s fragrance-free, non-clogging, and a real game-changer for acne-prone skin. Its UV Clear is particularly good—the niacinamide in the formulation means it actively helps with acne and pigmentation. And its UV Sport SPF 50 is fab for active types in summer because of its water-resistant, non-stinging formulation,” she says.

Elta MD Foaming Facial Cleanser
Elta MD Foaming Facial Cleanser $31.00

This ultra-frothy, creamy foam cleanser boasts a pH-balanced formula meant to gently cleanse sensitive skin. No drying, irritation, or drama required.

Elta MD Moisturising Facial Sunscreen SPF 30
Elta MD Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen SPF 30 $30.00

This one was designed specifically for very dry and post-procedure skin. The silky slip of a cream offers broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection in tandem with a welcome moisture boost, according to the brand.

Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46
Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 $37.00

Elta MD’s facial sun cream contains hyaluronic and lactic acids to calm and hydrate sensitive skin types. It also contains plenty of antioxidants meant to absorb many of the free radicals that attack the skin every day.


“The prescription-grade Nuderm skincare system has been part of my practice for many years,” Bunting tells us. “It’s great for managing the changes associated with sun damage and, in particular, for treating melasma and pigmentation associated with acne. It also produces one of my all-time favorite moisturizers, Hydrate ($52), which is an extremely versatile and cosmetically elegant product.”

Obagi Hydrate Luxe Moisture-Rich Cream
Obagi Hydrate Luxe Moisture-Rich Cream $74.00

“Cosseting” is the one word we’d use to describe this cream. It feels as rich as the name implies and promises to plump fine lines, improve elasticity, and dial up radiance.

Obagi C Serum 10%
Obagi C Serum 10% $92.00

Bunting says this product “produces a well-priced range of vitamin C serums at strengths which are known to be effective in tackling the key signs of aging.” This concentrated blend harnesses 10% vitamin C in its formula.

Obaji Gentle Cleanser
Obaji Gentle Cleanser $43.00

Cleansers don’t get much more low impact than this one. Yes, it does its job, but once you’ve washed the remnants down the sink, you would never have known it was there. That’s the sign of a good cleanser.

Bookmark this handy list so that next time you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by your skincare choices, you know exactly where to head first.

Article Sources
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  1. Tang SC, Yang JH. Dual effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on the skinMolecules. 2018;23(4):863. doi:10.3390/molecules23040863

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