5 Skincare Products You Should Never Buy From the Drugstore (and 3 You Should)


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Dermatologists agree: If you don't want to spend $200 on every last step of your skincare routine, you don't have to. There are plenty of drugstore skincare products that celebrities, beauty editors, and skincare professionals love.

However, there are certain skincare products that simply aren't going to be effective in drugstore form, according to the people who know ingredients best. "In general, skincare products with higher price tags have more efficacious ingredients," explains board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Joel Schlessinger, MD. This is especially relevant when you're dealing with active ingredients geared toward anti-aging.

"For example, when you buy a retinol product from your dermatologist, you know you're getting a physician-strength product with a doctor-recommended formula," he says. "If you were to buy a retinol product in a drugstore at a much lower price point, you might be getting the ingredient you want but at a much lower strength, so you won't achieve the same results." In other words, if you're looking to make serious changes to your skin, the drugstore might not be able to get you there.

So what are the other types of drugstore products to avoid? We consulted a handful of top dermatologists to find out. (Our experts also spelled out the products that are perfectly fine to buy from the drugstore.) Keep scrolling to learn how best to spend your skincare budget!