If you’ve developed a recent obsession with skincare a la Cassie from Euphorianot only are you in the right place, but far of alone. Countless beauty enthusiasts have changed their habits over the past few years in particular, swapping out products that offer purely cosmetic benefits to those that benefit their skin health. As a result, the skincare industry has grown nearly 60% in market value (a number that is expected to grow another 30% over the next five years), officially surpassing that of traditional makeup.
That said, shopping for skincare is no small feat and can be especially difficult when you’re looking for medical-grade skincare. It’s not only hard to discern what differentiates “medical grade” products from over-the-counter products, but it can seem daunting to guess which of the thousands of products available can actually deliver the results they promise.
Fortunately, as stated above, you are not alone. Bustle asked dermatologists for their favorite medical-grade products, so next time you’re not sure which cosmetics to add to your cart, you’ll know what to do. Below, you’ll find 11 medical-grade skincare products that dermatologists love and recommend.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Dr. Snehal Amin, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist in New York. He is co-founder and surgical director of MDCS Dermatology, and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Weill-Cornell Medical College.
Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Cornell – New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
Dr. Audrey Kunin, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Kansas City. She is the founder of DERMAdoctor Skincare, product manager at NovaBay Pharmaceuticals and author of the DERMAdoctor instruction manual.
Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon and facial reconstructor from the DeRosa Center Plastic Surgery & Med Spa in Boston. She is an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Peter Young, MD, is a Board-Born Dermatologist in Boston. He is the medical director of the clinical skin health platform Facet.
What is medical grade skincare?
Wondering what medical-grade skincare actually is and how it differs from other types of skincare? According to Dr. Snehal Amin, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist, surgical director, and co-founder of MDCS Dermatology, “medical-grade” skincare products can be defined by three main characteristics: potency level, clinical testing, and where they are sold.
“Medical-grade skincare lines have higher potency and concentrations of active ingredients [than others]Amin tells Bustle. He adds that medical-grade products undergo clinical testing and evaluation in accordance with FDA regulations, which is why medical-grade skincare tends to be more expensive.
Finally, medical-grade skincare can only be purchased from a dermatologist’s office, medispa, or licensed vendor, as a medical director is required for authorized sale, you won’t find them therefore not in pharmacies (unfortunately).
Dermis’ favorite medical-grade skincare
For an anti-aging powerhouse
If your main concerns are fine lines and wrinkles, Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, MDCS Dermatology Certified Dermatologist, recommends Medik8’s Night Serum, which is formulated with retinaldehyde, a superstar anti-aging ingredient.
“Retinaldehyde actually helps fight fine lines and wrinkles faster than other commonly used retinols because it only requires one conversion to retinoid acid, the active form of vitamin A,” says Garshick, adding that the The product’s double encapsulation system and the incorporation of glycerin and hyaluronic acid also guarantee that it is gentle on the skin.
For a brightening boost
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin, MD, recommends this complex hybrid of retinol, ferulic acid, and vitamin E, noting that 1% retinol works as a particularly non-prescription form of vitamin A. efficient. “It helps improve fine lines, wrinkles, pore size, and skin discoloration,” Kunin continues, noting that because it’s also blended with dermatologist-recommended levels of vitamins C and E and ferulic acid, “this formulation offers a unique desert island anti-aging formulation.
For a thirst-quenching care cream
If your skin is in need of some serious hydration, Amin suggests this ceramide-rich treatment cream, formulated with palmitoyl oligopeptide – aka, a synthetic tripeptide that helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, conditioned by human fibroblasts (famous TNS from SkinMedica) and hydroxypropyl bispalmitamide MEA, a ceramide that promotes and maintains skin hydration while improving its texture.
For light hydration
If you prefer moisturizing serums to creams (and/or are prone to oily skin or breakouts), Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, MD, Dual Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon and Reconstructor at DeRosa Center Plastic Surgery & Med Spa says to Bustle it’s her favorite hydrating serum.
“With a combination of silicon and hyaluronic acid, it feels great when applied to the skin,” says DeRosa. As an added bonus, it contains both high and low molecular weights of hyaluronic acid for optimal absorption.
For a peptide-infused neck cream
Worried about technical neck? If so, this Garshick-approved neck cream is for you. “One of my favorite options for a neck cream, it’s a great option for those with moderate to advanced signs of aging on their necks,” Garshick tells Bustle, explaining that he combines technology to use microbiome, a blend of Smart Antioxidant Technology peptides, and red microalgae extract.
“It helps skin appear firmer and lifted, while smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says.
For an acne cleanser
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Peter Young, MD advises anyone struggling with acne to use this face wash because it contains benzoyl peroxide, an infamous acne fighter. famous.
“Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most common medical-grade acne fighters,” Young told Bustle, adding that it helps control acne breakouts by unclogging pores and killing bacteria. that they contain.
For a multitasking serum
Garshick is also a fan of the DefenAge 8-in-1 Bioserum, as it’s formulated with the brand’s proprietary Age-Repair Defensins retinol alternative, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. So, Garshick claims that this lightweight serum works to rejuvenate and smooth the skin, improving the overall appearance of redness and strengthening the skin barrier.
“The key to this product that sets it apart is that it contains five times more defensin molecules than any other formula,” she adds.
For eye repair treatment
If you’re looking for something topical to treat under and around your eyes, DeRosa recommends Alastin’s Restorative Eye Treatment for the job. “TriHex technology helps support the production of healthy new collagen and elastin, while containing ingredients like niacinamide to help brighten the skin around the eyes,” she tells Bustle (aka, she treats both puffiness and dark circles).
For an Intensive Antioxidant Serum
Both Garshick and Amin are fond of Skinceuticals’ beloved CE Ferulic Serum, explaining that it’s considered the gold standard for vitamin C. Its powerful combination of vitamin C, which protects the skin against free radial damage while brightening the complexion, acts in synergy with hydration. vitamin E and ferulic acid, known to boost the benefits and stability of vitamins E and C, according to Garshick.
“By helping to protect the skin against free radical damage, this product may help reduce the signs of skin aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, dark spots and more,” adds Garshick. “When it comes to skincare, antioxidants are often a place where it can be worth splurging on just to know that the product you’re using is backed by science and will be stable and effective. “
For enhanced hydration
If your skin barrier needs protection and/or repair, DeRosa recommends this vitamin A-enriched moisturizer. “It contains vitamin A – think retinoids – and vitamin E, plus stem cells and enzymes to help reduce the signs of aging and defend against free radicals and environmental damage,” DeRosa told Bustle.
But best of all? It helps restore the natural barrier and hydration of the skin.
For a gentle retinoid for sensitive skin
Finally, Garshick recommends this cult cream, which combines a retinoid and lactic acid. “This retinoid and alpha hydroxy acid work together to improve efficiency and stimulate collagen production without causing irritation,” Garshick tells Bustle, explaining that in combination with glycolic acid, it helps improve skin tone. overall appearance of skin texture and tone. Plus, adds Garshick, this nighttime serum simultaneously delivers powerful antioxidants and hydrating ingredients to the skin — such as ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid — to minimize irritation.
“It can be a great option for someone looking for an effective retinoid option but can’t tolerate a strong prescription product,” she says.