Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: You’re browsing the Sephora® skincare section, and the endless array — we’re talking hundreds, if not thousands of creams, serums, and devices — is throwing you into a tailspin. Sure, you could just purchase whatever looks good and hope for the best, but there are few beauty frustrations as upsetting as spending money on something and finding it doesn’t help your skin.
That’s why we like to turn to the experts — board-certified dermatologists — to navigate what works. After all, these doctors are specially trained to know which ingredients and products — even the ones sold over the counter — are proven to deliver the smoothing, complexion-clearing results everyone wants. So, we tapped dermatologists around the country who shared which skincare products from Sephora they’re using right now, and which ones they recommend to patients again and again. Here, their top picks.
Dr. Brandt Skincare® Dark Spots No More® Triple Acid Spot Minimizing Concentrate
The dermatologist: Suneel Chilukuri, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Refresh Dermatology℠ in Houston, Texas
The Sephora product pick: Dr. Brandt Skincare® Dark Spots No More® Triple Acid Spot Minimizing Concentrate
Why it’s worthy: “This spot-fading concentrate is packed with ingredients that really work, like 10 percent azelaic acid to brighten skin and decrease dark mark formation,” says Dr. Chilukuri. “It’s also got phytic acid, which is similar to retinol, and helps increase the penetration of brightening ingredients.” He notes that the formula suits all skin types, and recommends using it as a targeted treatment, applying it directly to dark spots in the evening. Although the concentrate is effective on its own, Dr. Chilukuri says it also complements and enhances in-office skin resurfacing and brightening procedures nicely. Expect a few months to see results, and always use an SPF 30 or higher during the day.
Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.
SkinFix® Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser
The dermatologist: Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology℠ in NYC
The Sephora product pick: SkinFix® Barrier+ Foaming Oil Cleanser ($28)
Why it’s worthy: You’ve likely already heard of double cleansing, a beloved K-Beauty technique that typically consists of washing your face with an oil cleanser to melt makeup and grease, followed by a foaming one to sweep away pollutants and leftover grime. This cushiony two-in-one version eliminates the need for both steps, and has earned a Clean At SephoraTM skincare label, meaning it’s free of potentially harsh ingredients. “This cream-to-foam cleanser removes dirt, debris, and makeup without stripping the skin barrier, thanks to its combination of gentle cleansing ingredients and moisturizers like squalene and hyaluronic acid,” says Dr. Levin. “It’s mild enough to use morning and night, and it’s my go-to cleanser for travel, which can wreak havoc on the skin.”
Esteé Lauder® Advanced Night Repair® Synchronized Recovery Complex II
The dermatologist: Jeanine Downie, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Image Dermatology® in Montclair, New Jersey
The Sephora product pick: Esteé Lauder® Advanced Night Repair® Synchronized Recovery Complex II ($100)
Why it’s worthy: This silky, lightweight night serum from Esteé Lauder is chock full of sodium hyaluronate, a derivative of hyaluronic acid. “I love hyaluronic acid,” gushes Dr. Downie. “It’ll help moisturize your skin and make you look dewy, but it won’t clog your pores. It works by pulling moisture from the environment and locking it into your skin, and you can use it year round, even if there’s not a lot of moisture in the air.” She notes that it’s a great ingredient for layering, and works wonderfully as a first or even last step of your skincare routine.
DERMAFLASH® Luxe Anti-Aging Dermaplaning Exfoliation Device
The dermatologist: Julie K. Karen, MD, co-founder and co-director of CompleteSkinMD℠ in NYC
The Sephora product pick: DERMAFLASH® Luxe Anti-Aging Dermaplaning Exfoliation Device ($199)
Why it’s worthy: Dermaplaning has become one of the most popular aesthetics treatments in recent years, and for good reason: it quickly and efficiently exfoliates the skin with zero downtime. The at-home device allows you to get similar results at home. “This easy-to-use dermaplaning exfoliating device will gently debride fine, unwanted facial hairs and surface-level dead skin cells and debris that give the skin a dull, lackluster look,” explains Dr. Karen. “Gliding the edge of the tool gently over your skin will make your complexion softer and smoother and prime it for topical actives, boosting efficiency and effectiveness.” Dr. Karen uses hers once or twice a week, though notes that it can be used even more frequently than that (for you die-hard dermaplaning fans). In the short term, you’ll see softer, more even-toned skin. “Long-term benefits relate to better penetration of topically-applied products, like retinoids, antioxidants, and moisturizers,” Dr. Karen adds.
Clarisonic® Skincare Mia Smart® Anti-Aging and Cleansing Skincare Device
The dermatologist: Dr. Chilukuri
The Sephora product pick: Clarisonic® Skincare Mia Smart® Anti-Aging and Cleansing Skincare Device ($169)
Why it’s worthy: Dr. Chilukuri raves about this next-generation tool from Clarisonic because it’s a hybrid anti-aging and cleansing device. “It uses sonic vibrations — a light vibratory pattern — to tighten the skin and stimulate collagen growth,” he explains. “You can use the firming massage head in conjunction with your favorite serum on a daily basis to smooth lines and wrinkles.” He notes that he’s seen especially impressive results around the mouth and eye areas, and the device can leave skin looking more hydrated and dewy. “The brush attachment helps you wash your face significantly better than using your fingertips or a washcloth, and lets you cut down on the amount of cleanser you use by half,” he adds. “I recommend it to my patients with acne, rosacea, and eczema all the time.”
Dr. Dennis Gross® Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel
The dermatologist: Dr. Downie
The Sephora product pick: Dr. Dennis Gross® Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel ($150 for 60 treatments)
Why it’s worthy: We’ve sang the praises of this particular product before, and Dr. Downie is joining the choir. “I like that these pads contain a mix of alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids that lighten and exfoliate, help with acne, and improve the tone and texture of skin,” says Dr. Downie, who recommends using the treatment once a week. She notes that this product is effective on complexions of all races and sexes, and can be used on the face, back, neck, and chest. “I also like to use them on the elbows and knees to lighten dark patches,” she adds. “On these areas, they can be used two to three times weekly.” Just be sure to wear SPF 30 during the day when using these peels, as they can increase sun sensitivity.
Drunk Elephant® C-Firma® Vitamin C Day Serum
The dermatologist: Dr. Karen
The Sephora product pick: Drunk Elephant® C-Firma® Vitamin C Day Serum ($80)
Why it’s worthy: Vitamin C is a known skin-brightening powerhouse, and this bestselling formula is beloved by beauty editors and dermatologists alike for its efficacy. “This elegant vitamin C serum is loaded with potent antioxidants, and, when applied topically beneath sunscreen, effectively scavenges or neutralizes damaging free radicals that result from UV or pollutant exposure,” says Dr. Karen of this hydrating formula. “I’ve found the serum to be well-tolerated by most skin types, and I like that it’s packaged in an airtight container, minimizing the risk of oxidation that inactivates the vitamin C.” She remarks that results will be visible within a few weeks, and will improve over time with consistent use.
Supergoop!® Unseen Sunscreen® SPF 40
The dermatologist: Dr. Chilukuri
The Sephora product pick: Supergoop!® Unseen Sunscreen® SPF 40 ($34)
Why it’s worthy: If you’re in the market for a sunscreen that isn’t sticky or chalky, look no further than this Supergoop! formula, which has over 1,000 reviews and a 4.5 star rating. “Daily SPF is so important, and this one contains great sunscreens with an SPF of 40, plus antioxidants that ward off environmental damage,” says Dr. Chilukuri. “The translucent formula isn’t greasy and works very well as an everyday sunscreen.” Besides being the rare type of sunscreen formula that feels virtually weightless, it doubles as a makeup primer, irons out fine lines, and refines the look of pores so makeup goes on smoother. It even contains red algae to guard against damage from blue light emitted from electronics.
Urban Decay® NakedTM Eyeshadow Palettes
The dermatologist: Anita Saluja, MD, board-certified dermatologist in Melbourne, Florida
The Sephora product pick: Urban Decay® NakedTM Eyeshadow Palettes
Why it’s worthy: Although admittedly not technically a skincare product, this one helps you avoid using too much base makeup — which can clog pores and lead to dullness — by drawing attention to your eyes instead. “I love eyeshadow and highlighting the eyes, while keeping facial foundation and skin-covering makeup to a bare minimum,” says Dr. Saluja. We’re particularly fond of the Naked2TM Palette ($54), which is stuffed with shimmering and matte neutrals that flatter a wide range of complexions.
Doctors Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin and Jeanine Downie are paid Allergan® consultants.
Product prices may vary from the time this article was written.
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