Small jars of creams and scrubs arranged in a pattern.

Top 10 Dermatologist Recommended Products to Make You Look Younger

Those $1,000 skin creams cluttering your bathroom counter aren't necessarily the best beauty investment in 2019. The following anti-agers - some less than $15 at discount stores - are what many dermatologists believe in, and may be using themselves. Here's Dr. Greg Pearson, dermatologist at Memorial Dermatology at Memorial City, counting down to a younger looking you. “Success is not about spending money, it’s about being strategic,” Dr. Pearson says. “The higher the price is not necessarily the higher the effectiveness.” Some tools and products require a dermatologist, but others simply a drug store.


Why: Gentle cleansers such as Cerave and Cetaphil remove the gunk that fills pores and causes breakouts – without stripping the top moisture layer.

Right: “Many people have a mountain of products beneath their counter and some brands suggest a ten-step program,” Dr. Pearson says. “All you really need is four: a good sunscreen, moisturizer, cleanser and Retinoid.”

Wrong: Don’t bother with a toner. You don’t need it!

Timetable: Most people need less foundation and acne cream.

Gentle Moisturizers.

Why: Olay, Aveeno, Neutrogena and Cetaphil do the job as well as any high-priced potion at a sliver of the cost.

Right: Look for ceramides, which are lipids that bind with water to keep skin soft and moist. Neutrogena Hydra Boost is a favorite of Dr. Pearson.

Wrong: Don’t want alcohol or fragrance, which are harsh and may irritate and dehydrate skin. Caviar, gold and copper jack up the price but not the results.

Timetable: Subtle, but over a lifetime make a difference.

Topical Bleaching Agents.

Why: Bleaching creams lighten hyper pigmentation: brown and red spots from sun damage that appears generally after age 40. For moderate to severe melasma – which can result from pregnancy -- the heavy-hitter of Tri-Luma Cream is needed. It combines three whiteners. Tri-luma blends Fluocinolone acetonide 0.01% (a mild inflammation-cutting corticosteroid), Hydroquinone 4% (an agent that interrupts the formation and synthesis of skin-darkening melanin) and Tretinoin 0.05% (an exfoliant that boosts skin cell sloughing).

Right: Apply prescription-strength cream to the affected areas only with a finger or cotton tip.

Wrong: Don’t skip sunscreen or results may not last!

Timetable: Subtle changes may be visible in six to eight weeks.

Lasers and Light Devices, Such as IPL.

Why: If whitening agents didn’t do the trick, a laser IPL – as in Intense Pulsed Light – may even out your complexion. The high-powered, computer-controlled flash gun delivers a broad-spectrum light that causes skin to absorb skin-darkening melanin, improving sun spots, freckles, birthmarks, rosacea and broken capillaries.

Right: Don’t expect results to be immediately visible. Spots may darken before sloughing.

Wrong: Do not plan to have any other procedure done concurrently.

Timetable: You’ll need two to six treatments, spaced a month apart, before results will be visible.


Why: Botox or Dysport injections relax the muscles that cause frown lines between the eyes and on the forehead in addition to laugh lines around the eyes.

Right: “Go to a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon,” Dr. Pearson advises. “It can be natural looking if done correctly.”

Wrong: Poorly administered paralyzing agents can cause eyelid droop.

Timetable: Results take three or more days to appear, leaving small bruises and needle marks that soon fade. Botox needs to be administered every three to four months to maintain results.

Facial Fillers.

Why: Restylane and Juvéderm are gel fillers that doctors inject into the lower face, often in the lines from the nose to corners of the mouth.

Right: Skillfully performed, fillers can restore fullness to cheeks.

Wrong: Too much filler can look puffy.

Timetable: Results are immediate and are repeated every six months.

Kybella to Dissolve Fat in the Neck.

Why: Kybella is a medicine that dissolves fatty tissue beneath the jaw, eliminating double chins.

Right: Only a board-certified doctor should inject the patient.

Wrong: Don’t be impatient.

Timetable: Results will appear after three treatments, a month apart.

Platelet Rich Plasma for Thinning Hair.

Why: Doctors take 22 CCs of the patient’s own blood, isolate growth factor and inject that at the front and top of the scalp to boost hair growth.

Right: Only a dermatologist, or cosmetic or plastic surgeon should perform this procedure.

Wrong: This is not a one-and-done.

Timetable: Results become visible after a series of three to four monthly treatments. Afterward, treatments are needed one to two times yearly to maintain results.


Why: Vitamin A turns on the production of collagen, which gives skin its strength and youthful appearance.

Right: Retin A (Tretinoin), Renova and other prescription strength Retinoids, including Differin (Adapeline) and Tazorac (Tazarotine), make a difference. Start with a weaker intensity of .025 two-three times weekly. With time you can hike frequency and intensity gradually to .1.

Wrong: Over-the-counter versions, containing Retinol and Retinyl palmitate, are not adequate for most people. Use these topicals only at night since they may boost sensitivity to the sun.

Timetable: At least six weeks to see any results – which only last with continued treatment. The longer Retinoids are used, the greater the visible results.


Why: “Sunscreen is the most important topical you need to wear.” This not only produces the greatest results, but actually can help you live longer. “Sun not only ages you, but also can cause skin cancer, including the deadly Melanoma,” Dr. Pearson says.

Right: Neutrogena, Olay does the job, though Elta, available at dermatology offices, may be less streaky. Look for a broad spectrum lotion that’s SPF of 30 or higher. Apply 20-30 minutes before going outside, whether it’s sunny or cloudy, hot or cold. “We associate heat with sun, but it’s out there causing damage every day,” Dr. Pearson says. Hats with a 3-inch or wider brim as well as sun-protective, long-sleeve clothes are available, from Tilley, Coolibar and others.

Wrong: Apply consistently and don’t skimp. “Most people don’t use enough.” Reapply at least every two-hours outdoors or in a car and use a shot-glass worth for your entire body. Use chemical-free sunscreen for young children, and reapply every time they get out of a pool.

Timetable: You don’t miss unblemished skin till it’s gone – and as early as 20, freckles and spots start appearing, darkening and expanding with time. Be aware of any moles that are asymmetrical, have misshapen borders, are multicolored, black or blue or are larger in diameter than an eraser on a pencil (1/4 inch).

The secret to youth cannot be found in a bottle or injection. It’s in a lifestyle. In addition to pumping sunscreen, pump your heart with exercise – and forsake smoking, which deprives the skin surface of nutrients, oxygen and blood, all vital to vibrant skin.

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