The term “cult-favorite” gets bandied about a lot — but one brief, buzzy moment does not a cult-favorite skincare product make. What does? An all-star ingredient list, for one. A legion of adoring fans. A time-tested formula (because you don’t just develop a cult following overnight). And I’d argue that dermatologist approval also belongs on that list of requirements — after all, no matter how much Instagram attention a particular product may get, you wouldn’t rub it on your precious face without the go-ahead from your derm, right? These nine cult-favorite skincare products — from an iconic eye cream to a celeb-loved serum — check all the boxes.
The official list of derm faves includes some familiar names, for sure. “La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream is the moisturizer of all moisturizers,” Dr. Aanand Geria, a dermatologist with Geria Dermatology in New Jersey, tells The Zoe Report. The price point reflects the hype: A two-ounce jar of La Mer’s formula goes for $325… or die-hard fans can supersize their order and score 16.5 ounces for a cool $2,160. On the other end of the spectrum, you have under-the-radar (and under-$11) finds, like Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. “It has calming, oil-absorbing, acne-treating, and pore-minimizing benefits,” Dr. Joshua Zeichner of Zeichner Dermatology in New York City tells TZR; proving that “cult-favorite” doesn’t have to mean “cost-prohibitive.”
Ahead, nine buzzy beauty products that dermatologists agree actually work.
Biologique Recherche Lotion P50
“Even though this product smells like vinegar, people have been drawn to it for over four decades because it’s an amazing exfoliant,” Dr. Geria says. “The craze is also over its anti-inflammatory and anti-acne properties — not to mention, it contains lots of natural, uncommon ingredients like onion and horseradish extract.” Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) dissolve dead skin cells on contact, but what really makes P50 stand out? “It also contains ingredients that replenish hydration, strengthen the skin barrier, and balance the skin's pH,” Dr. Sejal Shah, the founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology, tells The Zoe Report.
Granted, this much-loved formula can be a little harsh, so the original version isn’t recommended for acid newbies. “The line comes with several different versions for sensitive or beginner skin, like P50 V,” Dr. Zeichner says. Want to try it for yourself? The exclusive French brand only sells through its spa affiliates, so sign up for a (free) account on Rescue Spa to place an order.
Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial
“I love this product for targeting bumpy skin and texture complaints,” Dr. Sabrina Uddin, a board certified dermatologist, tells The Zoe Report. “It features a great combination of AHAs and BHAs to help smooth the skin’s surface and brighten the skin overall. Babyfacial is formulated with hyaluronic acid, which hydrates the skin, in addition the acids which are acting as exfoliants. This makes the product much more tolerable than just applying straight AHAs or BHAs.”
The derm recommends using the mask once a week for best results — join in the fun on Insta every "#babyfacialsunday" for your weekly fix. Bonus: “Drunk Elephant as a brand is known for its clean ingredients, and this product is just that,” Dr. Geria says.
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte's Magic Cream
Charlotte Tilbury is better known for her range of cosmetics, but the makeup artist’s moisturizer is often cited as the best product in the line — for good reason. “The Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream contains a blend of humectant and emollient ingredients to soften the skin,” Dr. Zeichner says. “It also contains a skin-strengthening peptide and antioxidants to calm and protect.” Dr. Shah adds it’s not just for moisturizing, though — she says it addresses signs of aging and “instantly plumps and smooths the skin,” thanks to hyaluronic acid. Magical, indeed.
Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Crème
“Talk about hydration,” Dr. Uddin says. “I have used this eye cream for about eight months now and notice that the days I use it, my concealer glides on like a dream. The combination of jojoba seed oil, shea butter, glycerin, and dimethicone creates a powerful moisturizing effect. It keeps the skin from forming pesky wrinkles around the eyes. I do think the vitamin C contributes to evening of the skin tone around the eye, but I think the key to how this cream works is in hydrating the under-eye area. Also, a little goes a long way — so the price point is actually quite reasonable.”
Volition Strawberry-C Serum
“We have Marilyn Monroe to thank for this one, as she was notorious for rubbing strawberries on her face,” Dr. Geria says. “This brand ran with that idea, and later learned that strawberries are loaded with vitamin C; giving that bright, radiant glow everyone is chasing.” Monroe was definitely onto something — Volition’s Strawberry-C Serum sold out at Sephora almost as soon as it launched. (Thankfully, it’s back in stock — so you’ll want to click “Add to Cart,” ASAP.)
Sunday Riley Good Genes
Clearly, derms are on board with acid exfoliators; they suggest this one from Sunday Riley for those with sensitive skin. “Good Genes uses only [lactic acid] AHAs, which is nice because it’s considered to be safe in pregnancy; as opposed to BHAs, which we do not typically recommend due to lack of safety data,” Dr. Uddin tells TZR. “If you have sensitive skin, I recommend rinsing this off after 10 to 15 minutes and applying your moisturizer.” The dermatologist uses it herself in combination with Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser as a “flash facial.” “It is a great 10-minute brightener before events,” she says. “I have used it this way and love the overall brightening.”
Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum
“This is a perfectly-curated serum that contains countless botanicals and even better, a thought-out application system,” Dr. Geria says. “You ‘push and press’ into the skin to ensure proper, adequate absorption to give a healthy, radiant glow.” Besides derms, Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum gets a stamp of approval from celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Tracee Ellis Ross. At $185, it’s not cheap… but it is, apparently, worth it.
Aztec Secret Indian Clay Healing Mask
The one skincare product that consistently makes its way into derms’ Amazon carts? This $11 mask that calls itself “the world’s most powerful facial”... a title that experts are surprisingly on board with. “This contains bentonite clay that helps remove debris, excess oil, and other impurities from the skin,” Dr. Shah tells TZR. “It’s great for oily and acne-prone skin. It can still be used if you have dry or sensitive skin, but use with caution as it can be drying.”
La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream
“Crème de la Mer contains a variety of natural oils as well as seaweed extract to hydrate and calm the skin,” Dr. Zeichner says. “While many products contain similar types of ingredients, there is something about the quality of the formulation that makes it superior and a cult-favorite.”
That “something” would be the brand’s proprietary broth. “The secret lies in La Mer’s Miracle Broth — a specific way in which the brand’s ingredients are combined,” Dr. Geria explains. “This is perfect for those with extremely dry skin looking for a smooth, hydrated touch.”