This Drugstore Skincare Routine For Dry Skin Is Just As Good As Luxury Options
Like many, my first drugstore skincare routine was somewhat lacking. If I remember correctly, it consisted of an apricot scrub (if you know, you know), a salicylic acid face wash, and some salicylic acid pads, all of which were absolutely ravaging my skin and, I'd guess, probably contributed to many of the skin qualms I experience today. Thankfully, I've come a long way since my clumsy foray into skincare, and I'm happy to say that I've created a drugstore skincare routine for my dry skin that I'm actually pretty proud of.
However, the road to this point was a long one. After many years of struggling with acne and seeing very few results from the solutions I tried, I became convinced that affordable products were the problem, instead of the combination of products I was using. Obviously, I was wrong. But, instead of realizing this, I turned to expensive treatments. And as my skin turned from oily and full of pimples to very, very dry (thanks to a long round of Accutane), I remained convinced that only luxurious creams and wildly expensive serums would solve my problems.
Until, that is, the persistent redness in my cheeks set in. Because as anyone who's experienced any level of rosacea knows, it doesn't matter how expensive the moisturizer — that dry, patchy redness isn't going away. And when I started doing my research after a few years of fruitless product testing, I discovered that, too. Instead, it seems, it's all about simplicity and protecting the skin barrier. And that took me straight back to exactly what I'd been avoiding: drugstore products.
One of the first things I searched for in my quest for gentle, redness-reducing products was face wash, because nothing is worse than having a good, calm skin day only to step out of the shower with a beet-red face thanks to your cleanser.
A clear winner, among the thousands on the market? Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Hydrating Creamy Facial Cleanser, an $8.29 find that was recommended to The Strategist by both David Lortscher, a board-certified dermatologist and CEO of Curology, and dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. "The technology in this cleanser prevents the cleansing ingredients from compromising the integrity of the outer skin layer,” Zeichner told the publication in August 2018. And, spoiler alert: It's amazing. I use it every night before I go to bed, and it never inflames my skin or gives me that horrible taut-skin feeling.
Another frequent recommendation from derms that I discovered was La Roche-Posay's Rosaliac AR Intense serum, a French drugstore find that further convinced me that affordable products could, in fact, be great. While it costs a little more than the average drugstore treatment, it's worth it in my book for its ability to soothe and calm inflammation. I've made this a daily part of my routine, and I always see improvement when I put it on after cleansing.
After nearly a year of research and testing, I've whittled down the many recommendations I've found to a simple, affordable lineup, much of which I'm able to buy at my local Walgreens. Ahead, the drugstore skincare routine I swear by to keep redness and dryness in check — on the cheap.
When Avène discontinued one of its ultra-gentle cleansers, I was distraught — until I found this. It has a similar consistency to Cetaphil's cult-favorite face wash, and it never strips my skin or makes my redness flare.
While I've experienced a lot of micellar waters that leave a sticky residue or don't really remove my makeup, this cleansing water presents neither of those problems. Rather, it removes every trace of the day without adding to any of my skin problems or drying me out.
I love to take this cleansing lotion with me when I travel; it's much smaller than my usual massive Neutrogena bottle, and it provides some much-needed extra moisture for my post-plane skin. The fact that I can pick it up on my weekly trip to Whole Foods makes it even better in my book.
After being told by several different skincare experts that I'm starting to show signs of rosacea (and witnessing an increase in redness myself), I googled "best skincare for rosacea" and came across this dermatologist-recommended solution. It's one of the few products I've tried that keeps redness at bay on a daily basis.
Though I wish it lasted longer (I often run through this in a month or so), this hydrating serum is a godsend, especially during winter when it seems like nothing will help my skin. I use it morning and night after La Roche-Posay's Rosaliac AR Intense Visible Facial Redness Serum to keep my skin redness and flake free. Out of the many serums I've used — luxe and affordable — it's one of the best I've found.
I'm always looking for products that will help restore my skin barrier, which this is created to do using ceramides. Plus, it also keeps me super hydrated thanks to hyaluronic acid, and soothed thanks to niacinamide. Basically, it's everything I need in a moisturizer, but it never feels too heavy or sticky.
Although this turns my face into an oil slick, I love this heavy moisturizer when my skin is at its absolute driest. I'd never wear it during the day (I'd blind people with my shine if I did), but it's perfect for that mid-winter, hopelessly dry skin many get (including myself) in January.
I love to use this mask before a night out (as long as I give it enough time to sink in after I've wiped off the excess — otherwise, I'm often left with a pilling situation). It's made to provide redness relief — something I can always use — and it does just that, while leaving me with extra plump skin every time.
Though sadly this French-drugstore find does nothing for my extremely dark undereye circles, it does add a touch of moisture and brightness under my eyes, making it one of my must-haves before night-out makeup.
Sadly, the extreme dryness I experience on my face extends to my body, too. This super-affordable Neutrogena find helps me combat it better than any other lotion I've found, and it comes in a huge bottle that basically lasts me forever.