While we’ll always be interested to hear what products have made it into the skin care routines of celebrities, it often makes more sense to go directly to the pros (like dermatologists) for the lowdown on what products work and which ones are best left on the shelf. After all, it’s top dermatologists who tell A-listers what products to use in the first place!
With years of professional experience and access to the latest product innovations and scientific developments, dermatologists have an unrivalled level of know-how when it comes to the best ways to reach your skin goals. To find out which products should be in your skin care routine, as well as the top ingredients those with different skin types need to be looking out for, we spoke to dermatologist, Associate Professor at Monash University and President of the Australasian Society of Cosmetic Dermatologists, Dr Greg Goodman; Cosmetic Dermatologist and founder of Enrich Clinic, Dr Michael Rich; and GP at Enrich Clinic, Dr Sandy Fieldhouse.
Before we share their specific product recommendations, keep in mind that the products that work for one person may yield different results for another. That’s why Goodman stresses it’s more important to pump your skin care routine full of ingredients targeted towards addressing your specific skin type and concerns, rather than using a product simply because someone else has seen impressive results. For instance, those with combination and acne-prone skin should have a vastly different routine than someone with dry skin that regularly experiences sensitivity. And while seeing a dermatologist in person is the best way to determine exactly what your skin’s needs are, you can make educated choices by first understanding the top skin care mistakes you’re making (more on that here) and by choosing products formulated for your skin type, such as oil-free cleansers for oily or combination skin types.
Ok, now for the skin care products dermatologists actually recommend...
When choosing the right face cleanser for you, Goodman reminds us that the best formula is one that is “able to cleanse adequately and thoroughly, but not so well that it strips the skin of its oils”. He adds, “A cleanser needs to obey Hippocrates dictum of first do no harm. There is little time on the skin for a cleanser to do much that is active or beneficial in its own right, but it can do harm.” Ultimately, the two main functions of a cleanser are to “allow better access for later steps in skin care, and for removing makeup and grime that has accumulated during the day. It should leave the skin in as good or slightly better condition than it found it,” says Goodman.
As to the cleansers that do just that? Rich and Fieldhouse recommend Cetaphil Dermacontrol Oil Control Foam Wash for acne-prone skin, as the soap-free formula removes excess oil, is hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. These two dermatologists also love NeoStrata Resurface Foaming Glycolic Wash for acne-prone skin that needs a deep cleanse; QV Gentle Cleanser as it's great for sensitive skin, doesn’t irritate and removes makeup and cleans pores; and NeoStrata Enlighten Ultra Brightening Cleanser for pigmented skin, as this gentle face wash cleanses, exfoliates, brightens skin and removes oil and makeup.
Serums have long been heralded as the best skin care product to reach for when specific skin concerns like pigmentation, premature ageing and uneven skin tone need to be addressed. And while there are a million and one products you can reach for, a quality all-rounder that Rich and Fieldhouse swear by is NeoStrata’s Skin Active Cellular Restoration. The formula is enriched with glycolic acid, peptides and antioxidants, which work to “improve elasticity and renew and smooth the skin,” says Rich and Fieldhouse. As for our Review Crew©, they're big fans of ProX by Olay Brightening Spot Essence Serum, which helps to fade dark spots and discolouration for brighter skin.
While we’re sure you’ve used at least one acne treatment or spot treatment in your life (Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, we’re looking at you), none of the top three dermatologists swear by a typical spot treatment formula. In fact, Goodman is vehemently against them: “using a spot treatment is like shutting the door after the horse has bolted. This skin is trying to kick a bag of pus (a pimple) out through the skin – treating the skin at this stage is not going to work or change the natural history of that pimple.”
Although neither Rich or Fieldhouse are quite as against spot treatments as Goodman, the one product they recommend instead of an actual spot treatment is lincomycin, an antibiotic that works to treat or prevent infections caused by bacteria. Glycolic acid can also help improve congestion, particularly for stubborn blind pimples. Try applying something like NeoStrata’s Resurface Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Lotion to the targeted area or as an all-over face treatment.
Exfoliation has come a long way in recent years: the days of abrasive formulas that irritate skin have been replaced with quality chemical exfoliants that increase cell turnover by gently sloughing off dead skin cells and unclogging pores to reveal brighter and more radiant skin. Although, caution still needs to be taken to avoid over-exfoliating. Goodman, Rich and Fieldhouse all agree that using a product formulated with vitamin A and/or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic acid (hello to our favourite Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment) can help promote cell renewal.
While store-bought products are effective, Rich and Fieldhouse recommend peels and gentle laser facials to promote collagen production and improve dark spots and sun damage. Specifically, they suggest opting for in-clinic glycolic peels. “[They’re] very gentle treatments that exfoliate the superficial layers of the skin and stimulate hydration, improving a dull or lifeless appearance. There is usually little or no actual peeling involved, but you may experience mild redness for half an hour afterwards. AHA peels tend to be undertaken weekly or fortnightly on an ongoing basis to keep your skin looking fresh,” says Rich and Fieldhouse. Additionally, they note laser facials such as “China Doll and Erbium Laser microdermabrasion are gentle heat-based lasers, which give different levels of polishing and smoothing depending on your needs with minimal downtime. Both these lasers also stimulate collagen and elastic formation, thus improving wrinkles and fine lines.”
Believe it or not, but your humble moisturiser can do a whole lot more than just restore moisture. In fact, Rich and Fieldhouse’s favourite fragrance-free lotions – Enrich Day Moisturiser, NeoStrata Skin Active Matrix Support SPF 15 and Cetaphil Dermacontrol Oil Control Moisturiser – all help replenish the skin barrier and smooth the skin in addition to boosting hydrating levels.
Looking for more ways to get better skin? Then check out the hardworking night cream that sold out in 12 hours, and discover our reviews for the top eye cream in Australia.
Main image credit: @alexachung
Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.