so much to love about the drugstore. There's the convenience, for one. And, of course, the prices. But the best thing about it also happens to be the one that can make you feel tired and indecisive under the too-bright fluorescent lights: There is a hell of a lot of stuff packed into the beauty aisles.
Unfortunately, the shelves aren't organized by skin type and samples aren't given out freely, so most of us tend to just reach for whatever we think we need from a brand we know. We take it home, try it for a week, and...nothing. Eventually, we just go to Sephora and splurge. But the problem isn't with the
affordable products — it's not picking the right ones for our skin types. Here, we've broken them down into an easy guide to use the next time you hit up the corner shop. It's not all-encompassing, but it's just the thing you need to build a surefire starter arsenal.
The trick with dry skin is not to slather on one really thick layer, but lots of thin ones. This is because you need a variation of products with different molecule sizes to target every layer of skin. Super-fine molecules go on first (serums) as they can penetrate deeply, and then you finish with the emollient-rich moisturizers that condition the epidermis (outer layer of skin).
Begin with this cleanser, which starts life as an oil, then melts into a soft, milk-like liquid on contact with water. The added vitamin E and rosehip oil deeply condition and help lock in hydration. For the layers you’re going to put on next, skin must be perfectly cleansed for products to be able to penetrate — otherwise you’re just wasting your time (and dollar).
No. 7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Oil, $11.99, available at Ulta Beauty. More
With a heavy-duty boost of hyaluronic acid, this serum feeds skin with moisture for up to 48 hours to keep it supple, glowing, and flake-free.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum, $17.99, available at Neutrogena. More
Working like a cozy blanket, this rich moisturizer covers skin to lock in serums and create a barrier that keeps moisture from escaping. Use any leftover on your décolletage and hands — the skin in those areas is much thinner and in need of protection, too.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, $15.99, available at Ulta Beauty. More
The main issue facing aging skin is that it loses its ability to hold onto moisture. This causes the skin to form creases and sag from lack of elasticity.
Cleansing is just as important, if not more so, for mature skin. It cleans pores and washes away the makeup and pollution that have built-up throughout the day. If you have dirt and dead skin clogging your pores, then the potent topical products you put on top won’t be able to get deep into the dermis, which is where they work their magic.
Lather this into damp hands first and then massage it into skin. It's super creamy and full of replenishing oils, so it never leaves skin feeling tight and stripped.
L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Nourish Cream Cleanser, $5.99, available at Bed Bath & Beyond. More
You don’t to have to spend hundreds to get a great moisturizer. This one targets all the aging signs — spots, dryness, wrinkles, tone, texture, radiance, and pore appearance — while protecting from UV rays. Plus, it works as a nice primer.
Olay Total Effects 7-In-1 Anti-Aging Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 30, $19.59, available at Target. More
Skin around your eye is ten times thinner than the rest of your face, so it needs extra special attention, which this cream delivers. Retinol rapidly turns over cells while thickening the deepest layer of skin where wrinkles form. Stronger skin layers mean the surface stays flatter for longer. But it's worth noting that retinol is light-sensitive, so it's best to apply at night only.
RoC Retinol Correxion Eye Cream, $19.99, available at Target. More Read More
Of all the skin types, acne requires the most consistency. (Which is tough when you’re tempted to try absolutely everything to see what works.)
Start with this dermatologist-recommended cleansers. Thanks to the zinc (a natural mineral which tells overexcitable oil glands to calm the hell down), skin feels fresh but not tight and itchy like other over-drying acne cleansers on the shelves. Pro tip: It's great for use in the shower, too, if you suffer from bacne.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser, $14.99, available at La Roche-Posay. More
LED mask is a serious overachiever: It's perfect for Star Wars-themed selfies, forces you to relax and stop staring at your screen for 10 minutes a day, and uses blue and red light to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask , 34.99, available at Neutrogena. More
So many women make the mistake of not moisturizing acneic skin for fear of making breakouts worse, but that's a mistake. Lack of hydration will slow down the healing process, which increases your risk of long-term scarring.
This oil-free, ultra-lightweight hydrator dries matte and soaks up excess oil in the process. Working like a protective shield, it keeps acne from being aggravated by sun damage, pollution, and bacteria.
Cetaphil DermaControl Oil Control Moisturizer SPF 30, $18.99, available at Ulta Beauty. More
Though you might think stripping skin will help make oil disappear, it’ll actually make oil glands start pumping out more in a mad panic to overcompensate for the loss. So by adding good oils to your routine, your skin won’t need to produce as much of its own. Very clever.
Micellar water is made up of tiny balls of cleansing oils (micelles) suspended in water. The micelles work like magnets that suck out dirt and oils from the skin's surface. Unlike harsh cleansers, this is a very gentle process that won’t strip skin of moisture in the process and leaves behind a matte, squeaky-clean finish.
Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water All-1 Mattifying, $8.99, available at Ulta Beauty. More
If your skin is oily, use a charcoal mud mask all over; if you have combination, multi-mask by applying it only to the oily areas and using a hydrating oil mask on dry spots. Charcoal works like a vacuum on clogged pores and won’t tip skin over balance and cause oil glands to go into overdrive. Argan oil is famous for being super-moisturizing, but in a mud form, it also helps draw out sebum from dry spots.
Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask, $2.52, available at Target; Yes to Miracle Oil Argan Oil Mud Mask, $1.99, available at Target. More
Oily skin is often, confusingly, also chronically dehydrated from stripping solutions. Before you hydrate, it’s important to remove dead skin cells before they clog pores. Pixi Glow Tonic is an exfoliating toner containing glycolic acid, which gently eats away at dead skin cells, then dissolves them to gently accelerate cell renewal. Unlike gritty face scrubs, it won’t scratch at the skin’s surface or disrupt the oil balance.
Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic, $15, available at Target. More
Gel moisturizers feel the most comfortable on oily skin, as they’re super light. Water-based and pumped full of minerals, this one sinks immediately into pores and leaves no greasy residue behind.
Laneige Water Bank Gel Cream, $32.49, available at Target. More
When it comes to your complexion, basic is always a compliment. That said, just because you have "normal" skin doesn't mean you should get complacent. SPF, antioxidants, hydrating ingredients...these are all crucial aspects of your routine.
Sun damage is the number one thing that’s going to give you problems down the line, so target that first. Always choose a broad spectrum SPF like this one, as it protects from both UVA (the aging one) and UVB (the burning one) rays. It also absorbs insanely quickly, so you put on your makeup immediately after.
Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 30, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty. More
Packed with antioxidants, this is the serum version of green juice. Slip it on under your suncreen to help fight off free radicals from UV rays that could slip through the net.
No. 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Serum, $24.99, available at Ulta Beauty. More
Tap this on with your ring finger (it's the lightest touch) around the eye socket bone. It contains a host of amino acids and vitamins, like A and E, to help strengthen the thin, delicate skin and boost brightness, too, so your dark circles will look a whole lot less noticeable.
Burt’s Bees Radiance Eye Cream, $18, available at . Macy’s More
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