A Dermatology Resident’s 7 Favorite Beauty Products

I usually try to stick to fun posts that do not have to do with my job, but people have been asking me more and more what my favorite products are. They ask for various reasons – anti-aging, sun protection, dry skin, and products for acne-prone skin. What most people do not realize is that almost all of our aging over time comes from sun exposure. You don’t even need to get a sunburn to cause photo-aging. The sun’s powerful rays penetrate our skin and damage the collagen slowly over time. What most don’t realize is that you can accumulate sun damage even from small amounts of sun that build up over our lifetime, such as driving to the grocery store. Most people have more sun damage on their left side than their right side simply from driving in the car. In my opinion, the MOST important component of a daily beauty routine is the application of sunscreen.

One of the best parts of my job is getting to go to the American Academy of Dermatology meeting every year. All of the big companies such as Neutrogena, Eu cerin, Aveeno, etc. will hand out thousands of products and samples. Last year, the meeting was in Orlando, and I came home with an extra suitcase full of goodies. Long story short, I get to try pretty much all of the drug store and private brand products and pick out my favorites. Here, I’m going to share this dermatologist’s favorite beauty and anti-aging products.

Dermatologist dermatology favorite beauty products vaseline cerave aveeno l'oreal elta urban decay stila

1. Cerave AM facial moisturizing lotion

If I was stuck on a desert island and could only bring one product with me, this is DEFINITELY what I would grab. I put this lotion on my face every day of my life. It is SPF 30 and blocks both UVA (aging) and UVB (sunburning) rays. It is also “noncomedogenic”, which means that it will not clog your pores and is good for acne-prone skin.

2. L’Oreal True Match Minerals Makeup

I really like this power for two reasons:

A. They have different skin tones based on the warmth of your skin color: cool, neutral, or warm. I have a hard time finding makeup that matches the cool (green/blue) undertone of my skin. I have tried dozens of foundations at Ulta or Sephora only to find that all of them looked yellow on my skin.

B. It’s mineral makeup so it is natural and super light while still evening out my skin tone. It also has a small SPF value to add on top of my Cerave, so that makes it a good product in my book.

3. Aveeno Coconut Daily Body Wash

In general, as a dermatology resident, I do not like things that are scented. I see a patient almost every day who has a diffuse rash over his or her entire body due to a fragrance from lotion, makeup, shampoo, detergent, etc. I am a firm believer in using as few fragrances as possible. You also have to be careful, because companies will say “fragrance free” or “unscented” but then still add a fragrance and camouflage it on the label. All this to say, that this is probably the only product I use that has a fragrance. The coconut smell is really subtle and makes the wash really smooth. This is something I got for free at the AAD last year, and I got hooked.

4. EltaMD UV Elements Tinted Sunscreen

EltaMD is a favorite among my co-residents. The company makes several tinted facial moisturizers with sunscreen in them, which makes for an easy one-step process in the morning. This specific product is also great because it has iron oxide in it, which helps block UV rays and can help prevent melasma. The only reason I generally go with the Cerave lotion + L’Oreal powder routine in the morning rather than EltaMD is because the tinted EltaMD sunscreen is just a tad dark for me. I also have super light skin, so I’m not usually in the “one tint fits most” category. I still have been wearing this product a lot lately for the extra protection from the sun after my recent Jessner/TCA facial peel 🙂

5. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

Now that I use this eyeliner, I have a hard time trying other eyeliners. Inevitably they are smudgy and uneven, and I just don’t like them. This product is super easy to apply because it is like drawing with a pencil. It also will NOT smudge or come off while you are wearing it. I’ve fallen asleep with it on several times, and when I woke up in the morning, it was still 90% in tact. My usual problem with waterproof products is taking them off at the end of the day. This eyeliner fairly easily washes off in the shower combined with a small amount of makeup remover.

6. Urban Decay Eyeshadow – sin

I stumbled upon this eyeshadow when my mom got me a palette of eyeshadows from Urban Decay several years ago, and I quickly became hooked on this one. It’s a perfect neutral tone with a slight shimmer for every day use. It is also an ideal base color to then layer on darker colors for night time. I have not found such a comparable versatile shade elsewhere!

7. Vaseline

Going on my dermatology soap box here: You ask any dermatologist what product they recommend most on a daily basis and the answer is going to be Vaseline/petroleum jelly. I felt like somewhat of a fraud at first recommending this all day, when I didn’t like the feel of it on my skin. Initially when I tried it, I couldn’t stand the greasy texture. I kept using it and now, if I don’t put Vaseline on my hands and lips at night, I cannot sleep. It’s fragrance free, no preservatives, and contains no extra chemicals. A lot of people prefer really natural products such as cocoa butter or coconut oil, but in dermatology, we usually prefer not to use the most natural products. Your body is more likely to mount an immune response to something natural and plant-based than something synthetic. If you think about it, poison ivy is natural, and we are all allergic to it. People ask me why I don’t like some of the natural and homeopathic treatments such as lavender and cinnamon, and it is because I see all of the patients who become allergic to them over time. Another product I previously used frequently is Chapstick or Carmex on my lips when they were cracked in the winter time. Now I look through the ingredients and see so many common allergens: lanolin, menthol, paraffin.  I’m not allergic to those ingredients, but the more we apply them to our bodies, the higher the risk of allergy. Now I just stick to plain Vaseline.

Hope this was informational! Please leave a comment if you have any questions!