Because skin docs love a good bargain just as much as the rest of us—and also know how to find the really good stuff.

By Melanie Rud
February 25, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

It wasn't that long ago that the drugstore was just a place where you went to pick up toilet paper and aspirin…maybe the occasional hygiene product. My oh my, how times have changed. Today, the drugstore is a veritable treasure chest of ah-mazing beauty finds that span every category. Perhaps the most notable is the skincare offerings, a vast array of serums, sunscreens, and more, all at ultra-affordable prices (because, drugstore).

Even dermatologists—who have access to all kinds of skincare, including the very pricey goods—pick up some skincare staples at the drugstore. Ahead, five derms share what they'd buy with just $30. Spoiler alert: One product made it on the list three times.

Walgreens
Walgreens
Walgreens

PM Moisturizer + Baby Sunscreen Stick + Lip Balm

The Derm: New York City dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum, M.D.

Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

"This is one of my favorite moisturizers for my acne-prone skin. It contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid, as well as niacinamide to calm inflammation and redness," she says. Other benefits? An oil-free, non-comedogenic formula that won't clog pores. Follow her lead and use it as a topper over a retinoid to, "ease any potential irritation and keep skin dewy." (Buy It, $12, walgreens.com)

(Related: Everything You Need to Know About Retinoids Before You Try)

Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Sunblock Stick SPF 60

Take a peek inside Nussbaum's bag and you'll always find this stick. The chemical-free, all-mineral sunscreen uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for sun protection, and is safe for your entire family to use, including babies over six months. "I keep it in on-hand for any time we have an unexpected sun moment, like playing in the park or outside at a family picnic," she says. To ensure complete coverage, she suggests swiping it across your entire face five to six times. (Buy It, $12, walgreens.com)

Eos Lip Balm Sticks Honey

"I'm obsessed with keeping my lips hydrated and protected from the external environment," says Nussbaum. (Same, same.) She reaches for this one, lauding it for a squeaky clean ingredient list. "Over the course of a lifetime, we end up eating approximately seven pounds of lip products, so I like knowing my lips are being protected with a natural and organic formula that also works to deliver long-lasting hydration." Credit a combo of shea butter, coconut, and jojoba oils that keep lips hydrated and protected. (Buy It, $5, walgreens.com)

Total: $29

Walgreens
Walgreens
Walgreens

Acne Face Wash + Retinol Cream + Moisturizer

The Dermatologist: Board-certified dermatologist Jessica Krant, M.D. of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York

Neutrogena Oil-Free Salicylic Acid Acne Fighting Face Wash

Krant opts for this OG to keep skin clean and year. It's gentle yet still fights acne, and is almost like getting a mild beta-hydroxy chemical peel every day, she says. At work: A two-percent concentration of oil-dissolving and pore-clearing salicylic acid. (Buy It, $9, walgreens.com)

(Related: The Best Drugstore Acne Products, According to Derms)

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Retinol & SPF 15

Ask any derm what the two best things you can do for your skin are and we're willing to bet good money that they'll says a) sun protection and b) using a retinoid. So it's no surprise that Krant likes this multi-tasker which gives delivers a dose of both simultaneously. (Buy It, $15, walgreens.com)

CeraVe Face & Body Moisturizing Cream

Krant uses this for, "nighttime hydration and extra protection against cold, dry winter weather during the day." She lauds the gentle formula packed with skin-protecting ceramides, and the fact that it's both well-tolerated by most and won't break you out. (Buy It, $5, walgreens.com)

Total: $29

Walgreens
Walgreens
Walgreens

Body Wash + PM Moisturizer + Mineral Sunscreen

The Dermatologist: New York City dermatologist Marisa K. Garshik, M.D.

Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash

For derms, skincare extends below the chin, which is why Garshik picks this wash. "I love this product because it cleanses the skin, but doesn't dry it out. Unlike many soaps and harsh cleansers that can strip away natural oils, this keeps skin feeling moisturized and supports the natural skin barrier." (Buy It, $7, walgreens.com)

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

Garshik also chooses this night cream for its ability to strike the perfect balance of moisturizing, without ever feeling greasy or clogging pores. "Ceramides help to strengthen the natural skin barrier preventing moisture loss, hyaluronic acid helps to attract and retain moisture, and niacinamide has a calming and soothing effect on the skin," she says of the trio of superstar ingredients. (Buy It, $12, walgreens.com)

Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50 for Face

"This is a great sunscreen option for daily use as it delivers broad-spectrum SPF 50, providing protection against UVA and UVB rays, while also being sweat- and water-resistant," she says. And, since it's a mineral sunscreen that uses only zinc oxide, it's especially great for anyone who sensitive skin, she adds. (Mineral blockers are less likely to elicit irritations or reactions than their chemical counterparts.) (Buy It, $12, walgreens.com)

TOTAL: $31 (we'll give her a pass)

Walgreens
Walgreens

Gel Moisturizer + Healing Ointment

The Dermatologist: Michele Farber, M.D. of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Water Gel Moisturizer

Farber applauds this gel for its use of deeply hydrating—yet super lightweight—ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. (Both are humectants, which work by pulling water into the skin.) Since it's oil-free, it's also a top choice for anyone with oily skin and has a refreshing feel that's ideal for hot summer days when you're tempted to skip moisturizer entirely. (Buy It, $23, walgreens.com)

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment

We have yet to meet someone who doesn't appreciate the glory that is this cult-classic multi-tasker, and Farber is no exception. "This is another one of my must-haves. I slather it on my lips and lids at night for hydration, but anyone with sensitive skin should keep this around. It's good for dryness, cuts, and healing skin," she says. (Buy It, $6, walgreens.com)

TOTAL: $29

Walgreens
Walgreens
Walgreens

Sunscreen + Fade Cream + PM Moisturizer

The Dermatologist: New York City dermatologist Julie Russak, M.D.

Neutrogena Face Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin SPF 50

"SPF every single day, rain or shine, is a must," says Russak, who reaches for this formula. "It contains mineral blockers that deflect damaging UV rays so they bounce right off skin." Bonus points for the featherweight formula that layers beautifully under makeup and the travel-friendly size, which means you won't have to stress about it getting snatched up by the TSA. (Buy It, $12, walgreens.com)

Ambi Fade Cream

"I'm constantly struggling with my melasma, so I love this brightening cream to keep dark spots under control," says Russak. She calls out the "powerful combo" of spot-fading hydroquinone (the same ingredient often-prescribed by dermatologists) and brightening alpha hydroxy acids provide a that both fade discoloration and keep it from coming back. (Buy It, $7, walgreens.com)

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

Here's yet another vote for this moisturizer. It may technically be a night cream, but go ahead and follow Russak's lead and use it morning at night. In the AM, it's a base layer under sunscreen, while at night shes uses it solo. "It contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide, all key ingredients for healthy, hydrated skin and I love that it's oil- and fragrance-free," she explains. (Buy It, $12, walgreens.com)

TOTAL: $31 (we'll let it slide)

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