When I shared my personal routine recently with the best skincare products for your 40s it went viral, but a lot of you wanted to know what drugstore dupes could serve as more affordable options. So, we reached out to two of our favorite leading dermatologists—Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD, MS, FAAD of West Lake Dermatology and Dr. Nancy Samolitis, MD, FAAD, co-founder and medical director of FACILE dermatology + boutique—to share the best drugstore skincare products for 40s and we were blown away by their suggestions.
But before we do, let’s just get one thing straight: skincare is personal. Despite all of the expert suggestions or personal recommendations, no one is going to know your skin better than you—or your dermatologist and esthetician. That said, who doesn’t love a peek into someone’s skincare routine or to hear what the professionals are using? *enthusiastically raises hand!
So, read on for their best drugstore skincare recommendations from cleansers to toners, serums and moisturizers, and so much more!
SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix Mystic
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: La Roche Posay Serozinc Face Mist
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “Zinc in a bottle, this light, misting toner is perfect for decreasing oiliness and shine without stripping the skin of moisture like harsher astringents can do. It has just a few simple ingredients and is safe for acne-prone skin.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: IS Clinical Copper Firming Mist
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Avène Thermal Spring Water
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “Safe to use on the most sensitive skin, even post procedures like chemical peels and lasers. Instantly calming and hydrating. And you can’t overdo it, so it’s perfect to stash anywhere you might need a little pick me up.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix Purity Balance Exfoliating Prep Toner
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Bioderma Sensibio H20
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “This super gentle micellar water doubles as a toner and make-up remover. It contains fatty acid esters to contribute to the skin’s lipid barrier.” – Dr. SamolitisSACHA’s REC: Cosmedix Purity Balance Exfoliating Prep Toner
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Clarifying Solution Acne Toner
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “This toner contains both AHAs and BHAs to gently exfoliate the skin’s surface and deep within the pores to improve skin quality and prevent and treat acne.” — Dr. Samolitis.SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix Eye Doctor
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Burt’s Bees Renewal Firming Eye Cream
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “A great alternative to the above product because it contains bakuchiol (a ‘natural retinol’) and has good science to back up its cosmetic claims. The overall formulation has a great texture and layers well with make-up. You want your eye cream to do more than just temporarily decrease puffiness, you want it to work to improve skin quality. This product does both.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: At-Home Peel Kits
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “This is a great at-home, on a budget alternative to a medical-grade mild chemical peel. It has a nice combo of glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, and the red color from the Tasmanian pepper berry is fun. It is not for peel novices or those with sensitive skin.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: Futura Skin Biphase Moisturizing Oil
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: RoBathol Bath Oil
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “I love to use this Vanicream product as a treatment when I’m battling super dry skin or a bout of winter eczema. It is free of fragrance and allergens and you can use it in the shower or bath. The price point is on point.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix Purity Solution
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Avène Xeracalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “If you are looking for a quality cleansing oil that gently removes dirt and impurities while adding moisture to the skin then consider this alternative. An added bonus is that it also contains probiotics to help restore the skin’s microbiome.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: iS Clinical Clinical Cleansing Complex
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “Willow bark is the cousin of salicylic acid. This gentle salicylic acid-based cleanser has ceramides, niacinamide (vitamin B3), and vitamin D to help moisturize while exfoliating the skin. It’s a two-in-one that’s worth a try.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.
SACHA’s REC: iS Clinical Clinical Cleansing Complex
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “This product (like the entire Cerave line) is packed with ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help restore the skin barrier and hold in moisture. It’s super gentle with no fragrance and is non-comedogenic.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce. SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix Clarify Foaming Cleanser
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: La Roche Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Facial Wash
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “I love this clarifying facial cleanser and buy it regularly to keep my acne-prone skin under control (thank you, niacinamide!) without drying it out. And it’s another great drugstore find that contains prebiotic thermal water to protect our skin’s microbiome. Gone are the days where we use skincare that strips everything living from our skin’s surface. We will soon be seeing more and more topical therapies that work to optimize the billions of microbes that live on your skin.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.
Dr. Samolitis agrees: “This gel cleanser contains anti-acne ingredients including prebiotic thermal spring water and niacinamide. It is oil-free and fragrance-free as well.”SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix Pure Enzymes Mask and Renee Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Neutrogena Bright Boost Resurfacing Micropolish
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “Not a masque or mask, but a fantastic exfoliator that combines two of my all-time favorite acids—mandelic and glycolic acids—as well as little gentle natural scrubbers so you get a mixture of chemical and physical exfoliation. You’ll feel instantly smoother and it’s gentle enough to use once or twice a week.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: iS Clinical Reparative Moisture Emulsion
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Neutrogena Hydroboost Hydro Boost Gel-Cream
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “Hyaluronic acids don’t have to be expensive to be effective. This product line has affordable options that glide on easily, layer nicely, plump the skin, and give that dewy finish. They also contain traditional moisturizers like dimethicone and glycerin so they won’t dry out your skin.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.
Dr. Samolitis also had this on her must-have drugstore products list. “This is a new classic for moisturizing. It’s a very lightweight, almost cloud-like, formulation that absorbs quickly and holds in moisture all day. Great for all skin types and also comes in a gel-cream formulation for drier skin.”SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix X-Age
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “I always recommend this product to my acne-prone patients, especially for applying at night after their retinoid. Not only do the ceramides protect the skin barrier from irritation, but niacinamide also has anti-inflammatory properties to prevent breakouts.” — Dr. Samolitis.SACHA’s REC: iS Clinical Hydra-Cool Serum
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: The Ordinary Hyaluronic acid 2% + B5
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “This is a good substitute for the above-mentioned serum with similar active ingredients. It’s an instant wrinkle eraser, err, at least temporarily.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix X-cell
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalene
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “Love this alternative but it is hard to catch in stock. It is a very tolerable retinoid at a great price point that will work to brighten the skin, improve fine lines, and texture.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix Refine RX
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “An incredibly potent but gentle retinol for anti-aging. This ingredient speeds up skin cell turnover for improved texture and luminosity.” — Dr. SamolitisSACHA’s REC: iS Clinical Pro Heal Serum Advance Plus
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Brightening Skin Corrector with Hyaluronic Acid
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “Formulated with only 11 ingredients, this potent vitamin C serum provides antioxidant protection and also contains hyaluronic acid for moisturizing.” — Dr. Samolitis.SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix X-Age
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Amlactin Rapid Relief
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “Hands down the best body moisturizer and anti-aging product in a bottle. Slather it on from the neck down before you go to bed and wake up to miraculously restored skin. Few warnings, it has a medicinal smell, can sometimes sting a bit with the application, and makes you more sensitive to the sun so be careful, but it is oh so worth it.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: iS Clinical Sheald Recovery Balm
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Avene Ciclafate+ Restorative and Protective Cream
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “This cream is great to help heal the skin from any type of burn or painful, irritating rash. It’s safe enough for a baby’s bum or your face after a chemical peel. It provides the most intense moisturization. I swear you’ll find a tube of this cream in the bathroom cabinet of most board-certified dermatologists.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: Cosmedix Rapid Relief Acne Treatment
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “This product used to only be available by prescription, but is now available at the drugstore. It is a true retinoid (opposed to retinol) and is, comparatively, very strong. It can be very drying and irritating so be careful when you start it and remember a little goes a long way. But, the benefits are very real. It is one of the best-studied ingredients to fight acne and improve skin texture.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.
Dr. Samolitis also agrees with the efficacy of this product. “It is an excellent treatment for mild acne, blackheads, and has anti-aging benefits too.”SACHA’s REC: iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Cerave Hydrating Sunscreen Face Sheer Tint SPF 30
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “It’s tough to find a quality mineral sunscreen that isn’t too opaque or too drying. This one is my current favorite drugstore option that balances acceptable coverage with cosmetic elegance.” — Dr. Geddes-Bruce.SACHA’s REC: iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30
THE DRUGSTORE DUPE: Versed Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “This mineral sunscreen goes on smooth and hydrating without a chalky cast. it protects skin against UV light and other high energy light such as blue light from screens.” — Dr. Samolitis.BONUS RECOMMENDATION: Heliocare Advanced Antioxidant Supplement With Nicotinamide
WHY I RECOMMEND IT: “This supplement is made from a natural antioxidant source and has been proven in scientific studies to reduce free radical damage from the sun. Nicotinamide has been shown to reduce the number of precancerous lesions when used consistently. This product should always be taken in conjunction with topical sunscreen and sun-protective clothing.” — Dr. Samolitis.
Did we miss something? Share your best drugstore skincare products for 40s below!