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Best For Mature Sensitive Skin

Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Facial Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin, Lightweight Gel Cream Face Moisturizer with Prebiotic Oat and Feverfew, Hypoallergenic, Fragrance- and Paraben-Free, 1.7 oz

Calm + Restore Oat Gel Facial Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin, Lightweight Gel Cream Face Moisturizer with Prebiotic Oat and Feverfew, Hypoallergenic, Fragrance- and Paraben-Free, 1.7 oz

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Best For Mature Sensitive Skin

Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Facial Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin, Lightweight Gel Cream Face Moisturizer with Prebiotic Oat and Feverfew, Hypoallergenic, Fragrance- and Paraben-Free, 1.7 oz

Now 48% Off

Credit: Courtesy of the brands
Cons
  • Some reviewers dislike the scent

Thanks to Aveeno, those with irritated, sensitive skin have a soothing balm to, as the name suggests, calm and restore the skin. The salve is made with oats and feverfew, a plant packed with antioxidants, that reverses dullness, dryness, and redness.

Key ingredients: Oat, feverfew

Size: 1.7 fl oz

Amazon rating: 4.5/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer said: “I’ve been struggling with finding a perfect moisturizer for my mature face. And this Aveeno is the bomb! Solved my problem, doesn’t leave ickies on your pillowcase and absorbs well. I’m ordering the 2 pack soon!”

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Best For Slugging

Aquaphor Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy Skin Protectant

Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy Skin Protectant

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Best For Slugging

Aquaphor Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy Skin Protectant

Now 20% Off

Credit: Courtesy of the brands

Slugging is the skin care craze that helps lock in moisture and soothe skin, perfect for those with acid-heavy routines. You can find Aquaphor’s cult-favorite ointment on the vanities of beauty obsessives, thanks to its affordability. Plus, a little goes a long way so you’ll have this jar for forever.

Key ingredient: Petrolatum

Size: 14 fl oz

Amazon rating: 4.8/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer said: “I love the feel of this, it made my face calm down and heal nicely from a recent microneedling session.”

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Best Everyday Sunscreen

Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion

Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion

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Best Everyday Sunscreen

Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion

Credit: Courtesy of the brands
Pros
  • Contains nourishing vitamin e
Cons
  • Can leave a slight white cast on deeper tones

We’ve all been let down by sunscreen before, whether it left behind a pasty white cast or exposed itself in droplets of sweat running down your face. This Sun Bum bestseller is one you can trust. It’s reef-safe, water-resistant, and prevents sunburns.

Key ingredient: Vitamin e

Size: 8 oz

Amazon rating: 4.8/5 stats

An ELLE Editor says: “Sun care is essential to my skin care routine—so I try a lot of the best sunscreens. Sun Bum is one of my favorites and this formula is a staple amongst my friend group. I prefer the SPF 50 spray version—it also leaves a little golden glow, so I never mind reapplying. This is not just one of the best drugstore sunscreen brands—it’s one of the best, period. The formula has a wonderful scent and is not sticky.” Danielle James, Beauty Director ELLE.com

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Best Gentle Retinol

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Night Cream

Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Night Cream

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Best Gentle Retinol

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Night Cream

Now 40% Off

Credit: Courtesy of the brands
Cons
  • Takes time to see results

While many celebrities are creating their own lines, Sarah Jessica Parker is the Optimist in Residence for RoC and likes how the products work with her skin. Retinol is a surefire way to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles that emerge with age. Retinol is a tricky yet powerful ingredient that requires loads of hydration to ward off the dryness it can cause. Packed in this tube are nourishing ingredients like squalane and shea butter to serve as a balm.

Key ingredients: Retinol, squalane, shea butter

Size: 1 fl oz

Amazon rating: 4.4/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer said: “Love this stuff! I am older and have deep wrinkles. It doesn’t magically remove them but it definitely helps soften them. Good stuff!”

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Best Everyday Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser

Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser

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Best Everyday Cleanser

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Cleanser

Credit: Courtesy of the brands
Cons
  • Some reviews dislike that it doesn’t sud

If your skin is in dire need of a refresh, the Toleraine Hydrating Gentle Cleanser feels like a car wash for your face. The hydration comes courtesy of niacinamide, ceramides, and prebiotic thermal water to wash away all traces of dirt, oil, and makeup without leaving your skin feeling stripped.

Key ingredients: Niacinamide, thermal water, ceramides

Size: 13.52 fl oz

Amazon rating: 4.6/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer said: “I’ve purchased this item several times and I’m not planning to stop using it anytime soon. It’s great for everyday use for my sensitive skin.”

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Best For a Boost of Hydration

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel

Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel

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Best For a Boost of Hydration

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel

Now 34% Off

Credit: Courtesy of the brands
Pros
  • Works great under makeup
Cons
  • Not best for oily skin

Similar to the feeling you get after guzzling ice-cold water on a hot day, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost moisturizer is a thirst-quencher for your face. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid work together to hydrate parched skin and keep it plumped and fresh throughout the day.

Key ingredients: Glycerin, hyaluronic acid

Size: 1.7 fl oz

Amazon rating: 4.6/5 stars

An ELLE editor said: “This moisturizer feels so good on your skin and absorbs quickly. It leaves your skin looking hydrated and plump. It’s affordable and effective. When I’m in Trinidad and suffering in the heat, I like to place it in the fridge for an additional cooling effect to my morning routine. It’s great for skin of all ages and I gift this to people who are new (or resistant) to a skin care routine.” — Danielle James, Beauty Director ELLE.com

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Best For Brightening

Pixi Pixi Glow Tonic

Pixi Glow Tonic

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Best For Brightening

Pixi Pixi Glow Tonic

Credit: Courtesy of the brands
Pros
  • Improves appearance of scars

Skin prep is the key to a great makeup look. Pixi’s Glow Tonic sloughs away dead skin and brightens scars using five percent glycolic acid.

Key ingredient: Glycolic acid

Size: 3.4 fl oz

Ulta rating: 4.2/5 stars

An Ulta reviewer said: “My skin care routine would be nothing without this toner. Helped drastically with scarring on my face from years of shaving. I now get laser treatments, so this in combination with laser is bye bye ingrowns and scarring 😭😭. I hope they never change the formula.”

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Best For Acne-Prone Skin

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

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Best For Acne-Prone Skin

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser

Now 25% Off

Credit: Courtesy of the brands
Cons
  • Can be drying for some

Breakouts are no match for this gentle, benzoyl peroxide-based cleanser. Featuring four percent BP, this cleanser helps clear existing acne and prevents new ones from emerging with consistent, daily use.

Key ingredient: Benzoyl peroxide

Size: 5 fl oz

Amazon rating: 4.6/5 stars

An Amazon reviewer said: “I’ve been looking for the right acne remedy for years. The Foaming Cream Cleanser works for me. Love it!”

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Best For Moisture

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Gentle Skin Cleanser

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Best For Moisture

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Credit: Courtesy of the brands
Pros
  • Non-stripping formula

A no-fuss, gentle cleanser is an absolute must in all skincare routines. Cetaphil’s bestselling face wash delivers on its claims—it cleanses, hydrates, and restores—while leaving your skin in better shape than before, thanks to a nourishing cocktail of vitamins, glycerin, and niacinamide.

Key ingredients: Glycerin, vitamin B5 (panthenol), niacinamide

Size: 20 fl oz

Amazon rating: 4.6/5 stars

Our expert says: “This product has a cult following, and has been available for a number of years. It works well for all skin types and is free of fragrance and parabens. Works well to cleanse without stripping and helps to repair skin barrier with hydration.” — Dr. Lian Mack

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Best Lotion For Dry Skin

Bio-Oil Moisturizing Body Lotion for Dry Skin

Moisturizing Body Lotion for Dry Skin

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Best Lotion For Dry Skin

Bio-Oil Moisturizing Body Lotion for Dry Skin

Credit: Courtesy of the brands

Coat your skin in Bio-Oil’s silky smooth body lotion, which wards off dryness and reveals hydrated, radiant skin using a formula that’s packed with jojoba oil, shea oil, rosehip oil, and hyaluronic acid.

Key ingredients: Jojoba, rosehip, shea oil, and hyaluronic acid

Size: 5.9 fl oz

Amazon rating: 4.3/5 stars

Our expert says: “This product is super hydrating, but with an ultralight consistency. Packed with shea oil, it is readily absorbed and hydrates the skin almost instantaneously. I love this product because it is super hydrating with a high absorption rate.” — Dr. Mack

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Best Gel Cleanser

provence beauty Clearly Pink Clarifying Daily Cleanser

Clearly Pink Clarifying Daily Cleanser

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Best Gel Cleanser

provence beauty Clearly Pink Clarifying Daily Cleanser

Credit: Courtesy of the brands
Pros
  • Gently removes makeup and dirt
Cons
  • Glass bottle can be slippery

Provence Beauty’s gel-to-foam cleanser is a great cleanser when you need a one-and-done solution to remove your makeup, dirt, and oil at the end of the day. The fruity concoction hosts apple extract, orange blossom, watermelon extract, and more to give your skin the love it deserves.

Key ingredients: Apple extract, watermelon extract, willowbark

Size: 8 fl oz

Ulta rating: 3.9/5 stars

Our expert says: “Provence Beauty is also a great drug store find. It works to cleanse the skin gently without stripping and works well for all skin types. The apple extract naturally exfoliates dead skin cells to reveal a brighter, more even complexion. The watermelon extract hydrates skin, while the orange blossom tones and moisturizes. Lastly, willowbark, unclogs pores and soothes skin.”

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Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream with Pump Dispenser

Moisturizing Skin Cream with Pump Dispenser

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Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream with Pump Dispenser

Now 17% Off

Credit: Courtesy of the brands

If you have incredibly dry skin, then Vanicream Moisturizing Cream is the solution for you. The thick formula includes petrolatum (petroleum jelly) and sorbitol—to draw and seal moisture into your skin. This formula works well with those that have sensitive skin, suffer from eczema, or need relief from inflammation. Pro tip: ensure your skin is slightly damp when applying this cream.

Key ingredients: Petrolatum, sorbitol, cetearyl alcohol

Size: 1 lb

Amazon rating: 4.6/5 stars

Our expert says: I love this entire line for sensitive-skinned patients. I often recommend it to patients who suffer from eczema or various skin conditions that impact the functionality of the skin barrier. These products are also free of dyes, synthetic fragrances, and parabens. For individuals with a known gluten allergy, they are gluten-free. They contain ceramides which are building blocks for the epidermal layer. Some retailers allow these products to be purchased using an FSA or HSA card.”

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Best AM and PM Moisturizers

CeraVe Day & Night Face Lotion Skin Care Set

Day & Night Face Lotion Skin Care Set

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Best AM and PM Moisturizers

CeraVe Day & Night Face Lotion Skin Care Set

Now 34% Off

Cons
  • Can leave white cast for darker skin tones

CeraVe has your AM and PM routines sorted with this simple set that comes with sun protection for the daytime and a lightweight moisturizer for nighttime nourishment.

Key ingredients: Ceramides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid

Size: 3 fl oz

Amazon rating: 4.6./5 stars

Our expert says: “I am a firm believer that you do not need to break the bank for moisturizers and cleansers. There are so many effective options available over the counter. I love Cerave AM and PM for my patients. Both formulations are affordable. The AM formulation contains SPF 30, as well as ceramides to help maintain the integrity of the skin barrier. Cerave PM is a non-comedogenic (non-white head, non-blackhead forming) moisturizer that couples well with a nighttime retinol or prescription-strength retinoid.”

Can drugstore products be just as effective as higher end ones?

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You don’t need to break the bank to build an effective skin care routine. According to Dr. Lian Mack, drugstore products can be just as effective as expensive ones. “In my opinion, drugstore moisturizers and cleansers are on par with the more expensive brands. When spending top dollar on skin care, I typically recommend spending more on serums like vitamin C, because not all products are created equally,” she explains.

What types of skin care products should you stay away from in drugstores?

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While you can get most of your skin care from drugstores, Dr. Mack suggests avoiding serums with active ingredients. “Most drugstore brands containing active ingredients do not have a high enough concentration to make them truly effective. Moreover, they typically do not contain the most effective and stable molecule needed to see results. This definitely holds true for vitamin C,” she says. “When looking for a serum with anti-aging properties, consider passing on the drugstore products.”

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Meet the expert

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Dr. Lian Mack, NYC-based dermatologist and founder of Glamderm Gramercy NYC and Scarsdale

Why Trust ELLE Beauty?

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Nerisha Penrose is the Beauty Commerce Editor at ELLE.com. Since joining ELLE.com in 2017, she has interviewed countless skincare professionals and has personally tested the latest and greatest products across makeup, skincare, and hair care.

As a leading publisher of fashion, lifestyle, and beauty content, ELLE.com is committed to highlighting the best products in various categories by personally testing the latest and most innovative products, interviewing countless experts, and vetting customer-loved items. For this piece, an ELLE.com editor poured over a dozen of reviews and consulted an expert to find the best-rated drugstore skin care products.

Headshot of Nerisha Penrose

Nerisha Penrose

Beauty Commerce Editor

Nerisha is the beauty commerce editor at ELLE.com, covering all things beauty (and fashion and music). She has a penchant for sneakers and nude lip glosses, and spends way too much time re-watching 90s sitcoms.