These Are the Only 3 Skincare Products a Dermatologist Says We All Need

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If social media makes skincare seem both enchanting and impossible, a board-certified dermatologist just shared a truly simple (!!!) process to deliver maximum results for healthier-looking skin. Shop dermatologist-recommended beauty right here.

If you’ve ever gone down the YouTube rabbit hole watching influencers share their hundred-step skincare routine, trust us: you’re not alone. It’s mesmerizing to watch someone with flawless skin slather on different serums, masks, cleansers and more (which they’ve often received for free). Then by the end—after watching them dabble in ten or 20 different products—who doesn’t feel completely overwhelmed about where to even start with our own skincare? Thankfully, a board-certified dermatologist assures us it doesn’t have to be that complicated.

Dr. Nazanin Saedi, a dermatologist, associate professor, and co-chair of the Laser and Aesthetics Surgery Center at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting in Pennsylvania, shares a simple, three-step skincare routine with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest that doesn’t require you to buy a million expensive products to achieve dewy, glowing, healthy skin.

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Step one: Gentle cleanser

“Every good skincare routine starts with a clean face,” says Dr. Naz. “Your cleanser doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be gentle.”

To start, Dr. Naz recommends cleansing once or twice a day. Use a gentle cleanser with warm water, and gently wash with your fingers.

“If your skin feels dry or irritated after you cleanse, you are either scrubbing too much or you haven’t picked the right gentle cleanser for your skin,” she says.

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Step two: Anti-aging serum

Once the cleansing part is done, Dr. Naz recommends using retinol and vitamin C in order to diminish fine lines, erase any discoloration, and restore that healthy gleam!

After cleansing in the mornings, use a Vitamin C serum. “Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that fights photo-aging. It helps protect our skin from the free radicals that form when we are outside. It also helps with existing hyperpigmentation, which is dark areas in our skin caused by sun damage and aging,” Dr. Naz says. Dermatology Pros Just Listed Their 6 Favorite Vitamin C Serums

After cleansing at night, use retinol. “Retinoids increase your cell turnover to reveal fresher skin. Prescription-strength retinol, prescribed by your dermatologist, is most effective. However, if you are just getting started with retinoids, prescription strength can be a little harsh on your skin. I recommend anyone new to retinoids start with something over the counter,” Dr. Naz says.

While over-the-counter retinoids are gentler and may take a little longer to work, Dr. Naz recommends you stay patient—they will work over time. “Rest assured, with regular use, you will see a more youthful glow.”

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Step three: Sunscreen

“If there is one anti-aging skincare item to splurge on, it’s sunscreen,” says Dr. Naz. “Remember, sunscreen should be used every day, rain or shine. It should have broad-spectrum protection and be SPF 30 or higher.”

Sunscreen is vital for protecting your face (and the rest of your skin) from ultraviolet light rays. When your skin is exposed to these rays without proper protection, you’re at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. Sunscreen also helps to prevent premature aging including wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.

But what kind of sunscreen is best for your face? Dr. Naz says there are plenty of options to choose from that are packed with anti-aging ingredients that will improve fine lines and wrinkles, brighten your skin, and protect your face. Two of her favorites include Alastin’s Hyrdratint and Revision’s Intellishade.

However, Dr. Naz says that no matter what, the best sunscreen is the one you will use. “I’ve found that my patients are most compliant when they find a sunscreen that feels nice on their skin and doesn’t make them break out.”

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What products should I use?

With so many skincare options on the market, choosing the right one can seem overwhelming at first. However, Dr. Naz encourages taking your time and being patient with the process. “Real, noticeable results take time,” she says. “Find products you love that work well on your skin and stick with it!”

If you’re stuck on where to start, many dermatologists recommend using CeraVe products given they are highly accessible. CeraVe offers a range of products to address all the steps we’ve listed here. Check out

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a journalist and content strategist with a main focus on nutrition, health, and wellness coverage. She holds an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a Nutrition Science certificate from Stanford Medicine. Her work has been featured in publications including Taste of Home, Reader's Digest, Bustle, Buzzfeed, INSIDER, MSN, Eat This, Not That!, and more.