There’s no doubt that discovering the best skin-care routine is quite the undertaking—whether you’re a long-time enthusiast or novice. Even those with years of experience will share that the journey to clear and glowing skin was not without a bit of trial and error.
There seems to be an endless amount of skin-care advice out there nowadays, especially now that many of us can learn new tips and tricks on TikTok. But how do you know what to trust? As we look to answer that question ourselves, we thought to take a peek into the routines of our favorite dermatologists. They are, after all, the ultimate experts in the space who can provide medical guidance on achieving your best skin yet. And although it may seem obvious, they have the typical skin-care concerns like acne, sensitivity, eczema, hyperpigmentation, and more, just like us.
Dermatologist-Recommended Skin Care
- Best LED Mask: HigherDOSE Red Light Face Mask, $349
- Best Night Serum: Elizabeth Arden Retinol Serum Ceramide Capsules, $92
- Best Daily Cleanser: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Gentle Cleanser, $17
- Best Exfoliating Wash: CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser, $20
- Best Under-Eye Patches: SiO Beauty Super EyeLift, $34
- Best Firming Serum: Isdin Isdinceutics Instant Flash Lifting Serum, $42
- Best Sunscreen: MDSolarSciences Daily Perfecting Moisturizer SPF 30, $76
- Best Supplement: WelleCo The Super Elixir Supplement, $80
- Best Vitamin C: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, $182
- Best Glow-Boosting Tool: Medicube Age-R Booster-H, $299
So, we asked five top dermatologists to share their actual skin-care regimens from morning to night. Generally speaking, a proper routine might consist of a gentle yet effective cleanse, a specialized treatment based on their skin type, and a quenching moisturizer—supplemented by perhaps a carefully-chosen face mask or high-tech beauty gadget. All these details and more below: read on to shop dermatologist-recommended skin care and discover some helpful insights to inform your routine.
Best Skin-Care Routine for Normal Skin
Dr. Dendy Engelman
Skin Type: “Overall, I have what is referred to as ‘normal’ skin,” Engelman notes. “Occasionally, I experience some mild oiliness in my T-zone, but I’m not particularly sensitive, nor do I tend to be blemish-prone.”
Step One: “In the mornings, I keep it simple with the LoveCraftBeauty Micellar Water,” says Engelman. “This helps to gently remove the products I’ve used the night prior.” The formula uses a blend of aloe, neroli water, cucumber, and chamomile to soothe, renew, and cleanse the skin.
Step Two: Next up is eye cream. “My go-to is the Valmont L’Elixir Des Glaciers Vos Yeux Swiss Poly-Active Cream, a really rich eye cream packed with hyaluronic acid to minimize dehydration lines and increase radiance and brightness,” she explains. When she’s applying makeup, on the other hand, she reaches for SkinMedica’s cooling eye patches because they “catch the fallout from eyeshadow application and smooths the intraorbital skin.”
Step Three: Then comes vitamin C serum. “I use SkinBetter Science’s Alto Defense Serum, which contains a rich blend of antioxidants for protection against free radical damage caused by environmental assailants like UVA/UVB and pollution,” she says. The serum also promises to reduce the look of redness and uneven skin tone.
Step Four: “Next, I layer on my moisturizer,” she details. “I love the Isdin Hyaluronic Concentrate, which is a water-gel serum that contains hyaluronic acids, BioMarine extract, skin-firming peptides, and lentil extract. It’s so hydrating and soothing.”
Step Five: Engelman is sure not to forget lip care in her regimen—reaching for Sara Happ’s balm even over lipstick. “It helps keep my lips hydrated while giving a fresh, glossy appearance,” she says.
Step Six: “Like any good dermatologist, sunscreen is a huge part of my skin-care routine,” Engelman explains. “One of my favorites is the Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart SPF 50, which is a lightly tinted mineral sunscreen with antioxidants to protect the skin against both the sun and environmental pollutants. In my bag, I keep the Isdin Mineral Brush Daily Protection Powder for re-application throughout the day. I love this because it helps absorb excess oil and can be applied over makeup.”
More to Know: “Before a big event or filming anything, I always apply Isdin Instant Flash to my face, neck, and chest. It makes my skin look amazing and makeup goes on beautifully on top,” she says. Otherwise, Elle Macpherson’s WelleCo supplement is a must each morning. “It’s designed to support 11 systems of the body, including skin, hair, and nails.”
Step One: “Because I wear makeup most days, I’m a big fan of the double cleanse, and I love the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm to lift any makeup, dirt, or grime from the day,” explains Engelman. “This balm uses papaya extract, sunflower, and ginger root oils to remove impurities and nourish the skin and feels really luxurious on the skin. To finish the double cleanse, I follow with my favorite Epionce Lytic Gel, which has willow bark extract, which is naturally anti-inflammatory and a [has] specific complex that helps optimize skin’s pH levels.”
Step Two: Post cleanse, she moves onto toner disclosing her appreciation of Biologique Recherche’s cult favorite Lotion P50 Original 1970, which she applies every other day. “It contains niacinamide, AHAs, and PHAs for a thorough and gentle exfoliation,” she says. “It also helps to maintain the proper pH of the skin’s acid mantle (pH – 5.5).” When she isn’t using P50, Humphrey’s Clarifying Cleansing Pads do the trick. “We use Humphrey’s toners at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue to prep patient’s skin prior to treatments, so I was excited that they’ve created these easy-to-use pads, which are also great for when I’m traveling.”
Step Three: At night, she opts for SiO’s Super EyeLift Patches. “These are easy to use and help me look younger and well rested (even though neither of those is accurate),” she says. Made from medical-grade silicone, the patches are designed to plump, lift, and smooth the look of wrinkles overnight.
Step Four: “You probably already know how much dermatologists love retinol; this ingredient helps to increase cell turnover, build collagen, improve discoloration, treat wrinkles, hydrate skin and even reduce acne!” says Engelman, who is a years-long fan and a consulting dermatologist for Elizabeth Arden—the brand that crafts her retinol of choice. “[The Retinol Ceramide Capsules] are perfectly dosed in anhydrous, preservative-free, single-use, biodegradable capsules. They contain ceramides to help mitigate any potential dryness.” Alternatively, when she is not using retinol, she’ll reach for the M-61 PowerGlow Peel, “which is a one-minute treatment that combines glycolic and salicylic acid, [to] help exfoliate and improve skin texture.”
Step Five: Lastly, Engelman locks in moisture with a night cream. Skinbetter Science’s Trio Rebalancing Moisture Treatment is just the ticket for its gel-like consistency and featured three types of hyaluronic acid. “The time-release HA helps keep my skin feeling hydrated all night long and I wake up with softer, smoother skin in the morning.”
Step Six: “I’ll often finish with the Lanolips Superbalm, especially right now in the winter when it’s extra dry, to keep my lips moisturized overnight,” she says of the lanolin-rich multipurpose hydrator.
Step Seven: “On wash nights, I like to use the NatureLab Tokyo Scalp Scrub, which doubles as a scalp scrub and a lathering shampoo,” she details. “It gently exfoliates with sugar crystals (instead of the traditional salt crystals), so it’s very gentle and color safe.”
More to Know: High-tech beauty tools are part of Engelman’s at-home regimen, too, pointing out three devices as her top picks. There is Medicube Age-R Booster-H, a glow-boosting tool she uses for five minutes each night. She’s also a fan of the Lyma Laser, which she describes as “a powerful at-home device that addresses anti-aging, wrinkles, skin elasticity, skin texture, and skin tone.” (Each morning, Engelman also takes Lyma’s daily supplement that’s engineered to improve one’s sleep, complexion, mood, and stress levels through ingredients like ashwahgandha root extract, plant-based vitamin D, and soluble keratin.) Conversely, if she’s low on time, she might put on HigherDose’s silicone LED face mask, which combines red and near-infrared light to rejuvenate skin and quell inflammation in one 10-minute treatment.
Best Skin-Care Routine for Acne-Prone Skin
Dr. Corey L. Hartman
Skin Type: “My skin is oily and acne-prone, so I really must watch what I use on it and stay away from oils and heavy creams,” Hartman explains.
Step One: “I start by applying the Cyspera Intensive Pigment Corrector for 15 minutes before I shower, and then cleanse my face with either SkinCeuticals LHA Cleansing Gel or La Roche-Posay Effaclar Medicated Gel Facial Cleanser,” he says. Both face washes are powered by exfoliating acids to remove excess oils and decongest pores, particularly on breakout-prone skin.
Step Two: For Hartman, specialized treatments are next. The SkinMedica Brightening Treatment Pads preps skin, evens tone, and smooths skin texture. This is followed by a prescription acne cream, Winlevi, and a few drops of SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF—an oil-free vitamin C serum designed for blemish-prone skin types.
Step Three: Face creams are his third step. Versed Dew Point delivers lightweight moisture thanks to a jelly-like texture enriched with hyaluronic acid, aloe leaf juice, and green tea. “Right before sunscreen, I spot treat and dark spots with SkinMedica Even & Correct Dark Spot Cream,” he details. The spot treatment uses a blend of glycolic acid, retinol, kojic acid, and vitamin C to diminish the appearance of dark spots from acne or sun damage.
Step Four: Sunscreen is last, specifically a La Roche-Posay Anthelios formula known to quell shine or clog pores. “This combination of products works well to address any active acne, prevent future breakouts, and help to even out discoloration left behind by previous acne,” he details. “My skin is appropriately moisturized and protected from the sun without being overly dry or extra shiny or sticky. It helps me to maintain an active regimen to keep breakouts under control.”
Step One: Hartman starts his nighttime routine with Neutrogena’s Hydroboost cleanser. The lightweight gel formula is powered by hyaluronic acid to nourish skin while sloughing away dirt, oil, and buildup. Not to mention, its non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic for sensitive skin types.
Step Two: Similar to his daytime regimen, a serum duo is next. He pairs Skinbetter’s retinoid and AHA-powered serum with Paula’s Choice’s formula enriched with retinoid, niacinamide, and hexylresorcinol (an acclaimed skin-brightening ingredient). Sometimes, this is supplemented by SkinMedica’s aforementioned spot treatment. “This combination of products works well to address any active acne, prevent future breakouts, and help to even out discoloration left behind by previous acne,” Hartman says. “My skin is appropriately moisturized and protected from the sun without being overly dry, or extra shiny or sticky. It helps me to maintain an active regimen that keeps breakouts under control.”
Step Three: “I apply Revision D.E.J. Daily Boosting Serum as the last step at night,” he says. Designed to energize fatigued skin and strengthen the skin barrier, this serum promotes a soft, hydrated, supple complexion through a complex antioxidant blend.
More to Know: For the most part, Hartman follows this routine each day—only toggling his cleansers in the morning to address any immediate needs and quickly deal with active breakouts. “But I do add either Hyper Even Fade and Glow Mask and/or Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial one to two times per week to help control oil production and add another layer of skin tone evening,” he continues. Otherwise, the dermatologist supplements his routine with the “Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask a few times a week, as well as in-office chemical peels, Hydrafacials, and SkinPen microneedling, which [he] cycles every four to six weeks rotating.”
Best Skin-Care Routine for Oily Skin
Dr. Karen Kagha
Skin Type: “I am naturally more oily, acne-prone,” Kagha explains. “With my skin type, mild hyperpigmentation can arise.”
Step One: “In the morning, I use a gentle wash. Depending on how my skin is doing, I alternate between CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser, Senté Exfoliating Cleanser, and Revision Skincare Brightening Facial Wash.” Senté and Revision Skincare’s formulas are powered by exfoliating acids to brighten and slough away impurities, and CeraVe’s is infused with benzoyl peroxide to remove excess dirt and oil and prevent new breakouts.
Step Two: “Then, I apply a vitamin C serum; I’m currently using SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF.” Formulated with oily and acne-prone skin in mind, this serum features a cocktail of silymarin (milk thistle extract), L-ascorbic acid, and ferulic and salicylic acid to reduce oiliness, breakouts, and skin texture.
Step Three: Next is moisturizer, which at the moment is the Alastin Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer. This is packed with linoleic acid, oat kernel, and silver mushroom to soothe and nourish the skin.
Step Four: “Finally, I apply sunscreen. Currently, I am using EltaMD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44,” Kagha says. The tinted mineral sunscreen provides universal sheer coverage to most skin types, along with protection against UV rays. “For fancier days, if I want more coverage, I may mix a drop of Dermablend Flawless Creator foundation with my sunscreen.”
“At night, I alternate between the same washes mentioned in my morning routine,” she says. “I then use a small pea-size amount of Arazlo 0.045% lotion. Finally, I apply a moisturizer, which is sometimes La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer.” This coveted French pharmacy find is known to be incredibly gentle and nourishing thanks to its featured ceramides, niacinamide, and prebiotic thermal water.
More to Know: “Depending on active breakouts, I do have a prescription benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin lotion that I apply intermittently to problem areas,” Kagha said of what supplements her routine. In light of her specialties in aesthetics and lasers, she often treats her diverse clientele and her own skin with this approach. “One of the most common complaints of my personal skin type is hyperpigmentation,” she notes. “For this, I enjoy combining other less frequent in-office options, including non-ablative fractional lasers and chemical peels for more stubborn areas. I always encourage patients to take a more preventative approach and begin caring for their skin early for better results.”
Best Skin-Care Routine for Sensitive Skin
Dr. Whitney Bowe
Skin Type: “My skin is sensitive, dry, and I am prone to occasional breakouts,” Bowe says.
“My morning skin-care routine is consistent and streamlined—I do not skin cycle in the morning,” Bowe explains. “My goal is to protect my skin from the daily stressors that can generate free radicals, like ultraviolet rays and pollution.”
Step One: “Cleanse using a gentle cleanser and warm (not hot) water,” she advises. “One of my long-time favorites is La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, which is milky and leaves my skin feeling hydrated and nourished, not stripped and tight.”
Step Two: Next up, vitamin C serum. “I’ve been using SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF because their CE Ferulic tends to break me out, but I’m really excited about the newer, more stable vitamin C derivatives like tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate because we know that L-ascorbic acid, the more traditional form of vitamin C, is highly unstable.”
Step Three: “I moisturize using Bowe Glowe Microbiome Nourishing Cream, which was clinically tested using an instrument called a Tewameter to measure TEWL, or transepidermal water loss, meaning how much water is evaporating from the surface of the skin,” she says. “It’s powered by a proprietary blend of deeply hydrating and restorative ingredients including prebiotics, postbiotics, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and squalane.”
Step Four: For sun protection, she reaches for Beauty of Joseon Relief Sun Rice + Probiotics Sunscreen, a lightweight K-beauty cream powered by rice extract and grain fermented extracts to be ultra moisturizing. Otherwise, she likes Supergoop!’s Glowscreen for a dewy and sun-kissed glow.
Step Five: “The last and final step of my morning routine is drinking my Bowe Growe,” she says. The elixir targets inner skin care—what she considers the missing layer of your skin-care routine. “Bowe Growe is a vegan elixir made with a blend of polyphenols which are powerful plant-based nutrients that help rebalance your gut microbiome and support healthy skin from the inside out. I treat the skin from the inside out and from the outside in as part of my three-dimensional approach to skin health, and although I eat an incredibly healthy diet, I also believe in smart, strategic supplementation.” Bowe drinks one to three drops of the elixir in four ounces of water once per day.
“My nighttime routine, called skin cycling, has gone viral on social media in the past few weeks,” Bowe explains of her approach to a balanced nighttime regimen. “I introduced skin cycling as a less-is-more approach, being thoughtful and deliberate about your skin-care routine. Rather than adding more products on top of one another, skin cycling encourages you to use products in a strategic way to complement one another and set you up for success while dialing down unnecessary irritation.” Her skin cycling routine consists of four nights, then repeats: exfoliation, retinoid, then recovery.