Where to splurge and where to save (on skincare products)

A benefit of my job is getting to try new (and free) products. But these are not the only products that I use everyday. Just like everyone else, I choose which products to spend money on and which ones to save. These are my splurge and save categories:

Where to save your money:

  1. Face cleanser. Cleansers don’t stay on the skin very long and the bottles tend to go fast. 

Here are a few inexpensive washes that I like.

  • Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser: I always use for my kids and for my face during the winter or after procedures like laser or a chemical peel.
  • Neutrogena Creamy Salicylic Acid cleanser: A gentle acne wash.
  1. Body cream and lotion. I don’t like scented body creams so all are non-scented and come in a large size.
  • Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream (in a tub with a green lid)
  • CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
  • Vanicream Moisturizing Cream
  1. Hand cream. Again, I prefer non-scented. These all hydrate and don’t leave hands greasy.
  • Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Formula
  • CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream
  1. Shampoo and Conditioner. I wash my hair EVERY day, so these go fast.

L’Oreal Sulfate Free Line- they are all great, though some have strong scent and others are fine.

  • Neutrogena Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner
  • John Frieda line
  • Jason Tea Tree Shampoo


And now for my Splurge products:

  1. Serums. There are millions of serums, some are good, some are not. Serums spend time on your skin. I started using serums around age 30 and I think it has helped my skin age gracefully. I use an antioxidant serum in the morning and a glycolic serum at night. Sometimes I add a vitamin C serum for brightening or a vitamin B serum for extra moisture.
  • Skinceuticals CE Ferulic or Phloretin CF
  • Skinceuticals Retexturing Activator
  • Skinceuticals B serum
  • Perfect C Serum
  1. Eye Cream. I have tried many eye creams and the only two I will use:
  • Neocutis Lumiere
  • Skinceuticals AGE Eye Cream
  1. Facial Moisturizers and day cream. I have very sensitive skin and I am prone to breakouts, so I chose this category carefully.
  • EltaMD PM Moisturizer
  • Neocutis Journee with SPF 30 (I use every day)
  • Neocutis Biocream (great in dry weather and post procedure)
  • Neocutis Biogel (great in dry weather and post procedure)
  1. Sunscreen. I splurge on face sunscreen and save on body – again because my skin is sensitive and breakout prone. 
  • I use the Neocutis Journee on indoor days and one of these on more outdoor days.
  • EltaMD UV Clear (good for breakout prone skin)
  • EltaMD UV Physical (a lightly tinted no chemical sunscreen)
  1. Retinols and Retin-A. These are the most important anti-aging products, so if you only spend in one place – do it here. A prescription generic cream will probably cost $60-100 and last 6-12 months.
  • The Perfect A (0.1% tretinoin and vitamin C)
  • Super 3 retinol
  1. Bleaching creams. Some work, most don’t. Here are a few that work well.
  • Perfect Bleaching Cream (hydroquinone and kojic acid)
  • Tri-Luma
  • Neocutis Perle (non-hydroquinone option)


I hope this post helps you determine where to save and where to splurge. Most people don’t need products from all of the splurge categories (so don’t get overwhelmed). If you are my patient reading this and still need or want help, my wonderful medical aestheticians provide complimentary skin care consultation, so ask for an appointment when you call (206-860-4605).

4 thoughts on “Where to splurge and where to save (on skincare products)

  1. Hello
    What is your recommendation for shaving/razors for those with sensitive skin & eczema?

    1. Hi Kara, great question. Shaving can be problematic when you have sensitive skin.
      A few tips:
      1. Get a razor with 3-4 blades, avoid disposable and single blade
      2. Use cetaphil gentle cleanser for shaving lotion and use it genrously
      3. Use a heavy moisturizer such as cetaphil or cerave or even vaseline after shaving
      4. Use your cortisone creams if needed
      5. Consider laser hair removal for extra sensitive areas (underarms and bikini)

  2. Hi Dr. Moore:
    Can you provide a template routine?
    For example, it’d be an interesting post to see what to do in the morning and in what order, then what to do in the evening.

    I have a difficult time knowing when to incorporate specialty products (those beyond face wash and moisturizer) ie. serums, retinol, eye cream.


    1. Hi Miranda- I will create a post with my routine! It is actually very simple- I don’t use too many products. Stay tuned

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