Dermatologists Wouldn’t Spend More Than $25 On These 3 Products

here's what they recommend instead
written by LAUREN HARANO

The Everygirl’s product selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely love.

Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider
Graphics by: Caitlin Schneider

When it comes to beauty products, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that higher price tags equate to better results. However, as many dermatologists and skin experts will tell you, effective skincare doesn’t always have to come with a hefty price tag. In fact, some of the most essential products for maintaining healthy, clear skin are actually more affordable than you might think.

To prove this, we tapped two experts—Dr. Kseniya Kobets, board-certified dermatologist and Director of Cosmetic Dermatology at Montefiore Einstein Advanced Care, as well as Dr. Geeta Yadav, board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology—to find out which products are not worth the splurge. From gentle cleansers to powerhouse moisturizers, these wallet-friendly finds are proof that you don’t need to break the bank to achieve a glowing complexion. Whether you’re on a budget or simply love a good deal, keep reading to learn more about which beauty products are both affordable and effective—plus, a few they believe are worth the splurge.

Dr. Geeta Yadav

Dr. Geeta Yadav is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of FACET Dermatology in Toronto. She’s been featured in the New York Times, Allure, and more.

Dr. Kseniya Kobets

Dr. Kseniya Kobets is a board-certified dermatologist and Director of Cosmetic Dermatology at Montefiore Einstein Advanced Care in Westchester, New York.

Does a Higher Price Tag Mean Skincare Products Will Be More Effective?

Generally speaking, high price tags do not mean that skincare products will be more effective than their less expensive counterparts. However, there are a few things to note. According to Dr. Yadav, it’s important to clock which brand is making the specific product you’re interested in buying. “You have to do your homework to determine what’s causing the higher price tag. Is it in fancy, heavy packaging? Is it popular amongst influencers and viral on social media? Or is it made with powerful, scientifically proven ingredients? Does it have impressive before-and-afters and clinical studies? There’s nothing wrong with spending money on pricey, pretty products, but they should also deliver on their claims.”

To make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck, be sure to read reviews about the brand and the products it carries. Also, as with any skincare product, make sure the ingredients are safe for your skin. If you have any questions about a specific product or ingredient, reach out to your dermatologist—they always know best.

What Skincare Products Don’t Need to Be Expensive to Be Effective?

Wondering if sunscreen, cleansers, serums, moisturizers, masks, and other skincare products are worth the splurge? We got the insider info.

“Quite truthfully, you don’t have to use any expensive skincare products to get results these days,” explains Dr. Yadav. “There are so many brands offering efficacious formulas made with hard-hitting ingredients, like The Ordinary and The Inkey List. However, it’s worth noting that you may get faster or more profound results from pricier products that use higher-quality, science-backed ingredients with clinically proven results.” Brands with products of this caliber include SkinCeuticals, Augustinus Bader, iS Clinical, and Dermalogica.

In terms of specific products, there are two that these derms wouldn’t shell out a fortune for. “You absolutely do not need to spend big money on cleanser or sunscreen,” says Dr. Yadav. “I would save your money for your serums and other more targeted treatment products. Moisturizer can go either way—it’s just about what you like.”

Additionally, Dr. Kobets feels similarly. “I believe there are great cleansers like La Roche-Posay and CeraVe that contain amazing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide to help cleanse the skin gently and rehydrate, which do not need to be super expensive.” This makes sense since these popular drugstore brands also happen to be favorites of beauty buffs and experts alike. The bottom line? Ingredients matter, not the price tag.

What Are High-Quality Skincare Products Under $25?

So, if affordable skincare products can really be that good, which ones should you buy? We asked our experts to share their top affordable and effective skincare faves.

CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen Face Lotion

This moisturizer offers a multifaceted approach to skincare, combining sun protection with hydration and a touch of color. Formulated with essential ceramides to restore and maintain the skin’s natural barrier, it provides all-day hydration while protecting against harmful UV rays. Its sheer tint blends into the skin, offering a subtle hint of coverage for an even complexion.

“I love it because it hydrates the skin and also provides SPF 30 with mineral ingredients. It has a light, universal tint that fits most skin types, but not all.”

–Dr. Kobets

Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen Face Lotion with Sheer Tint SPF 30
Shop now

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

This top-rated La Roche-Posay moisturizer is a dermatologist-recommended solution for dry, sensitive skin in need of intense hydration. Infused with the brand’s signature Thermal Spring Water, it soothes and calms irritation while delivering long-lasting moisture. With its non-greasy texture and fast-absorbing formula, this moisturizer is ideal for daily use, leaving the skin feeling nourished, soft, and oh-so-plump.

“It’s light enough for most skin types, and it has grading ingredients like thermal water, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides—plus, it’s hypoallergenic.”

–Dr. Kobets

La Roche-Posay
Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer
Shop now

CeraVe Moisturizing Face & Body Cream

Made with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and essential lipids, this formula helps restore the skin’s natural barrier, locking in moisture for all-day hydration. Its non-comedogenic and fragrance-free formula ensures compatibility with sensitive skin, leaving it feeling soft, smooth, and replenished from head to toe.

“This is an oldie and a goodie, recommended by dermatologists worldwide for a reason. It’s formulated with ceramides, lipids that your skin needs to retain water and prevent irritation, and niacinamide to help soothe, balance, and brighten.”

–Dr. Yadav

Moisturizing Face & Body Cream
Shop now

Differin Acne Treatment Gel

Small but mighty, this gel offers a gentle yet effective solution for acne-prone, sensitive skin with its 0.1 percent adapalene formulation. Designed for daily use, this retinoid treatment works to unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and prevent new breakouts from forming.

“This is something of a best-kept secret. While it’s fairly easy to get an affordable retinoid prescription these days, this is a form of retinoid known as adapalene that was previously only available via prescription but now can be purchased over the counter. While it was created to treat acne, retinoids also famously address the signs of aging. It’s a great product to have on rotation.”

–Dr. Yadav

Acne Treatment Gel
Shop now

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

This Cetaphil face wash is a fan favorite across the board. With its gentle foaming action and fragrance-free formula, it effectively removes dirt, oil, and impurities without stripping the skin of its natural moisture barrier. Hypoallergenic and soap-free, this cleanser is formulated to maintain the skin’s pH balance while leaving it feeling refreshed and clean.

“Another oldie and goodie that we derms love. It’s effective and non-irritating, can be used by all skin types, and can be used on [both] the face and body. Talk about bang for your buck!”

–Dr. Yadav

Daily Facial Cleanser
Shop now

What Skincare Products Are Worth the Splurge?

Now that it’s clear that products like cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreen don’t have to break the bank, the question at hand is, which ones do? We asked the experts which products they would spend their money on and why.

Skinbetter Science Alto Advanced Defense and Repair Serum

Infused with a potent blend of antioxidants, peptides, and ceramides, this advanced serum works to combat the visible signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven texture. With its lightweight, fast-absorbing formula, it penetrates deep into the skin to provide intensive hydration and support skin barrier function, resulting in a smoother, firmer, and more luminous complexion.

“SkinBetter sunscreen products are one of my favorites. In my opinion, physical SPF ingredients (mineral with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are better protectors of the skin since they reflect the sun and light rays off the skin; chemical sunscreens absorb them and try to neutralize with a chemical reaction and have irritation and allergies associated with them. Most over-the-counter SPF products that are higher than 50 tend to be chemical SPF (with avobenzone and oxybenzone), so I advise my patients to stay with mineral SPF 50. SkinBetter Science offers a physical SPF with SPF 68 and 75. Their compact provides SPF along with foundation-like coverage. Their sun tone tinted lotion has a universal tint and goes on well while providing superior sun protection.”

–Dr. Kobets

Skinbetter Science
Alto Advanced Defense and Repair Serum
Shop now

SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream

Known for its potent blend of retinoid and alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), this product is designed to address a multitude of skin concerns, including fine lines, wrinkles, uneven texture, and discoloration. It accelerates skin cell turnover, stimulates collagen production, and promotes a smoother complexion. 

“SkinBetter Science AlphaRet is my all-time favorite for sensitive skin since it is less irritating than tretinoin but has been proven to have the same efficacy as 0.025 percent tretinoin in improving the appearance of skin. It’s also combined with alpha hydroxy acids and moisturizers.”

–Dr. Kobets

Skinbetter Science
AlphaRet Overnight Cream
Shop now

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel

This two-step at-home peel system delivers big results. The first step exfoliates with alpha and beta hydroxy acids to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and promote cell turnover, while the second step delivers anti-aging ingredients like retinol, peptides, and antioxidants to nourish and protect the skin. Suitable for all skin types, this dermatologist-developed peel helps to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven texture, and enlarged pores, leaving the skin visibly brighter with each use.

“This is such an easy, effective, and gentle way to incorporate chemical exfoliation into your routine. I love the effective blend of AHAs and BHA in this product and how great it is to travel with—the product is an individually packaged two-step duo of presoaked towelettes that are perfect for throwing into a bag. It only takes a few minutes to do, and you don’t need to rinse your face afterward. I like keeping them on my bedside table for when I’m feeling extra lazy.”

–Dr. Yadav

Dr. Dennis Gross
Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel
Shop now

SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum

It might be expensive, but this product goes to work. Powered by Tissue Nutrient Solution (TNS) Advanced+, a proprietary blend of growth factors, peptides, and antioxidants, this serum works to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and uneven tone and texture. When used continually, it helps to enhance skin firmness, elasticity, and brightness.

“This product uses growth factors, peptides, and other powerful regenerative ingredients to help rebuild collagen to firm, tighten, and smooth skin. It is extremely effective with regular use—but very pricey.”

–Dr. Yadav

TNS Advanced+ Serum
Shop now

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is a cult favorite product for a reason. With a combination of ferulic acid and pure vitamins C and E, it provides environmental protection, lightens lines, firms skin, and brightens the complexion.

“SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is a must have, in my opinion. This is one of the most effective antioxidant serums on the market, and I recommend it to all my patients (and use it myself). It is critical to have an antioxidant in your skincare regimen, and this is clinically proven to deliver fantastic results.”

–Dr. Yadav

C E Ferulic
Shop now

The Verdict?

You may have heard this growing up, but it also holds true in skincare: It’s what’s inside that matters. The price tag of a product doesn’t determine its worth or effectiveness—rather, its ingredients do. According to Dr. Kobets, “Some products are more expensive, and they’re worth it if they have additional combined ingredients, like antioxidants and hydrators combined with sunscreen, or a retinol cream that also combines antioxidants and iron acid and other peptides—especially if they have been scientifically proven in studies.” That being said, be sure to learn more about the ingredients inside a product, and don’t get fooled by a high (or low!) price tag.