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The 8 Essential Skin Care Products Everyone Needs

The 8 Essential Skin Care Products Everyone Needs

What do you really need for a healthy complexion?

Instead of looking at a skin care product and trying to decide if you “need” it, what if you turned that question around?

What types of products are essential for a healthy complexion, and do you have one of each?

Your answer to that question would then be a reason to go product hunting – or not. 

Skin care products for a healthy complexionAs a dermatologist who knows skin physiology and what results are possible to achieve through skin care, I am going to share with you what I consider the top essential product types you want to have in your medicine cabinet or bathroom.

If stranded on a deserted island or traveling for an extended time, these are the products to bring with you. If you have trusted products for each of these categories, then you have your bases covered!

The True Skin Care Essential Toolbox

Listed in order of importance:

1. The first and foremost essential product is a broad spectrum sunscreen to prevent skin aging.

My opinion on the science is that zinc oxide does this best. It needs to be worn on the face, neck and ears every day. Other exposed skin needs an application, too, if it is not covered by clothing.

Everyone should pick their product based on skin type and budget, and they MUST love their sunscreen so that they happily apply it daily. The most popular products in my practice and on my ecommerce site are:

Suntegrity BB Cream 5 in 1 Facial Sunscreen: tinted protection for dry to normal skin best daily sunscreen for sensitive dry skin with rosacea
Sheer Strength Matte Pure Physical Sunscreen: tinted protection for oily to normal skin (ideal for melasma prone complexions because it contains enough iron oxide to protect from visible light that is capable of darkening melasma!) best matte tinted mineral zinc oxide sunscreen for oily skin
EltaMD UV Clear: A good all around untinted product that fits all complexion types and that everyone finds easy to use. best all purpose broad spectrum daily sunscreen for acne

Citrix Sunscreen: water resistant, rubs in clear, and is cosmetically appealing for face, arms, chest and all exposed skin. 

well priced all around zinc sunscxreen

2. A powerful antioxidant product made by a pharmaceutical-grade lab so that it has  "the right stuff" in a powerful and stable formulation.

The best antioxidant for all skin types is green tea. The scientific evidence on its many benefits to skin is proven. These include reduction in UV-induced carcinogenesis and anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial benefits.

Inflammation is the new paradigm for many skin conditions – they are driven by a lack of balance in the skin’s normal inflammatory systems. This means that many common skin conditions like acne, rosacea, seborrhea, melasma, skin aging, and more all benefit from green tea. best skin care product with green tea antioxidants to help tretinoin retin a - green tea and skin care

Products that use the patented and highly-concentrated form of green tea polyphenol ECGC are the best in my opinion. An extremely high concentration of this is what is in my Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy

3. Collagen stimulating ingredient(s).

The best are the retinoids. Second are AHAs (glycolic acid is the top choice AHA for collagen stimulation). Third is Vitamin C. These are all products that are hard to formulate in stable preparations so, again, you want a product made by a pharmaceutical-grade production lab.

These ingredients must be present in high concentration, made from the right form of the active ingredient and be formulated to the correct pH for stability. They are also irritating to sensitive skin. I recommend that when you begin to add one of these ingredients to your skin care routine, add the product one at a time, and carefully.

For face/neck/chest:

Retinol Intensive Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream™ professional retinol cream to fight skin aging, acne and skin pigment problems
Glycolic Acid Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream best glycolic acid face cream for wrinkles and sun spots
Vitamin C Anti-Wrinkle Professional Treatment Serum™ best vitamin c serum for fighting sun damage


For non-facial skin, the only effective choice is glycolic acid. The other ingredients just don’t penetrate enough to help.  best glycolic acid face wash to use with Clarisonic Brush for clogged pores

4. A simple moisturizer that balances skin hydration to protect skin barrier function.

Moisturizers are not rocket science. Simple oils will do the job if applied after washing. For a more cosmetically-appealing product, a blend of water-binding ingredients and evaporation-preventing ingredients (such as oils) will do the job without the slip and shine!

Look for products with hyaluronic acid, glycerin and ceramids. Include oils if your skin is dry. Choose hypoallergenic products that don’t introduce allergens to your skin; these can start a lifetime of allergic rashes to a family of compounds such as fragrances! It's trouble you don't need.

Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Dry to Normal Skin™ best face cream for dry skin prone to rosacea
Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Oily to Normal Skin™ best moisturizer for all skin types with oily skin
Natural Face, Hand and Body Lotion™ best natural moisturizer for sensitive skin


5. A good cleanser matched to your skin type.

Again, no rocket science here. Use a simply-made natural soap or a pH balanced synthetic detergent (SYNDET); it does not matter. What is important is that your cleanser must NOT overly dry your skin in the process of getting your skin clean. And, you don’t want it to introduce allergens either, such as fragrance or preservatives that are known problems.

Naturally Best Bar Soap for Dry Skin™ best gentle and natural all purpose bath and body soap
Extremely Gentle Facial Foaming Cleanser best foaming facial cleanser for all skin types

6. A physical exfoliant to instantly brighten dull skin.

By using a rough sponge or a scrub with granules, stubborn dead cells are invited to lift off the skin for instant gratification and complexion smoothing. Again, a gentle hand is necessary to prevent skin irritation; a “rope burn” type of injury is a potential consequence of over-treatment!

Bamboo and Clay Thermal Exfoliating Facial Scrub bamboo and clay scrub to exfoliate facial skin
Buf Puf Exfoliating Facial Sponge Get great skin with exfoliation.
Salux Wash Cloth best exfoliating hygienic shower cloth for the back



7. A pore-refining astringent that also offers a second cleansing step. best toner for sensitive skin

I love witch hazel. It really does tighten the pores to help them appear finer. It also removes any little bit of stubborn product or oil, too. 

8. A medicated product to fight acne-causing microbes if you struggle with pimples. 

The two best options are benzoyl peroxide for control of the P. acnes germ that plays a role in common acne, and zinc pyrithione for the pityrosporum yeast that causes pityrosporum folliculitis of the face, neck, back, and chest.

Both of these acne skin conditions can linger well into adulthood. Every bathroom needs one or both of these for those times when the microbes go through a spell of running the skin amuck.


Best foaming pyrithione zinc cleanser for acne, pityrosporum folliculitis and dandruff
Calming Zinc Bar Soap® Best zinc pyrithione facial cleanser for perioral dermatitis and rosacea - Help with Blepharitis
Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cream 2.5% Sensitive Skin™ Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cream for acne


These are the top products that we simply can't live without if we want a glowing, healthy complexion.

So, you can avoid snail slime, 24-karat gold masks, mushroom powder, or even caviar… These are just “fluff and filler” solutions and some are for pure entertainment value only - in my opinion ;-) .

Want to learn more about these products and take advantage of our Spring Skin Care Bundles?

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