The One Anti-Aging Product You Should Stop Buying From The Drugstore, According To A Dermatologist

October 16, 2018 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | beauty

Drugstore beauty offerings have come a long way. Thanks to lab innovations in the last decade, you can actually find some effective products in the range of $50 and under at your local pharmacy or Target aisle. Plus, drugstores in 2018 have cachet, so quality brands actually want to be sold there. It’s a win-win for the store and the consumer. And don’t get us wrong–we’re not complaining.

But anti-aging products are a whole other beast. Yes, there have been a ton of advancements made by labs in recent years that have allowed them to stabilize effective ingredients such as folic acid and vitamin C, but you still need to be a very discerning customer–especially at the bargain stores. Not all anti-aging skincare products are made equal, and so we sat down with some of the industry’s leading dermatologists to parse out which products you absolutely shouldn’t buy at the drugstore. Whether they are unsafe, unstable or just a rip-off, they don’t belong in your cart (or on your face!). Find out which are on experts no-no lists:

READ MORE: The One Anti-Aging Drugstore Product You Should Stop Using, According To A Dermatologist

The one ingredient you're probably seeing everywhere is retinol--but it turns out that the drugstore version is too low concentration to be effective, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank tells us. "I don’t recommend buying retinols at the drugstore. Those sold in drug store products are very low concentrations." Yikes!


Instead, “Look for Retinyl Palmitate (vitamin A) which is formed by retinol and palmitic acid. This combination is an antioxident and good for the skin as well as cell turnover. Retinyl Palmitate is usually higher in concentration because the skin first has to convert it to retinol then retinoic acid in order for the skin to use it therefore this form is usually a higher concentration. The ingredient should be high up on the listing of ingredients which are usually found in more expensive cosmeceutical products.”

Derms also warn that you should be wary of how these effective ingredients are packaged. Dr. Purvisha Patel, Board-Certified Dermatologist and Founder of Visha Skincare tells us, "When buying anti-aging skincare it is important to look for ingredients that work for this purpose such as retinol, vitamin C, Ferulic Acid, alpha hydroxyacids. These above ingredients however are not stable when exposed to light- so the packaging must be air tight and dark. Be leery of clear or open packaging or tubs with these ingredients as they will not stay stable. If the product is in the dollar isle, understand that it was manufactured cheaply and may not have the concentrations of ingredients you need to work."

Lastly, Dr. Patel warns of the dangers of Hydroquinone, an ingredient that is 2% over-the-counter used to lighten sun spots or photo aging. "This is considered toxic and should be avoided," she advises.


So, what should you use instead?


Dr. Patel recommends this Visha Skincare Advanced Correcting Serum from her own line. "It has retinol, vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic Acid and a natural lightening agent in a serum that is stable and quickly absorbed into the skin for effectiveness.

Buy instead: Visha Skincare Advanced Correcting Serum ($65) 


There have also been incredible advancements in beauty tools for anti-aging, such as the new MDNA Beauty Roller, Dr. Frank points out. 


"The Beauty Roller s the first battery-free device of its kind to harness Ultra-Infrared Energy. Powered by the renewable energy of carbon, it helps visibly improve the skin’s firmness and contour for a glowing, lifted look." Shop now:  


MDNA SKIN The Beauty Roller ($200)


Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at [email protected]

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