Like air, water, and a DVR, some beauty products are absolute essentials.

By Jolene Edgar
Updated December 28, 2007
Anita Calero

There are some beauty products you may be able to do without (see Do You Really Need that Beauty Product?). Others, not so much. Dermatologists and cosmetics chemists told Real Simple that, whatever your skin type, you most definitely need:

  • Gentle cleanser: No matter if it's a bar, a liquid, or a gel, a cleanser should suit your skin type and be mild enough to use two times a day.
  • Daily facial moisturizer with SPF 30: A high SPF ensures that skin is protected every day of the year. "Ones with antioxidants, like green tea, are terrific because they offer a second line of defense against UV damage," says David E. Bank, M.D., director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery, in Mount Kisco, New York.
  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen: Pick up another sunscreen to use in place of your daily one on days when you're outside for an extended time, like on vacation or in the summer. "It's the single best anti-aging product on the planet," says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., vice president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery. Look for one with stable UVA shields, like Mexoryl and Helioplex, which can be used on the body, too.
  • Lip balm with SPF: You want the highest SPF you can find, since lips are ultrasensitive and susceptible to UV damage.
  • Hand cream with SPF: It will help keep your hands from revealing your age. "Be sure to hydrate nails well, too, to prevent splitting and ridges," says Jeannette Graf, an assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center, in New York City.
  • Body moisturizer: To fend off dry, itchy skin, use one with a rich mix of humectants (like glycerin) and occlusives (like petrolatum) twice a day.