Dermatologist Creates the Perfect AM Skincare Routine for Every Budget

Get a dermatologist's opinion on how to spend $25, $100, and $1,000 wisely to take care of your skin.

You can spend $5 or $500 on a single skincare product, but with thousands of products to choose from, how do you decide which ones are best for your skin type—and bank account? What is the ideal face wash for oily skin? How about a great toner for acne? Is a budget skincare routine still an OK option? Yes, there are plenty of great affordable skincare brands on the market.

In this episode of Play Money, Elyse Love, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, shares three complete skincare routines for $25, $100, and $1,000 total. With a few key products—a cleanser, an antioxidant, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen—you can create a simple and effective skincare routine.

Keep reading for Dr. Love's favorite products for each routine, or watch her explain each one in depth in the accompanying video. After you get your hands on the essentials, the last step is to apply each skincare product in the correct order. Here's to healthy skin, no matter your budget!

Under $25 Routine

Choosing a routine with just $25 is tight, but it can be done "I don't think you need $1,000 to get healthy skin," says Dr. Love. To get the biggest bang for your buck, she looked at companies that were using the highest quality ingredients at a lower price point. And each item on her list is easily accessible at drug stores and other big box retailers.

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser

Dr. Love is a big fan of this everyday cleanser, which is gentle for all skin types—and gentle on your wallet.

The Ordinary Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C serums tend to be on the pricey side because that ingredient is difficult to stabilize. But they're great for helping face sunscreen work better and reducing oxidative damage from the sun. The Ordinary's version is a great option that can fit into the tightest budget.

CeraVe Face Moisturizer with Sunscreen, AM

You don't have to spend a fortune to get high-quality products—CeraVe's facial moisturizing lotion is one of Dr. Love's go-tos, with an SPF 30.

Under $100 Routine

A $100 routine will afford you a little more wiggle room so that you can choose some tried and true products along with some higher-end options. For instance, CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser is just $15 a bottle, but it's still among the most popular for patients and dermatologists alike.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

When you have a little more to spend, CeraVe's hydrating facial cleanser gives you a clean—not stripped—feeling.

Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum

This beloved French serum contains 15% L-ascorbic acid—the most biologically active form of vitamin C.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

This soothing moisturizer features ceramide-3, prebiotic thermal water, and niacinamide, creating a lightweight yet hydrating formula that won't clog pores.

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum

This broad-spectrum sunscreen is perfect for every skin type and skin tone—it contains both physical and chemical sunscreens without creating that white cast that physical sunscreens usually cause.

Under $1000 Routine

Even with $1,000 to spend, Dr. Love says that there are plenty of reasonably priced facial cleansers on the market that rival some of the more expensive ones. But when it comes to treatments and serums, Dr. Love went all out. Her choices have a luxury feel and use premium ingredients to deliver ultimate results that are worth the steep price tag.

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Even when the sky is the limit, Dr. Love still loves CeraVe's "perfect" cleanser.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

Put this luxurious essence on before your serums, to help your skin absorb them.

Skinbetter Science Alto Defense Serum

This antioxidant-rich serum is the "gold standard," according to Dr. Love. It helps decrease skin sensitivity, making it great for people with acne and other skin troubles.

Alastin Restorative Skin Complex

Alastin helps restore elastin and collagen in the skin, which reduces sagging and wrinkles.

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream with TFC8® Face Moisturizer

This splurge-worthy moisturizer uses natural amino acids and vitamins to aid in skin regeneration.

Perricone MD High Potency Growth

Apply this lightweight serum around the eyes to improve wrinkles and fine lines.

Perricone MD Cold Plasma Plus+ Sub-D/neck

The neck is an often overlooked area that shows early signs of aging. But this rich cream hydrates and helps firm up sagging and wrinkles.

ISDIN Eryfotona Ageless

If you were a little lax on your suncare in the past, make up for it with this lightweight SPF 50 mineral sunscreen, which includes peptides and antioxidants that can help repair existing sun damage.

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