12 Prescription and Over-The-Counter Skin Care Products Dermatologists Love

Prescription Drugs

12 Prescription and Over-The-Counter Skin Care Products Dermatologists Love

Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD
By Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD
Apr 28, 2021
Illustration of a woman applying her skin care products to her face in the mirror

Skin care products and treatments have come a long way, and there are a lot of wonderful products available to help treat your skin from head to toe. Whether you’re looking to reduce the appearance of aging, clear up acne caused by wearing a mask, or need help with dark spots, there is no shortage of terrific products available. Here are 12 prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) skin care products dermatologists love.

Use the RxSaver tool below to search discounted coupons at nearby pharmacies.

What are your top favorite prescription beauty products right now?

There are no one-size-fits-all products. Different skin types and conditions warrant different treatment, so I have a lot of favorites! I will say that some of the healthiest, most beautiful skin I see is in patients who regularly use a Vitamin A derivative product such as tretinoin.

In addition, right now dermatologists are treating so much acne. Stress levels, after a year of intermittent lockdowns, grief, and anxiety are so high, that increased cortisol production is leading to breakouts. So I’m happy to help people struggling with acne during this stressful time by recommending a variety of medications.

Dermatologists are also seeing a huge spike in acne caused by mask use, so treatments for this type of acne, known as acne mechanica, are in demand. Even those who have never suffered from acne are breaking out. For that reason, products used to treat this acne are also current favorites.

Tretinoin for Anti-Aging

For boosting collagen and elastin, you can’t go wrong with a Vitamin A derivative, also known as a retinoid. Although these were originally developed to treat acne, the anti-aging power was a happy side effect. Brand name retinoids such as Altreeno and Inova are both wonderful products. Their generic counterpart, tretinoin works just as well and costs less.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
Tretinoin $32.03
Altreno $114.99
Inova $143.10

Incidentally, retinoids also work well for your neck and chest. Your skin is less sebaceous on your neck and chest, so pick a retinoid with a lower concentration of retinol, and use it every other day rather than every day.

Hydroquinone, Azelaic Acid, and Glycolic Acid for Dark Spots

Age spots, dark spots, or sunspots respond well to hydroquinone. Prescription-strength hydroquinone contains 4% hydroquinone, while over-the-counter contains 2% hydroquinone. For a combination product for your face, Triluma is excellent, as the tretinoin in it enhances the penetration of the retinol. It also has a mild corticosteroid that helps with redness.

If you prefer a hydroquinone-free product for dark spots, azelaic acid will also help.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
Hydroquinone $39.75
Triluma $215.14
Azelaic Acid $108.63

In some cases, a mild retinoid or hydroquinone may also help with dark circles under your eyes. But check with a dermatologist, to confirm that dark circles are caused by hyperpigmentation.

Finally, glycolic acid also helps dark spots, and there are wonderful OTC products, such as LaRoche Posay Glycolic B5 10% Pure Glycolic Acid available without a prescription. You may be able to save on OTC glycolic acid by using an RxSaver Discount Card.

Prescription Acne and Maskne Medications

Salicylic acid is great for acne-prone skin. Prescription-strength salicylic acid is available in concentrations up to 6%. But you can find over-the-counter cleansers and toners which have 2%.

If you’re dealing with maskne, AKA acne mechanica, you’ll be happy to know that it responds well to several prescription medications. Oracea and its generic equivalent doxycycline hyclate help treat this type of acne caused by friction. The brand drugs Onexton (generic clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide) and Soolantra are also effective in treating acne caused by mask use.

Medication Lowest Price for Common Dosages*
Salicylic Acid $42.72
Doxycycline Hyclate $16.85
Clindamycin/Benzoyl Peroxide $72.64
Soolantra $530.68

Urea for Dry/Rough Skin

For dry and rough skin, prescription-strength Keralac and its generic urea work well. It can also help with callouses and with bumpy “chicken skin” known as keratosis pilaris. If you’re looking for an over-the-counter treatment for dry, rough, or bumpy skin, Eucerin Roughness Relief Remedy is a good option.

The RxSaver coupon price for urea starts at $11.35 for 40 % and 1 bottle*

Do prescription-strength skin care products have better ingredients?

Many prescription skin care treatments contain the same ingredients as over-the-counter products. The difference lies in the concentration of active ingredients. For example, Roc Retinol Correxion Eye Cream is a great OTC product that has a lower concentration of Retinol than prescription-strength tretinoin.

Also, remember that OTC treatments are designed for mass production, so they may not undergo the same rigorous testing as prescription skin care products.

"If it was not for RxSaver, I would not be able to afford my medication."

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Are skin care products from dermatologists expensive?

Prescription skin care treatments can be expensive. However, many products require you to use no more than a pea-sized amount. So, if you are prescribed a skin care product that seems expensive, remember that the initial investment may last you six months.

How to Save on Prescription Beauty Products

If you’re prescribed a skin care product or medication, always ask your dermatologist if a generic is available. Generics are much cheaper than brand drug alternatives. Then, look for a coupon from RxSaver. RxSaver offers coupons for more than 6,000 prescriptions. Finally, if you’re prescribed an expensive medication such as Soolantra, look for a manufacturer coupon, which may help you save money.

*Lowest online price at national pharmacy chains Costco, CVS, RiteAid, Walgreens and Walmart as of 4/18/2021. Prices vary by location and pharmacy, see RxSaver.com for actual pricing in your area.

Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD

Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD

Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified and nationally-acclaimed dermatologic surgeon. Widely celebrated for her expertise in neurotoxins, injectable fillers and chemical peels, she provides a wide range of treatments including fat removal, mole excision, Mohs surgery, and skin cancer treatment. She is also a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, and American College of Mohs Surgery. She regularly appears as a dermatologic expert on national shows including Good Morning America, TODAY, The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, Inside Edition & many more. Dr. Engelman is the Dermatology expert for RxSaver.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

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