Best Derm-approved, Luxury Skincare Treatments at Dermstore

There’s a lot of dermatologist-approved skincare out there, but it’s usually quite expensive, and they don't always guarantee results. So, as an acne-prone, medical esthetician, Cassandra wants share vegan, cruelty-free, and derm-approved products that are actually worth it. There are so many available, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So, let’s talk about Cassandra’s recommendations. Another resource for derm-approved recommendations is Dermstore. Dermstore makes it pretty easy to find products, and we've listed some links to their storefront too.

Let's start with Medik8. Medik8 is an amazing brand, and they’re actually from Australia. They have one of the best retinal serums that Cassandra has ever used. This is retinal with an “a,” not an “o.”  While we see retinol over the counter all the time, and it’s a wonderful form of a retinoid that your skin transforms into the potent retinoic acid form, retinaldehyde is a step above that. Retinal is just one step away from retinoic acid, an ingredient your skin can take in directly to use and refresh skin cells. 

The serum below is super potent and effective. However, it doesn’t cause the dryness, peeling, and irritation that normal tretinoin does. The crystal retinal is amazing. 


Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 Serum - $63


Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Intense Serum 30ml -$72

Next, we have the hydrate B5 serum. This is basically hyaluronic acid and natural moisturizing factors.  Cassandra found that hyaluronic acid was helping her skin speed up the wound-healing process. Hyaluronic acid is a ton of different products which is why she felt like she didn’t need it. But, when Cassandra has it as a dedicated step in her routine, Cassandra does think it makes kind of a difference. For example, Cassandra had a little bit of a rash on her face, and she used a little bit of this hyaluronic acid serum on the area to help calm it down. 

As for sunscreens, if you are someone that has a couple of these little breakouts or irritation-prone spots, this goes on sheer or clear.

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 - $41

Doctors and derms absolutely love this sunscreen. Cassandra has tried almost every Elta MD sunscreen. While most are pretty good, there are a couple that are pasty. They have some really good tinted sunscreens as well that Cassandra recommends. Elta MD has some really good options. And if you haven't had a chance to explore them, Cassandra would recommend doing so. The other product that Cassandra would recommend is their Recovery Night Mask

Another thing Cassandra loves is Paula’s Choice, and yes, many derms recommend Paula’s Choice including some of Cassandra’s favorites like Dr. Dray. Paula’s choice is a really great line because they make it pretty easy to navigate their products, and they have awesome actives. Paula is not a dermatologist, but she’s an esthetician, and her products have been around for years because they’re extremely effective. It’s hard to go wrong with a Paula’s Choice product. There are a few that Cassandra doesn’t like. But, in general, if you don’t know how to "turn and learn" your ingredients, you can find some great stuff. But, if Cassandra were to pick three favorites, she would recommend the following. 

Paula's Choice SKIN PERFECTING 25% AHA + 2% BHA Exfoliant Peel - $40

This is a bright, purple color, and it’s a slightly more gentle version of The Ordinary’s AHA BHA peel. If you want to up your exfoliation game without actually going into a clinic, this is it. 


Paula's Choice 10% azelaic acid booster - $37

This is the 10% azelaic acid booster, and if you have rosacea or redness, this works fantastically. This is also pregnancy safe. Of course, speak with your doctor or derm. But, azelaic acid is safe to use while breastfeeding, and it works wonderfully for rosacea or papular rosacea alongside acne. This is so good, and this is azelaic at 10%. Most medical prescriptions of azelaic acid are at 15%-20%. So, 10% is a pretty high percentage and strength to get over the counter. This can be blended into other products, or it can be used on its own. This also has licorice and salicylic acid. So, it’s especially good if you have acne-prone skin like Cassandra.

Ask your doctor because some say not to use salicylic acid when you’re breastfeeding, but some say it's totally fine. Furthermore, if you’re looking for acne and rosacea treatments that are not retinoids, this is amazing.  

Dermalogica Phyto-Nature Firming Serum - $155

Cassandra has been using this and loving it. It has jojoba in it, and it contains specific ingredients that help to nourish and refresh the skin. Cassandra finds that her skin feels invigorated when she uses this. There are some plant extracts, but to Cassandra, they act more as antioxidant boosters than anything else. And again, Cassandra did not want to like this because of the price, but she ended up falling in love with it.

If you’re looking for something that is firming, hydrating, and gives you a little bit of a luminous glow without feeling greasy, this is going to be the answer. However, if you want a mattified look, this is not going to be it. But, if you want something firming and hydration for fine lines and wrinkles, this one does a great job!

Although she's still testing it out, the before and after picture that accompanies the product on the Dermalogica website seem very accurate and true.

SKIN INC Supplement Bar My Daily Dose of Vitamins ABC+  - $65

Skin INC uses an AI device to scan your skin and determine your custom blend.  So, this daily dose serum comes customized to your skin. They blend in actives that are specific to your skin’s needs. Cassandra’s daily dose serum currently has ceramides, niacinamide, vitamin A, AKA, and retinol.



Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel - $163


Almost everything from Dr. Dennis Gross’s Alpha Beta line is wonderful, but the peel pads are great. They have both an advanced and a light peel pad. If you want something that is intense, you can get it. But, if you want something that’s even gentle enough to use almost every other day, Dr. Dennis Gross has you covered too. You can start with a lighter peel pad and build up. They have some other good products like marine serums as well.