Recommended Over-The-Counter Skin Care Products

June 10th, 2014 / Back to Blog »

an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure text

Here is a list (and brief description) of some of the products that I recommend to help keep your skin looking healthy, clear, and youthful. These products are ideal for younger patients (20-40 years old) who want to preserve, protect, and enhance the youthful radiance of their skin. If you have sun damage or color irregularities, you’ll need something other than what I’m discussing here, and dealing with this type of skin damage will be the topic of another post.

Clicking on the links will take you directly to the SkinMedica site to purchase them. Unfortunately, as of today, the Obagi products are not available online, and can only be purchased in my office. As soon as this changes, I’ll update this page to allow you to buy them here.

A word of caution: You will find the same products on Amazon, but beware – no “physician-grade” skin care company sells its products via Amazon. You are very likely to get replicas (which will not work as advertised) or second hand products if you choose to purchase from them. The only reputable places to get these products are directly from the manufacturer or at authorized physician’s offices.

Morning Routine – Cleanse and Protect

SkinMedica Facial Cleanser: This is a gentle facial cleanser that works well to get the dirt and leftover residue off your face and gives you a “fresh start” for the day ahead. Over the counter products that also get good reviews from patients are Cetaphil and Aveeno. For the most part, you want a gentle cleanser that doesn’t dry your skin out.


Obagi Exfoliating Cleanser: A part of the Obagi360 kit, this gentle exfoliating cleanser works well to get rid of the “gunk” that can build up overnight, and is a good way to get ready for the day.


Skin Medica Daily Physical Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30+

Skin Medica Environmental Defense SPF 50+ sunscreen with UV Proplex: either of these sunscreens will protect your skin from the damaging effect of UV radiation. I personally use the EltaMD line of sunscreen on a daily basis, but really for no other reason than I have a bunch of it around the house. Pretty much any “physician-grade” sunscreen that is AT LEAST SPF 30 will do the trick, as long as you apply it in the morning and again at mid-day (or after exercise, swimming, etc).


Obagi Hydrafactor Broad-Spectrum SPF: This is another part of the Obagi360 kit, and has become a favorite in our office. It can be a bit “heavy”, but does a good job of keeping your skin moisturized throughout the day and protected from the sun. Most of our staff use it (or any sunscreen) as a base before applying make-up in the morning.

Evening Routine – Cleanse and Rejuvenate

SkinMedica Facial Cleanser: Getting the dirt off of your face prior to going to bed is an important part of a routine skin-care regimen. Again, you want a moisturizing cleanser that doesn’t dry your face out and is not too abrasive.


Obagi Exfoliating Cleanser: You can’t have youthful, healthy skin that is dirty. Using a cleanser at night gets rid of the “gunk” of the day and primes your face for night-time treatments.


SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5: This retinol helps to improve skin texture and minimize or eliminate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.


Obagi Retinol 0.5: Another part of the Obagi360 system, this moderate-strength retinoid helps minimize the appearance of fine lines.

**An Important Word About Retinoids**

Unlike sunscreens or lotions, “less is more” when it comes to applying retinoids. A pea-sized amount should be used to treat the whole face, and you should use caution (or avoid) naturally dry areas such as around the mouth or in the creases around the mouth – the nasolabial folds. Any retinoid can cause some skin irritation, and the concentration of both of these seems to minimize this side effect. I would not recommend anyone using a retinoid that is any stronger without being under a physician’s supervision. Begin using a retinoid 3 times a week and build up to daily use over the course of a month. If you start experiencing some skin irritation with this product, stop it until the redness goes away, and restart using it every other day instead of daily. As with any retinol, daily sun protection is a must, as the use of a retinol can make you more sensitive to the sun. Also, topical retinoids should not be used if you are pregnant or are attempting to get pregnant.

Final Words

I carry both the Obagi and SkinMedica lines in the office, and have gotten good reviews on both lines from patients and staff. It really boils down to personal preference as to which of the products you use on a regular basis. The Obagi products discussed above come pre-packaged in a kit called the Obagi360 System, which is good for basic skin maintenance as we discussed here. The SkinMedica products do the same thing, but have to be purchased separately.

It is recommended that you consult with me or another skin care professional before starting any skin care or skin treatment regimen. Not only can this keep you from inadvertently causing problems with your skin, but can help you design a skin care treatment plan that is customized to your individual needs.

Call the office at 713.791.0700 and schedule a consultation to get a personalized skin-care regiment that is tailored to fit your needs.