Keep it simple: Here are the only 4 skincare products you need for healthy skin

HOUSTON – It seems the older we get, the more we buy to counter the signs of aging. Beauty and skincare is a multibillion-dollar business. It is easy to get sucked into day creams, night creams, eye creams and serums and peels. But Houston dermatologist Dr. Viraat Patel of Nigro Dermatology says you only need four items you need in your arsenal.

1. Sunscreen

Pick a sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Apply it to your face, neck, chest, arms and the backs of your hands every morning before you apply your make-up.

“The best sunscreen is the one that you’re going to use,” said Dr. Patel. “So if it suits you, you’re going to use it every day. That’s the most important thing, not necessarily the brand name.”

2. Moisturizer

As long as you are wearing a moisturizer during the day, you don’t need a separate moisturizer for the daytime and nighttime. Find one that you like and use it day and night. Dr. Patel uses Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel. We found it online for $23.99.

“I absolutely love it,” he said. “I tell all of my patients about it.”

3. Cleanser

Patel says foaming cleansers work best to remove oil, excess dirt, and make-up. Toners aren’t necessary unless you feel like your cleanser isn’t getting all of your make-up off.

For sunscreens, moisturizers and cleansers, Dr. Patel said he recommends CeraVe, Cetaphil and Neutrogena products.

“If you want to pick it up at the grocery store or drug store, you can’t go wrong with these three brands,” he said.

4. A retinoid

These help with everything from acne to fine lines and wrinkles to age spots.

“They help to just kind of speed the skin cell turnover and produce new collagen as well,” Dr. Patel explained. Use the product at night before you apply your moisturizer. You only need a small amount. If it is the first time you’re using a retinoid, start using it once or twice a week at night. Then, as your skin becomes used to it, you can work your way up to using it every night. Retinoids will make your skin very sensitive to sunlight, so don’t forget to apply that sunscreen in the morning!

Differin was once a prescription retinoid that you can now buy over the counter at prescription strength. We found it at Target for $12.89.

If you’re using a pricey retinol from a spa or skincare line, ask your dermatologist for generic Retin-a. It’s called Trentinoin. If you have insurance, you’ll only have to pay your co-pay. This could save you hundreds of dollars.

Davis asked if there is any difference in the more expensive retinoids.

“Some of the products do have proprietary ingredients which are expensive, but even then some of the scientific evidence behind them isn’t the most compelling,” Patel explained.

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Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.