The 16 Skincare Products This Top-Ranked Dermatologist Uses for Clear and Bright Skin
Including the $5 product she's been using since middle school.
Cleanse, moisturize, sleep, repeat—or not. From the 18-product maximalists to the one-and-done movers and shakers, everybody's skin care routine differs. In A.M. to P.M., we explore the morning and evening routines of people with different skin care concerns, from targeting acne to embracing vegan beauty.
Skin type: Combination
Skin concerns: Hyperpigmentation
If you have a skincare question, Dr. Michelle Henry will have the answer—it's why we asked her to be on our panel of experts for our annual Beauty Crush Awards. As a board-certified dermatologist and Harvard-trained Mohs surgeon, she makes it her business to know how to treat all skin types, tones, and conditions. Plus, she always has her pulse on the newest skincare launches and technology (seriously, follow her on Instagram @drmichellehenry so you don't miss out on her informational posts).
Becoming a dermatologist was kind of serendipitous for Dr. Henry, though, as she always thought she was going to be a breast cancer surgeon. "If I go back and look at my patterns, I've always been pretty interested in skincare from even the time I was in middle school," she shares with HelloGiggles over the phone. Back then, she recognized the need for exfoliation to control her acne-prone skin and Buf-Puf exfoliating sponges to physically, but gently, buff away buildup—a product she still uses to this day. As she's gotten older and wiser, she follows what she calls an intentional skincare routine—giving her skin what it seems to be asking for on any given day. Here, she shares the products she uses to keep her skin clear, her dark circles under control, and her complexion bright.
"I'm a very effective night owl, so because I'm not going to bed early, I'll have a snooze fest in the morning," Dr. Henry says. "On my ideal day, after sleeping six to seven hours, I'll wake up and meditate—I'm trained in transcendental mediation—and practice yoga." Once she's done, she starts her skincare routine, beginning with a brightening cleanser. She'll either go with the HoliFrog Superior Omega Nutritive Gel Wash as it doesn't strip her skin barrier, or she'll use the Perricone MD MD Vitamin C Ester Citrus Brightening Cleanser when she needs a more robust cleanse.
"Sometimes I'll use my prescription retinoid in the morning as I'm acne-prone. I use Altreno, which I like because it also has collagen and hyaluronic acid. Plus, it's pretty tolerable," Dr. Henry says. On the days she doesn't use retinol, she'll proceed with a vitamin C serum. "I like the one from BeautyStat—it's a nice, stable vitamin C serum in an elegant preparation. I enjoy the texture; it goes on almost matte," she says. "Plus, it was made by a chemist who has worked for big companies like Estée Lauder and L'Oréal." (Side note: The chemist, Ron Robinson, was also on our expert panel for the Beauty Crush Awards.)
For her moisturizer, she either uses the budget-friendly Olay Collagen Peptide 24 Moisturizer or the super luxe La Prairie Skin Caviar. "I'm freaked out about my collagen, so I like that the Olay one has peptides to stimulate them," Dr. Henry says. "Plus, it's available at an easy price point and it's very moisturizing." The caviar-infused one is for when she feels fancy and needs a little extra hydration, she explains.
Then, to wrap up her morning skincare routine, she'll apply sunscreen. Right now, she alternates between the Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen and the Kiehl's Daily Fluid SPF 50. Dr. Henry explains that the Supergoop! is completely transparent and the Kiehl's option looks good on brown skin, which isn't always the case with mineral sunscreens.
That nearly sums up her morning skincare routine, although one thing is missing. Since Dr. Henry spends so much time with patients, she's adamant about using hand sanitizers. However, using them frequently can lead to dried out hands, so she relies on her eos Shea Better Hand Cream to keep them moisturized. "I like that it has a nice, subtle scent that doesn't like trigger me throughout the day and isn't intrusive, and I like that has a lot of hydrating Shea butter," she says of this drugstore gem.
Lately, Dr. Henry has been busier than usual as she prepares to open her practice. Typically, she works 50 hours a week doing patient care, not to mention all the work she does outside of that, but now she's working roughly 16 to 18 hours a day. So, when she gets home, the primary thing she wants to do is relax. "The first thing I do when I get home is make a cup of tea—I love tea," she shares, adding that she'll drink something caffeine-free.
Once she's unwound a bit and answered a few remaining work emails, she'll hop into the shower. While she washes her body there, she's adamant about washing her face out of the shower. "I like to watch myself in the mirror as I feel I can be more particular. Sometimes I'll use the Buf-Puf, and I like to look in the mirror and see which areas look a little more clogged, so if I'm standing in front of the mirror I can zoom in on areas of concern and pay special attention to them—I can't really do that in the shower," Dr. Henry says.
She'll either use the Clinique Acne Solution Cleansing Foam as it has a little salicylic acid in it, or she'll use the Replenix Acne Solutions Gly/Sal 5-2 Cleanser, which she predicts she'll use more frequently as the weather gets warmer and if her skin feels a little oilier than usual. "It has 5% glycolic and 2% salicylic acid—so I'll use that if I'm acne-prone," she says. "Plus, glycolic acid is an exfoliative and a humectant, so I like the fact that I'm getting both of those."
Then, Dr. Henry will use her Altreno retinoid and follow up with the Clinique Even Better Eyes dark circle corrector. "It's a good non-hydroquinone lightener and has a proprietary brightening molecule, some vitamin C, and other ingredients in it that works quite well," she explains. "It's well-tolerated around the eyes, is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and all those good things so you're not getting irritation."
Dr. Henry's whole skincare routine revolves around acne-control and brightening to combat hyperpigmentation, and while she prefers to use a brightening solution for her entire face to maintain an even-toned complexion, she will spot treat now and then. "Clinique has its Radical Dark Spot Corrector, so I'll use that. If I have a really dark spot, I'll make a special compound at the pharmacy that has hydroquinone and kojic acid—it's really, really strong," she says.
Remember, body care is skincare, too. Dr. Henry reveals that she's done CoolSculpting, an in-office treatment that freezes off fat. To further improve and speed up the results, she uses the Alastin TransFORM Body Treatment which was formulated specifically to be used topically after body sculpting procedures. Then, before going to bed, she likes to use the Lush Sleepy Body Lotion on her body for the aromatherapeutic benefits. "I know it's not a standard dermatologic brand but I love the lavender smell," she says.