it happens: we travel and forget to pack hydrating cream or our container leaks (explodes) all over our suitcase; we wait just a little too long to re-up on our charcoal cleanser and, of course, the day we run out we can’t make it to sS; we leave our products at a friend’s house or on the BART or whoknowswhere. when we’re suddenly left stranded without our tried and true sS products, and forced to find a drugstore solution, what are we to do? is anything safe (or at least safe enough to get through a few days)?
luckily, there are few drugstore bandaids out there that, at least on paper, look safe. we’ve combed through countless ingredients lists, and have found a few rare products that pass the sS test. (keep in mind though, none of these products have gone through sS’s rigorous 6-month test phase, so we can’t be totally sure how your skin will react.)
while we checked a lot of products, this list is not exhaustive; you can always put on your skin-savvy detective hat, whip out your list of comedogenic ingredients, and get to reading if you want to check out other products. if you find anything that looks safe, let us know!
we’ve included the ingredients that were published for each product at the time of this post, but remember: formulations change, so always double-check the ingredients before you let it touch your skin. also, while you may notice that nearly all the products are neutrogena, this doesn’t mean all neutrogena products are safe!
so, just to be clear:
- we haven’t tested these products, so we cannot guarantee they will not clog. these are meant to be temporary options when you are unable to use your sS-approved products.
- formulations change, so cloggers can and do get added to formerly benign-seeming products – so always beware!
- these products shouldn’t make your acne worse, but none of them are “active” products, so they won’t actively work towards clearing your skin.
no drugstore brand is completely safe – always, always, always check ingredients.
that said, if you’re in a pinch, these products are the best we’ve found in drugstores:
neutrogena deep clean facial cleanser: you’ve almost certainly seen this product before (and probably even used it), and it’s one of the few “acne safe” products out there actually is. beware though, this product can be super drying, so make sure you’re moisturizing after.
ingredients: water, sodium c14 16 olefin sulfonate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium c12 15 pareth 15 sulfonate, salicylic acid, linoleamidopropyl pg dimonium chloride phosphate, disodium edta, propylene glycol, fd&c yellow 5, fd&c red 40, fragrance
neutrogena rapid clear oil-control foaming cleanser: if you’re on the oilier side, and find yourself without your sS cleanser, this product should be your go-to. as with the deep clean facial cleanser, though, it may be more drying than you are used to, so using moisturizer is extra important.
ingredients: water, potassium stearate, glycerin, peg-8, propylene glycol, potassium myristate, potassium laurate, stearic acid, beeswax, glyceryl stearate, peg-100 stearate, fragrance
neutrogena fresh foaming cleanser: for drier skins, this is probably your best bet in a pinch. and, bonus, it removes makeup.
ingredients: water, glycerin, lauryl glucoside, decyl glucoside, cocamidopropyl betaine, glycereth-7, ammonium laureth sulfate, sodium cocoyl sarcosinate, glycol stearate, cocamide mea, peg-120 methyl glucose dioleate, tetrasodium edta, dmdm hydantoin, fragrance
neutrogena oil-free moisture with spf 15: this day cream will work best on oilier skins. if you’re used to using coola or sS’s safeguard day cream though, be aware of your sun exposure since this has a lower spf.
ingredients: active ingredients: octinoxate (7.5%), octisalate (5%), oxybenzone (3%)
inactive ingredients: water, octyldodecyl neopentanoate, glycerin, emulsifying wax, glyceryl stearate, peg 100 stearate, dimethicone, triethanolamine, diazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, carbomer.
neutrogena healthy skin face lotion with sunscreen spf 15: a day cream for drier or aging skins. same word of warning as its oil-free compatriot: be careful with the sun, especially if you’re used to a higher spf.
ingredients: active ingredients: octyl methoxycinnamate (7. 5%), benzophenone-3 (5%). inactive ingredients: purified water, glycolic acid, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, dicaprylyl maleate, cetyl alcohol, glycerin, stearic acid, glyceryl stearate, peg-100 stearate, sodium glycolate, tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, ascorbic acid polypeptide, panthenol, bisabolol, tetrasodium edta, xanthan gum, methylparaben, propylparaben, diazolidinyl urea, fragrance
neutrogena oil-free moisture – combination skin: a night cream that will do in a pinch for most acneic skin types. if your skin is on the drier side, you really want to make sure to get back to using your sS cream asap, to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
ingredients: water, cyclomethicone, cetyl caprylate, glycerin, cetyl ricinoleate, stearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, peg-100 stearate, acrylates copolymer, lysine carboxymethyl cysteinate, lysine thiazolidine carboxylate, tocopherol, silica, xanthan gum, methylparaben, propylparaben, diazolidinyl urea, benzalkonium chloride
EMERGENCY SPOT CAMOUFLAGE
almay smart shade concealer: we know it’s going to be tempting to abuse this, but this really should only be for emergency coverage. mineral makeup is always best, and with an ingredient list as long as this has, you really have to be careful. that said, if a something pops up and you really need a quick cover-up solution from the drugstore, this appears to be safe.
ingredients: active ingredients: titanium dioxide (4.0%), zinc oxide (2.0%)
inactive ingredients: aqua/water/eau (water, eau), cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, trimethylsiloxysilicate, butylene glycol, trisiloxane, cetyl/peg/ppg 10/1 dimethicone, alcohol denatured, phenyltrimethicone, nylon 12, tribehenin, hdi/trimethylol hexyllactone crosspolymer, sodium chloride, cyclohexasiloxane, peg/ppg 18/18 dimethicone, alumina, boron nitrate, galactoarabinan, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin e), aloe vera (aloe barbadensis) extract, sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid), vitis vinifera (grape) seed extract (grape), centaurea cyanus (cornflower) extract, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, ginseng (panax ginseng) root extract, ginkgo biloba leaf extract, hydrolyzed glycosaminoglycans, disteardimonium hectorite, silica, methicone, triethoxycaprylylsilane, sorbitan sesquioleate, ammonium polyacrylatedimethyl tauramide, cycloheptasiloxane, acrylonitrile/methacrylonitrile/methyl methacrylate copolymer, polysorbate 20, polysorbate 80, talc, tetrasodium edta, phenoxyethanol, propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, mica, iron oxides (ci 77491, 77492, 77499)