If there is anything to be thankful for in life right now, the accessibility of good skincare is definitely one of them. While we love a good high end skincare product, there’s definitely no need to drop serious dough in order to have clear skin.
For every skin concern you may have, there’s a drugstore (or ultra affordable) option out there waiting for you!
Should you be dealing with a complex issue like milia, you may be wondering: what are the best drugstore products for milia? Don’t grab products that use physical exfoliants or extractors. Instead, opt for chemical exfoliants, SPF, and the addition of retinoids. Finding the most gentle ingredients possible can also be beneficial, as can natural alternatives to cosmetic products.
There are a multitude of different routes you can take when trying to remedy your milia. Here, find the best drugstore solutions that your skin (and bank account) will love!
What Is Milia?
Milia are commonly seen as tiny, white bumps that sit under the surface of the skin. Different than pimples, milia don’t contain pus or liquid, they instead consist of dried or hardened dead skin cells.
Scientifically speaking, milia are are cysts that occur when keratin (a protein in the skin) becomes trapped. They’re commonly found near the thinnest parts of your face, around your lips, eyes, and sometimes even on your cheeks near the nose.
They are small, circular, and typically don’t itch, swell, or turn the skin red. They’re very common, but are seen mostly on newborns, which is what earned it its nickname of “milk spots.”
What Causes Milia?
Babies are typically born with milia, so there are no direct causes in those instances. Lucky, baby milia resolves itself as time goes by.
Circumstances are different, however, for adults suffering with milia. In older age, milia usually accompanies some sort of skin damage. It could be due to over exposure to the sun, poison ivy, sun damage, steroids, or overuse of laser treatments. Unfortunately, it can also be caused by less abrasive circumstance, like aging.
In cases like these, one must look to different beauty products in order to speed up the skins reparation process, or to bring the keratin overload to the surface of the skin for easier extraction.
What Qualities To Look For
1. Chemical Exfoliants
Using physical exfoliants on already compromised skin is a sure fire way to invite in bacteria, viruses, or other aggressors that could aggravate your skin further.
In cases of milia, people may think that physical scrubs or washcloths can effectively bring the milia to the surface of the skin, when in reality, it will only exacerbate the look of the condition.
When it comes to skincare, remember that slow and steady wins the race! Using a gentle chemical exfoliant over a course of time can effectively aid in repairing milia, without damage to the rest of your skin. If you see results you like, you can slowly increase the percentage of AHAs/BHAs in your routine to expedite results.
Rising in popularity in the skincare world, retinol is seen as miracle worker for a plethora of skin woes.
It binds to the retinoid receptors that are naturally produced in your skin, thus speeding up cell turnover and stimulating your skin to produce more collagen and elastin, giving you the (milia free) skin of your youth!
Lightly exfoliating the very top surface of your skin, it also improves any unwanted texture and dull skin tone.
3. Gentle Ingredients
Have sensitive skin that doesn’t play well with chemical exfoliants? Or maybe you’ve tried your luck with AHAs and BHAs and still haven’t found relief. Whatever the reason is for not opting for a chemical treatments, you don’t have to feel like it’s a dead end on your skincare journey!
There are plenty of all natural ingredients that people claim to have helped them with their milia, including manuka honey, rosewater, and even vitamin A.
Using a facial humidifier or steamer in conjunction with other products is a great, all natural way to open up your pores without exposing your skin to potentially irritating products.
If you have super sensitive skin, you may even benefit from using this method alone.
Sun damaged skin has a rougher, more leather-like surface. Because it’s so compromised, keratin build-up (or any other build-up for that matter) has a difficult time rising to the surface of the skin.
While it’s difficult to reverse the effects of prolonged sun exposure, it’s never too late to start protecting your skin. Introducing a strong SPF to your skincare routine can drastically reduce the look of milia over time, making it a must in your beauty routine.
Best Drugstore Products For Milia
|1.||CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser||Gentle face wash, exfoliating, salicylic acid|
|2.||BeautyRX Retinol Cream||2.5% retinol, brightening, anti-aging|
|3.||QRx Labs Exfoliating Liquid||2% BHA, salicylic acid, niacinamide|
|4.||L’Oreal Paris All-Over Honey Balm||Extremely nourishing, lasting results after one month, manuka honey|
|5.||Heritage Store Rosewater||Can be used as toner or facial spray, all natural, cruelty free|
|6.||Valjean Labs Clarify Facial Serum||Witch hazel, vitamin A, protects against UV damage|
|7.||Nano Ionic Facial Humidifier||Helps blood circulation, pore cleaning, aromatherapeutic|
|8.||Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen||Oil free, water light, non-comedogenic|
|9.||Tatuo Silicone Facial Scrubber||Super gentle, easy to clean, physical exfoliation|
1. CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
Starting off strong with arguably one of the most popular drugstore skincare brands on the market, this face wash is such a great pick for those with milia (or acne prone skin).
The star of this liquid facial cleanser is definitely the salicylic acid, which is a BHA that can effectively exfoliate your skin.
When used in excess it can be drying, but this wash was formulated to be gentle enough for daily use. That means you get all the exfoliating benefits, without compromising your skins natural moisture barrier.
On top of the salicylic acid, this face wash also contains hyaluronic acid (for moisture retention), niacinamide (for hydration), and vitamin D (for antioxidants). And of course, it wouldn’t be a CeraVe product without the addition of ceramides to help protect and shield your skin’s natural microbiome.
This cleanser is gel based, but bubbles into a lovely foam. While sudsy, your face will feel hydrated and clean instead of dry and stripped.
2. BeautyRX Retinol Cream
It’s easy to fall under the guise that retinol is among the more luxury items you can add to your skincare regime, but the truth is that it’s something that you can find at any price point.
On top of its affordability, this retinol cream is full of a magical cocktail of ingredients that will keep your skin looking its absolute best.
The retinol gently exfoliates your skin, improving your texture and tone, while also increasing collagen production. If your milia is caused by aging, this retinoid cream would be a fantastic addition to your beauty products.
While retinol is obviously the most notable ingredient in this facial cream, there are a couple of other additions to the formula that really set this retinoid cream above the rest (especially in terms of affordable/drugstore contenders).
Shea butter moisturizes your skin, hyaluronic acid will retain moisture in your skin and keep you plump, while the added green tea protects against UV damage and fades dark spots.
3. QRx Labs Exfoliating Liquid
If you’re a skincare connoisseur, you’re probably very familiar with the Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, which has grown unbelievably popular as of late. It’s incredibly effective, but constantly dishing $32 for 4 fluid oz of product can get costly fast.
Luckily, QRx Labs has their own formula that people swear is a dupe for the Paula’s Choice version.
This is a 2% BHA Exfoliating Liquid, making it the same strength as its more pricy alternative. This is a safe enough exfoliant to use daily. However, we recommend starting use at every other day or so (you can increase once you see your skins reaction).
This product contains the highly beloved BHA salicylic acid and niacinamide. When combined, these ingredients will lightly exfoliate your skin while keeping you soft and supple.
We love this product for all skin types and ages, but it works absolute wonders as an anti-aging product, making it a fantastic pick for those in their 20s-30s.
4. L’Oreal Paris All-Over Honey Balm
Keeping your skin soft, healthy, and moisturized is a great way to ensure healthy cell production and renewal.
Manuka honey is a great additive to any skincare routine, but for those with milia, you’ll be able to see how incredible of an anti-inflammatory agent it is. If your milia is due to a combination of dry skin and aging, this product will hit two birds with one stone.
This is a great choice for a nighttime moisturizer, as it’s a thicker, more balm-like texture than lightweight. The feel of the product makes it a lifesaver for textured skin (and can be used on the neck, hands, and elbows).
The manuka honey in this formula was derived from New Zealand, making it the highest quality possible. Not only that, but the rest of the formula is paraben and mineral oil free. It goes on like silk, and it’s gentle enough to be used by even the most sensitive skin types.
5. Heritage Store Rosewater
If manuka honey is your nighttime hero for milia, consider rose water your daytime player. It’s highly revered for it’s anti-inflammatory properties, but it’s light enough where it can be easily absorbed so you don’t look too dewy or oily throughout the day.
Finding a good quality rosewater that hasn’t been mixed with unappealing chemicals or preservatives is easy thanks to the Heritage Store, who have been well loved for their two-ingredient formula for over 50 years!
You rosewater will come in an easily dispensable bottle, but can be transferred into a spritzer bottle or a toner bottle easily, so you can use it in the most effective way possible. We personally recommend transferring the formula into a fine mister bottle like this one, for easy application in the mornings or throughout the day.
From initial use, you’ll be able to feel the intense hydrating properties enrich your skin, and see how the rosewater is able to revive a dull complexion.
6. Valjean Labs Clarify Facial Serum
So, you may be aware of the effectiveness of retinols in treating skin with milia, but maybe you’re not quite ready to add such a powerful ingredient into your skincare routine.
Since retinols and retinoids are vitamin A derivatives, using a vitamin A serum is a great way to get the same effect as a retinoid over a longer period of time.
We think this is a great choice for sensitive skin types, or those who already have an intricate skincare routine.
Vitamin A is a master at exfoliating the skin in a gentle way. It will encourage your skin to shed old cells and make healthier ones. Not only that, but it can protect against UV damage and smooth out wrinkles.
This vitamin A works in tandem with the added witch hazel, which effectively cleans out your pores and prevents breakouts, buildup, and dull looking skin.
7. Nano Ionic Facial Humidifier
Looking for a product to use in tandem with any of the other recs we have on this list?
Or maybe you’re just looking for an all natural solution to your milia that doesn’t involve a topical solution. Either way, we can’t recommend this facial humidifier enough!
This facial humidifier utilizes the power of steam to open up your pores, drawing build-up and keratin to the surface of the skin for easier extraction.
It increases blood circulation, which promotes cell renewal, and gets your skin ready for better product absorption.
You can even add essential oils to the steam to make for an ultra relaxing aroma therapy session (we recommend rose oil).
This set comes with a super cute cat ear headband to push your hair out of your face, as well as a blackhead removal kit when you feel your milia is ready for extraction.
Note: Some milia may be deeply impacted in the surface of your skin, and might require the aid of a dermatologist to extract. If you feel hesitant about taking these tools to your face, we suggest asking a professional for assistance.
8. Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen
Having milia, or even acne, may scare you away from applying the right amount of sunscreen (or even from applying sunscreen altogether).
This is definitely not a good idea, as shielding your skin from the sun should be among the most important steps of your skincare routine.
This oil-free formula from Neutrogena not only has an SPF of 30, but is non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores and won’t add onto existing milia.
This is an ultra sensitive skin friendly sunscreen, making it appropriate for every skin type. It has a weightless formula, so it sits well underneath makeup. But there’s no doubt that our absolute favorite feature about this sunscreen is it’s matte formula, so it won’t exaggerate the look of any texture.
9. Tatuo Silicone Facial Scrubber
While the world is moving on from the use of physical exfoliants in terms of facial scrubs, using this silicone facial scrubber is a gentle alternative.
It’s soft and pliable, so it moves with your skin, but it’s effective enough to offer mild exfoliation.
This scrubber is fantastic to use in tandem with a makeup removing oil, to extract the cosmetics that may have become trapped in your pores, but we highly recommend using it with your favorite gel, cream, or water based cleanser.
This will ensure that your cleanser is able to penetrate into your pores, clearing out any buildup before it has the chance of forming new milia.
Not only can it prevent skin issues, since it scrubs away any dead skin, it can bring your milia to the surface, ready to be scrubbed away during a later wash.