This skin-care routine is a derm-approved dupe for a $1,600 brightening system

August 26, 2019 at 06:28PM by CWC

It has been brought to my attention that there is a skin-care system on the market that retails for $1,600.Now, don’t get me wrong: I love a bougie beauty product and have my fair share of them. In fairness, I only use my tiny travel jar of Creme de la Mer when I need a pick me up on exceptionally bad days, but the point is that I don’t judge anyone who wants to spend upwards of $200 on a beauty product, because I’m right there with you.


When I saw that 111 Skin Lunar28 clocks in at $1,600, at first I had to figure out what made it so good, and then I had to figure out how I could dupe it. Because the only thing I can spend half my paycheck on is my rent.  Here’s the deal: During the first week, you use an enzyme resurfacing peel to exfoliate and resurface skin, the second week, you’re meant to target dark spots and minimize pores, the third week involves an “intensive brightening serum” that has melanoregulators and retinoids in it that help smooth texture and reduce pigmentation, and in the final week, you soothe inflammation and redness to chill out your complexion and help it fend off things to come.

While there’s definitely a reason why these products come along with such a hefty price tag, the beauty editor in me can’t help but wonder if you could fake it with some more affordable alternatives that use the same—or at least, similar—ingredients. So I asked board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD for help. “While many people find kits convenient to use because all of the products and ingredients are pre-specified, if you’re smart with your products, you can re-create kits using products from many different brands,” he says. Here, he shares his dupe routine, which will run you far less than the cost of a month in your apartment. In fact, the whole regimen will only cost you $140.

Week 1: Glytone Exfoliating Serum 17 ($50)

The first step in the system is all about clearing away dead skin cells. “Use an exfoliating cleanser that contains ingredients like glycolic acid to help remove dead cells from the skin and improve radiance,” says Dr. Zeichner, who suggests this Glytone serum as a great alternative to Lunar111’s version.


Week 2: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum ($18) + Ghost Democracy Lightbulb Vitamin C Serum ($34)

Week two is about brightening, which requires retinol and vitamin C. “Enhance cell turnover with a topical retinoid and brighten the skin with a vitamin C serum,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Apply the vitamin C serum in the morning and the retinoid in the evening to make sure that they do not deactivate each other.”

Week 3: L’Oréal Paris Derm Intensives Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($23) and Ambi Fade Cream ($6)

During week three, you’ll want to use an intense pigment blocker like, hydroquinone, along with a hyaluronic serum to minimize irritation. This under-$30 product combo fits the bill.

Photo: Aveeno

Week 4: Aveeno Ultra Calming Nourishing Night Cream ($19)

The final step is all about hydrating and calming your skin to restore a healthy skin barrier. Dr. Zeichner is a fan of this Aveeno moisturizer for those exact reasons, because it contains out extract that protects the skin along with anti-inflammatory feverfew extract.

Another way to brighten your skin that won’t break the bank? With vitamin C. Watch the video below for a full tutorial on how, care of dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara.


We love a good dupe, like this drugstore peptide product that acts as a great alt for for Sephora’s most expensive serum, or the $9 Trader Joe’s moisturizer you’d swear was the same as La Mer.

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Author Zoe Weiner | Well and Good
Selected by CWC