16 of the Best FSA- and HSA-Eligible Beauty Products
Shopping for beauty products can be fun, but it can also add up fast. No matter how good they make you feel (or look), no one looks forward to seeing the credit card bill post- Ulta or Sephora trip. However, you can save on your beauty routine by using your FSA (flexible spending account) and HSA (health savings account) on beauty products that are eligible.
Enrolling in either of these programs allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars for certain medical expenses and conditions, like over-the-counter medications and even skin-care products. To help you make the most of your FSA or HSA benefits and shop strategically, we enlisted the help of NYC-based board certified dermatologist Nithin Reddy, MD, to break down the benefits, what types of products qualify and why, and how to optimize your shopping list. We also included some of the best FSA and HSA-eligible skin-care products you can stock up on with your funds, including a few of our editor-backed picks.
What is the difference between an FSA and an HSA?
In order to fully take advantage of these benefits, it is helpful to understand what exactly FSA and HSA accounts are and the differences between them. Both FSA and HSA benefits let you set aside pre-tax money to spend on healthcare costs, but there's an annual contribution limit for an FSA that you can specify during your enrollment period, according to Dr. Reddy. He points out that employers usually offer FSAs, and HSAs are contingent on enrolling in a high-deductible health plan.
"One of the main advantages of an HSA is that it is portable, staying with the account holder through job transitions," Dr. Reddy says. "Other HSA advantages include higher contribution limits, rollovers, investment opportunities, and flexible withdrawals. It is crucial to thoroughly review the terms and conditions, contribution limits, and qualified expenses with both types of accounts to determine their suitability for your needs."
How can beauty products qualify for the tax-free benefit?
Dr. Reddy says that while beauty products alone may not qualify as FSA/HSA eligible, those containing ingredients proven to treat medical conditions — like acne, eczema, or in the prevention of skin cancer can be eligible for FSA/HSA coverage. "For instance, over-the-counter retinol, a well-known antiaging ingredient in many beauty products, is in many acne treatments, making it eligible for FSA/HSA funds," Dr. Reddy says. "Similarly, blemish correctors that contain salicylic acid, another effective ingredient for treating acne, often qualify as FSA/HSA eligible."
Along with acne treatments, sunscreen is also eligible since they help prevent skin cancer. He also notes that some moisturizers can qualify for the benefit if they help with eczema management. "If there is any doubt about a specific product's eligibility, it is always advisable to first consult with your account administrator," he says.
How can consumers take advantage of their FSA/HSA benefits for beauty products?
"Any products labeled as FSA/HSA eligible can be purchased using your FSA or HSA account, providing a convenient way to manage your healthcare expenses by offering tax savings," he says. Sites like Sephora, Target, and Amazon have specific sections you can shop from that filter the products that are eligible for the benefit. "I recommend carefully assessing your skin-care routine to identify which products may qualify for coverage. Consulting with your local dermatologist can help you develop a tailored skin-care routine that caters to your specific skin conditions," Dr. Reddy says.
He recommends swapping products that aren't covered by the benefit with FSA/HSA-eligible items but warns not to overspend on non-essential items if you can help it.
Ahead, we rounded up the best beauty products you can get using your FSA or HSA benefits.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Face Wash
This one is a classic, editor-backed pick. The CeraVe SA Face Wash Cleanser contains acne-fighting salicylic acid, making it an FSA and HSA eligible face wash that can help treat existing breakouts and prevent future ones from forming. It's also got hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to help balance out your skin and keep it hydrated. This is ideal for those with normal to oily skin types, but is also safe for sensitive sets.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Moisturizer For Sensitive Skin
First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration is one of the best moisturizers out there for sensitive skin. It's FSA and HSA Eligible thanks to its colloidal oatmeal that can provide relief for eczema. This hydrating yet fast-absorbing cream is great for all skin types, and will be especially useful during the drier, colder months. It has plenty of barrier-protecting ingredients like shea butter, allantoin, glycerin, and squalane.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Sunscreen That's Affordable
If you're looking for an affordable, everyday sunscreen that feels like nothing on the skin, meet the Innisfree Daily UV Defense Sunscreen. It's an editor-backed pick for good reason. "It's smooth and creamy, kind of like a balmy moisturizer, but it still feels so refreshing and lightweight on the skin that I often forget I have SPF on," one of our editors rave. It contains skin-calming ingredients like green tea, cica, and sunflower seed oil, which makes this chemical sunscreen perfect for all skin types. Read our review of the Innisfree Daily UV Defense Invisible Sunscreen for more.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Acne Treatment Mask
This acne treatment mask from Peter Thomas Roth contains 10 percent sulfur, which can helps diminish existing breakouts, making it FSA and HSA Eligible. It also has kaolin clay and bentonite clay that soak up excess oil while aloe vera soothes the skin. Apply this to the affected areas and leave it on for five to 10 minutes. You can use this mask treatment two to three times per week.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Body Wash
If you're experiencing body acne, Nécessaire's The Body Acne Wash contains two percent salicylic acid to help treat breakouts, which makes it FSA and HSA Eligible. It's gentle enough to use every day if needed or just on flare-up days. It also contains zinc PCA and niacinamide, which helps balance the skin and fade dark spots from previous breakouts.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Healing Ointment
If you're constantly restocking on Aquaphor's Healing Ointment for all your dry skin woes, especially during the winter time, you can get with your FSA and HSA funds. The healing ointment is not only a skin slugging must have, but it's actually beneficial in healing cuts, burns, and even irritated skin. You can use this anywhere on your body for a myriad of reasons for smoother, softer skin.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Pimple Patches
You can stock up on acne patches with your FSA and HSA funds too, since hydrocolloid patches help manage and treat breakouts. These ones from Neutrogena are ultra-thin, so you can wear them out and about while making sure your pimples are protected.
You can also consider getting this combination pack ($10) that has five bigger patches for cluster breakouts and five small patches for single zits.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Moisturizer For Dry Skin
Topicals Like Butter Moisturizer is FSA and HSA Eligible because it is specifically formulated for those with eczema-prone skin. Formulated with colloidal oatmeal, centella asiatica, and green tea, this rich moisturizer helps manage eczema flare-up symptoms including itching and dry patches. This is also great to use if you have generally more dry leaning or sensitive skin.
An FSA and HSA Eligible LED Face Mask
The Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro is one of the only FDA-cleared LED face masks with both antiaging and acne benefits, making it a splurge item that you can get with your FSA and HSA funds. The editor-backed LED mask has 100 red lights that helps stimulate the production of collagen over time and 62 blue lights to target acne-causing bacteria. For more information, check out our in-depth review of the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro ($455).
An FSA and HSA Eligible Retinoid Acne Treatment
Differin Acne Treatment Gel ($26, originally $36)
"Retinoids not only treat acne but also shown to have multiple anti-aging benefits," Dr. Reddy says, and his over-the-counter choice is the Differin Acne Treatment Gel. The 0.1 percent adapalene treatment helps treat acne and is more tolerable than other prescription retinoids like tretinoin. It's best to use this treatment in your nighttime routine with a sunscreen in the morning.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Eczema Cream
Dr. Reddy also recommends La Roche-Posay's Lipikar Soothing Relief Eczema Cream since it's packed with ingredients like colloidal oatmeal that help restore skin barrier and relieve inflammation and irritation. It can be used on the face and body throughout the day on effected areas. In fact, it's accepted by the National Eczema Association.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Sunscreen Compatible With Makeup
If you are obsessed with Supergoop's Unseen Sunscreen as much as we are, we're happy to report that you can get it with your FSA and HSA funds. The chemical sunscreen has a silky, primer-like formula that preps your skin like a smooth canvas. It delivers hydration and no white cast, what more could we ask for?
An FSA and HSA Eligible Lip Balm
Who would have though you can score lip balm using your FSA and HSA funds? The Cay Skin Isle Lip Balm is eligible because of its SPF 30 rating, making it a sunscreen. The hydrating lip balm is also formulated with sea moss and aloe stem cells to help keep your lips protected with a non-sticky finish. It comes in three shades, including clear, a coral pink, and a berry.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Retinol Serum
Formulated with a stabilized form of vitamin A, this retinol night treatment from Neutrogena is a double whammy in treating post-acne scarring and preventing breakouts from occurring. Dr. Reddy also mentions this serum contains vitamin C and Myrtus communis leaf extract, which are antioxidants that can help even out the skin tone.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Sunscreen That's Hydrating
Eucerin's Sun Advanced Hydration SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion is packed with antioxidants that offer additional support and protection along with its high broad spectrum SPF 50. It contains vitamins C and E, along with hyaluronic acid to help hydrate the skin. The formula is lightweight yet leaves a dry touch finish, making it suitable for all skin types. It's not only sensitive skin-friendly but also non-comedogenic.
An FSA and HSA Eligible Exfoliating Cleanser
The Skinfix Acne+ Cleanser has a blend of BHAs, AHAs, azelaic acid, and niacinamide to help combat all types of acne, including fungal acne. The powerful cleanser can be used daily, be sure the focus on the affected areas for better results. With these acne-fighting ingredients, it's definetly covered by FSA and HSA funds.