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Your Guide to Choosing the Best Products for Your Skin Type

June 04, 2018

YOUR GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE

Choosing the best products for your skin type can be as easy as taking a stroll through the beauty section of a department store. However, it can also be challenging since there are so many options to choose from.

Some products claim to be able to do certain things, but fail to deliver. And some products can do more harm than good to your skin! You may be wondering “do I need to buy the most expensive products? Will they work better than the others?”

Or maybe you already know that it's more important to look for the ingredients and formulations that will work best for the type of skin that you have, but keep reading to learn more! 

Get to Know the Skin Care Essentials

Trying out various products is fun, but in choosing the best products for your skin type, it'll be best if you first know about the things that you actually need. So let's look at the products that are the foundation of any routine, as well as why they're important.

Cleansers

There could be a lot of different skincare routines out there – ones requiring as few as three products to as many as ten. But the one product that is common in almost all of them is a cleanser. When trying to choose the best products for your skin type, the cleanser is something that you shouldn't forget or overlook.

Cleansers are typically soap-based, and may also use mild vegetable-based surfactants as well. You may also find oil cleansers (usually deisgned be used in conjuction with other cleansers) as well as gentle solutions like micellar water. Generally, a cleanser should clean the skin without stripping or drying the surface.

It is really important to use a facial cleanser before you go to bed in particular. Cleaning your face after a day of exposure to grime, dirt, dust, and other elements will allow your skin to breathe and repair itself. Sleeping with a dirty face or with your makeup still on will keep the skin from rejuvenating, and can trigger the formation of acne.

Exfoliators

Exfoliation is an important part of your skin care regimen because it helps remove dead, dry skin cells from your skin’s surface. Exfoliating can help treat blemished skin, fade red or dark marks that appear after a breakout, unclog pores, lighten hyperpigmentation, and remove flaky, dry skin.

Exfoliators usually fall into one of two categories: physical or chemical.

  • Physical exfoliators include things like sugar, clays, and fruit seeds -- particles that help scrub the skin using manual pressure. They can be good for removing dry, flaky dead skin but also can be too harsh or may lead to over-exfoliation.
  • Chemical exfoliators are things like alpha hydroxy acid, beta hydroxy acid, or fruit enzymes that work by dissolving dead skin and oils. In balanced amounts, they tend be good for sensitive, acne-prone, and more mature skin types, but some types may make skin more vulnerable to the sun, so don't forget sunscreen!

Toners

Using a toner after cleansing your face helps to remove the last bit of dirt and makeup on your face. The toning step in a routine is key to ensure that you’ve really taken all of the impurities of the day off your face before you sleep. It can also remove excess oil and help reduce acne.

Other benefits of toners include balancing the pH level of the skin, tightening the pores, and helping in skin hydration. Choosing the best toner for your skin type will help you make the most of this step.

Toners can deliver a wide variety of specific benefits from cleansing (boosting your cleanser's power or acting as a cleanser-on-the-go) to soothing (calming redness, itch, or irritation) to hydrating skin (with beneficial botanicals like rose water and aloe vera). 

Serums

Serums are fairly new, compared to the other skin care essentials on this list. However, they can make a huge difference to the texture and appearance of your skin. They're liquids with a high concentration of active ingredients designed to solve specific skin issues.

You'll find a wide variety of serums, from lightweight, water-based hyaluronic acid to potent oils. All have uses, but are designed for specific concerns.

By choosing the best products for your skin type and the concerns that you have, you will be able to get the results that you want – whether it’s brightening your complexion or saturating it with hydration.

Moisturizers

In order for you to have healthy skin, it's important that you moisturize every day. Moisturizing can help improve your skin’s appearance as long as you make sure that you're choosing the best products for your skin type. Choosing one that is both non-comedogenic (will not clog your pores) and rich in vitaminsis the goal. 

Even oily skin types benefit from moisturizers, but the key is picking one designed for your skin type with ingredients that will target your needs.

Sunscreen

Using an effective sunscreen is important not only when you are about to go to the beach on a hot summer day, but also if you are simply running a quick errand outside. Sunscreen can protect you from the harmful rays of the sun.

Apart from that, the formulation can also serve to smooth, soften, and nourish your skin. Using daily SPF is especially important when using chemical exfoliates/peels, retinols, and certain medications as it protects from sun damage that results in premature aging and uneven skin tone.

Tips for Choosing the Best Products for Your Skin Type

There are 5 main types of skin categories most people can identify with: normal, dry, combination, oily, and sensitive. Here are the things you need to know about each type, how to care for your skin, and what you should look for in choosing the best products for your skin type:

Normal Skin

Normal skin generally means that the skin is well-balanced. The skin is not too oily and also not too dry, and its overall moisture is balanced. Normal skin is characterized by fine pores, smooth and soft texture, no/very few blemishes, and not being particularly sensitive to changes.

People who have normal skin are lucky as it is generally easy to care for. If you have normal skin, choosing the best products for your skin type can be a breeze! For you, it's mainly about maintaining a healthy skin barrier and protecting from environmental fluctuations.

How to Choose the Best Products for Normal Skin

If your skin isn't giving you any problems to solve (lucky!), choosing the best products for your skin type is just a matter of preference, although you should still try to avoid irritating ingredients or comodegenic (pore-clogging) products.

When what you're doing is working, stick with it. If you feel that your skin gets a bit dry and flaky sometimes, choose products that are meant for normal to dry skin. Meanwhile, if you feel oily sometimes, choose products designed for normal to oily skin.

Just try to avoid products with aggravating ingredients. As much as possible, choose ones with gentle formulas as you want to keep your normal skin problem-free! 

  • Cleanser - Look for a mild, sulfate free formula that balances moisture and doesn't leave skin feeling tight or dry.
  • Exfoliator - If your complexion is in good shape, you might wish to avoid harsh manual scrubs and instead opt for gentle but effective exfoliators like glycolic acid. You can typically find toners or cleansers with AHA that can be used a few times a week in place of your normal products.
  • Toner - For normal skin, toners should be mild to slightly hydrating. Select products without harsh ingredients like alcohol (witch hazel is more gentle).
  • Serum - Serums can be very useful for delivering targeted ingredients to your skin. Normal skin that verges on oily might prefer gel-based hyaluronic acid type serums for lightweight moisture and anti-aging. Drier and more mature types might prefer serums with lightweight oils like argan, sunflower or prickly pear.
  • Moisturizer - Daytime moisturizers should be lightweight and not too heavy on the skin. Night creams can be heavier, but free of comedogenic ingredients. Oils considered good keeping normal skin healthy include jojoba, cherry kernel, squalane, safflower, argan and others.
  • Sunscreen - Ideally, this should be included in your moisturizer. If not, look for a lighterweight formula that doesn't feel greasy or oily.

Dry Skin

Dry skin produces less oil than the normal type. Because of this, skin finds it difficult to retain moisture and maintain a protective barrier against external elements. This can make it prone to irritation, blemishes, and flakiness, and make wrinkles more apparent. Dry skin comes in varying degrees and forms.

If you have dry skin, first make sure you're drinking plenty of water and eating healthy fats. If your dry skin is seasonal, adding a humidifier to your bedroom might also be helpful. In choosing the best products for your skin type, you have to look for products that will be able to provide your skin with the hydration that it needs. 

How to Choose the Best Products for Dry Skin

  • Cleanser – look for a cleansing formula that can help lock in moisture, such as a creamy cleanser or one with plant-based oils. Most importantly, choose one with very mild surfactants -- no sulfates! You can look for one with vegetable glycerin, which is a hydrating ingredient that can work synergistically with other ingredients to provide relief from dryness. The two-step routine of oil cleansing then using a soap might also help protect and restore moisture levels.
  • Exfoliator – for dry skin, choosing the best product for your skin type means you need to find one that moisturizes as it exfoliates. If you prefer a facial scrub, use one with very fine grains and that has oils or honey. Coarse grains (in a physical exfoliant) can be too abrasive and cause further damage to skin. Better is to use a gentle chemical exfoliant like lactic or glycolic acid thats helps clear dry skin without aggressive scrubbing.
  • Toner – choose a toner that hydrates and moisturizes, and doesn't contain alcohol. You can also look for toners that have nourishing oils and extracts like aloe vera, rose and hyaluronic acid.
  • Serum – look for a serum with rich natural oils and herbal extracts that can help repair, nourish and reinforce the skin barrier.
  • Moisturizer – look for products that have lactic acid (can soothe dry skin), aloe vera (heals and soothes), and hyaluronic acid (attracts and retains water). Dry skin can do well with richer creams higher in oil content, especially for nighttime products. Oils like avocado, moringa, pistachio and argan are your friends.
  • Sunscreen – look for a sunscreen that offers a high SPF while also moisturizing skin. Though you want moisture in this product as it sits on skin for many hours at a time, a sunscreen shouldn't feel greasy or heavy. You want a sunscreen that can fit effortlessly into your routine and not cause any new skin concerns. 

Oily Skin

Oily skin has an overproduction of sebum – a condition known as seborrhea. It is characterized by visibly enlarged pores, thick skin, and glossy shine. It is also prone to comedones and acne. In choosing the best products for oily skin, you'll be looking for ones that are cleansing, lightweight, and gentle.

How to Choose the Best Products for Oily Skin

  • Cleanser – use a deep-cleansing foaming wash or gel. Make sure it can lift away the oil and dirt without stripping your skin of all moisture (skin shouldn't feel uncomfortably tight after using a cleanser. If that occurs, that is a product that is going to cause your skin to overcompensate with sebum production as skin tries to balance and defend itself from dryness). Formulas with AHA or BHA, like small amounts of salicylic acid for example, can help clear oils and debris to prevent blocked pores.
  • Exfoliator – you can use a gentle physical exfoliator, but if you have acne, you should consider a chemical one. You can also use a salicylic acid-containing mask or gentle scrub that will absorb excess oil and target acne-causing bacteria once or twice a week. 
  • Toner – avoid toners that have a higher moisturizer content or that feel heavy. Instead, look for one that is on the cleansing side of the toner spectrum, particularly with toning ingredients like witch hazel, citrus, and sage.
  • Serum – try a serum that offers revitalizing ingredients that helps to minimize pores and remove excess oil while calming any inflammation from acne. Aloe, allantoin, chamomile, lavender and other calming botanicals can help keep redness and oiliness in check.
  • Moisturizer – choose an oil-free gel-type moisturizer, or one with oils that are helpful for balancing skin's pH (like prickly pear seed oil, rosehip seed oil, hemp seed oil or grape seed oil). For oily skin especially daytime, it may be best to go for a gel moisturizer as opposed to a thick cream. Ingredients like aloe and hyaluronic acid hydrate without blocking pores or adding oiliness.
  • Sunscreen – choose a lightweight and oil-free sunscreen. If you have oily skin, it’s best to find one with a gel formula and matte finish.

Combination Skin

Combination skin can be characterized by an oily T-zone, enlarged pores, and normal-to-dry cheeks. Generally considered the most common. For combination skin, the key is balancing both the oily and dry areas of the face. 

How to Choose the Best Products for Combination Skin

  • Cleanser – look for gel or gentle foaming cleansers that can efficiently unclog pores but are also gentle on dry skin. Sulfate-free face washes with balancing oils like rosehip seed oil, or ingredients like glycerin and aloe can cleanse the oilier areas without dehydrating. For morning time, a micellar water can provide a deep enough clean while also gently toning and balancing.
  • Exfoliator – you can choose either chemical or physical exfoliators, but make sure to keep it gentle so as not to end up drying or damaging your skin. You might also wish to spot-exfoliate based on your skin's current problem areas.
  • Toner – choose your toner depending on the weather. During the summer, use a refreshing or cleansing one with extracts like cucumber and witch hazel; while during cold months, use a nourishing, moisturizing one that features some hydrating ingredients. 
  • Serumchoose a serum that is light enough for the oily parts, but also powerful enough to moisturize the dry parts. Hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient for non-oily moisture, and oils like jojoba, evening primrose, and prickly pear help balance.
  • Moisturizer – you can actually use two types of moisturizers – one for the oily parts of your skin, and another for the dry parts. You may also wish to use a light serum all over, then just apply moisturizer to the drier areas of your face. Or you can simply choose one with balancing properties. Moisturizers containing lavender can help balance your skin.
  • Sunscreen – pick a lightweight sunscreen that leaves a matte finish, but includes a few ingredients to help hydrate the skin. 

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is prone to itching, redness, burning, and dryness. There many things that can trigger skin sensitivity. In choosing the best products for your skin type, keep things simple. Avoid ones that contain alcohol, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, dyes, and parabens. It's best to use natural products!

How to Choose the Best Products for Sensitive Skin

  • Cleanser – choose one with non-irritating ingredients, particuarly natural-based surfactants free of sulfates. You should use a cleanser that has soothing protective ingredients, such as aloe vera, seaweed, chamomile, or cucumber.
  • Exfoliator – it is better to use a very gentle chemical exfoliator like lactic acid or fruit enzymes than a physical one if you have sensitive skin, but make sure to choose one with gentle ingredients.
  • Toner – avoid alcohol-based toners. Instead, look for one with witch hazel extract, which is delicate to the skin, yet has anti-bacterial properties.
  • Serum – choose a serum with minimal ingredients that can help repair your skin barrier. One with a simple blend of aloe vera and hyaluronic acid without fragrances or harsh preservatives can provide soothing moisture.
  • Moisturizer – try to find one that is free of fragrances. If you want a natural product, choose one that has soothing ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile. Pure aloe vera as well as oils like tamanu, peach kernel, almond, or papaya seed oil can also add moisture with low risk of irritation.
  • Sunscreen – avoid sunscreens that have Pare-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA) in the formulation as well as nanoparticles or fragrances. Mineral-block sunscreens are your best options.

Other Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Products for Your Skin Type

We've all seen skin care products that make claims that are too good to be true, such as claiming to cure your acne in 3 days, or saying they can plump up your dry skin after just one use. Choosing the best products for your skin type requires you to be careful of such “miracle products.”

Always select a product that is made by a reputable manufacturer that you can trust. Know that it takes your skin 4-6 weeks to adapt to a new product - rarely are changes seen overnight with any ingredient.

You will have more success in choosing the best products for your skin type if you conduct research prior to buying. Read product labels and see what their active ingredients are. If the ingredients are unfamiliar to you, read about them first and find out how they will affect your particular skin type.

Additionally, do not hesitate to consult with your dermatologist about ingredients or a certain product first. Choosing the best products for your skin type will be easier for you if you know what will work for your skin and what will only cause damage to it.

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