The key to attaining beautiful skin is balance. Our skin stays healthy when it produces enough - but not too much - natural oil (called sebum). Sebum helps keep skin soft and supple, and most importantly, it protects the outer layer of skin from losing natural moisture. How much you have (or don't have) helps determine your skin type - oily, dry or combination.
Too much sebum and you end with oily skin, too little and you need mega-moisture, and if you have unbalanced levels of sebum that means you're stuck in skin-limbo, dealing with both dry and oily patches. But fear not, we're here to help you find the best beauty routine to suit your skin.
Oily skin produces more sebum than it needs, leading to blemishes, blackheads and breakouts. Oily skin also has a tendency to be shiny by mid-day and will often have larger, visible pores.
Treat oily skin by washing with warm water (warm water dissolves oil and breaks down dirt more effectively than cold water) and a cleanser formulated for oil skin like Clinique Wash-Away Gel Cleanser ($20). Apply a mild oil-free moisturizer after each wash - Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer ($11) is an affordable and effective option -- and it's also important to use a gentle exfoliant to remove dead cells from clogged pores.
Quick tip: To save time look for 2-in-1 products that cleanse and exfoliate.
If your skin feels tight and taut after washing, it's probably because your skin isn't producing enough of it's natural oil. Dry skin is usually hereditary, but external factors also play a role. Cleansing too often with soap and water, living in a dry climate, indoor coolers and heaters, and cold weather conditions can also contribute to dry skin.
Dry skin can occur at any age, but as we get older, we begin to lose healthy levels of sebum. Don't over-wash (which can further dry skin out), and be sure to use cool water when cleansing. Exfoliate your skin regularly -- but scrub gently and apply moisturizer immediately after cleansing to lock in natural oils. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant ($50) is gentle, effective and leaves skin smooth and glowing.
Dry in some parts and oily in others, combination skin is probably the most common skin type, but can be the trickiest to deal with.
There are many products available that treat combination skin - look for those that offer skin-balancing properties like REN Mayblossom Cleansing Gel ($32), which balances combination skin. If your face is particularly fickle, you many want to think about having products on hand suited to both oily and dry skin. Gently cleanse and treat dryer areas (usually near the cheeks, eyes and mouth) with products suited for dry skin and keep oily skin (usually near the forehead, nose and chin) cleansed and toned with oil-busting products. Keep in mind that both dry and oil areas need moisturizing.
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