How to choose the best moisturizer and exfoliant

Nov 12, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. ET

If you're dealing with skin care confusion, you're not alone. Facing shelves upon shelves of skin care products can be tough. Our expert weighs in on how to choose an exfoliator and a moisturizer that work for your skin type.

woman shopping for beauty products

For shopping insight, we asked Kirk Brierley, national training manager at RoC Canada, for his tips on choosing the best products for your skin’s needs.

Choosing a moisturizer

So many different types of moisturizers are available for different skin types, choosing the right one can be confusing. Brierley recommends factoring in the following criteria when you shop for a new product.

Know your skin type: Before you start searching for a daily facial moisturizer, you need to know a little about your skin, or you risk choosing something that will hurt rather than help your complexion.

Brierley suggests asking yourself the following questions: During the day, does your face tend to stay dry, or does it develop a greasy sheen? Do you have any fine lines or an uneven skin tone? "The answers to these questions will help define your skin type," he explains.

Think about sunscreen: One of the most important features of a daily facial moisturizer is sunscreen (no matter the season). "UVA and UVB rays have damaging effects on skin. They strip skin of hydration, which leads to premature aging, wrinkles and skin damage, and can also cause skin cancer," says Brierley. "By applying a face lotion with sunscreen in it, you can easily protect your skin from the signs of aging and maintain a healthier, youthful appearance."

Take into account the changing seasons: The time of year you shop for a daily facial moisturizer can influence what type you should buy, says Brierley. "Just like for your body, in the winter your face may often need extra moisture."

Exfoliators explained

Choosing the right skin-smoothing product is important, since exfoliation is a necessary skin care step if you want to maintain a healthy complexion. Before you buy, you need to consider a few factors when choosing the best exfoliating product for your needs. Brierley tells us exfoliating products come in two major types: chemical exfoliants and physical exfoliants.

Chemical exfoliants: These have an acid- or enzyme-based formula such as alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), like glycolic acid, or beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), like salicylic acid. "I usually recommend a chemical exfoliant if you have acne or acne-prone skin. I also recommend them for maturing skin or other skin types that do not exfoliate as quickly because of age or sun damage," Brierley explains.

Physical exfoliants: These products are typically a soap or lotion that contains beads or any other rough substance to physically "buff" away dead skin cells and impurities. Use these if you have dry or combination skin. Oftentimes a scrub will also contain other ingredients to treat skin simultaneously while exfoliating, explains Brierley. "For example, in addition to the micro-exfoliating beads in the RoC Smoothing Scrub, the formula is infused with bentonite clay, which serves as a soft cleansing agent to remove excess oils and impurities, while its high levels of glycerin moisturize skin," he says.

If you're still not sure which products are right for you, talk to your dermatologist or a skin care professional to determine what would be best for your skin type and complexion concerns.

More skin care tips

DIY spa treatments: Make your own face masks
Beauty secrets from around the world
Cleansing your face like a pro

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