Just as every woman is unique, every woman’s skin is different. Whether it’s dry, oily or anything in between—I can think of at least four oily combinations off the top of my head—your skin type is unique to you. So then, why don’t you customize your skincare regimen just for you?

So many women damage their skin when trying to heal it because they aren’t using the right techniques, ingredients, frequencies, etc. Let me help you out.

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to focus on the four major skin types and how to properly care for them. Don’t know which type you fall into? I’ll help with that, too.

how do i know my skin type?

  • Combination: Your T-Zone (forehead and nose) and chin are oily and are usually where your breakouts happen, while the rest of your face tends to be dry. You also fall into the combination category if your skin changes with the climate or season—today it’s embarassingly oily, next week it’s Sahara dry.
  • Oily: Your face could constantly use some blotting paper. It feels and looks moist and shiny, your pores clog easily, and your skin is acne-prone. You struggle with both noninflammatory acne (blackheads and whiteheads) and inflammatory acne (pimples and cystic zits), which pop up all over.
  • Normal: You’re one of the lucky ones with a balanced complexion. It’s not too oily, not too dry, and you rarely have breakouts. Your skin reflects light evenly, doesn’t change much during the day, and can handle many kinds of products without having a reaction.
  • Dry/Sensitive: Your skin sucks up moisturizer like an unused sponge in water. It often feels tight, rough or dry, especially later in the day, flushes easily and may have red patches or eczema (a dry, rashlike condition). Skin products, sunblocks, and cosmetics sometimes sting or cause redness.

How can i care for my skin?

Combination 
Find a face wash that contains glycolic acid, as it treats multiple skin conditions—it dries up excess oil, gently exfoliates and helps cell regeneration to create smooth and radiant skin. Try washing your face only once a day. (Rinse with warm water in the morning, but wash every night after removing your makeup to get the day’s grime off.) If your skin is too oily for that, bump it up to wash twice a day.

Help your skin heal while you sleep by using a nightly recovery cream. Look for one with ingredients that stimulate cell growth and collagen production, like a retinoid, Adaptonyl or Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media.

Oily

Skincare is a balancing act. You want to get rid of the excess oil, but you don’t want to dry your skin out. Avoid cleansers with alcohols, and instead opt for gentle formulas with benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or beta-hydroxy acid. Wash your face every morning and evening, especially after removing your makeup before bed. Makeup removers can only clean so much. Washing your face after removing your makeup will get off any residue and clean off the day’s nastiness, both of which can clog pores.

Just because your skin is oily doesn’t mean you shouldn’t moisturize. After washing your face, apply a lightweight, water-based, noncomedogenic moisturizer. The same applies to your makeup. Airbrush makeups, especially, are great for allowing skin to breathe.

Exfoliate once a week to loosen and remove dirt and oil in your pores and always wash your hands before touching your face. Using dirty hands (or makeup brushes) to apply makeup can transfer bacteria and cause breakouts.


Normal

People with normal skin don’t need to pay as much detailed attention to their regimen as others, but that doesn’t mean you have a “get out of jail free” card, either. Every morning, rinse your face with warm water, and every evening, after removing your makeup, wash your face with gentle, water-soluble cleanser.

When you exfoliate (no more than once a week), use an exfoliant with alpha hydroxy acid to combat wrinkles. And every morning, use a noncomedogenic moisturizer with SPF 30.


Dry/Sensitive

You’ve probably heard that you need to wash your face with hot water to open your pores and rinse with cold water to close them. Exposing your skin to extreme temperatures, however, can exacerbate dryness. Even taking an overly long shower or bath can dry out your skin.

While it may be tempting to scrub all of the flakiness off of your face, you still need to be gentle. Find a gentle exfoliating face wash and use it up to twice a day. Avoid any products with benzoic acid, sodium dodecyl sulfate or fragrances and other irritants.

Additional products like serums and moisturizers will differ from person to person based on your needs, but in general you should look for skin-soothing ingredients like vitamin C and feverfew extract, and moisturizing ingredients like Idinyl and Sodium Hyaluronate.

 

Whatever your skin type, there are a few skincare staples that are a constant. For your best possible skin, you should make sure to stay hydrated (at least 8 cups a day) and well rested (at least 7 hours). Your skin does most of its repair work while you sleep, and hydrated, rested skin will perform better.

Always wash your face with warm, not hot water, use noncomedogenic products and start your day with SPF 30 or more.

What are your tried-and-true skincare tips?

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