Great skin is not simply a matter of DNA — your daily habits, in fact, have a big impact on what you see in the mirror. But depending on which product reviews you read or doctors you consult, there is a dizzying number of opinions on everything from how to moisturize to how to protect yourself from UV rays. Ultimately, caring for your skin is simply personal. Here’s what you should keep in mind to sort through all the noise.
Ingredients to look for
- Hyaluronic acid is ideal for your entire face. It hydrates your skin without weight or greasiness that could aggravate preexisting oiliness. Try The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 or CeraVe Hyaluronic Acid Serum.
- Salicylic acid can regulate oil production and unclog pores. Honest Beauty Clearing Cleanser and Philosophy Overnight Repair Acne Treatment Pads are popular options.
- Lactic acid, found in Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, is a mild exfoliant that gently removes dead skin cells from dry areas and clears pores.
- Emollients range from butters like shea to oils like coconut. They soften and smooth dry skin by filling in the gaps between scaly cells. Try REN Vita Mineral Emollient Rescue Cream.
- Antioxidants protect skin against environmental damage, like UV exposure. Choose a product with vitamin C to maintain general skin health and provide anti-inflammatory effects. Choose a product with vitamin E for moisturizing and healing properties. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic serum contains both.
- Cleanser. This vital morning product removes the grime and sweat that builds up overnight. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser is oil-free, while CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser helps clear pores.
- Toner. This will remove any oil your cleanser missed and balance your skin’s pH levels. Skip alcohol-based toners in favor of soothing formulas like Herbivore Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner or SkinCeuticals Equalizing Toner.
- Serum or treatment. These focus on hydrating and protecting your skin in the morning. Try opting for a serum with hyaluronic acid, like Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum or L’Oreal Paris Revitalift 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid.
- Moisturizer. Choose two different moisturizers to hydrate and nourish various parts of your face. A creamy formula, like Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion, is ideal for dry areas. For oily parts, try a lightweight, water-based product, like Simple Water Boost Hydrating Gel Cream.
- Sunscreen. This helps mattify skin and protects against UV damage — as long as the right product is used. Opt for a lightweight, SPF 30+ formula, like Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 or EltaMD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47.
- Makeup (if desired). If you want to wear makeup, opt for lightweight, mattifying products, like Estee Lauder The Mattifier Shine Control Perfecting Primer + Finisher. When it comes to foundation and concealer, look for oil-free, noncomedogenic formulas, like bareMinerals Original Loose Powder Foundation SPF 15 and Maybelline Fit Me Concealer.
- Makeup remover (if needed). Wore makeup? Then you’ll need to remove it to keep pores unclogged and allow your skin to breathe. Micellar water, like Bioderma Sébium H2O, is one of the gentlest ways to do this. Or try Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser for a foaming alternative.
- Cleanser. A good nighttime cleanser, like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser or Ole Henriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control Cleanser, will remove any stubborn remnants of makeup as well as the day’s dirt and grime, helping combat congestion and soothe dry skin.
- Serum, treatment, or moisturizer. The evenings are the perfect time for stronger products. Choose an emollient-rich moisturizer for dry patches; a restorative vitamin C product, like TruSkin Vitamin C Serum; or even a nondrying retinol treatment, like Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules, to improve skin texture.
- Exfoliant. Removing dead skin is crucial for clearing pores and relieving dry areas. Use a gentle chemical exfoliant, like Pixi Glow Peel Pads, or a soft scrub, like Kormeili’s Refine MicroDerm Scrub. Apply once a week, building up to two or three times a week if needed.
- Facial mask. Multi-masking was made for combination skin. Instead of slathering one mask all over your face, this method applies different masks to different areas of the face. Try a clay mask, like Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, to manage oiliness and a hydrating mask, like Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, for dry spots.