The first, most important step you can take toward caring for your skin properly is to choose the right cleansing products for your particular skin type. The skin on your face is under constant attack from both inside and out, with elements such as the sun and wind causing wrinkles to develop prematurely, and poor diet leading to acne and oiliness. Factors such as stress, pollution, and the changing seasons can also take their toll, making skin look dull, flaky, and lifeless. To combat these enemies, skin needs to be well cared for throughout your life. Moreover, as cleansers, toners, and moisturizers become increasingly sophisticated, it is especially important to use the right one for your skin type. Examine your skin first thing in the morning, then use the chart below to assess which type you are and discover which kinds of products to use and which to avoid.
The Skin’s Structure
The skin is the body’s largest organ and its main function is to provide a protective covering, although it also regulates body temperature and registers touch, pressure, and pain. It is made up of thousands of components, including sweat glands, oil-producing (sebaceous) glands, blood vessels, nerve endings, hair follicles, collagen fibers, fat cells, and sweat pores. The visible skin on the surface of the body is only a small part of this complex organ. Skin has three layers: the epidermis (the top outer layer), the dermis (true skin), and the hypodcrmis (the bottom layer).
The epidermis is the body’s waterproof covering and consists of dead and dying cells that are constantly being replaced by new skin cells formed in the dermis.
The dermis is situated underneath the epidermis and contains most of the skin’s living structures, such as blood vessels, nerve endings, and sebaceous and sweat glands. It also includes collagen fibers, which give the skin strength and resilience.
The hypodcrmis is the deepest layer. It is composed mainly offat cells, which cushion the blood, lymph, and nervous systems, and help preserve body heat.
Looks: Clear with an even texture.
Feels: Soft and smooth.
Problems: Pimples may occasionally break out, particularly around the chin and nose; dry patches can develop if skin is not cleansed and moisturized. Use a creamy liquid or cream cleanser, a water-soluble cleanser or gentle facial soap. Use a loner with or without alcohol, rosewatcr or a still mineral water spray.
Use a light cream or lotion, preferably with an added sunscreen.
Tip: Normal skin needs just as much attention as dry, oily, or sensitive skin, especially if exposed to extremes of temperature.
Caution: Be careful not to use products that have a tendency to dry out the skin, such as toners with a high alcohol content.
Looks: “Thin” or papery with fine pores, and is prone to broken veins on the cheeks.
Feels: Tight after cleansing, and can react by becoming red and blotchy.
Problems: Lacks moisture because skin does not produce enough sebum, the skin’s lubricating oil. Develops lines more easily than other skin types.
Use a cream cleanser, a very rich liquid cleanser, or a moisturizing, nonperfumed soap, but rinse off thoroughly. Use a mild alcohol-free toner, rosewatcr, or cool water.
Use an enriching, protective cream formula, preferably with an added sunscreen.
Tip: Pay particular attention to moisturizing, especially the delicate skin around your eyes. Caution: Check labels to make sure you do not use any products that contain alcohol.
Oily or combination skin
Looks: Shiny and greasy; combination skin has only patches of oilincss, particularly around the nose, chin, and forehead.
Feels: Uneven and rough.
Problems: Prone to pimples, blackheads, and enlarged pores; combination skin may have patches of dryness on the cheeks, as well as acne.
Use a light lotion or a milk cleanser; treat severe skin eruptions with a medicated liquid cleanser.
Use an alcohol-based toner, but avoid those that contain simple alcohols such as ethanol, methanol, and isopropyl – these can be harsh and dry out the skin more.
Use a light, non-oily formula, preferably with an added sunscreen; should also be noncomcdogcnic (it won’t block pores).
Tips: Moisturize the neck and cheeks thoroughly as these areas can become quite dry; treat pimples with a cleansing stick.
Cautions: Do not be templed to use harsh cleansers or toners as these will strip away natural oils. Never pick at blackheads or pimples; consult your doctor if acne develops.
Looks: Clear, but easily becomes red and blotchy. Feels: Hot, burning, or stinging when irritated. Problems: Reacts when it comes into contact with an allergen or an irritant, either externally or internally; can develop swellings, bumps under the skin, and flakiness.
Use a hypoallcrgenic clcanser that is free of possible irritants or allergic substances. Avoid using soap, which can strip away the skin’s protective layer and so make it more sensitive.
Use a hypoallergenic or alcohol-free toner.
Use a hypoallergenic protective cream, preferably with an added sunscreen.
Tip: Watch for hypoallergenic cosmetic and sun-care products, too.
Caution: Never use new products without testing them first and waiting 24 hours to see if a reaction develops.