The path to a perfect complexion is far from one-size-fits-all: what you need to do depends on the type of skin you have.
If you’re unsure what category you fall in, do this test suggested by Julie Lindh, a New York-based aesthetician and skin care consultant: “Wash your face and wait a minute before putting on any moisturizer,” she says. If it feels tight all over, you have dry skin. Only tight in a few areas, like your cheeks? You have combination skin. And if it doesn’t feel tight anywhere, you have oily skin.
Once you’ve identified complexion, use the following personalized skin care tips to get glowing.
If your face is oily…
- Use a powdered sunscreen. “You have to protect your face from the sun, but moisturizing sunscreens can make you look shiny and clog pores,” says Dr. Rebecca Kazin, the medical director of Johns Hopkins Dermatology and Cosmetic Center. A powder sunscreen, which you apply like foundation, provides coverage without adding greasiness -- and you can reapply without messing up your makeup.
- Blot, blot, blot. “You don’t want to constantly be putting on face powder to conquer shine,” says Kazin. Stash blotting paper or tissues in your purse, and dab your nose, forehead and chin throughout the day.
- Embrace acid. “Products made with acids can decrease oil production while helping with fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots and acne,” says Kazin. “Use a cleanser that includes salicylic or glycolic acid. And at night, apply a lotion with retinoic acid.”
- Exfoliate! “Dead skin and extra oil clog pores, bringing on blackheads,” says Lindh. “That’s why you need to exfoliate twice a week in the winter, and three times when it’s hot and humid out.” (But avoid scrubbing more often, which can generate more oil production.) Don’t want to invest in another product? Try this skin care tip: Dip wet fingers in baking soda and use that to scrub off the dead skin.
- Opt for creams, not lotions. “Moisturizers that come in a pump bottle have to be thinned out,” says Kazin. Instead, buy the ones that come in tubs, which are thicker and creamier.
- Get a super-moisturizing sunscreen. “Using [a moisturizing sunscreen] on top of a moisturizer in the morning will do a lot for dry skin,” says Kazin. Or try a moisturizing foundation with sunscreen.
- Go for a low dose of acid. Using a serum or lotion with retinoic acid can improve the appearance of your skin, but too much of the ingredient can irritate dry skin. Kazin recommends looking for products with 0.05 retinoid, and rubbing it on in the evening. Try exfoliating once or twice per week in the winter and up to three times in the summer.
- Pile on the products at night. “While you’re sleeping, your skin is hard at work repairing itself,” says Lindh. “So before you go to bed, put on a thick, creamy moisturizer and a moisturizing serum. And one night a week, try sleeping with a moisturizing mask on.”
- Have a split personality. “When you have some areas that are dry, and others that are oily, you need to have two different skin regimens depending on what area you’re treating,” says Kazin. “For example, usually the T-zone is oily and the cheeks are dry, so use extra moisturizer on your cheeks and a lighter product on the oily parts.” You may need to try out a mix of the skin care tips above.
Photo: Corbis Images
Alice Oglethorpe is a writer and editor in Chicago who has written for SHAPE, Every Day With Rachael Ray, Good Housekeeping, Beauty & Confidence and