Just a walk through a store’s skin care department can be overwhelming. There are aisles and aisles of different products, all claiming to be the best ones for your skin. How do you know what to choose?
According to the American Dermatology Association, the first step to choosing skin care products is to understand your skin type. Is it oily? Dry? Sensitive? Many products are best used on certain skin types so be sure to check the product packaging to find what’s best suited for you. If you aren’t sure what skin type you have, visit your dermatologist.
Understanding your skin type is particularly important when choosing cleansers and moisturizers.
- Cleansers: Choose a product that removes dirt, makeup and oil, but doesn’t strip your natural moisturizers. If you have dry skin, look for a product that is creamy. If you are prone to acne, find products that are oil-free and contain salicylic acid.
- Moisturizers: Ideally, your moisturizer should contain an SPF of 15 or more, keeping you protected from the sun year round. As with cleansers, find one that fits your skin type. Look for oil-free if you have oily skin and a heavier, creamier one for dry skin.
Exfoliating your skin helps to remove dead skin cells and can leave your skin smoother and brighter. But exfoliating your skin too often can have the opposite effect. If you choose to exfoliate frequently, look for a product containing micro beads, as these are gentler on your skin. Those with scrubs, salts or crushed shells should be used less frequently.
Different products for different times of day
Your skin care routine should involve different products depending on the time of day you are using them. For example, lotions, moisturizers and makeup you keep on during the day should contain sunscreen and antioxidants to help protect you from skin damage. Moisturizing products that contain retinoids or peptides can help repair your skin while you sleep.
Skin care ingredients
You should also know why you are buying a product. For example, are you trying to get rid of or minimize wrinkles? Hide acne? Even out different color tones? Different products are made to target specific problem areas.
Research what specific ingredients can do for you. For example:
- Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) - may help with fine lines, irregular pigmentation, age spots and enlarged pores
- Beta-hydroxy acid - also called salicylic acid; works to exfoliate skin, helps improve acne and texture and color of skin
- Hydroquinone - used to lighten age spots or dark spots
- Kojic acid - also used to lighten age spots or dark spots
- Retinol - improves fine lines, wrinkles, texture, tone and color
- Hyaluronic acid - used to treat wrinkles and sun-damaged skin
- Alpha-lipoic acid - an antioxidant that diminishes fine lines and gives your skin a glow* ** DMAE -** helps in reducing fine lines and wrinkles
When looking for skin care products, be aware of marketing claims. Manufacturers often make broad claims or have clever packaging. Read the label to make sure the ingredients are what you need for your skin.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.