If your skin feels dry and tight, wash your face using lukewarm water -- high heat encourages moisture to evaporate. Steer clear of products containing sudsy, dehydrating detergents like sodium lauryl sulfate, and select milky or oil-based cleansers, which are designed to improve hydration while gently lifting away dirt, makeup, and grit.
Dry skin types can start to flake out in the absence of regular exfoliation, but that doesn't mean you have to be rough to slough. Neal Schultz, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City, recommends applying a gentle chemical exfoliant like glycolic acid to dissolve dulling micro-mounds of dead cells, some of which can be precancerous. Other options include vitamin A derivatives like an over-the-counter retinol or prescription retinoid. Be sure to only apply these products before bed, since they make skin more sensitive to sunlight. To prevent irritation, start with a low concentration product with 0.5 percent retinol or .02percent Renova, then gradually work your way up to a higher strength.
Anytime you exfoliate, it's essential to hydrate the skin afterward, otherwise you risk peeling or exacerbating dryness. To draw in moisture, look for a cream-based emulsion containing humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, which attract water molecules. Emollients like fatty acids and ceramides also help smooth and reinforce the skin's surface.
To prevent the buildup of greasy sebum, which fosters a fertile breeding ground for pimple-provoking bacteria, abide by a twice-a-day cleansing routine that involves a motorized face brush like the Clarisonic Mia Sonic Cleansing System ($149). This handy device has been clinically proven to erase two times more oil and six times more makeup than manual washing alone. Load up your brush with a 2 percent salicylic acid cleanser, which helps keep pores squeaky clean.
If your skin is slick, your first instinct may be to rub it raw with an abrasive scrub, a nubby washcloth, or a grating loofah, but resist the temptation -- you'll only be doing more harm than good. Rough buffing can actually create tiny tears in the skin that spread acne-loving bacteria. To keep skin cells turning over and to help prevent the clogs that can lead to inflamed pustules and papules, rely on a gentle alpha hydroxy-based exfoliator like First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($28), which gradually whisks away dead cells, preventing rawness and irritation.
Yes, shiny skin needs hydration too! In fact, by stripping away too many natural oils with aggressive exfoliation or dehydrating products, your complexion will start to overproduce sebum. To rehydrate sans slickness, seek out "oil-free" and "noncomedogenic" formulations loaded with emollients like squalene and fatty acids, which help fortify the integrity of your skin's surface and prevent excess water loss.
Rosaceous complexions, which are characterized by pervasive redness and flushing, enlarged blood vessels, and/or inflamed acnelike zits, should be treated with tender loving care. Shun foamy face washes packed with alpha hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, and detergents, which can cause stinging, and avoid sharp beads and gritty granules. Instead, seek out creamy, soap-free, fragrance-free cleansers steeped with calming ingredients like cucumber, green tea, or aloe.
To help soothe inflammation, bypass astringent, alcohol-based toners and swab on a clay-based face mask imbued with sulfur. According to Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, a dermatologist in New York City, "Sulfur is very effective in reducing redness, capillaries, and even breakouts." Rinse with lukewarm or cool water, since heat can incite flushing.
Repairing your skin's barrier and preventing water loss through dilated blood vessels is of the utmost importance when it comes to rosaceous skin types, so daub on a fragrance-free, noncomedogenic moisturizer containing anti-inflammatory ingredients like bisabolol and licorice. If your skin is hypersensitive, you need to be doubly dutiful about applying a broad-spectrum physical sunscreen before leaving the house.
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