How to Find the Right Cleanser and Moisturizer

Keeping your dry, oily, combination, sensitive or acne prone skin clean and hydrated should be the most important part of your daily skincare routine. However, finding and choosing the right cleanser and moisturizer for your skin type can be the most difficult and overwhelming part of the process. As you look on the internet or store shelves, you may find hundreds from cheap to high-end luxury brands to choose from. But it doesn't have to make your head spin, and with a few simple guidelines, you can find and choose the prefect cleanser and moisturizer for your skin type.

What Does Your Skin Need?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself. Always remember two facts:

  • The skin is the largest organ in the body and absorbs what is applied to it.
  • Although it acts as the barrier to your body, it is fragile and needs TLC.

With that in mind, it's important to use skincare products that are gentle and non-irritating. In fact, whether you have sensitive skin or not, use a brand that focuses on sensitive skin.

It's important to use moisturizers that are labeled "non-comedogenic", which means they won't clog your pores. If you have any skin type, particularly sensitive skin, there are some ingredients you need to avoid:

  • Petrolatum
  • Lanolin
  • Mineral oil
  • Urea
  • Propylene glycol
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)

Although some recommend these ingredients for their emollient properties, they actually can clog pores and cause sensitivities.

Your skin has natural oils, the point of cleaning and moisturizing is to enhance the skin's ability to keep your face supple and hydrated with these natural oils. Use the wrong products, and you strip away these natural oils, ending up with dry, flaky, irritated skin.

Match Your Skin Type

No matter your skin type, always use a cleanser that is gentle and free of soap or harsh ingredients such as SLS.

If you have oily or oily acne prone skin, choose a light, oil-free moisturizer. For dry skin, opt for a richer moisturizer that penetrates deep and helps prevent fine lines.

For all skin types, anti-oxidants in moisturizers are a sure bet for healthy skin and to help prevent wrinkles. Anti-oxidants fight harmful free radicals that cause damage to you skin and premature aging.

How Often to Clean Your Face

Now that you found the prefect cleanser and moisturizer, the guidelines for when to use them depend on your skin type.

Dermatologists agree that most people are obsessed with the "squeaky clean" result of cleaning, which means they over-cleanse.

Night face washing is the most important time to cleanse. During the day grime, pollutants and dirt have accumulated on your skin, as well as makeup. Some doctors recommend that you only wash at night, and only rinse with water in the morning.

At evening, follow with a alcohol-free toner that contains AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) which acts as an exfoliant. Dermatologists feel it's acceptable to just rinse in the morning with water, but clean with a gentle cleanser at evening.

For oily and combination skin, clean your face twice a day, but for dry skin, once a day at night time should be enough. Unfortunately, many with acne prone skin think using harsh cleansers or rough scrubbing is what's needed to scrub away pimples. Many of these harsh ingredients can leave the skin irritated and may not be helpful at all. If the cause of the acne is bacteria, prescription medication may be needed temporarily.

Many cleansers contain harsh soap ingredients called "surfactants" which are meant to cause foaming and to help remove dirt and oil. The negative is the surfactant (most often SLS) also interacts with the skin's out layer, which is the protective barrier. The problem is that it strips your skin of natural oils which may leave you with a feeling of stinging or burning after cleansing.

How Often to Moisturize Your Face

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you apply your moisturizer within three minutes of taking a shower or immediately after washing your face in the sink.

Don't rub hard, but gently apply the moisturizer with upward strokes from your neck up to your forehead (skincancer.org). Be very careful with the area under the eyes, since it is even more fragile.

Once in the morning and evening, after you cleanse is sufficient, unless you have very dry skin. If you have acne prone skin, you still need to moisturize. Make sure it's non-comedogenic and oil-free.

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