Jean-Paul Gaultier : Front Row - Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018/2019

Source: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images

Perhaps even more important than makeup is skincare – yes, you heard that right! It’s not that we don’t love makeup, it’s just that smooth, healthy skin makes the best canvas for flawless makeup. So, the first step of perfecting your makeup all starts with taking good care of your skin with the right products – OFC, a healthy lifestyle is very important too! The thing is, there’s no one size fits all answer to skincare, it’s all about understanding what your skin needs by understanding your skin and knowing your skin type. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds; we’re gonna break it down for you.

How to Figure Out Your Skin Type:

Everyone’s skin is unique, and it’s constantly changing, but having a basic understanding of your usual ‘skin type’ means you can use it as a guideline to help you find the best skincare that will work for you. The common skincare categories are: Dry, normal, oily, acne-prone, combination (dry and oily areas), sensitive, and mature skin. You might even be a couple of these – you could be both oily and acne-prone, aging and dry, or even sensitive and acne-prone. You may also be dry during the winter and oily during summer (sidenote: you may want to switch up your skincare when summer hits).

It’s important to understand all of these skin types because ultimately, you will most likely not remain in one category your entire life. Many of us go through different phases, and this can be affected by your environment, hormones, diet, skincare, stress, age, and lifestyle. Remember, as you age your skin has different needs; when you reach your 30s collagen levels begin to deplete, which is why fine lines and other skin concerns will start to appear. As you reach your 40s and 50s, your skin gets drier, and as your hormones change pimples will be less likely. We digress! The point is, get to know your skin so you can adapt your skincare as your skin changes.

oily skin v dry skin

Knowing your skin type is important because different formulas and active ingredients can be great for one skin type but terrible for another. For example, formulas designed for oily or acne-prone skin would typically be too harsh or drying for those with dry or sensitive skin.

How to Pick the Right Skincare:

Cleansers:

This is possibly the most important step in your skincare routine! Without thoroughly cleaning your skin every day, dirt, pollution, and oil can cause congestion that leads to blackheads and pimples, plus your following skincare steps won’t be able to work as effectively. The best method of removing makeup and dirt at the end of the day is to double cleanse, aka washing your face twice. Start with a cleansing oil, which will dissolve SPF, sebum, and grime, and then use a water-based cleanser that suits your skin type to ensure the last remnants of makeup, dirt and pollution are thoroughly removed – check out our full guide to double cleansing here.

In the morning, you may only need to splash your face with water or use a water-based cleanser that suits your skin type, which will remove any excess product from your nighttime skincare routine and any excess oil on your skin.

the right cleanser for your skin type

Toners

Toning is an essential step between your cleanser and moisturizer! Toner helps remove any leftover makeup or residue your cleanser couldn’t budge, plus skin-irritating chlorine and minerals that are in the water. A toner will also give one last sweep of your pores, and can help restore your skin’s pH balance – many cleansers have an alkaline base but your skin’s natural pH is more acidic (5.5). Here’re the basics:

Sensitive skin: Look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, natural soothing ingredients like chamomile, vitamin E, rose, and aloe, and most importantly, avoid alcohol, fragrance, and toners with AHAs, which could be too harsh for your skin. Toners with PHAs (Polyhydroxy acids) could be a good option, as this type of chemical exfoliator is super gentle and the least abrasive toning agent.

Normal/ combo skin: It’s important to use a hydrating toner that will combat dryness while it simultaneously helps to regulate oil control by balancing your skin. Ingredients like niacinamide, green tea, and ceramides will help balance your skin’s pH levels, repair your skin, and tighten your pores.

Oily/ acne-prone skin: Oily and acne-prone skin types should consider using two types of toners: something more powerful to detox pores, and something soothing and hydrating that can be used when your skin needs calm. Exfoliating toners containing AHAs (like glycolic acid toners or salicylic acid), will help to clean deep into pores and dissolve dirt and dead skin cells. Niacinamide is another great ingredient that can help reduce inflammation and control oil production, while witch hazel, tea tree, and green tea, help tone and are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

For when you’re using detoxifying serums, exfoliating or masking, you may want to consider being more gentle with your skin so you don’t run the risk of overexfoliating. Consider a toner like the Mario Badescu Witch Hazel & Lavender Toner, $14, which contains anti-inflammatory witch hazel, lavender, and hydrating aloe – it gently clarifies the complexion without stripping away natural moisture.

Mature skin: Hydration is key! Look for toners infused with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide, which is an antioxidant that helps protect skin from environmental stressors, and also has anti-aging benefits. AHAs are also useful as they can help improve the appearance of fine lines and refresh dull-looking skin.

Moisturizers

Hydrated skin is glowing skin, so NEVER skip your moisturizer. The right moisturizer will hydrate, replenish, and nourish and repair any issues like dry, flaky skin. But it’s also essential that you choose one with the right formula and ingredient list for your skin type: If you have dry skin, you need a really rich formula, but if you have acne-prone or oily skin, a lightweight, hydrating gel formula will be your best friend. Check out 10 of our fave moisturizers here.

Finally, Know When Your Skin is Sensitive

Sensitive skin can flare up at any time due to a whole variety of changes, like hormones, a new product or even external factors like pollution or sun damage. If your skin is always sensitive, you can experience a whole range of symptoms such as redness, blotchiness, dryness, itchiness, or flaking skin. You could also suffer from facial eczema or rosacea.

The best way to tell if your skin is sensitive is to press down on your cheek with light to medium pressure using your fingers. If your skin turns red, then you have sensitive skin. Another clear indication a product could be causing irritation is if it makes your skin sting or tingle slightly when you first apply it (although this is to be expected with some strong AHAs and some clay face masks, but people with sensitive skin should avoid these ingredients). For the dos and don’ts of treating sensitive skin, check out our sensitive skin guide.

Serums and face oils are also amazing for your skin and can work wonders for targeting skin concerns like fine lines and wrinkles, acne, and dry skin. Find out the best serums for your skin type here, and check out how to make your own facial oil suited to your skin type here.

The lesson? Use the products designed to work well for your skin. Remember your skin changes over time, so it’s always a good idea to reevaluate your skin when the season’s change, and switch up your products and try new things. If you have dry skin, acne-prone skin or any kind of skin concern, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or derm and ask for a treatment or prescription.