As the most visible and one of the most delicate parts of your body, your face needs special attention every day. To take the best care of your face, it’s important to know your skin type so you can give it the ingredients and nourishment that it needs to be clear, smooth, and soft for years to come.
Dry skin is characterized by low retention of moisture, low elasticity, flakiness, and an absence of acne. People with dry skin are often sensitive to certain products and may develop redness and irritation. Dry skin is especially common on flexible skin, like our knuckles, knees, and elbows, and on our hands, which are always working and frequently being washed.
The best approach for dry skin is to use gentle, natural ingredients that are highly moisturizing, such as those that act as occlusives, humectants, and emollients. After showering or bathing, pat your skin dry, and apply a moisturizer that contains humectants, like aloe vera, honey, or alpha lauronic acid. These act like sponges, helping your skin to absorb more moisture.
Your skin also needs ingredients that form a barrier to hold that moisture in, called occlusives1. These include coconut oil and essential fatty acids (omega 3s and 6s) found in olive oil and rosehip seed oil. Vitamin E (found in sweet almond oil) is an occlusive as well as an emollient, softening and healing flaky skin cells. Avoid strong chemicals and irritants, and include these natural, nourishing ingredients in your skincare routine for soft, smooth skin.
Oily skin produces an excess of sebum, the natural oil that we all need, but that in excess can clog pores and cause breakouts. Oily skin is especially common on certain parts of the body and face, especially around the sides of the nose, and can exist very close by to normal or even dry skin. That makes it perfect for targeted or “spot” care. One of the guiding principles of sensitive skin care is to not treat all of your skin as exactly the same, but to recognize it as an ecosystem with many different local variations.
To keep oily skin clear, use ingredients that absorb the excess sebum without completely stripping it. One example is clay (such as kaolin or bentonite). Exfoliate the top layer of skin gently and regularly, using gentle peels that include fruit acids and alpha hydroxy acids2, or non-irritating scrubs with a baking soda or oatmeal base. Use a light, non-oily moisturizer containing hydrating plant ingredients such as aloe vera and pomegranate.
Combination skin is typically oily in some areas (particularly the T-section which includes the forehead, nose, and chin), and dry in others, especially the cheeks.
For combination skin, use targeted ingredients for each part of your face. Hydrate and moisturize dry areas with the recommended ingredients for dry skin, and control sebum levels in the oily areas with the gentle, cleansing ingredients recommended above. For a more even texture, include some oil-balancing ingredients like marula oil and geranium, conditioning ingredients like tangerine, and toners like lemongrass, citrus, and cypress.
Even if skin doesn’t suffer from being too dry or too oily, many people still have sensitive skin that gets easily irritated by products that are too harsh or invasive. For sensitive skin, the best active ingredients are those that gently encourage the skin’s natural restorative processes or shield against outside wear and tear, as opposed to products that cause their own external reactions that affect the skin’s chemistry.
Use gentle oils that support your skin, like rose hip oil, marula oil, and macadamia nut oil. To fight skin inflammation, nettle and olive leaf make great choices. And when it comes to abrasive skin care treatments like exfoliants and chemical peels, coconut-based cleansers will tone down the stress on your skin, while fruit-based acids will help recondition your skin.
Years of wear and tear on the skin from stress and the weather can cause dryness, blemishes, lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.
Nourish aging skin with vitamins A, C, and E to strengthen the moisture barrier (Vitamin A), lighten blemishes (Vitamin C), and accelerate skin renewal (Vitamin E). Include anti-aging ingredients like pomegranate, marula oil, and essential fatty acids to tighten the skin and improve its elasticity.
Antioxidants (found in berries, green tea, and rosehip), detoxify the skin and protect it against free radical damage from sun exposure. Rhubarb, honey, eggplant extract, frankincense, and myrrh are some ingredients that can reduce or halt the development of skin cancers, and are excellent ingredients to include in your skin care routine.
Ingredients for every skin type
No matter which skin type you have, look for natural, nourishing ingredients and avoid contact with harsh chemicals. Think of skin care as food for your skin!
[su_note note_color=”#efefef”]See also: Why is it important to begin your anti-wrinkle campaign early?[/su_note]