Too dry? Too oily? Too dull? Too shiny? No matter what your skin problem is, the answer might lie in switching up your skincare routine.
It would be so easy if we could all use the same basic facewash and call it a day. But everyone’s skin type is a little different, so we all need different routines to get the best results.
Not sure where to start? In this guide, we’ll walk you through building your custom skincare routine from start to finish—read on to discover the skincare solutions you need.
How to Find Out Your Skin Type
Before you can decide how to treat your skin right, you need to know your skin type. While there’s a lot of variation, most people fall more or less into one of these basic categories.
Dry skin is characterized by its lack of moisture, which can lead to a tight feeling, as well as flaking and peeling.
If you have dry skin, your skin doesn’t make enough oil to stay properly hydrated. Your products have to pick up the slack to provide your face with moisture.
Dry skin isn’t all bad—it comes with the benefit of smaller pores. However, if you don’t provide dry skin with the moisture it needs, you’ll see wrinkles start to develop faster.
“Normal” skin isn’t really labeled well since most people don’t have this skin type. It’s characterized by a seemingly perfect balance of moisture: neither too oily nor too dry.
With normal skin, you won’t have many issues with breakouts, dry patches, and the other problems most of us face. However, that doesn’t mean normal skin doesn’t still need high-quality care to thrive.
Oily skin stands on the opposite side of the spectrum from dry skin. Your pores make too much oil, which can stretch them out and make them look bigger. This also means your skin tends to be shiny and breakout-prone.
Oily skin doesn’t wrinkle as fast as dry skin, which is a plus. However, you don’t want slick, shiny skin to be the expense of avoiding wrinkles. You’ll need a routine that helps control oil without stripping too much of it away.
Combination skin involves different skin types in different parts of your face. You might have oily skin on your nose and forehead, but dry or normal skin on your cheeks, for example.
With combination skin, you often need more products to address different issues in different places. You can also look for products to help balance out your skin by addressing multiple concerns at once.
Does your skin become red, inflamed, or irritated seemingly without reason? Sensitive skin reacts strongly to changes in products, weather, environment, and more.
Sensitive skin can also have other issues, like dryness. This skin type needs special treatment to soothe irritation, while also addressing any other problems.
Creating Your Custom Skincare Routine
Now that you know your skin type, here’s how to approach keeping your skin healthy and happy with the best products and techniques.
For dry skin, try these products:
While cleansers and moisturizers are always essential items to have, the others will help add the moisture your skin needs.
Start your day by washing your face with a hydrating cleanser. Next, add a moisture-rich serum, then your moisturizer. Heavy products that contain oil are usually a good choice. And if your skin is very dry, you can even skip washing it on some mornings.
Throughout the day, use your facial mist to restore moisture. At night, cleanse again, followed by serum (some people have separate day and night serums) and moisturizer. A layer of oil (we love jojoba) on top will help lock in moisture overnight.
Every week or so, use a hydrating mask (or make your own with rich ingredients like avocado and honey) to boost your results.
Normal skin can get away with fewer products. Make sure you own these:
Other products, like serums and masks, are optional depending on your preference. But as long as you cleanse and moisturize in the morning and again at night, your skin should stay happy. Just make sure your products offer enough hydration to keep dry patches away, even in winter.
Although oily skin hydrates itself too well, it still needs moisture. If you try to dry your skin out, you’ll kick your oil glands into high gear, making the problem worse. Try these items:
- Serum or toner
- Blotting papers
Your cleanser should leave your skin feeling fresh, but without that tight, “stripped” feeling. After washing in the morning, use an oil-control serum or toner. Look for products that contain mild exfoliators, like salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acid (always wear sunscreen after using these).
Use a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated, but opt for a mattifying version if you don’t like shine. You can also use blotting papers to reduce shine throughout the day. This helps you feel fresh without over-washing your face, which can lead to more oil production.
At night, follow the same routine. You might also try a night serum with a stronger chemical exfoliator to help clear your pores. Use a mask with detoxifying ingredients like clay once a week for a deeper clean.
Combination skin needs to be treated like oily skin where it’s oily, and dry skin where it’s dry. For this skin type, you should buy:
- Serum or toner
- Blotting papers
- Two masks: one hydrating and one detoxifying
As long as your cleanser doesn’t strip moisture or clog pores, it will work all over your face. You can add serum where you need more moisture and toner where you need less oil. You can also buy two serums, one to target dryness and one to target oil.
As always, follow with a moisturizer, and repeat your cleansing routine at night. Remove oil on shiny areas throughout the day with blotting papers.
Rotate between the two masks, or apply them to different parts of your face as needed.
For sensitive skin, look for fragrance-free versions of:
With sensitive skin, less is more. If you can find a cleanser and moisturizer that don’t irritate your skin, you should be good to go. (Don’t forget to make sure your other products, like sunscreen and makeup, also play nice with your face.)
However, sensitive skin can still have dryness, breakouts, and other issues. You might want to work other products into your routine to address these problems, like a serum or mask. Some products can also assist with calming irritated skin.
How to Get the Products You Need
The bad news about creating your skincare routine is that yes, you will need to buy products. And your skin type can change over time, creating the need to overhaul your approach periodically.
While skincare products can get pricey, many stores offer free samples, so don’t hesitate to request them from brands you’re interested in. This lets you find out what works for your skin before you make a pricey commitment.
Also, expensive skincare isn’t always better. Find out which ingredients work well for your skin and look for them, rather than shopping by brand name. Don’t forget to ask your friends for recommendations, and read online reviews about products before you buy.
Finally, if you have a big issue that you can’t get rid of (like painful cystic acne), book an appointment with a dermatologist. They can recommend a different approach or even a prescription to get results. It might feel like your skin issues are insurmountable, but don’t worry: you’re not the only person to have this skincare problem. Your solution is out there!