In honor of National Healthy Skin Month, we’re devoting November to raising awareness about the skin, your body’s largest organ, and how to keep it vibrant and healthy. This week, we will discuss how to care for the skin, no matter what type of skin you have.
Know Your Skin Type
The first step in developing a skin care routine is to determine your skin type — dry, oily, combination, normal, or sensitive. Based on that, you can tailor your regimen to meet your specific needs.
According to Christian Millett, a board-certified dermatologist with Forefront Dermatology in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, “Knowing your skin type will allow you to choose the right cleansers, moisturizers, and other products to keep your skin looking and feeling its best. When it comes to skin care products, one size does not fit all.”
Dry skin can appear flaky, scaly, or rough; it looks dull and has a tendency to become cracked and inflamed. If you have dry skin, limit yourself to short showers and only once a day. Wash with a gentle cleanser that doesn’t contain alcohol or fragrance. After washing, pat your skin dry and then apply a moisturizer, making sure to reapply throughout the day. Choose a thick, cream-based moisturizer that contains emollient ingredients. Use a gentle exfoliator once a week to remove buildup of dead skin cells.
Oily skin is shiny and greasy, often with enlarged pores; it can be prone to pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. Oily skin should be washed twice daily with a salicylic acid cleanser to help keep pores unclogged; however, the skin should not be scrubbed. After cleansing, apply an oil-free moisturizer. Look for products that say “non-comedogenic,” meaning they won’t clog pores.
Combination skin is dry in some spots, such as the cheeks, and oily in others, like the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin). Combination skin often requires treating the various areas of your face differently. You will need to use a moisturizer on the dry areas of your face and reduce excess oil with products containing salicylic acid on the others. Use a gentle cleanser and exfoliate weekly to keep your skin looking clear and more even.
Normal skin is balanced (neither oily nor dry), not prone to redness or breakouts, and not sensitive. But even if you’re one of the lucky ones with normal skin, it is still important to follow a healthy skincare routine. The basics that every skin type needs, including normal skin, are: use a gentle cleanser to wash, moisturize daily, and use a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
Sensitive skin easily becomes red and inflamed. It may sting, burn, or itch upon application of almost any new product, especially one containing fragrance or preservative. Sensitive skin can be related to underlying skin conditions (such as rosacea) as well as changing hormone levels, stress, sleep deprivation, and environmental factors. To cleanse skin without stripping it of lipids, avoid foaming face washes. Calm the skin using products that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as green tea. Choose a sunscreen with a physical blocker (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) rather than a chemical blocker as the active ingredient.
Your Local Skin Experts at Forefront Dermatology are Here to Help
Establishing a relationship with a board-certified dermatologist is an important step you should take to keep your skin healthy, especially if you suffer from an itchy, painful, or irritating skin condition. If you or a family member have a skin concern or would like to schedule a consult, find the Forefront dermatologist nearest you to schedule an appointment or to learn more.