Finding a facial cleanser that’s right for your skin can be tough. Here’s how to make it easier.

Would you describe your skin as …

Oily?Oily skin cleanser

You have oily skin if:

  • A greasy feeling sets in a few hours after washing your face or showering
  • Cosmetics wear off easily
  • Your pores clog and acne forms easily

If you have oily skin, choose a mild, scent- and oil-free facial cleanser that contains salicylic acid. Make sure you don’t scrub your face with any harsh soaps. Don’t use hot water on your face; it dries out your skin even more, and your skin produces even more oil in response. If you have especially oily skin, you should follow your cleansing routine with witch hazel or similar cleanser.

Dry?Dry skin cleanser

Dry skin scales and flakes skin on a regular basis. Your skin may be dry if you have:

  • Hard-to-see pores
  • A dull, rough complexion
  • Lines that have become more visible and less elastic
  • Red patches

Because dry skin is more prone to irritation, you should wash your face gently without scrubbing to avoid irritating your skin. And you should never use bar soap to cleanse your skin. Harsh detergents in soap can leave your skin even drier by stripping away the natural moisturizing oils in your skin. Always use fragrance-free, soap-free cleansers that contain added moisturizers. What’s more, you should also exfoliate your skin once a week with a facial scrub that contains synthetic beads, which are gentler on skin. Most importantly, you should follow up cleansing with a good moisturizer, which helps to seal in existing water in the skin. Look for moisturizers that contain humectants and emollients, like glycerin and propylene glycol, petrolatum, lanolin, mineral oil, and dimethicone.

Oily in spots, and dry in others?Combination skin cleanser

Combination skin can be dry and flaky in some areas, and oily in others. Usually, the oily areas of your face include the nose, chin, and forehead. If you have combination skin, you most likely experience:

  • Overly dilated pores
  • Blackheads
  • Shiny skin

Combination skin can be tricky to deal with, but luckily there are soap-free cleansers designed for this skin type. You’ll need to use different products on different parts of your face. Regardless, you always want to use a gentle, water-soluble cleanser to avoid irritation and prevent dryness. For oily and dry skin combinations, you’ll want to look for a gel-based or mild foaming cleanser. You’ll want to use a toner after you cleanse your skin as well, but make sure the toner is free from any irritants like alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, and/or citrus oils. Lastly, you’ll want to wear sunblock every day and exfoliate at least once a week.

Sensitive?sensitive skin cleanser

Sensitive skin can be difficult to deal with because it easily becomes irritated. Skin is sensitive for lots of reasons, but it’s usually in response to certain skincare products. If you have sensitive skin, you probably experience a lot of:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Dryness

When it comes to cleansing sensitive skin, it’s more about what’s not in a cleanser than what’s in it. As a general rule, you should avoid the following ingredients, which have been known to irritate sensitive skin:

  • Overly abrasive scrubs containing walnut shells or aluminum oxide crystals
  • Toners containing alcohol and menthol
  • Facial masks containing essential oils and polyvinyl alcohol

Look for soap-free, scent-free cream cleansers that have added moisturizers and no harsh ingredients. Remember that because any ingredient can trigger an allergic reaction, it might take a while for you to find a cleanser that’s right for your skin.

Normal?Normal skin cleanser

Normal skin is, well, pretty normal! It’s neither too oily nor too dry, and it’s the least fussy of all the different skin types. If you have normal skin, you’ll probably notice that you have:

  • Very few imperfections
  • No severe sensitivities or allergies
  • Barely visible pores
  • A radiant complexion

Luckily, if you have normal skin, finding a cleanser is pretty easy. Look for one that is soap-free, gentle, and fragrance-free. Follow up cleansing with a toner, lightweight moisturizer with SPF, and an alphahydroxy acid exfoliant once a week.

The straight dope on soap

A lot of soaps — even if they’re meant for your face — can be incredibly drying. And drying leads to premature aging. Bar soap disrupts your skin’s surface moisture barrier, and this creates a buildup of dead, dry skin cells. Knowing the right soap for your skin will keep you glowing. When it comes to buildup, blemishes, and rough spots, there's nothing like a clean getaway.

References
  1. "Body Wash, Shower Gel, or Bar Soap?," Everyday Health, August 18, 2017.
  2. "Determine Your Skin Type With This Easy Quiz," Teen Vogue, January 12, 2017.
  3. "The Best Bar Soap for Every Skin Type," Family Circle, September 19, 2016.
  4. "What Is My Skin Type?," E45, March 1, 2013.

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