Finding out your skin type, and figuring out the quirks of your own skin are essential for healthy glowing skin. Understanding the factors that contribute to skin ageing and taking appropriate precautions will help prevent wrinkles and fine lines developing before their time. Here are some skin care tips for different skin types. 

Your skin is unique. Your skin care routine should be unique, too. If a skincare routine is not customised to suit your skin type and your skin’s individual quirks, over time you may encounter unnecessary problems. In fact, inappropriate skin care can lead to a complete change in your skin type. In this article we offer skin care tips for common skin types, but customising basic guidelines has to be done with the help of your dermatologist, cosmetic physician or skincare therapist.

The guiding principle in caring for your skin should be the same as the traditional Hippocratic oath taken by doctors: First, to do no harm. It’s your skin after all and you need to live inside it for the rest of your life! Pampering and looking after it should follow this basic rule.

Combination skin

Combination skin is characterised by dry and oily areas on the face of the same person. For example, the cheeks may be dry, while the chin, forehead and nose are oily.

  • Use a mild cleanser so that sebum removal is minimal.
  • Choose a broad-spectrum medium-weight sunscreen lotion.
  • Your dermatologist may recommend an over-the-counter retinol cream or prescribe a tretinoin cream for evening use. This may improve skin texture, treat dark spots and help prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Be warned that tretinoin may irritate the skin. You will want to follow up with a moisturiser that helps the resulting peeling and dryness. Most dermatologists will recommend beginning with small volumes and increasing usage gradually.

Dry skin

  • Wash the face twice a day using a creamy wash containing mild soap or a gentle cleanser.
  • Use a moisturiser with sunscreen once a day, immediately after cleansing and while the skin is still damp. A moisturiser will seal in the moisture. You want a smoothing cream-type formulation that has antioxidants and diethicone as well as petroleum or grape seed oil to prevent water loss.
  • Reapply the moisturiser again in the middle of the day to further hydrate the skin.
  • If your skin is extremely dry, cleansing only at night will suffice. This will prevent further loss of natural oils.
  • Rinsing your face in the morning with cold water will help maintain the natural oils in the skin.
  • People with dry or flaky skin need to exfoliate just once a week. Your skin may be rather sensitive, so apply a gentle retinol sparingly every other night. Keep your skin hydrated. Use the retinol together with a moisturiser to help even out your skin colour, texture and tone.

Oily or acne-prone skin

This skin type is commonly found in teens, but also in many adults.

  • If your skin is oily or acne prone, be careful when using new products.
  • You must strike a balance in washing your face. Sometimes it will be necessary to wash two or three times in a day, but over-washing can cause excess oil production in the skin.
  • Use an oil-free foaming cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to prevent acne breakouts. Choose a product marked “non-comedogenic.” It should not clog up your pores.
  • Even oily skin needs moisturiser. Every morning use a lightweight product combined with sunscreen. To get the benefit of extra sun protection, you may want to reapply it around midday.
  • You can exfoliate oily skin twice a week, but avoid doing so during breakouts.
  • Keep away from products that contain cinnamon, cocoa butter and coconut oil as they could induce acne breakouts.
  • After consulting your dermatologist, consider using a retinol serum or gel nightly.

If you have sensitive skin…

  • Wash your face once a day.
  • Avoid exfoliation altogether, because it can make skin sensitivity worse.
  • Keep away from products containing soap, alcohol or fragrances.
  • Try products that contain calming ingredients, such as chamomile, aloe and green tea polyphenols.
  • To identify problematic ingredients, use products with as few ingredients as possible.
  • As part of the morning routine apply a cream-based moisturiser to dry skin. This will help prevent or reduce irritation. Active ingredients find it easy to penetrate damp skin. Learn to be careful with active ingredients before buying new products.
  • Be wary of skin care products containing lipoic, glycolic, salicylic and other acids. They may irritate your skin.
  • You may use a mild retinoid nightly to prevent fine lines and wrinkles and to keep irritation in check. Follow up immediately with a moisturiser to stimulate collagen production.

To fine tune your skin care routine…

These are merely rules of thumb. For the best effect, and to maintain the health and vitality of your skin in the long term, you need to fine tune your skin care routine to your unique skin and its issues. You can do this by working with your dermatologist or practitioner.
Regardless of your skin type there are a few things you need to get right.

  • Understand your skin type and particular needs.  Do you have dry skin, oily skin or combination skin? Some people have sensitive skin. Others are allergic to certain compounds. The best way to figure this out is to work with products that contain very few ingredients.
  • Choose products wisely and use them with caution.  Regardless of your skin type, be careful about the active ingredients in skin products. Read the ingredients before buying and using them. Just because the product produced wonderful results in someone else does not mean your skin will respond in the same way.It’s not just the ingredients that matter, but also the concentrations in which they are included.
    How often you use a product also matters.  
  • Moisturise daily.  Regardless of skin type, it is important to use moisturiser daily. The type of moisturiser and how frequently you must use it depend on your skin type.
  • Use sunscreen.  Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects you from both UVA and UVB radiation. To be effective, the SPF needs to be above 30. Water-resistant sunscreen works with perspiration as well, but you need to reapply within the correct interval. Avoid products with insect repellent, as you don’t need unnecessary chemicals on your skin. Use repellent as needed, but as a separate product.
  • Be SunSmart. Using sunscreen is just one part of being SunSmart. Protection from the sun is vital to maintain healthy skin and prevent it from aging prematurely. Minimising exposure to harmful UV radiation doesn’t just reduce skin damage, discoloration and premature wrinkles. It can also reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Keep out of the sun whenever possible. Wear protective clothing, headwear and sunglasses when out in the sun. Your lips also need protection.

  • Give up smoking and avoid second hand exposure.  Skin ageing is caused by intrinsic factors such as your genetics, and extrinsic factors like sun exposure and smoking. Biochemical changes that occur when exposed to cigarette smoke accelerate ageing. Long-term heavy smokers are more likely to develop deep wrinkles and leathery skin than non-smokers. Not to mention the yellow complexion smokers develop. According to AgeingSkinNet, the website of the American Academy of Dermatology, “a study conducted in 2002 showed that facial wrinkling, while not yet visible, can be seen under a microscope in smokers as young as 20”. Reducing how much you smoke matters to the quality of your skin. Quitting is even better, and if done early enough, you may even be able to reverse the damage smoking has caused.

If you maintain a careful and consistent skin care routine over time, using products that are suitable for your skin type and your own skin’s needs, you will be able to improve the overall appearance and health of your skin.

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