What's your skin type?
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In order to combat your skin problems, it's important to identify your skin type. There are generally six types of skin: normal, dry, oily, sensitive, combination, and acne-prone. Take this quiz from our friends at Fitness magazine to identify your skin type.
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If you have dry skin, look for a gentle cleanser with good humectants, which help to keep the skin hydrated. "You can use some stuff that has alpha-hydroxy-acid in it just to lift away that dry area, but you don't want to do things that will cause more irritation because the skin is already cracked and dry," says Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, director of Mariwalla Dermatology in West Islip, New York.
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Combination skin is normal or dry in some areas and oily in others, often in the T-zone (your nose, forehead and chin). To combat the differences, look for a cleanser that can remove excess oil and hydrate the dry areas without clogging pores. Glycolic acid cleansers in low percentages can help exfoliate and moisturize the skin when used every other day, explains Dr. Coyle S. Connolly, president of Connolly Dermatology in New Jersey.
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If your skin is prone to redness, itching, burning and dryness, stick to a PH-balanced cleanser and don't use anything with exfoliates or acids in it. Joel Schlessinger MD, president emeritus of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, recommends a gentle foaming cleanser in a soothing formula to calm symptoms. Avoid fragrances and preservatives.
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If you're getting breakouts quite consistently, be sure to see your dermatologist. "If you have very, very mild acne, the Neutrogena salicylic acid face wash does really well," Dr. Mariwalla says. Wash your face twice a day, with a PH-balanced cleanser in the morning and a 2-percent salicylic acid face wash at night. Avoid scrubbing as it can cause the sores to rupture. Leaving the cleanser on longer will not correct acne; rather it will just dry out the skin.
Moisturizer with SPF
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Keep your skin protected with a light moisturizing SPF and reapply every three hours. Dr. Mariwalla suggests avoiding toners, no matter your skin type. "Toners tend to be alcohol-based, and they strip the skin of important oils, so they can throw your normal skin out of whack into a dry state or oily skin," Dr. Mariwalla explains.
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Exfoliating once or twice a week can help keep your skin fresh and bright. Dr. Mariwalla likes a facial scrub that uses softer ingredients, like rounded bamboo, that won't cause scarring or pitting due to overuse.
The Body's Important, Too
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Perhaps the place you break out most in the summer is on your body, especially if you're working out in the heat. Scrub problem areas with an exfoliator once or twice a week to cleanse pores and get rid of dead skin. Apricot kernels, salt or sugar scrubs are best for the body, according to Dr. Mariwalla.