Your skin is hungry. But what is it craving?

washingface.jpgWhen your skin acts up, revising your product routine is a little bit like going grocery shopping when you're famished. You know it's not good for you, but you still want to try everything. You may even ignore your allergies and specific needs. Once your ravenous appetite subsides, you suddenly feel worse ... What happened to that shopping list? What are the staples for each skin type, anyway? We should know this by now, yet sometimes you need it spelled out: What your skin really needs. In honor of November, National Healthy Skin Month, the American Academy of Dermatology has done just that, providing the simple top tips for every skin type. And what I want to know is what are you feeding your skin?

Sensitive skin: When you notice your skin appetite, you'll be tempted to go for ingredients with sensory appeal, like rich aromas, but if you have sensitive skin, it's important to avoid most products with strong fragrances (everyone should avoid irritating synthetic ones), soap, or alcohol. Instead, opt for calming ingredients like green tea polyphenols, chamomile, and aloe. And look at labels; as a general rule (just like with food) the fewer ingredients, the better--especially for those of you with sensitive skin.

Combination skin: If you feel like your face is an oil slick in the middle of the Sahara, you're like most women and have combination skin, meaning that spots, particularly your T-zone, get oily, while other places like your cheeks may be dry. Use a mild cleanser that minimizes sebum (an oily, waxy substance that sebaceous glands secrete) removal, along with a medium-weight lotion with broad-spectrum sunscreen. Right now I'm using Mychelle's unscented honeydew cleanser and makeup remover made with honeydew melon, honey enzymes, chlorophyll, sea weed, and algae and am looking forward to trying Juice Beauty's sheer SPF moisturizer. Products containing acids, such as lipoic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid, can also be irritating.

Dry skin: Wash your face twice daily (easiest to do in the morning and at night) with a gentle, creamy wash (avoid those with sodium laureth sulfate, the foaming agent in many facial cleansers) then apply a moisturizer with sunscreen while your skin is still wet, which will lock in moisture. As skin begins to feel tight, reapply the moisturizer. For extreme dryness, you may try just washing once at night when the face is the dirtiest and simply rinsing with cool water in the morning to maintain the natural oils. And only exfoliate once a week.

Oily/acne prone skin: You may need to wash your face thoroughly up to three times daily (but be sure not to overwash, which can actually increase oil production) with an oil-free cleanser. Use a lightweight moisturizer (yes, even oily skin needs it and it will prevent overproduction of oils). Be sure to avoid products with cocoa butter, cinnamon, and coconut oil and only exfoliate once a week.

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