4 Affordable, Effective Skin-Care Routines
Find a Skin-Care Routine That Works
Your Skin Type: Normal or Combination
Skin that’s free of obvious issues (what some call normal and others combo) tends to be oily along the T-zone and dry on the cheeks, so you need to pick products with dual functions.
Use a mild glycolic acid or gentle nonsoap wash that won’t strip away too much oil but will still help eradicate dirt and dead skin cells trapped in pores.
To buy: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser, $12; ulta.com.
Normal or Combination: Day Lotion
A featherweight, oil-free moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or higher does the job for every area of your complexion.
To buy: Bioré Nourish Moisture Lotion SPF 15, $7 at drugstores.
Normal or Combination: Night Treatment
Creams with retinol or alpha hydroxy acids help unclog pores and improve fine lines. “Apply sparingly only where you see blemishes or creases,” says Amy Wechsler, a New York City dermatologist.
To buy: Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, $25; ulta.com.
Normal or Combination: Troubleshooter
Since the T-zone is prone to clogged pores and hence blackheads, spot-apply an oil-absorbing clay mask to your forehead, nose, and chin once or twice a week.
To buy: Kiss My Face Pore Shrink Deep Cleansing Mask, $13, amazon.com.
Normal or Combination: Who Knew?
Toners often get a bad rap, but they can be the perfect antidote to a shiny T-zone. Blot on only as needed to nix the greasies.
To buy: Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Daily Facial Towelettes, $6; target.com.
Your Skin Type: Oily
Your main goals: Keep pores clear, and don’t overdry, which can result in rebound greasiness. But don’t forgo moisturizing products—just be sure they won’t cause blemishes.
For a deep clean, wash morning and night. Consider using a power brush, says Elizabeth Hale, a New York City dermatologist. The latest versions come with pads infused with salicylic acid cleanser to stop breakouts.
To buy: Neutrogena Wave Sonic Power-Cleanser, $16 at drugstores.
Oily: Day Lotion
Although your skin might not require much extra moisture, it does need the protection of a broad-spectrum sunscreen year-round. Look for an oil-free lotion with SPF 15.
To buy: Garnier Moisture Rescue Lightweight UV-Lotion SPF 15, $8 at drugstores.
Oily: Night Treatment
Oily skin tends to be hardy and can tolerate potent ingredients. Use a retinol night cream to “dry up sebum and firm skin,” says Wechsler.
To buy: Derma-E Vitamin A Retinyl Palmitate Wrinkle Treatment Crème, $13, vitaminshoppe.com.
Spot-treat the occasional blemish with a gel or a lotion that contains salicylic acid. It will absorb surface oil and help pimples heal faster.
To buy: Avon Clearskin Professional Invisible Blemish Treatment, $12, avon.com.
Oily: Who Knew?
Antidandruff shampoo kills oil-stimulating yeast on the scalp, and when it trickles onto the face, it can even slow sebum production there, says David Bank, a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York.
To buy: Head & Shoulders Smooth & Silky Shampoo, $5 at drugstores.
Your Skin Type: Dry or Mature
To care for this type of complexion, add as much moisture as possible, since your skin doesn’t produce adequate oil. And work to repair age-related damage (wrinkles, discoloration).
Choose a rich, creamy formula, and smooth it on with a wet washcloth to exfoliate gently. If your skin is extremely dry, cleanse only at night. In the morning, just splash your face with warm water.
To buy: Yes to Blueberries Smoothing Daily Cleanser, $10, yestocarrots.com.
Dry or Mature: Day Lotion
It’s a myth that by age 18 you’ve done all the skin damage you can. To stave off further wrinkles and spots, every day apply a cream with a humectant, like ceramides, plus sunscreen.
To buy: Olay Regenerist DNA Superstructure UV Cream SPF 25, $25 at drugstores.
Dry or Mature: Night Treatment
Topical retinoids are the gold standard for plumping wrinkles and evening out tone. But they can be drying, so start slowly. “Begin with two nights a week, then gradually add a night,” says Wechsler.
To buy: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Deep-Set Wrinkle Repair, $20 at drugstores.
Dry or Mature: Troubleshooter
Even with a moisture-packed regimen, this skin type loses water. Compensate with a weekly hydrating mask. Use one you remove with a washcloth (peel-offs can dry).
To buy: Boots No7 Intensive Moisture Mask, $17, us.boots.com.
Dry or Mature: Who Knew?
Silicone scar-treatment strips can minimize serious wrinkles. Stick the reusable compression strip onto the offending line nightly; eventually it will help smooth the crease.
To buy: Scar-Away Silicone Scar Sheets, $39.50, amazon.com.
Your Skin Type: Sensitive
If your skin is easily irritated, you need to be extra careful when choosing and using products. Pick those that contain few ingredients, are fragrance-free, and offer soothing hydration.
Steer clear of irritants, such as glycolic and alpha hydroxy acids, and use a cleanser with calming botanicals, like feverfew and oatmeal. To avoid overdrying, wash only in the evening.
To buy: Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, $7 at drugstores.
Sensitive: Day Lotion
Opt for a moisturizer (or a bag-friendly stick) with sun-blocking minerals, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. (Some chemical ingredients can cause redness and inflammation.)
To buy: Unfortunately, this product is no longer available, but find similar items at supergoop.com.
Sensitive: Night Treatment
Use a cream with antioxidants, like green tea and pomegranate. “These gently repair signs of aging by neutralizing wrinkle-causing free radicals,” says Hale.
To buy: Lumene Sensitive Touch Comforting Night Cream, $20, walgreens.com.
An antioxidant serum, layered underneath day cream, will give you anti-aging benefits while also providing extra moisture.
To buy: Desert Essence Organics Age Reversal Pomegranate Face Serum, $15, desertessence.com.
Sensitive: Who Knew?
Made mostly of water and lightweight hydrating ingredients, facial mists are ideally suited to sensitive skin. Spritz one on when skin feels tight, dry, or itchy (can be applied over makeup!).
To buy: H2O Plus Oasis Mist, $18, h2oplus.com.