Cleansing Routine

A clear complexion starts with the use of makeup removers, cleansers, and toners. Cleanse every evening to wash away makeup, dirt, and oil, says New York City dermatologist Sapna Westley, M.D. If you have oily skin or apply an acne treatment product at night, you may want to cleanse again in the morning -- otherwise splashing with warm water is fine.

Makeup Remover
While most facial cleansers take off makeup, a remover may be needed to dissolve longer-wearing eye-specific cosmetics such as eyeliner and mascara. Choose one that indicates it's suitable for the eye area, apply to a cotton pad, and press gently for several seconds. Follow with a cleanser.

Cleanser
Pick a soap-free formula -- one that cleans without overdrying and works for all skin types. If you're prone to acne, use a gentle exfoliating wash (one that contains sloughing beads or alpha or beta hydroxy acid) once a week to remove dead skin cells that block pores and cause breakouts.

Toner
Also known as astringents, clarifying lotions, tonic waters, and skin conditioners, toners can help temporarily remove excess surface oil and are best used by those with oily complexions. Choose one that is alcohol-free, and after cleansing, apply it to bare skin with a cotton pad.

How to Determine Your Skin Type
Even though the type of skin you have is genetically determined, the right skin-care products and regimen can -- to a certain extent -- improve its appearance and condition. In order to select the appropriate products, you need to first determine your skin type. To do this, Westley recommends gently washing skin with a basic cleanser (one not formulated for any particular skin type). Wait one hour, then press a sheet of blotting paper to your forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks. If the paper picks up oil in all areas, you have oily skin. If it shows oil only in the T-zone (this area includes the forehead, nose, and chin) your skin is normal/combination. If the paper picks up no oil at all, your skin type is dry.

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