Most women probably remember once being told to choose products based upon their skin type: oily, acneic, dry, combination. If you're like us, you avoided oils like the plague and used salicylic acid cleansers and benzoyl peroxide to stop greasy skin in its tracks (which, looking back on it, just made our skin pretty dry.) Now though, experts like esthetician Joanna Czech, founder of the Joanna Czech Studio in Dallas, Texas, are abandoning that mindset. "I don't think of skin as types, but rather as conditions or needs," Czech says. "I don't think you should stick to a particular product or routine. At any given moment—whether day, season, or time in your life, hormonally and with age—your skin needs something different."
Your cleansers can even vary from day to day, Czech says. One day, you may need a gentle cleanser, and another day, if you're wearing a lot of makeup, you'll probably need something that goes deeper. In the winter, Czech adds, no one should use water-based cleansers, serums, or lotions for daytime: "You need something more protective to support the lipid layer," she says, explaining that most people can benefit from oil cleanser. "Oil dissolves oil—it's a chemical fact," she says. "It purifies and breaks down the oils inside of your skin, along with the makeup on top of your skin. They're also safer than acidic cleansers. People think their cleansers need to either burn or foam to be working, and that's not always the case." Czech's favorites are Elemis Nourishing Omega Rich Cleansing Oil, La Mer The Cleansing Oil, Tatcha One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, Omorovicza Cleansing Balm, and Malin + Goetz Facial Cleansing Oil.
The most important goal when caring for your skin is ensuring your pH is balanced, which can help eliminate a host of other problems, like dryness, acne, overactive sebum production, and rosacea. "The most balanced pH is about 5.5," Czech says. "That's when skin looks and feels its healthiest. That's more important than keeping the same routine, and keeping the skin balanced is not going to happen by sticking to the same products." (You can tell your pH balance is off because your skin will feel tight, or you'll get breakouts easily, red patches, or rashes.)
Here's the other thing: Many of the same ingredients benefit a myriad of skin conditions. Vitamin A is good for acne, aging skin, and young skin as a preventative treatment. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, which can ease redness in acne and dehydrated, patchy skin. ("But I wouldn't apply turmeric directly on the skin," Czech notes. "Mix it with your moisturizer.") As a rule of thumb, Czech always looks for products with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, omega fatty acids, peptides, and proteins—all ingredients that work to create supple, glowing and healthy skin for every complexion.