Our Ride-or-Die Products for Oily, Dry, Acne-Prone & Sensitive Skin
Upon finding out we work in the beauty industry, people immediately ask for our recommendations on the one thing they should be using on their skin. That’s a tall order for any product, and the answer is that it really depends on your skin, your lifestyle, your budget, and your goals. No one seems to like that answer, though. Nor do they enjoy it when we tell them the best thing to use for healthier skin is sunscreen, even though it’s true.
In the interest of not exasperating our friends and loved ones any further, we asked dermatologist Dr. Hadley King to break down the ingredients to use — and the ones to avoid — for the four most common skin types. From there, we picked out our ride-or-die product recommendations for each. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it’ll give you a solid place to start. Seriously, though, look into that sunscreen, too.
Whether you’ve got oily skin year-round or are more prone to it in warmer, more humid months, adjusting your skincare regimen is key to avoiding a shine that’s more sebum than glow. In general, oil-free, non-comedogenic products will be your skin’s best friend, says Dr. King. “Look for products containing salicylic acid to remove excess oil from the skin and temporarily make it less oily.” But — and prepare to have your minds blown — if you really want to help cut down on shine, commit to daily moisturizer use. All skin types are vulnerable to things — like pollution and UV rays — that mess with your skin’s natural moisture barrier, which makes it produce more oil (A.K.A. exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve). But be picky about the type of hydrator you use. “You want to stay away from heavy creams and oil-based moisturizers,” King says. Instead, try a lightweight option like the Whamisa by Glow Studio Green Tea Moisturizer. It’s fortified with green tea water, plus broccoli and kale extracts to both hydrate and protect the skin from damaging free radicals — all without a hint of greasiness.
The same rules for those with oily skin usually apply to those with blemish-prone complexions (i.e., no oil-based or pore-clogging products), says Dr. King. Instead of going for a moisturizer as your must-have product, we recommend trying something with pimple-fighting tea tree extract. Made up of 90-percent of this natural, antibacterial ingredient, the Leegeehaam Tea Tree 90 Essence is our pick for an effective, potent solution to treating current pimples and preventing new ones.
It’ll come as no big surprise that people with dry skin should focus their efforts on adding moisture back into it, but equally important is making sure it stays there. To that end, Dr. King suggests looking for products with both humectants (like glycerin) that help draw hydration into the skin and emollients (like shea butter) that protect against moisture loss. Our go-to treatment is the Blithe Velvet Yam Pressed Serum, which meets both of Dr. King’s criteria and then some. It’s also formulated with fermented oils of argan, macadamia, and olive to provide long-lasting moisture that doesn’t leave skin slick. And the unique pressed serum texture melts right into the skin, for instant moisturizing benefits.
The list of ingredients those with irritable skin should not use can sound daunting. “People with sensitive skin may have a difficult time tolerating alpha-hydroxy acid products, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoids,” says Dr. King. The good news is that there are plenty of products, especially in Korean beauty, that are formulated without those potentially irritating ingredients and are still extremely effective. We endorse the entire Make P:rem Safe Relief range for sensitive skin types, but if you’re trying to narrow it down to a single pick, go for the Safe Relief Cleansing Foam. It’s made without the sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates found in soaps, which Dr. King says can strip the skin and cause dryness and irritation. Plus, it has soothing lavender and Arctic raspberry extracts to help calm inflammation.