Why oily and dry skin types need totally different cleansers

If you’ve never struggled with acne, you might not spend a lot of time thinking about your skincare routine. Perhaps, like me, you’ve been using the same cleanser twice a day every day since you stole your sister’s prescription for it back in 2010.

Naturally, when that prescription finally ran out, I was faced with a predicament: How do I pick a new cleanser?

I knew my skin was dry, but I didn’t know much else. I also knew I didn’t really want to go to a dermatologist, because I didn’t have any serious skin issues – and who has the time or money for that anyways?

But the thing is, once I started using a new cleanser and washing my face once a day instead of twice, I realized my skin wasn’t naturally dry – it was the cleanser I was using that made my skin dry.

Clearly, one size does not fit all for skincare, and even if you don’t have acne issues you could be messing with your skin by using the wrong face wash. I talked to Curology’s Dr. David Lortscher about the best over-the-counter cleansers for those with oily vs. dry skin, and why you need to buy one based on your skin type.

READ ALSO: I stopped using fancy face products and my acne went away

First things first: what type of skin do you have? Do you find yourself needing to moisturize twice a day if you don’t want flakes? Or do you recoil at any makeup product that promises “dewy” skin since yours already glistens on its own?

If you’re prone to oily skin, you should try to find a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Dr. Lortscher also recommends using oil-free sunscreen and avoiding products with niacinamide, which could potentially exacerbate the oiliness of your skin.

On the other hand, if your skin tends to feel thirstier than that dude who texts you “wyd?” every Thursday night, then you should avoid alcohol-based moisturizers and harsh exfoliants – they may feel good immediately after you use them, but they’re going to dry out your skin in the long run and potentially irritate it too.

READ ALSO: Kaylen Zahara’s beauty routine includes a clear mind

While benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid might be known for clearing acne, they’re also super-drying, so while they may work for your BFF with oily skin, they might not work for you. You can try using the harsher cleanser once a day rather than twice, but you can also look for a softer cleanser. Dr. Lortscher says to look for a non-soap cleanser to keep your skin hydrated while fighting impurities.

But if you don’t feel like spending ten minutes analyzing the ingredients list of every skincare product in your local drugstore, allow Dr. Lortscher to make some recommendations.

READ ALSO: I had horrible acne because I was allergic to this super common chemical

For oily skin, he suggests CeraVe Foaming Cleanser, Cetaphil Dermacontrol Oil Control Foam Wash or Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser.

For dry skin, he says something hydrating, like CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser or Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser would be great. Or, if you’re looking for something gentle, try Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser and Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser.

Pro tip: don’t try a million new things at once. If you do that, you’ll never know what’s potentially irritation your skin vs. what’s working for you. Another pro tip? Sometimes what your skin needs changes based on the weather, your hormones, and more. Don’t be afraid of a little change.


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