Choose The Correct Cleanser For You

By now we all know how important it is to wash our face twice a day, but unfortunately many of us remain in the dark about which cleanser to use. Bar soaps! Creams! Foams! Scrubs! Gels! Milks! There is a plethora of brands and formulations readily available—being confused is completely understandable. Until now.

It all boils down to this: You need to know exactly what you're working with. Does your face feel incredibly dry immediately after you wash it? Does it feel oily and heavy? Do you have a set of pimples that just won't go away? Guess what? Their staying power could very well be attributed to the products you purchased. (Talk about self-sabotage!)

“Finding the right cleanser for your skin type is very important,” saysDr. David Bank, President of the New York State Society for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery. Be it dry, combination, oily, sensitive, or normal (lucky!), pinpointing your skin type is imperative to choosing the right products for you.

After you've figured out what category your skin falls in, shop for cleansers that cater to your specific dermal dilemma. As always, be sure to read the fine print. Below, Dr. Banks identifies five common skin stressors and the ingredients that combat them.

To exfoliate and remove bacteria that clog pores, look for cleansers with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur.

Philosophy On a Clear Day Oil-Free Foaming Acne Cleanser, $25 at| Glytone Exfoliating Gel Wash, $24. Visit to locate a retailer near you.| Olay Total Effects Cream Cleanser Plus + Blemish Control, $5.99 at

Removing dead skin cells and boosting cell growth while repairing damage is essential to anti-aging. Look for alpha-hydroxy acid, vitamins A, B, C and E, and green tea extract in your cleanser.

Mark That’s Deep Purifying Gel Cleanser, $8 at | Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleanser Gel, $35 at| Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Cleanser, $5.49 at

Sensitive Skin
Lactic acid, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid are great agents for preventing irritation while still effectively cleansing the skin.

Perricone MD Hypoallergenic Gentle Cleanser, $39 at after 9/15/11)| Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser, $25 at| DDF Sensitive Skin Cleansing Gel, $32 at

Dry Skin
Hydrate and hold in moisture with cleansers that contain vitamin A, C, and F, as well as hyaluronic acid.

Clean & Clear Morning Burst Facial Cleanser, $6.49 at| Dermalogica Essential Cleansing Solution, $33 at| Neaclear Liquid Oxygen Facial Cleanser, $11.99 at

Look for soothing agents such as aloe vera, soy, and chamomile in your cleanser, since they are all moisturizing and non-irritating.

Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser, $26 at| Ahava Rich Cleansing Cream, $22 at| Nude Cleansing Facial Wash, $24 at