Your Guide to a Clear Complexion

The key to a clear complexion lies in finding the right balance of cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting your skin from the sun.

The following tips will help you restore the glow to your complexion.

Start With a Smart Skincare Regimen

Everyone's skin is different, but basic skincare is similar for most of us:

  • Cleanse. Wash your face every night with a gentle cleanser in lukewarm water. In the morning, simply splash your face with water or rinse it in the shower.
  • Moisturize. Apply a light daily moisturizer after rinsing—you may want to use a heavier one during winter. Use a thick, emollient moisturizer after cleansing at night.
  • Protect. Slather on sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 for everyday use. Try to avoid being in the sun during the hottest hours of the day (from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Be sure to re-apply sunscreen after sweating or swimming.
  • Exfoliate, hydrate, and target wrinkles. If you want to add anti-aging, exfoliating, or hydrating products to your skincare routine, fine. Just follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and make sure you don't combine too many products.

Of course, all of these approaches may not work for everyone. People with oily skin may need to wash their face more often, just as those with dry skin may need to moisturize more. However, it's amazing how many of us reach for extra (and expensive) products before making sure the basics are covered. Try following these simple regimens for three to four weeks, then assess if you have any further problems.

For Dry or Itchy Skin

Try a deep, moisturizing mask and switch to a more emollient moisturizer, especially at night. If your skin doesn't improve, talk to a dermatologist.

For Frequent Breakouts or Acne-Prone Skin

Figure out the major culprit. Excess oil, clogged pores, bacteria, hormones, or heredity can all cause acne. For severe acne, see a dermatologist who will likely prescribe a combination of different topical and oral medications. For minor acne, increase the number of times you wash your face, especially after sweating. Exfoliate with a gentle, chemical exfoliant—never use a scrub. Don't skip your moisturizer—just be sure to choose a noncomedogenic option that won't clog your pores.

For Flushed, Red Skin

Be cautious. If you're experiencing red, flushed skin, visible blood vessels on your nose and cheeks, or small pus-filled bumps on your face, you may have rosacea. While rosacea is not curable, it is manageable with oral and topical medications (and in extreme cases, surgery). A dermatologist can help get you started on a treatment regimen.

For Blotchy, Uneven Skin

Examine the variety of factors that can lead to blotchy skin. If you've ruled out acne or rosacea, your problem could be dermatitis (a rash), eczema (scaly skin), or simply hyperpigmentation, which is usually caused by sun exposure, though occasionally can be attributed to a skin condition like melasma or vitiligo. Switch to a smart skin care solution. If your skin tone seems to get worse after switching, talk to a dermatologist.


Sources: "How to Wash Acne-Prone Skin." Web. American Academy of Dermatology. April 14, 2010.

American Academy of Dermatology: "Acne." Web. American Academy of Dermatology. November, 2009

The Mayo Clinic: "Acne" Web. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. November 3, 2009

The Mayo Clinic: "Itchy Skin (Pruritus)" Web. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. December 20, 2008