When it comes to your skin you can never be too cautious. Without knowing how your skin will react to a product you could be in for a disaster. If you’re shopping in a department store ask to try the product first. Most stores have samples on hand; if your skin starts to tingle, itch or burn the product may not be for you.

If you’re shopping online read reviews. Lots of them. Try a specific search like [ “X Product” “Sensitive Skin” “review” ] or [“X Product” “Skin reactions” “review“]. Don’t stop at just 1 review, read multiple reviews and opt for those that use pictures (before/after preferably.)

When it comes to the products themselves, here’s an overview of what to look for:

What to Look for When Choosing Skin Care Products

Cleansers: Cleansers are probably the most important part of a skin care routine. Choosing the right cleanser is imperative. Choose a cleanser that removes dirt, makeup and impurities without removing the natural moisture from your face/skin.

Dry skin sufferers should opt for creamy cleansers while oily skin sufferers should opt for an oil-free cleanser with salicylic acid.

Moisturizers: The next most important post cleansing skin care product is the moisturizer. Choose those that are thick for dry skin.  Look for a moisturizer that contains SPF for extra protection.

There are light and oil-free moisturizers available for those with oily skin.

Exfoliating products: Exfoliants are my favorite skin care routine products. I love how my face feels after I exfoliate! If you have sensitive skin you may want to skip this or opt for a very gentle exfoliant like one with micro beads.

Heavier exfoliants (like those made with crushed shells and salt) shouldn’t be used too often.

Toner: I don’t use toner too often, but try to incorporate it during the summer when I’m overly shiny. Astringents work well for getting rid of the shine due to oily skin and tightens the pores. For dry skin opt for hydrating waters and toning lotions.

With combination skin it can get tricky. Oil-absorbing toners are great for an oily T-zone (swipe along the forehead, chin and nose) but be careful not to use on the dry areas.

Spot Treatments: Spot treatments are not meant to treat acne. They are for the lone pimple or blemish. Choosing the best spot treatment for you depends on your lifestyle. There are those that may be left on overnight and some that you can wear out without noticing. There are also tinted spot treatments that act as a camouflage for blemishes.

Most spot treatments contain benzoyl peroxide which can irritate sensitive and dry skin. Always read the labels and follow directions!