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Dry skin is a common dermatological condition that can cause pain, redness, flaking and itching. It can also emphasize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Cleaning dry skin often becomes a balancing act between using ingredients that are effective at removing dirt and bacteria while still protecting or replenishing the natural oils that the human skin produces.

Heredity, weather, diet, age, hormonal changes and some medical conditions and medications have an impact on the way your skin looks and feels. Because skin responds to these internal and external changes, it's important to recognize the type of skin you have so you can choose the best cleansers and moisturizers to maintain it properly.

The first step in purchasing the right cleanser for you is to evaluate your skin:

  • Dry skin - Dry skin can look dull and feel tight. Any lines around the mouth and eyes will be more visible, and you may also see some flaking or redness.

  • Sensitive skin - Often confused with dry skin, sensitive skin may look flaky or inflamed as a result of an allergic reaction and not because of a lack of moisture. If you think you have dry skin because of flaking or itching, you may want to check with a dermatologist or look for products that are hypoallergenic and designed for sensitive skin.

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  • Oily skin - If your face becomes shiny or greasy a couple of hours after you wash it, it's probably on the oily side. If you're currently using an oily skin cleanser that leaves your cheeks and neck feeling dry, you may have combination skin that needs a mild general cleanser with a stronger product for the areas around your forehead, nose and chin.

Once you determine that you do have dry skin, there are some ingredients in cleansers you should take extra care to avoid whenever possible. We'll take a look at them on the next page.