Your skin has its own unique needs, which can change over time. So before you open your wallet to shell out for expensive products, take some time to consider what your skin is telling you.
If you often notice cracking, flaking, itching and premature wrinkling, you probably have dry skin. To keep it looking its best, choose an oil-based lotion. Check the label for petrolatum or another emollient as one of the top three ingredients. Steer clear of alcohol-based products, which will dry out your skin.
If you have oily skin, you probably already know it. By midday, your face is shiny or greasy-looking. You may need a water-based moisturizer that won't add any more oil to your skin, but will protect your stratum corneum.
You're lucky if you have normal skin -- a complexion that is neither oily nor dry. Try using a light, water-based moisturizer to keep it that way.
If you're prone to oiliness in the "T-zone" (on your forehead, nose and chin), but the rest of your skin is normal or dry, you have combination skin. Use a lighter cream, and make sure you wash your T-zone with a non-drying cleanser [source: Discovery Health].
If you have acne-prone skin, look for an oil-free product that is non-comedogenic, which means it won't block your pores. Some moisturizers also contain anti-bacterials which will help prevent breakouts [source: WebMD].
No matter what skin type you have, one thing is certain: Its needs will change. For example, once you hit your 30s, you may begin to notice age spots or some sun damage. It may help to use a light moisturizer with sunscreen during these years, or even earlier. If you notice fine lines, try a cream with retinol for nighttime. In your 40s, your skin begins to thin and become less elastic, which could mean more wrinkles. Try using a moisturizer with antioxidants in the morning and stick with the retinol at night. In your 50s and beyond, choose a heavier moisturizer, and look for something that contains vitamin K to address circles under your eyes caused by thinning skin.
Read on to learn what to look for when you test-drive a moisturizer.