In general, we tend to talk a lot about finding “the one.” The perfect partner, the perfect job, the perfect apartment—so much of our lives come down to discovering that one single thing that’s right for us. Skin care, though, is not like that. When it comes to our faces, no matter what skin type or concern we’re dealing with, it’s actually the combination of ingredients we use—not just one—that really makes a difference.
But similar to finding the perfect partner, job, or home, finding the perfect skin-care routine can be a massive undertaking. To make things slightly less overwhelming (and dare I say… fun?), we worked with New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD to turn the entire thing into a game (the most fun game of all: Bingo). Here’s how you play: Scroll to find your skin type, then note the three ingredients or products on each card. Pick one from each column, and slather ’em on. Before you know it, they’ll be working synergistically to have your skin shouting: “Bingo!” in no time flat.
Mix and match to your heart’s desire to come up with the perfect three-product routine—really, you can’t go wrong, and the more you experiment, the more fun you’ll have along the way.
Photo: Well+Good Creative
For acne, try benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and sulfur
Benzoyl peroxide: PCA Skin BPO 5 Percent Cleanser ($39), Jan Marini Benzoyl Peroxide 10 Percent ($42), Vivant Skin Care BP 10 Percent Gel Medication Acne Treatment ($38)
Consider these three ingredients the trifecta of acne treatments. “Benzoyl peroxide lowers levels of acne-causing bacteria and subsequently reduces inflammation in the skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Salicylic acid removes excess oil and exfoliates dead cells from the surface of the skin to keep the pores clear. Sulfur has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties to treat breakouts.” And for what it’s worth? Dr. Pimple Popper agrees that these three are the best of the best for getting rid of pimples.
For dry skin, try colloidal oatmeal, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides
Hyaluronic acid: Osea Hyaluronic Sea Serum ($88), Allies of Skin Triple Hyaluronic Antioxidant Hydration Serum ($75), The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($8)
All three of these ingredients have been buzzing lately for their dry skin-saving abilities, and for good reason—especially because they all help hydrate in different ways. “Colloidal oatmeal is a skin protectant, and sugarcoats the surface of the skin while antioxidants— known as avenanthramides—calm inflammation,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Ceramides are like the spackle between skin cell tiles. They fill in cracks between cells in the outer skin layer to prevent loss of hydration and protect the skin from the environment. Hyaluronic acid is like a sponge that pulls in hydration to the outer skin layer.” Use them all together and you’ll be feeling seriously dewy…in a good way.
For sensitive skin, try micellar water, fragrance-free moisturizers, and mineral sunscreens
Micellar water: Bioderma Sensibio H2O ($15), La Roche Posay Micellar Clearing Water for Sensitive Skin ($8), Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water ($7);
Mineral-blocker sunscreens: Supergoop Zincscreen 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 40++ ($42), Cerave 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 ($15), Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($34)
With sensitive skin, you’ve gotta take extra-care with which ingredients you’re applying, yes, but also with which ingredients you avoid. “Fragrances are a common cause of skin allergies and irritation,” says Dr. Zeichner, adding that if you have sensitive skin you should use only things that are labeled as “fragrance free.” And FWIW: That’s not the same thing as “unscented,” because some brands add “masking fragrances” or scents to cover the smell of certain ingredients within the formula. Your best bet is to choose the gentlest cleanser possible, which he calls out as French-girl fave micellar water. “It is a specialized water that contain tiny oil droplets that absorb oil, and can be used across all skin types, even those with the most sensitive skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. And finally, when it comes to sunscreen, opt for mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide instead of chemical ones, which can potentially be irritating for those with sensitive skin.
For oily skin, try charcoal, salicylic acid, and clay
If you’ve got oily skin, it’s all about getting rid of the excess dirt and grease—and these three ingredients will help to do just that. “Clay and charcoal are super absorbent to help remove excess oil from the skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that removes excess oil and exfoliate dead cells from the surface of the skin.”
No matter what type of skin you have, here’s why you should consider putting together a “skin-care wardrobe” to make sure you’re giving it exactly what it needs. And since cleansing is them most important step in any routine, we asked a certified cleanser queen to answer every question you’ve ever had about washing your face.