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Sometimes it can feel like you're waging a war against your skin. Even if you've nailed the perfect skin care regimen for your face, you may still be dealing with the ugly issues of body acne or dry, flaky skin. But stop battling your skin and start working with it, providing the care and products it needs to be its very best.
Soap up with a body wash appropriate for your skin type. For oily skin, look for a body wash with salicylic acid. Of the acne-fighting medicines, salicylic acid is usually the least irritating. Benzoyl peroxide is a more powerful option, but can lead to irritation very easily. Proceed with caution: It can also cause bleaching, so it should not be used by women with dark skin -- that would do the opposite of evening out your skin tone. (Consider seeing a dermatologist if body acne is more severe than the occasional breakout or blemish.) For dry or sensitive skin, use a moisturizing body wash with natural ingredients like oatmeal and shea, or if you're reassured by scientific-sounding products (it's proven science, right?) look for glycerin or petrolatum. For normal skin, you can use body wash from either end of the spectrum, so tailor your choices to your skin's current needs. The best way to keep an even skin tone for every skin type is to reevaluate your products frequently. Don't get stuck in a rut of using the same wash every season, because your skin care needs change just as frequently as your wardrobe.
Scrub away dead skin cells -- okay, maybe don't scrub them away. While exfoliators with physical particles are very popular, an exfoliator with chemical exfoliants is better for your skin. One of the most popular of these exfoliants is glycolic acid, one of many alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA). Glycolic acid in a body wash or chemical peel can help get rid of acne scars and irregular pigmentation, as well as dissolve dead skin cells to reveal naturally glowing skin underneath. Depending on your skin type and the time of the year, you may need to exfoliate very frequently or only once a week. Look for products that contain glycolic, lactic, citric or tartaric acid -- all are members of the AHA family.
Smooth skin with a lotion formulated for your skin type. Like body wash, your moisturizing needs may change over the course of the year, so don't become too attached to one formula. A pH-balanced lotion will keep skin from becoming too dry or oily, while a formula with AHAs can help you skip out on exfoliating (at least some of the time).
Slather on SPF anytime you're going to be outdoors, even if it's not particularly sunny out. "SPF is a must for all skin colors," dermatologist Wendy E. Roberts told "InStyle" magazine. Roberts recommended at least SPF 15 for dark skin and SPF 30 or higher for lighter skin. "When you get tan, even a little, you are damaging skin cells, which leads to premature aging, wrinkles and cancer. Just because you don't burn doesn't mean you are avoiding damage," Roberts said. Not to mention, after getting some sun, your skin becomes dry, flaky and scaly. Skip the crocodile skin and wear sunblock -- plus, avoiding a natural tan gives you a chance to try different self-tanners.