Moisturizing the skin is not merely splashing cool water on the face and body from time to time, even though that’s not a bad thing. True moisturizing keeps skin supple and healthy and is especially important during the dry, cold days of winter. However, not every kind of moisturizer is right for every person.

The type of skin a person has, whether it’s dry, oily, normal, sensitive or a combination of two or all of them, defines the type of moisturizer they should use. Here’s how to tell if skin is dry, normal, oily, sensitive or combination:

Dry or Aging Skin
Dry skin often feels a bit rough and can be red or flaky. The pores are hard to see. This type of skin is helped by petroleum-based moisturizers.

Oily skin
A person with oily skin shouldn’t think that their skin doesn’t moisturizing! Oily skin tends to be shiny, with large pores. People with oily skin are susceptible to break outs. The good new is that oily skin is a benefit to the person as they get older. It needs a water-based moisturizer that won’t clog the pores. This type of moisturizer is called noncomedogenic. Water-based lotions are also good for oily skin.

Sensitive Skin
This type of skin is subject to break-outs and should use a moisturizer that doesn’t have a lot of perfumes or dyes.

Normal Skin
Normal skin doesn’t break out in pimples often, its pores are just noticeable, it does not itch or flake and is supple. A moisturizer for normal skin is also water-based but has some oil and soothing emollients. During winter, normal skin can be treated with an oil-based moisturizer.

Combination Skin
This is a skin that’s oily in some places, like the T-zone, which is a band above the eyebrows and down the nose and dry in other places. These dry places aren’t necessarily on the face but can be on the knees or elbows. Use a moisturizer for oily skin on the oily areas and one for dry skin on the dry areas.

How to Moisturize
Before a person moisturizes, they should take a shower with the bathroom or shower door shut to trap the humidity. A steam shower might be ideal. They should avoid harsh cleansers and use only very mild soap. After that, they should pat their skin dry, then add the moisturizer. The lips should not be ignored! Lip balm is a good way to keep moisture in the lips. Remember, moisturizer doesn’t add moisture itself but pulls moisture into the skin and keeps it in.

Some people put on moisturizer before they enter the shower because the steam helps the moisturizer lock the water inside the skin. In that case, the skin should be washed before stepping into the shower.

Since skin is hydrated from both within and without, it’s important to drink lots of fresh, clean water throughout the day. Increase the amount of water before, during and after a workout.

During cold weather, it’s good to splurge on a really luxurious moisturizer to keep the skin from being chapped by the cold wind. If the skin has suffered some wind-damage, the person should use a moisturizer with a bit of cortisone cream.

Moisturizing takes only a few minutes each day. It’s worth it to keep the skin, the body’s largest organ, healthy and beautiful.