It's a two-fer!
With the multitude of options out there, it's easy to get confused on what is "right" for your skin care regimen. I say regimen because let's face it, (ha, face!) there are lots and lots of products out there geared towards the care of the face! Let's put all the toners, lifters, serums, alpha-hydroxy, outer space stuff aside for a moment and get the basics covered, shall we?
Here are (in my opinion) the only things a person truly "needs" to do to maintain their skin. Cleanse. Hydrate. Exfoliate.
That's it! Allow me to break it down further.
1. Cleanse - From makeup to pollutants, the face gets dirty. Try not to think about it too hard or you'll end up afraid of your own face. (ACK! Bacteria!) A gentle cleanser is something that should be in every bathroom. Whether it's in cream form, towelette form, gel form, oil form; whatever, a good basic cleanser is a must. I prefer to abide by this rule: Treat your skin the way you want it. Translation - if you WANT oily skin, use the cleansers geared toward Oily Skin. I know, that sounds backwards. "Who wants oily skin??" Think about it though. The primary reason skin can be oily (other than genetics or ethnicity) is stripping. Not the kind with g-strings and glitter; but when all the natural moisture is taken away, leaving the skin "squeaky" clean and tight. That is actually a bad thing! It causes the skin to go into overdrive to replenish pumping out excess moisture (oil) to try and compensate; but THEN the dry skin that's on the top layer actually can get caught up and mixed with the dirt and crud in the air and clog your skin up, resulting in a break out. And a never ending cycle. That's very very common. It also has created a multi-billion dollar dependency. However, I digress. Think about trying a basic, gentle, normal cleanser (labeled normal) or normal to dry or something that says "normal" or as close to it as you can. You want a balance in your skin. Removal of the uck without taking the good stuff with it. A dear friend of mine wrote about washing your face with a combination of oil which I must admit makes me want to try it! Find what works for you, but try and open your mind about what your skin can be like. Don't mentally lock in to "dry" or "oily", give your skin the benefit of the doubt.
2. Hydrate - Every skin needs a little touch of something moisturizing. More often than they realize, people with "oily" skin need the heavier moisturizers because of the dry surface (that's causing the excess oil, see above rant) area they have inadvertently caused. Some people use separate day and night moisture (I do!) and some people don't. Whatever you use, use it. You don't need to slather anything on (other than sunscreen) heavily, a light touch of moisture is best. By the way, that means eye cream too. I know, I know. Usually people say "but but that's separate??"; yes. It is. Again, a light eye cream shouldn't be expensive and it's more dense than regular face moisturizer. The eye area is delicate and yes, should have it's own moisturizer. Always put it on along the orbital bone and with your ring finger (it's the weakest) and it should take little time to absorb. If it's too thick it will stay on the surface and do you no good. That's true with any hydration; facial or body.
3. Exfoliate - This one is the forgotten. Helping along the natural shedding process of the skin makes everything work better with skin care. I don't recommend highly abrasive cleansers (with sand/pits of fruit) because what they do is gouge deeper than you realize into the skin surface resulting in a dryer appearance and feel; instead of sloughing off the cells evenly. Rounded bead type elements work best. OR some sort of brush system. However fingers and hands work just fine. The denser packed the beads are, the smoother your skin will be. If there's more "cleanser" than bead, that means you aren't getting as much exfoliation as you think you are. It should feel scrubby without feeling scratchy.
Ok! Those are the basics! Don't get me wrong, I have a love of the serums and such too, but if my skin starts to act up or not be the way I want it; I go right back to the basics.
Here's a high-tech find for you: The Clarisonic Mia 2 as seen in Sephora, Ulta, and QVC (though QVC may be out of the Mia 2).
It's a sonic cleansing system (yay for sonic! sorry, I'm a Whovian) that vibrates your skin so you're actually getting a lot more benefit from everything! It's not cheap, at all. But it's the one that works! It cleanses AND exfoliates gently (I don't have to use a separate exfoliation product) and allows my moisturizer to absorb quicker and I use less because it goes further! I use one pump my basic cleanser, Aveeno Positively Radiant with my Mia 2 morning and night. Avoiding the eye area (hey, it's a sonic brush. You can't use it on your eye). the new Mia 2 has a self-timer ( two 20 second time frames on the T-Zone areas, and a 10 second time frame for each cheek) so you know when to move on to the next section. The Mia 2 is one minute of my morning and night skin care regimen that I'll gladly perform. It's not cheap, but it's one of the best purchases I ever made.