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A woman touching her hands to her faceFrom cleansers to serums to night creams, the beauty aisle is lined with many complexion-enhancing products. And while each one serves a special purpose, here are four key tips what everybody’s skin needs every day, why those elements are so important, where you’ll find them, and which supposed “necessities” might really be harming your complexion.

1. Water

The human body is full of water — it’s 55 percent to 75 percent of what we are. Water flushes toxins out of the body, allows our cells to absorb nutrients, and keeps our digestive processes moving smoothly.

But that water isn’t a constant. The most basic bodily processes, like breathing and sweating, remove that water from our cells. So for our cells to function properly, we need to consume lots of water to replace what we lose.

The skin is no different from the rest of the body when it comes to needing hydration. Water helps to remove impurities from the skin that can lead to pimples, and it hydrates to keep the skin looking plump and smooth.

To keep the skin hydrated, you should drink at least half a gallon (2 liters) of water each day.

2. Cleansing

Cleansing is the most basic element of any skin-care routine. It not only removes excess dirt, pollutants and pore-clogging oil from the epidermis so it can remain blemish-free, but it also preps the skin for any subsequent products you’ll be using, so active ingredients (like vitamins or sunscreen) can penetrate and be most effective.

But not all cleansers are the same. First, a facial cleanser should always be soap-free; the soap products you use on the rest of your body are typically too harsh for the face. And, as with most skin-care products, you need to pick one that suits your skin type. For very dry skin, you might want to go with a creamy cleanser. Dry and/or sensitive skin should always go alcohol-free, whether creamy or not. An oily epidermis can benefit from an acidic cleanser, like an alpha-hydroxy product, which does a better job of breaking up sebum — the skin’s oily secretion that can lead to clogged pores.

Whichever cleanser is right for you, be sure to massage it into your face for at least 20 seconds so it has a chance to do its job.

3. Essential Fatty Acids

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