Skin Types. I have read tons of articles, websites and scientific research about the different types of skin, and it all comes down to the fact that finding your type is not an exact science. Your skin is influenced by your diet, lifestyle and environmental factors.
You might get really oily and shiny in summer, but have dry and uncomfortable skin in winter. You might think you are a combination type, but every product you use only ends up irritating your face or not doing what it promised. Today, we will be looking at a simple summary of the most popular ways to define your skin type and how you might even be a very different type to what you believed.
PS: To help you diagnose your skin type, think of how your face feels without any products on. It’s great if you already have a routine that works for you, but your soft and supple skin might be the result of that moisturizer you used this morning, not your own genetics.
Ah, normal skin. The dream of every skincare lover. Normal skin is considered the ideal skin type by a lot of people. Your face without products feels comfortable, soft and hydrated. Your skin tone looks even, there is no redness or blemishes (i.e. acne, blackheads or whiteheads) and your pores look small and are hardly visible to the naked eye. Your face doesn’t feel oily or dry, and you always look like you’re glowing.
In terms of products, you don’t react to products badly typically and you do not need to be scared of putting a product on your face because you might break out.
Normal skin is very common with younger people, since our skin tends to get dryer as we age.
This skin type is defined by, you guessed it, a dry feeling. Your face might feel like it’s always irritated and might be marked by redness. It might feel rough or coarse, and can give you a very uncomfortable feeling after you step out of the shower.
Your complexion might look dull and tired, and will definitely not be glowing. Dry skin is more common the older we get, and is much more prevalent in women than men, and is often worse in winter.
The problem you will encounter when you have dry skin is a lack of lipid production that protect your face from external influences. These lipids are essential to keep the moisture level in your skin normal by forming a barrier to trap in the water it needs to keep your face hydrated. Did you know your skin evaporates up to half a liter of water each day? If you lack this protective lipid barrier, this will have a serious impact on hydration levels.
There are a lot of misconceptions about dry skin, but the biggest one I want to clear up is this: Dry skin is NOT the same as dehydrated skin. We will discuss this type a bit further down, but dry skin is caused by a lack of sebums, not a lack of water. If you have dry skin, you can drink 5 liters of water every day, but without your lipid barrier acting adequately, it’s not going to help much.
The most common skin type, a mix of dry and oily skin. People with this type will often get very shiny and oily in their T-zone. This is your forehead, nose and chin. Breakouts will most often also occur there and your pores will be quite visible in this area. Your cheeks however, will feel dry and itchy, and might look red. Your eyes and mouth area might be normal or dry.
This is the most difficult skin type to treat, because what works for a oily type often does not work for a dry one. Products that are designed to help you control the oil in your T-zone have a high chance of irritating your cheeks and eyes. Some people even have two completely different skin care routines for their dry and oily parts.
Combination skin will almost always be dehydrated. This causes different reactions in different parts of the face. Your T-zone will produce even more sebum to try and keep that moisture in, whilst your cheeks will simply become irritated and red. Hydration is key here, and will make a huge difference in helping the balance in your skin!
Feel free to have a look at both the dry and oily skin sections to find out which products to avoid and which ones to stock up on!
This skin type is characterized by an excessive sebum production. Remember sebum? This is the lipid that causes dry skin when there is too little of it. In this case, there is too much, and your face becomes oily and shiny. Your pores will probably be quite visible and big, and are prone to getting clogged. When this happens, you see blackheads, whiteheads and pimples appear.
Oily skin doesn’t just apply to your face. Your back, chest, neck and shoulders can be affected too. Hormones and genetics do not help in this case, because this is the skin type you will most likely develop during puberty and young adulthood. Very important for this type is avoiding skin care ingredients that are comedogenic. Comedones are those pesky little blackheads that always seem to pop up in the wrong places.
This also means that you shouldn’t use products that are too harsh. You might be tempted to go in with the big guns to get rid of all this extra oil, but it could end out drying your face out and only stimulating your skin more to create sebum. Gentle but effective is the way to go!
So, how do you define sensitive skin? Well, sensitive. You tend to react to products quite quickly, and your face is red, itchy and might seem infected from time to time. Breakouts aren’t uncommon either! Irritation and pimples go hand in hand.
Sensitive skin is caused by your natural protecting face barrier being broken down, which causes your nerve endings to become exposed to whatever you put on your face.
Sensitive skin can be caused by lots of things, think of sun exposure (SPF is priority number 1!), air pollution, harsh products, hormones and dehydration.
If you have this skin type, it will usually go hand in hand with another type like combination, dry or dehydrated skin.
Lastly, I am adding a sixth skin type to the mix. This one rarely gets mentioned but I think it’s one of the most important types. Dehydrated skin is caused by a lack of hydration. This type is very similar to dry skin, which is why they usually get mixed up. Your face will look dry, itchy and dull.
However, this skin type is caused by a lack of hydration in your skin, and not a lack of sebum. If you are using all the right products to take care of your dry skin, but it doesn’t seem to improve, you might be dehydrated, not dry.
To take care of this skin type, keep your water levels up. Drink plenty of water, and make sure to drink more in summer or during exercise. Use skincare products for dry skin (i.e. hydrating and calming) and add products that are focused on adding water to your face. This can be a water-based serum, a moisturizer with an emollient, or anything water based and with hydrating qualities. Hyaluronic acid is a fantastic ingredient for dehydrated skin to include in your routine!
Bringing It All Together
People are not always one single skin type. I am the prime example of that. My skin is combination, sensitive and dehydrated. This means that I have combination skin, but it’s also quite dry and sensitive, and I will react to products quite quickly. I use a skin care routine for all skin types, with the addition of a water based serum.
Now you have your skin type, it’s type to start looking at products. Finding products for your skin type can be difficult, but here are a few rules of thumb:
- Find a product that is suitable for every part of your skin. This means that you don’t use a harsh cleanser on your combination skin because irritates your dry parts. Don’t use a rich moisturizer on your sensitive, oily skin because it will clog your pores.
- Think about using products that are free-from or use natural ingredients.
- Be sure to have a look at the ingredient list of products that didn’t work and avoid those ingredients in the future.
- Keep the ingredient lists of your products as short as possible.
- Always ask for testers when available and give a product at least 2 weeks to show its full effects. If it irritates your skin, stop using it immediately.
I hope that cleared some things up for you! Do let me know if you need some help to figure out your type, I’m here to help!