When it comes to finding out your skin type, it can be a bit tricky. There are so many factors that can change how our skin feels and looks from day to day. Therefore, it's essential to know our skin type so we can build a routine that best serves our skin. There are five major skin types - normal, oily, dry, combination, and sensitive. In this article, we're going to discuss the five skin types, how to determine your skin type and the best types of products for your skin.
'Normal' skin refers to well-balanced skin. This skin type is characterized by fine pores, with minimal fine lines and wrinkles. The texture is firm, soft and smooth without any blemishes. This skin type doesn't experience breakouts often and doesn't react negatively to new products or seasonal changes. With normal skin, the complexion is usually balanced and radiant.
Dry skin happens when your skin produces less sebum than it needs. This skin type is characterized by flakiness, sensitivity, itchiness, and cracks. The skin may feel tight throughout the day and pores will be virtually invisible. Dry skin can be caused by lack of Natural moisturizing factors (NMFs), environmental changes, skin disease, and/or dehydration. NMFs are responsible for keeping the outer layer of the epidermis hydrated. They are also important for keeping the skin's elasticity and being a barrier against infection and/or chemical damage. When they are lacking, our skin develops more wrinkles and flakiness.
Oily skin happens when the skin produces too much sebum. The cause can be due to genetics, stress, medications, and/or hormonal factors. With oily skin, your complexion may look shiny and dewy. The texture is usually slick to the touch. Your pores will be enlarged and congested, which causes breakouts to happen more frequently. Makeup and skincare products also don’t tend to last very long with oily skin.
Combination skin is a combo of both oily and dry. It's characterized by an oily T-zone (forehead, chin, and nose) with normal to dry cheeks. Pores may be enlarged in the T-zone area with a glossy look and slick feel in those areas. The cheeks tend to feel normal with regular-sized pores. In this case, the T-zone areas are producing too much sebum while the cheeks aren't.
Sensitive skin can be caused by genetics, allergies or environmental factors. It can also be difficult to manage due to the fact that it can be triggered by certain ingredients. This skin type tends to react negatively to products with fragrance and is prone to frequent rashes and bumps. Patches of dry, flaky, irritated skin may also appear. People with sensitive skin are also prone to redness and may have a stinging or burning sensation after using a product.
Figuring Out Your Skin Type
Figuring out your skin type all starts with a freshly washed face. All makeup, oil, and dirt should be removed completely. Next, wait two hours without applying any product to the skin (this includes makeup of any kind). Once two hours have passed, take some time to examine your face in the mirror. Take note of all the characteristics you see such as pore size, shininess, redness, flakiness, etc. Also, take note of how your skin feels. Is it tight? Is it soft? Is it slick to the touch? Do you feel any irritation? The characteristics your skin is displaying will help you identify what skin type you have.
NORMAL SKIN ROUTINE
If you are blessed to have normal skin, that means your skin is pretty tolerant of all type of products. This means you can have fun experimenting with different ingredients to figure out what works best for you. However, it's important to stick to the basics when it comes to a skincare routine. That includes using a daily cleanser, toner, exfoliant, moisturizer, sunscreen, and serum. You always want to maintain your skin's health. With normal skin, it's about being preventative as opposed to reactive. Normal skin can have the occasional skin problem, but with a solid routine, it's more unlikely.
DRY SKIN ROUTINE
With dry skin, it's important to choose products that moisturize the skin. When choosing a cleanser, it's essential to stay away from the ones with harsh ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide, fragrances, and alcohols. You want to aim for a mild, gentle and hydrating cleanser. Cleaners should also be on the creamy side instead of foamy. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, using water warm instead of hot and limiting your shower/bath time to ten minutes is also good for keeping the skin hydrated. It's also important to apply a rich moisturizer immediately after cleansing. When choosing a moisturizer, try to look for those that have ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and antioxidants. These ingredients help attract hydration to the skin. Products with plant oils are also great for providing and locking in moisture. Depending on how your skin feels, you may want to reapply moisturizer throughout the day. When exfoliating, you want to be sure not to overdo it or use an exfoliant that's too abrasive. Aim for an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) leave-on exfoliant once a week. These specific types of exfoliants help reveal more radiant, smoother skin.
OILY SKIN ROUTINE
People usually think that if they have oily skin that means their skin is resilient. That's not necessarily the case. With oily skin, you still want to avoid harsh ingredients because they can make your skin produce more oil. So it's important to avoid products that make your skin tingle like alcohol, mint, and eucalyptus. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, those with oily skin should aim for cleansers that are oil-free, non-comedogenic and contain ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Those ingredients are key to avoiding breakouts. While those with oily skin may need to wash their skin more often, it's still important not to overwash. Overwashing can lead to irritation which leads to more oil production. A rule of thumb is to wash your face morning, night, and after exercise. An oil-free, lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or higher should be applied daily. Exfoliating should be limited to once or twice a week and should be avoided during breakouts. The friction caused by exfoliating can make acne worse. With makeup, aim for oil-free, non-comedogenic, water-based products and make sure to never sleep in your makeup.
COMBINATION SKIN ROUTINE
Just like with dry and oily skin types, you'll want to avoid any products with alcohol. You want to aim for cleansers that are balanced and help balance the oil in your T-zone while moisturizing your cheeks. Micellar waters are a great alternative to cleansers when you have combo skin. For moisturizers, balancing creams are all the rave. Balancing creams are meant to help regulate the skin's moisture content while still hydrating it. For exfoliating, a general face scrub that's ideal for all skin types works just fine. Face masks are also a great secret weapon for taking care of combo skin. Multi-masking, applying different masks to different areas of the face at the same time, is even better because you can target both your oily and dry areas. Spot treatments are also great to isolate acne-prone areas.
SENSITIVE SKIN ROUTINE
When it comes to sensitive skin, washing the face once a day is usually enough. You want to avoid products that contain fragrances, soaps or alcohols and lean towards products with calming ingredients such as green tea, chamomile, and aloe. A general rule of thumb is the fewer ingredients the better due to the fact that sensitive skin is easily triggered. It's also important to take the time to do a patch test before using a product. This can help minimize potential reactions on the skin. Exfoliation can be skipped entirely. Moisturizers should be labeled as calming, healing, with anti-inflammatory properties. People with sensitive skin usually lean towards gel-based products because of how lightweight they are.