Flakes, acne, blackheads, fine lines, sensitivity, wrinkles, oil.. the list of skin care concerns goes on and on. In order to treat any of these concerns, having a proper skin care routine is vital. However, skin care is not one-size-fits-all, and your skin type can play a major role in which concerns you have. Determining your skin type is the first step in identifying which products out of the thousands on the shelf are right for you. There are four common skin types typically recognized in the world of skin care retail: Normal, Oily, Dry, and Combination.
Normal skin is, as the name implies, normal in comparison to oily and dry skin types. A normal skin type occurs when you have healthy levels of sebum in your skin. While people with a normal skin type may get an occasional blemish or dry patch, their skin is not prone to excessive breakouts or dryness.
You may have a normal skin type if:
- Your skin is clear, smooth, and often free of blemishes.
- Your skin does not feel tight or greasy after washing.
- Your pores and small and not very visible.
- Your skin is radiant/dewy without being excessively oil.
- Makeup stays put pretty well throughout the day with minimal touch ups.
Oily skin produces more sebum than a normal skin type, leading to an oily or greasy appearance. Due to overproduction of oil, people with oily skin type are more prone to blemishes due to sebum and skin cells mixing together and blocking pores. While it may seem counter-intuitive, using a harsh facial cleanser that strips the skin of oil may lead to your skin producing even more oil to compensate.
You may have an oily skin type if:
- You have visible, or “enlarged,” pores.
- Your skin feels greasy after washing, beyond a normal hydrated feeling.
- You frequently have breakouts.
- You don’t get dry patches.
- You need to touch up your makeup multiple times throughout the day due to it “sliding” off.
If you have dry skin, your skin does not produce enough sebum. While dehydrated skin (lack of water) commonly occurs alongside dry skin, the two are not the same – people with a dry skin type will almost always not have enough sebum, even if they are plenty hydrated.
You may have a dry skin type if:
- Your skin feels tight after washing (or your facial cleanser may be too harsh).
- Your skin is dull in appearance.
- You have small, barely visible pores.
- You have rough, flaky skin in patches or all over.
- Your face makeup highlights dry patches on your skin.
As the name suggests, combination skin is a mix of both dryness and excessive oil. More specifically, people with an oily skin type will often have an oil T-zone (nose and forehead) and dry skin on their cheeks. Finding a proper skin care routine for a combination skin type can be tricky, due to the need to address both dryness and oil.
You may have a combination skin type if:
- You have dry cheeks and an oily T-zone.
- You have visible pores in the T-zone and small, barely visible pores elsewhere.
- You suffer from both pre-mature aging of the skin (fine lines) and breakouts at the same time.
Major skin care retailers often have entire ranges of products designed to treat sensitive skin. While sensitivity is definitely a skin care concern, it isn’t exactly a skin care type. Sensitive skin is a condition that can have a variety of causes – such as allergies, reactions to harsh products or food consumed, medications, or even damage from wind or sun. People with dry skin type may have sensitive skin due to having less sebum and therefore less natural protection, however sensitivity is a secondary condition in this case. Sensitivity can also change depending on environmental factors, making it a condition rather than a skin type. If you are suffering from sensitive skin, it is still important to use a proper skin care routine to not further damage your skin.
Still not sure what skin type you have? Many boutiques have skin care consultants that can help you determine your skin type and identify appropriate skin care products for you to use. The Body Shop even offers free skin care consultations, complete with sebum strips and moisture meters to accurately diagnose your skin care needs.
Regardless of skin type, having a proper skin care routine is necessary to keeping your skin beautiful, youthful, and free from premature aging and damage. Once you’ve determined your skin type, take a look at your stash of skin care products and make sure they are appropriate for your needs. Unless advised by your doctor, avoid harsh products and always use a moisturizer after cleansing your face (yes, even if you have oily skin!).