Your skin care routine is important in normalizing and keeping your skin healthy – but you won’t get very far unless you are able to figure out your skin type.
Knowing your will help you plan an ideal skincare routine, pick the for your type, and avoid products that aren’t. With your skin type in mind, you’ll also be better able to tackle any other skin issues, like acne.
Although there are many subtypes of skin types (sensitive, acne-prone, aging), there are only four skin types: oily, dry, normal and combination.
Oily skin is usually excessively oily, with large, congested pores, and may be more prone to acne breakouts and blackheads than other skin types. Oily skin doesn’t necessarily mean that your skin is well-hydrated, though - it can still be over-worked and under-hydrated.
Oily skin is more common in hotter climates, or during the hot seasons.
Oily skin should cleanse with a gentle, non-drying cleanser, and moisturize with a light-weight lotion or gel. Spot treatments should be used for occasional breakouts. However, if you have oily, acne-prone skin, you may also need to include a treated product (such as benzoyl peroxide), or opt for a moisturizer with acne benefits (tea tree oil). Exfoliants are optional for everyone.
Some people use toners on oily skin types, but with the right cleanser and moisturizer, this isn’t necessary.
Dry skin usually feels tight either after washing or throughout the day. Your skin may be prone to flaking, and may take on a dull or ashen appearance, due to the build up of dead skin. Dry skin may also be particularly itchy – your body’s way of trying to shed those dead skin cells! Gentle exfoliation helps, but moisture is the missing link.
Dry skin is more common in colder climates, or during the cold seasons.
Dry skin should use a very gentle, nourishing cleanser, followed by a heavier cream or oil, something containing hyaluronic acid would be good. Avoid treated products and toners, unless treating underlying issues like acne, and even then, use them sparingly.
Gentle exfoliants are optional, but suggested, to help slough away dead skin cells that might prevent your products from working effectively.
Normal skin is what we strive for – a balance between dry and oily, with infrequent pimples, no excessive flaking, no itching, etc. Normal skin can still be sensitive skin.
This skin type would do best with a very simple cleanser and moisturizer, not too heavy or too light, and little else. Spot treatments should be used for occasional breakouts.
Combination skin is the most common skin type, with an oily T zone and dry skin everywhere else. You may be more prone to breakouts in the T zone area. It’s also a little more difficult to pick a routine for, depending on how contrasting the combination skin is. Some people with combination skin get away with using the same product on their whole face, while others need to use completely different products.
Generally, a gentle cleanser will work for combination skin – but may require a lighter moisturizer for the oily areas, and a heavier one for the dry areas. Combination skin is usually treated as oily skin, since this tends to be the more problematic issue, and the dryness can be offset by a heavier moisturizer.
Sunscreen is a must, for all skin types, all the time.
Your skin type can change over time, due to a variety of hormonal, environmental and lifestyle factors.
You can have any of the above skin types, while also having other skin maladies such as sensitive skin, or acne-prone skin. For example, I have combination, sensitive, and acne-prone skin! As you can imagine, this does complicate things a little bit, but being able to figure out your skin type is the first step in picking a routine that will work for all your skin’s needs.
If you still haven’t been able to figure out your skin type, try this quick and easy trick:
Get some blotting papers (or a (new!) disposable toilet seat cover) and gently pat the different areas of your face. Hold the paper up to the light after each little section to see how much oil was absorbed by the skin. If a lot, your skin is oily in those areas. If very little, your skin may be normal. If none at all, your skin is dry. If worse in some areas than others, your skin is combination.
Knowing how to figure out your skin type is an important first step in creating the perfect skincare routine that fits your needs. Without knowing what our skin type is, we’re more likely to buy and use products that aren’t right for our skin, which can make our skin issues even worse.
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