The most common question I hear from beginners just dipping their toes into the world of skin care is “How can I figure my skin type?“.
Look at any pinterest board, forum, or magazine column and you’ll see this question thousands of times over.
It’s usually coming from a place of confusion – and for good reason, because it can seem like a complicated topic. You hear a lot of talk about skin types from companies trying to sell you their new cream or miracle treatment -“great for dry skin” or “oil reducing” – ring any bells?
So how can you easily figure out your skin type?
Worry not, because today I’m here to break it down for you! Let’s talk about skin types and how should you care for yours.
The skin types – Dry, Normal, Oily & Combination
Your skin type refers to how much oil you naturally produce throughout the day. The basic types are dry, normal, combination and oily.
Normal skin is somewhat balanced and produces enough oil to feel supple but not greasy.
Dry skin has next to no oil production, leaving skin vulnerable to dehydration.
Combination skin has areas of a dry, normal or oily nature. Typical combination skin might be oilier in the T-Zone (on the forehead, down the nose and on the chin) and drier in the cheeks. Note that you might have to care for these areas with different products if there is a vast difference in oil production between them.
Your true skin type can be influenced by only three things: genetic traits, age and medicinal effects. Your DNA really has the final say in how much oil you will produce (thanks mum and dad!). However there are hardcore prescription medications including Accutane which can drastically reduce oil production. Also, as we age, our oil production generally decreases. Testosterone and androgen production in teens cause oilier skin and hair, while the oestrogen loss in women going through menopause can trigger dry skin.
This means that unless you are still going through puberty, have severe enough acne to justify Accutane or are willing to wait a couple decades, you’re pretty much stuck with the skin type you currently have. Sorry! But there are lots of ways to handle your skin no matter what type it is.
If your skin never appears greasy, but has a tendency to look dull, dry, flaky or tight, you might have a dry skin type. Dry skin, lacking oil, needs a rich moisturiser with oils and butters to keep the skin flexible, supple and encourage hydration. Cleanse with a creamy, non-drying cleanser or micellar water to avoid dehydration. Dry skin will also need richer, heavier moisturisers.
If your skin feels neither greasy nor dry, and you don’t usually suffer from many skin issues, you have normal skin. Whichever moisturiser feels comfortable on your skin, discourages dryness and doesn’t get greasy should be fine, you lucky thing! You can cleanse with either a cream or a foaming cleanser, whichever your skin prefers. Normal skin can use a lightweight or rich moisturiser depending on their preference.
If your skin appears visibly greasy within a few hours after washing, you might have an oily skin type. Those with very oily skin should aim for lighter cream or gel moisturisers that have a matte finish if you’d like to discourage the shiny appearance. Blotting sheets are super useful to soak up excess oil, even over makeup. You can probably get away with a more thorough foaming cleanser than your dry and normal peers, as your skin is often more resilient and hydrated than your dry counterparts. To prevent dehydration, I recommend a lighter weight moisturiser. Note that just because you’re using acne-fighting products, doesn’t mean you can’t still have a hydrating and soothing routine!
There are four main skin types – DRY, NORMAL, OILY, and COMBINATION. They refer to the amount of oil your skin produces and dictate the products you should use, as well as the likelihood you will experience a skin condition at some point in your life. Those with normal skin are the least likely to suffer from further skin conditions (more on this tomorrow!). And yes, you’re pretty much stuck with the skin type you’re born with. But there are benefits to each person’s unique skin, so be grateful for what you’ve got! By treating your skin type correctly, you will be well on your way to clear and healthy skin.
I hope this post helped you to figure out what skin type you have and how you should care for it. Looking for more information to explain why your skin is acting the way it is? Here’s what causes skin conditions like dehydration and sensitivity.
If you’re hoping to create your first skin care routine, your next step is to learn what a skin care routine is all about and why you need one.