What’s Your Skin Type?

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Every skin type needs cleansing and moisturizing daily, but each type has its own needs – oily, dry, normal, combo, and sensitive. For proper care, you need to know your skin type. But how do you find out what yours is?

As time goes on, it can change. It’s more common for younger people to have normal skin than older people.

So how can we tell the difference? Well, you can tell your skin type by:

  • Moisture levels in your skin, which affect comfort and elasticity.
  • Oiliness, which affects softness.
  • Sensitivity.

Common Characteristics of Each Skin Type

Your skin is the biggest organ in your body and does a lot: it regulates temperature, fights germs, and much more. Its outer layer, the skin barrier, is crucial: it is primarily composed of lipids, like ceramides. This barrier shields your skin from the outside world, locking in moisture and keeping out harmful elements.

While a strong skin barrier matters for everyone, remember: each person’s skin is unique. There’s no one-size-fits-all for glowing, healthy skin. Still, there are some common signs to help figure out your skin type.

Here are the key things to watch for to know if your skin is oily, dry, normal, combo, or sensitive.

Normal Skin Type

Normal skin type, often referred to as eudermic, is characterized by being well-balanced in terms of sebum (oil) production and moisture content. This balance gives it a healthy appearance with few or no imperfections, no severe sensitivity, and barely visible pores. Normal skin has 

  • Soft, smooth texture with a clean and even tone.
  • Small pores.
  • No severe sensitivity and does not react harshly to environmental factors or skincare products.

Normal skin is the least demanding in terms of skincare. It only requires basic maintenance such as cleansing, moisturizing, and protection from UV rays to maintain its balance.

Despite being described as the ideal skin type, normal skin is quite rare and can be somewhat of a misnomer. Many experts argue that truly normal skin is very uncommon as most people experience minor skin issues or slight deviations towards dry or oily skin at times.

Combination Skin Type

Combination skin type means having two or more different skin types on the face at the same time. Typically, people with combination skin will experience oiliness in the T-zone (the forehead, nose, and chin) and dryness or normal skin on the cheeks and other parts of the face.

This skin type may cause you to experience the following problems:

  • T-zone Oiliness: The forehead, nose, and chin may appear shiny, have enlarged pores, and are prone to blackheads and acne due to excess sebum production.
  • Dry or Normal Cheeks: The cheeks and other areas of the face may feel tight, have almost invisible pores, and may appear flaky or dull due to lack of moisture.

Combination skin can also exhibit sensitivity, reacting to certain skincare products or environmental factors with redness, itching, or irritation.

Combination skin needs care for both oily and dry areas. Here’s some general advice:

  • Use a gentle cleanser that removes excess oil without stripping moisture from the skin.
  • Apply a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer to the entire face, and consider using a more hydrating product on dry areas if needed.
  • Gently exfoliate once or twice a week to remove dead skin cells, focusing on the T-zone to help unclog pores without irritating dry areas.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily to protect against UV damage. 

Dry Skin Type

Dry skin type, also known as xerosis, is characterized by a lack of moisture in the skin’s outer layer, leading to a rough, flaky, or scaly appearance. This skin type can feel tight, itchy, and uncomfortable, and in severe cases, may crack and bleed. Dry skin can affect any part of the body but commonly impacts the hands, arms, and legs.

Dry skin can result from both external and internal factors:

  • Environmental Factors: Cold weather, dry air, and exposure to harsh winds can strip the skin of its natural oils. Indoor heating and long, hot showers or baths also contribute to skin dryness.
  • Genetics: Some people are genetically predisposed to dry skin.
  • Age: As people age, their skin naturally produces less oil.
  • Health Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as eczema, diabetes, thyroid disease, and kidney disease, can cause or exacerbate dry skin.
  • Skincare Products: Using harsh soaps, detergents, or skincare products that contain irritating chemicals can lead to dry skin.

Symptoms of dry skin include:

  • Rough texture
  • Flakiness or scaliness
  • Itchiness
  • Red patches
  • Less elasticity
  • More visible lines
  • Cracks in the skin

Here’re some recommended practise to care for dry skin:

  • Use gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and avoid hot water.
  • Apply moisturizers that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, glycerin, shea butter, and cocoa butter to help lock in moisture. 
  • Use a humidifier in dry environments.
  • Apply sunscreen daily to protect the skin from drying effects of the sun.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Oily Skin Type

In oily skin types, the sebaceous glands produce excessive amounts of sebum, leading to a shiny or greasy appearance, especially in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin). This skin type has the following characteristics:

  • Shiny or greasy appearance.
  • The pores are often larger and more visible, particularly in the T-zone.
  • There is a higher propensity for developing acne, blackheads, and whiteheads.
  • Makeup breaks down faster and may slide off.

Oily skin requires a routine that controls excess oil while keeping skin hydrated. Here’re some guidelines:

  • Use a gentle, water-soluble facial cleanser twice a day to remove excess oil without stripping the skin.
  • Use an alcohol-free toner to remove any residual oil and tighten pores.
  • Use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer to hydrate the skin without adding more oil.

Regular exfoliation can help prevent the buildup of dead skin cells and oil, but it should be done gently to avoid irritating the skin.

Sensitive Skin Type

Sensitive skin type is more prone to irritation, redness, and discomfort than other skin types. People with sensitive skin often experience reactions to products or environmental factors that would not typically affect others. This skin type can be genetic, but it can also be caused by external factors like stress, climate, or pollution.

Symptoms of sensitive skin include:

  • Rough, flaky patches
  • Wrinkled, rough texture
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Open sores or yellow crust over the skin
  • Peeling skin
  • Itching, burning, and pain

The key to caring for sensitive skin is identifying triggers and avoiding them, along with a gentle skincare routine:

  • Use gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers that don’t strip the skin of its natural oils.
  • Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to protect the skin from UV damage.

Before using a new product, perform a patch test on a small area of skin to check for any adverse reactions. Steer clear of products containing harsh chemicals, fragrances, or dyes. Opt for skincare products with a limited number of ingredients to reduce the risk of reactions.

How Can I Identify My Skin Type at Home

To establish a skincare routine that works for you, you must first identify your skin type. There are several ways to figure out your skin type at home, including the bare-faced method, blotting sheets, and watching your skin throughout the day.

Bare-Faced Method

  1. Cleanse your face with a mild cleanser to remove makeup, oil, and dirt. Gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel.
  2. Wait for 30 minutes without applying any skincare products. This allows your skin to return to its natural state.
  3. Observe your skin. Pay attention to how it feels and looks, particularly on your cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead.

For each skin type, here are the results:

  • If you have dry skin, your skin may feel tight, appear dull, or show flaky patches.
  • If you have oily skin, you may notice a shine on your forehead, nose, and chin (the T-zone).
  • If you have combination skin, your T-zone is oily, but your cheeks are dry or normal.
  • If you have normal skin, your skin feels balanced, not too oily or dry, and appears even-toned.
  • If you have sensitive skin, you may experience redness, itching, or discomfort.

Blotting Sheet Method

  1. Press a clean blotting paper on different areas of your face.
  2. Hold the sheet up to the light to see how much oil is visible.

For each skin type, here are the results:

  • If you have oily skin, the sheet will have significant oil from most parts of your face.
  • If you have dry skin, you’ll see little to no oil transferred to the sheet.
  • If you have combination skin, the oil will be visible from the T-zone but not from other areas.

The Bottom Line

Your skin type can change with the climate, season, and even hormonal fluctuations. It’s also possible to have dehydrated skin, which is a condition rather than a type, affecting oily, combination, or dry skin.

If you’re unsure about your skin type or how to care for it, you might make an appointment with our online skincare consultation. We can provide you with personalized advice and professional assessment.

Looking for professional skincare advice? Schedule an online consultation with dermatologist Dr. Ava Patel to address your concerns.

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