With an overwhelming amount of information available, figuring out how to care for our skin can be complicated. But before we start thinking about products, routines and how to care for our skin, we need to understand our skin type. There are five general categories that help us define our skin type and get to know it better. Of course, our skin is complicated and will not always fit exactly into a single category.
Many factors can influence and change our skin type. However, the guide below will help you get a better idea of your skin’s overall behavior. This, in turn, will give you a blueprint for choosing the best products and methods to care for it. Read the descriptions below and find out which type sounds most like your skin.
As a general note, this is mainly referring to facial skin. Some principles will also apply to body skin.
1. Notice how your skin feels
It’s important to notice how your skin feels on any given day of the week. The texture of your skin can reveal a lot about its essential nature.
- Combination skin: Combination skin usually feels oily in the T-zone (the area that includes your forehead, nose, and chin) but dry everywhere else. It can also be oily and dry in different locations, but if you notice two or more different textures on your face, it is a sign that you have combination skin.
- Sensitive skin: Sensitive skin usually feels itchy, patchy, dry and can sometimes sting.
- Normal skin: Normal skin feels even and balanced. It’s neither too dry nor too oily or sensitive.
- Oily skin: Oily skin will feel greasy and shiny all over. If you feel like you are constantly reaching for the oil blotting sheets, this means you probably have oily skin.
- Dry skin: Dry skin will feel tight and dry. It is normal for it to be flaky and crack, especially in the winter months.
2. Take a look at your pores
Your pores are also big indicators of your skin type. Their size and tendency to get clogged can tell you a lot about your skin and its oil production.
- Combination skin: If pores are large and often clogged around the nose but are small and unnoticeable on the cheeks and other areas of the face, this is a sign of combination skin.
- Sensitive skin: People with sensitive skin often have normal to large pores, but this can differ based on a possible reaction to a product or other irritant.
- Normal skin: People with normal skin usually have pores that are unnoticeable.
- Oily skin: People with oily skin often struggle with large pores that get easily clogged with sweat and oils the body secretes.
- Dry skin: People with dry skin typically have small pores that often feel tight.
3. Notice how your skin feels after cleansing
- Combination skin: After cleansing, combination skin will often feel clean, refreshed and oil-free around the nose area but tight and dry around the cheeks.
- Sensitive skin: Sensitive skin will often feel clean and a bit dry after washing but the cleanser may trigger itching and irritation to occur. When this happens frequently and with a range of products, it is a sign of sensitive skin.
- Normal skin: People with normal skin will feel their skin clean and clear after cleansing. They might still be in need of a little moisturizer, but overall the skin doesn’t feel too parched or sensitive.
- Oily skin: After cleansing, oily skin will feel clean and oil-free, almost the only time it feels that way. Shortly after cleansing, oil will return.
- Dry skin: For dry skin, cleansing can dry out the skin and make it feel taut and dehydrated.
4. Think about how often you need moisturizer
Almost everyone needs a moisturizer to keep their skin healthy and hydrated, but how often you need it can indicate how good your skin is at staying hydrated on its own and what type of skin you are dealing with.
- Combination skin: People with combination skin will frequently need to apply moisturizer to some areas of their face that are drying out (often the cheeks) but will rarely need it on other, oilier areas (like the T-zone).
- Sensitive skin: Sensitive skin usually requires moisturizer somewhat frequently but it’s hard to find one that doesn’t irritate the skin and cause a reaction.
- Normal skin: People with normal skin won’t need to apply moisturizer very often throughout the day as the skin stays fairly moisturized on its own.
- Oily skin: For people with oily skin, moisturizer tends to make their skin even oilier so they don’t need it very often throughout the day.
- Dry skin: Dry skin demands a lot of moisturizer throughout the day, and it is especially needed upon waking or after cleansing the face.
So, which skin type sounded most like yours? Which category was most aligned with your experience? Now that you have a general idea of your skin type, read on for some more information and tips on how to care for it.
Different skin types and how to take care of them
Combination Skin Type
While most of us have combination skin to some degree since there are more sebaceous glands (glands that produce oil) around our nose than other areas of our face, this skin type experiences it to a larger degree. Your skin is marked by a consistently oily T-zone with dryness in other areas of the face.
How to care for it: This is the most common skin type, and people with combination skin should consider using different products for different areas of the face to keep the skin balanced. For example, you may want to use a mild cleanser and moisturizer on your cheeks and a more stringent product on your T-zone to cut through the oil.
Sensitive Skin Type
Many people wrongly assume they have sensitive skin after one or two bad reactions to a product. However, it could be that the product just wasn’t a good mix with your skin or contained irritating ingredients. Truly sensitive skin is easily aggravated by most products and cleansers and usually experiences a low-level of irritation and discomfort at all times. It often breaks out and develops rashes and red spots. You may experience, stinging, swelling, flakiness and itching. Your skin also tends to flush red from the wind, cleansing or sun exposure.
How to care for it: This is the most delicate skin type to care for. Find a skin care routine that works for you by performing patch tests on products before use to determine which products aggravate your skin and which ones keep it calm. Look for mild products without fragrance and harsh ingredients like alcohol and menthol. Avoid harsh scrubs that contain crushed walnuts, pumice or aluminum oxide crystals. Use lukewarm water, nothing too hot or too cold. Also, avoid scrubbing mitts and bar soaps.
Normal Skin Type
Normal skin is not too dry or oily; it falls in that desirable in-between place. Your skin normally has an even tone and a soft texture with little flakiness. You may get an oily T-zone (the central area of your face including the chin, nose and the part of your forehead above your eyebrows) in hot weather, but generally, this area is oil-free.
How to care for it: Lighter lotions and serums are ideal for your skin type because you don’t need a much heavy product to keep your skin in balance.
Oily Skin type
People with oily skin tend to have larger pores and a shiny, thicker feeling complexion. Your skin produces more than enough oil, so hydration isn’t your issue. Rather, blackheads and pimples are a common problem with this skin type. If you still aren’t sure if you have oily skin, blot your face with a tissue and if oil stays behind, then you probably do.
How to care for it: Cleansing the face often and avoiding heavy creams and emollients is advised for minimizing the appearance of oil. Look for oil-free sunscreens and lotions as well so that you don’t inadvertently add more oil to your skin.
Dry Skin Type
Small pores and an overall feeling of tightness characterize dry skin. Your skin often has more visible lines, less elasticity, and a duller complexion. Sometimes people with dry skin will also experience flaking, but this isn’t always the case.
How to care for it: Moisture is key to caring for dry skin. Use lotions and rich creams to nourish your skin cells. If your skin feels dry but you still get breakouts, then you probably don’t truly have 100% dry skin. Rather, your skin may be feeling dry from the products you’re using. Try going without them for a few days and see if your skin improves.