How to Determine Your Skin Type
In order to know which skincare products will be best suited for your skin and will help keep it balanced, healthy, and radiant, it’s essential to understand what your specific skin type is.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so investing time and effort into taking care of it is no small matter that should be easily overlooked.
If you want to make sure that you're maximizing the effectiveness of your skincare routine, then keep on reading to learn how to determine what your skin type is and the recommended products that will work best for your skin type.
When you don't know what your skin type is, it's all too easy to end up using products that aren't doing your skin any good, such as using cleansers and treatments that are too harsh or moisturizers that are too weak to keep your skin truly hydrated.
Every person’s skin is unique in its own way, but there are five general skin types that most people’s skin falls into. These five skin types are commonly referred to as oily, dry, combination, sensitive, and normal. As you read the description of each skin type below, consider whether your skin fits the characteristics to gain a better understanding of how you can best resolve your skin's issues.
Oily skin produces an excess of sebum (oil) that causes the skin to appear shiny and feel greasy, especially throughout the T-Zone (forehead, nose and chin). If you have oily skin, you may be more likely to have enlarged pores, develop acne blemishes, and be more prone to acne breakouts. For oily skin, using a gentle physical exfoliator is useful for balancing the tone and texture of your skin, as it will help keep your pores unclogged, reduce the appearance of dark spots, and remove the excess dry skin that keeps your skin dull and tired looking.
If your skin type is dry, your face tends to feel tight throughout the day and you may experience noticeable flaking. In addition to looking dull and being prone to showing more visible lines, dry skin also tends to become itchy or irritated. Daily cleansing with a gentle, hydrating, and non-foaming cleanser will help keep your skin hydrated and free of grime and bacteria without stripping your skin of its natural, moisturizing oils. The best moisturizers for dry skin are heavier ones that contain a high amount of glycerin and sodium hyaluronate, as these two ingredients help keep the skin stay moisturized for longer and on a deeper level.
Combination skin is often experienced as — you guessed it — a combination of having both dry and oily skin. With this skin type, dryness is commonly experienced on the cheeks, while the T-Zone tends to remain oily. Due to these characteristics, it’s important to find a moisturizer that’s not too heavy, but is at the same time substantial enough to retain moisture where it’s needed most and absorbs quickly. If you have combination skin, it’s likely not as dry and flaky as the dry skin type, so when it comes to applying a new moisturizer, start with a small amount first and increase it gradually to avoid over-moisturizing and stressing the skin.
In order to keep combination skin balanced, you’ll also want to exfoliate one to two times a week with a gentle scrub that will both hydrate and nourish the skin to a radiant glow.
Normal skin is balanced, feeling neither dry nor oily. It is not prone to breakouts, flakiness, or to feeling slick or tight. Pores are generally small, the skin's texture is smooth, and it is less likely to be prone to sensitivity or blemishes. For this skin type, you don’t need a heavy moisturizer and are likely better off with a lighter moisturizer to maintain its natural moisture levels. You’ll likely want to stick with a more gentle and nourishing cleanser, so as not to disrupt your skin’s current balance.
Sensitive skin is often referred to as a skin type, but you can have oily and sensitive skin, dry and sensitive skin or normal and sensitive skin. Regardless of which type of skin you have, if you have sensitive skin, it may be red and/or feel like it's burning, itching or dry. This skin type can be very challenging to work with, as it takes considerable time and effort to determine which ingredients cause inflammation and irritation.
To make this process easier, introduce only one new formula or product at a time and try to use moisturizers that are hypoallergenic and free of paraben, phthalates, and artificial fragrances. These rules apply to both skincare and cosmetics. You can also patch test a new formula on your inner forearm to see how your skin will react before applying it to your face. If your skin shows no sign of flaring up after a few hours, then you have some evidence as to how safe it may be for your face.
If the descriptions of the different skin types didn't help you come to a conclusion about what your skin type is, there are two kinds of tests that you can perform at home to help you determine what type of skin you have:
The Waiting and Watching Method
Cleanse your face thoroughly with a mild cleanser and gently pat dry. Leave skin bare (do not apply any additional moisturizers, serums or treatments) and wait for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes have passed, examine your cheeks, chin, nose and forehead for any shine. After another 30 minutes has passed, evaluate whether your skin feels parched, especially if you smile or make any other facial expressions. If your skin feels tight, your skin is likely the dry skin type. If there is a noticeable shine on your nose and forehead but your cheeks are dry, your skin type is most likely the combination type. If there is shine on your cheeks, as well as on your forehead and nose, you most likely have the oily skin type.
The Blotting Sheet Method
This method is much faster and often an excellent differentiator between oily and dry skin types. Gently pat a blotting paper on the different areas of your face. Hold the sheet up to the light to determine how much oil is visible. If the sheet picked up little to no oil, your skin type is most likely dry skin. If the blotting sheet reveals oil from the forehead and nose areas but not as much from your cheeks, your skin type is likely combination skin. Finally, if the blotting paper is saturated with oil from all areas of your face, then it is very likely that your skin type is oily skin.
Our skin’s needs can and often do change over time, which is why it’s important to “check in” regularly to determine whether any adjustments to your current skincare routine are needed. This way, you can always make sure that you’re using the right products that will help your skin remain balanced, healthy, and beautiful.