How important is it to know what your skin type is? Super important! Why? Because if you don’t know what your skin type is, it is basically impossible to choose the right products for your specific skin needs and to know what products work well on our skin.
But the problem is, that most of us don’t necessarily have the resources (e.g. money) to get professional consultations on what our skin type is. Of course, it’s better to get professionally evaluated for accurate results, but not everyone can afford a trip to the dermatologists.
I want to show you two simple ways to find out what your skin type is, and to help you choose the right skincare products for your skin needs.
How Many Skin Types Are There?
There’s actually as many skin types as there are people in the world because we’re all unique. But for sanity’s sake, I narrowed the skin type classifications to 6 different categories: normal, oily, dry, combination, sensitive, and mature skin types.
Note: We generally don’t fall into one specific category, because as we grow older and change, our skin also experiences changes as well. Sometimes we have more than one skin type and in other times our skin seems to go through a brief state of confusion and shift types. So it’s possible for us to be oily-combination, dry-combination, super oily, or even super dry skin types. The important thing is that you find out what your skin is like in the current state, so you can find your ideal skin care routine.
Before getting into how you can find your skin type, let’s break down each skin type:
Dry skin is a skin type that produces the least amount of sebum compared to the other skin types. This means that the amount of oil you produce to act as the skin’s barrier and lubricator is less prominent and can lead to flaky skin and micro cracks beneath the skin’s surface. To compensate for the lack of oils, you’re going to need external products like thick and heavy moisturizers to fill in those gaps and make sure your skin is well protected and nourished. Dry skin type itself can be also divided into three types:
Mildly Dry Skin Type
This skin type is described as feeling some tightness and seeing overall dullness, due to the lack of elasticity on your skin. Many dry skin types may fall under this category and require a nourishing moisturizer to help restore the skin’s moisture.
Very Dry Skin Type
This skin type is more prone to redness, dryness, and overall skin sensitivity. For parts of the skin that’s more dry, the areas may appear darker in color and might be itchy.
Extremely Dry Skin Type
This skin type tips the severity rating for dry skin because it can be characterized as prolonged itching and redness, and the intensifying of scaly and flaking skin. Sometimes you might see rough patches forming on your skin as well. If you find that you have extremely dry skin, definitely consult a medical professional for solutions.
Oily skin can be both a blessing and a curse. Oily skin types have overactive sebaceous glands that produce sebum and fill up the pores, which can tend lead to inflammation and acne! But the sebum helps retain the skin’s moisture and actively works to prevent outside environmental factors from moving in. People with oily skin would also see that because of the abundant amount of oils, their skin displays signs of aging at a much later stage than their dry skin peers.
So hooray for youthful looking (but greasy) skin!
If you find that you have both oily and dry areas in certain places of your face, it’s more likely that you’re a combination skin type. Combination skin types usually are characterized as an oily T-zone and dry cheeks, but it can also manifest in other ways (dry T-zone and oily cheeks, etc.) Some other combination skin types include dry-combo, oily-combo, and sensitive-combo skin.
Regardless of which kind of combo skin you are, it’s super important to use the right products to target those specific areas of your face. For example, you can treat yourself with an occasional combo masking, which includes a bentonite clay or mud mask on the oily T-zone, and a nourishing and hydrating mask for the dry areas on your face.
Some products are also marketed as balancing to help moisturize dry areas and control oils on oily areas of the face altogether, so there’s a lot of options for helping you control your skin.
Sensitive skin types aren’t necessarily a type like oily, dry, and combination.
Sensitive skin types are mostly caused by a combination of external and internal factors, which include changes in temperature, certain ingredients present in our skincare or makeup products, and sun. Additionally, internal factors like hormonal fluctuations, stress, lack of sleep, health problems, poor diet, as well as skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, rashes, itchy bumps, flushing, etc. can also affect the degree of sensitivity for our skin.
Normal skin types can also become dry or oily, but unlike the dry and oily counterparts, they usually resolve themselves after a short period of time. Another fact on normal skin types is that their skin won’t appear shiny due to excess oils or experience flakiness as often as the other skin types. They can go about their day with any neutral, simple or lightweight moisturizer, which is great!
This skin type also has very fine and near invisible pores, good blood circulation, a uniform skin tone with little to no blemishes, and a soft and smooth texture.
Aging is a natural process that’s inevitable and a process we all go through, but with the right tools we can help it slow down to the best we can. As we grow older, our skin starts to slow down on the production of collagen and elastin in our skin, which then can contribute to fine lines and wrinkles, thinner skin, and less sebum production.
For this skin type, you’re going to want to put in a little more care to help your skin, such as using Retinols and Retin-A’s, collagen boosters, and sunscreen for SPF protection.
Test: How Can I Tell My Skin Type?
Method 1: Blot Paper Test
What you’ll need:
Blotting papers (or a ply of tissue, tissue paper, napkins, or parchment paper)
What to do:
Wash your face with a cleanser & pat dry
Go about your day for two hours without putting on any additional skincare products
After two hours, stand in front of your mirror with blotting papers on hand
Place a blotting paper on the following areas of your face: T-zone, under eyes, cheeks, chin
Take note of where the blotting paper sticks to your face or falls off
Oily skin: All blotting papers are drenched in oil.
Dry skin: You’ll notice that some blotting papers fall off while some have specks of oil.
Combo skin: The blotting papers are sticking to the T-zone area and falling off for other areas (can be vice versa too).
Sensitive skin: Your skin starts feeling tight, itchy or red during the two hour wait.
Normal skin: The blotting papers are sticking to the skin but fall off after a while. There are also uniform specks of oil present on all blotting papers.
Method 2: Look and Pinch
What you’ll need:
What to do:
In a well lit area, look carefully at your skin using the mirror. Observe the cheeks, T-zone, chin, as well as the jawline.
Gently pinch your cheek between your index and thumb finger.
Oily skin: Pores are visible and the skin looks somewhat shiny but feels taut and firm.
Dry skin: The skin feels dry and either has dry flakes or a “crumpled paper look” once pinched.
Combo skin: Pores are visible and skin looks somewhat shiny, especially in the T-zone. Other areas such as the cheeks, chin, jawline are more matte and dry to the touch. Combo skin also feels taut and firm to the touch.
Sensitive skin: The skin appears red, itchy, and somewhat irritated. Some sensitive skin types might see rashes, eczema and rough patches as well.
Normal skin: Pores aren’t visible and the skin feels taut and firm to the touch.