How to Determine Your Skin Type (and why it's important!)
In a few weeks I plan to launch a more in-depth blog series around products and how to choose the right ones for you. However, when I sat down to write the first one, it occurred to me that we might need to back up just a titch. Because the thing is that many people are choosing the wrong products simply because they don't know their correct skin type.
Due to misinformation or a lack of information, many people misdiagnose themselves as having a completely wrong skin type and then end up buying products that they don't need or that may actually be damaging to their skin. Using the wrong product can result in aggravation, dryness, acne or older-looking skin. Knowing what skin type you have will reduce the odds of this, significantly. Plus, once you crack this code it becomes easier to navigate your skin care altogether.
So let's get excited to learn about skin types!
There are a few basic tests you can conduct to help you diagnose your skin type correctly. Firstly, observe which parts of your face are oily. You can do this both by touching the skin, blotting it with a tissue or just looking closely in the mirror to see which parts are shiny/oily.
*If your face feels like it's lacking for oil, it is likely you have Dry Skin *If your face feels neither dry or oily, it is likely you have Normal Skin *If your face feels oily in some parts and dry/normal in others, it is likely you have Combination Skin. Combination skin can also start out dry/normal in the morning and become more oily toward the end of the day. *If your face feels oily all over and all the time, you likely have Oily Skin
One thing to note here: It's important to know the difference between dry and dehydrated skin. Dehydrated skin lacks water and is a condition, rather than a type. Whereas Dry Skin is skin that consistently lacks oil. Certain climates can affect this as well as hydration levels in the body, meaning dry skin can be tricky to pin down. This brings us to our next test.
Another way you can get a better idea about your skin type is by looking at the size of your pores. Note that most people have larger pores on their nose, which is normal and not necessarily indicative of anything. We want to observe the pores around the whole face. If you have access to a magnifying mirror, this will also help you get a better look. Now, also take a look at the pores and whether or not they are proportional around the whole face.
*If you have small pores all over, your skin type is likely Dry
*If you have small pores around the whole face, with the exception of small patches near the nose and cheek area, your skin type is likely Normal
*If you have small pores on the lower half of the face, but larger pores through the T-Zone area, your skin type is likely Combination
*If you have larger pores covering more of your face than not, your skin type is likely Oily
By conducting these tests, you should start to get a better idea. Please note that there is no wrong skin type. People with oily typically skin age slower, while dry skin types are more likely to avoid acneic breakouts. The grass is always greener, but any skin type can be healthy and look amazing, with the proper care.
Lastly, you may be wondering why you didn't see descriptors such as "aging", "acne" or "sensitive". That's because, similar to dehydrated skin, these are conditions that can exist secondary to your skin type. For example you may have Dry and Sensitive Skin simultaneously. Or be Oily with Aging skin. Conditions develop over time and can be treated or managed, whereas your skin type is just something you were born with. I will address each of these conditions and others in separate posts, as they are more complex issues.
So now, if you know your skin type (or at least have it narrowed down), here are some very basic guidelines for how to take care of your individual skin type:
Your skin may have a tendency to feel tight and even have flaking in some places. Your skin can be particularly sensitive to dry climates and requires heavier moisturizers, applied more frequently. Your skin can be a bit sensitized due to a lack of natural barrier. Avoid any acne products which are drying to the skin. It's okay to spot treat, if you have a breakout, but use sparingly. Many breakouts occur as a result of the skin becoming too dry and overproducing oil. Your best bet is to just keep moisturizing.
Normal skin looks and feels...well...normal. It tends to be smooth to the touch, complexion is generally even and you experience little dryness or oiliness. Your skin may fluctuate here and there, but steer clear of both acne products and heavy moisturizers. Either may tip the balance of your already nicely-balanced skin. You can choose products designed for your normal skin type but then add serums or spot treatments as issues arise.
Combo skin is incredibly common. Many people with combination skin, spend time confused about their skin type. It's easy to do, when your cheeks are dry but your forehead is in full-on breakout mode. Luckily, it's easy enough to balance out combination skin with the right products. Plenty of products exist that can target both the oily parts and the dry. This helps mattify combination skin, so that it looks less shiny through the t-zone. Look for the words "Combination" or "Suitable for all skin types" when choosing your products and treatments. You can also spot treat easily, targeting oily parts with a light gel or liquid and applying a lightweight moisturizer elsewhere.
Though oily skin tends to have negative connotations, it tends to be the most resilient - aging slower and staying moisturized 24/7. However, oily skin can be problematic in its tendency towards breaking out. When oil sits in the pores too long it can also stretch them out. Regular cleansing and exfoliation are important. Oily skin generally feels slick or oily on the surface, but still requires moisturizer. Using a light facial oil or gel moisturizer can actually help balance out oil production which then reduces surface oiliness. When shopping for product, lightweight is key. Look for the words "non-comedogenic" which means it won't clog your pores.
If you want to learn more about skin types, check out my Pinterest boards for lots of fun visual charts on the subject. I'll be back to address shopping for products, choosing a regime, and talking more about the individual skin types in some future posts, but I figure this is enough skin health nerdery for one day. Questions? Just ask!