Before you can think about buying skincare products or creating a routine, you need to determine your skin type. Understanding your skin will help you choose the right ingredients and products for you. Using the wrong products can irritate your skin and do more harm than good. Before you start shopping for skincare products, you want to learn everything you can about your skin type.
Your skin type is just like your personality – unique for you. Although our skin is unique to us, it's relatively easy to identify your skin type. There are 6 skin types that you can fall under. Read on to find out about the 6 types of skin and the most important products for each skin type.
6 different skin types
Six main skin types cover the main skincare concerns that most of us face. When you’re shopping for skincare, you’ll have seen products labeled with statements like “formulated for dry skin” or “suitable for sensitive skin”.
If you’re not sure what skin type you have, it’s worth looking through the characteristics of all six. It’s often possible for your skin type to be a combination of the two – such as oily and acne-prone or dry and sensitive. These skin types are guidance to help you understand your skin concerns and find what will work best for you.
How to test your skin type from home
The easiest way to detect your skin type is through the tried-and-tested ‘blot test’.
- Gently wash your face and pat it dry
- 30 minutes later, press a tissue or oil blotting paper to different areas of your face
- If you’ve soaked through the paper, your skin is oily
- If it’s oily in some areas of the paper but not everywhere, you likely have combination skin.
- If it feels tight or flaky, you have dry skin.
- If the paper isn’t oily and your skin doesn’t feel tight, you’ve got normal skin.
Let’s start with the so-called ‘normal’ skin type. You’ll have the most freedom on which products you can use as your skin won’t feel too dry or too oily. It’s worth noting that the term “normal” is entirely subjective, but it does open the door to almost every skincare product on the market.
Does your skin feel greasy and have a shine to it? You’ve got oily skin. This skin type is noticeable for its having enlarged pores and frequent breakouts. These issues arise because your skin produces too much oil – known as excess sebum.
Dry skin feels itchy, tight, and flaky. This feeling comes from the fact that your skin doesn’t have enough oil to maintain its moisture balance. You may see that your skin is red or ashy on your face or elsewhere on your body.
This skin type tends to appear dull-looking and is more prone to being sensitive. Dry skin is also more likely to suffer from premature aging as fine lines and wrinkles appear more apparent.
Sensitive skin will often feel irritated and inflamed, as well as appearing discolored. If your skin reacts badly to new active ingredients, you’ve likely got sensitive skin. Most people experience sensitive skin due to their immune system or because their skin’s barrier isn’t as strong as it should be.
Sensitive skin can lead to your skin developing a stinging, itchiness, or tingling sensation
when you try new products or ones with a potent formulation. What’s important to remember is that sensitive skin is the only skin ‘type’
not dictated by your skin’s sebum production. This nuance means that you can be any
of the three skin types above and
have sensitive skin.
Acne or blemished prone skin is commonly associated with oily skin types. There are two types of acne that you want to be aware of – non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne.
Non-inflammatory acne is blackheads or whiteheads that clog your pores as the mildest form of acne. By comparison, inflammatory acne leaves your skin looking red and varies from cysts to pustules and papules. This acne is more painful than non-inflammatory acne and is larger in size.
Acne is typically caused by bacteria, hormones, and your skin’s natural oils. When bacteria, oils, and dead skin cells gather in your pores, it can lead to acne. While acne-prone skin is usually associated with oiliness, you can still have dry skin and fall within this category as well.
Combination skin is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a skin type that feels oily in some parts of your face and dry in others. Most people who fall under the combination category have an oily t-zone and dry or normal skin on the rest of their face.
You may find that it takes trial and error to find the perfect routine for you as you’ll want to account for the nuances of your skin. It can also help to keep your skin type in mind when applying
products. Focus your exfoliator more on the oily portions of your skin and give the dry parts a little more TLC when applying your moisturizer.
The most important products for each skin type
Once you’ve identified your skin type, you want to start shopping for the products that will work best for you. Using the wrong products for your skin type can irritate, strip your skin of its natural oils, or lead to breakouts.
The skincare world is your oyster if you have a normal skin type. You’ll want to curate your skincare routine to address any other concerns
you have, such as premature aging or oxidative stress
. You can get experimental with skincare treatments like derma-planing or facial peels, as well as incorporating more potent ingredients like AHAs, retinol, and vitamin C into your routine.
Oily skin types should focus on lightweight products and ones that will help to remove excess sebum, such as clay masks and exfoliators. Your best friend when you have oily skin is blotting sheets. The secret to creating a skincare routine for oily skin is to focus on lightweight products. You want to avoid clogging your pores at all costs and instead keep it light.
Other ingredients that you want to look out for include tea tree oil, sulfur, and witch hazel to help minimize excess sebum and control the shine on your skin.
When you have dry skin, you want to focus on using products that help to boost your skin’s moisture balance. Look out for oil-based cleansers, soothing toners, and deeply hydrating creams with a rich formula.
Some of the most popular ingredients for dry skin types include jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid, and squalene. You want to avoid products that strip your skin of its natural oils as they can cause your skin to feel tight and uncomfortable.
You want to pay extra close attention to the products you use when you have sensitive skin. You won’t be able to walk into a store and pick the first product off a shelf. Using the wrong product can cause your skin to feel inflamed and irritated. Look out for formulas that are rich in antioxidants and pH-balanced formulas
that will soothe your skin.
Natural ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, lactic acid, and vitamin E should be top of your shopping list. As a general rule of thumb, you want to focus on choosing gentle formulations that will help to soothe your skin and address any other concerns you have, whether it’s dryness or oiliness.
5. Acne Prone
If you have acne-prone skin, you want to focus on cleansing and exfoliating. Avoid harsh formulations and stay away from the temptation to pop your acne pimples.
The three best ingredients for acne-prone skin include salicylic acid, tea tree oil
, and retinoids. These ingredients will help to cleanse and exfoliate your skin to reduce inflammation and tackle acne
When you’re choosing products, don’t forget to consider whether you have oily or dry skin as well. You’ll want to address both skin types with the products that you’re using. Oil-based cleaners are ideal, while hydrating toners are essential.
If you have combination skin, you want to target your skincare routine to work with every part of your skin. Face masks
and spot treatments are an ideal way to enhance your everyday skincare routine to target specific parts of your skin.
You want to shop around for products that are made with combination skin in mind. These hybrid skincare products will often include ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C.