So what is your skin type?
Understanding the skin types is fundamental to knowing how to treat your skin correctly. It not only affects which products you should be using, but also how you should be applying them, and it can be tricky to ascertain.
Let’s start with the simplest question; what are the skin types?
Well, there are actually four categories of skin: dry, oily, normal, and combination, and two subcategories: sensitive and mature. These may seem easy to diagnose, but don’t be so sure until you’ve read the rest!
Before you attempt to determine your skin type, it’s first important that you spend a twelve hour period without applying anything to your skin. The best way to do this without giving in and throwing on a moisturiser, is to wash your face before bed and leave it alone overnight and during the morning. Then you can inspect your skin in the mirror with your handiest tools; the fingers. Don’t forget that you can apply this technique to other parts of your body too, as all of your skin has a skin type!
Surprisingly, dry skin isn’t always dry to the touch. Some people who have problems with dry skin still get a layer of oil over their faces, it just doesn’t seem to affect how tight and flakey their skin is. This is because your body is trying to keep your skin hydrated, but doesn’t have enough of the correct tools to do so, because of your genetic makeup. Therefore, if you have dry skin you’ll be able to tell by how it feels to you, rather than how oily it appears. If you find yourself needing to exfoliate a lot because of a buildup of dry skin (especially around the edges of your face), your face feels tight or rough without a moisturiser, and your pores are generally quite small, you probably have dry skin.
On the other hand, if your skin is oily, you won’t feel any kind of dryness, in fact you’ll have the opposite problem. Your skin is so ready to grease you up that you’re more interested in dehydrating it, and moisturisers and serums seem pointless. That doesn’t mean your skin is always hydrated, but it does mean that there is always a thick layer of oil ready to be produced. You probably find yourself wiping it off or blotting it more than adding to it, and your pores are likely more visible than you might like. Don’t worry, this can be fixed.
This is probably the easiest skin type to diagnose. If you have this type, you have likely had few problems with your skin that are affected by how dry or oily it is (you still may have experienced acne or negative reactions), and you don’t often have sensitivity to stronger products such as acids. You are one of the lucky ones! Those with a normal skin type still need to look after their skin, but it nonetheless works hard on its own to keep things balanced.
Combination skin, however, is probably the most difficult type to diagnose. Most of the time, those with combination skin have dry skin around the cheeks and corners of the face, and oily skin around the ‘T’ zone, which is the forehead, nose bridge, and chin. The problem is that most skin types will get oily around this area, but those with combination skin will notice a severe difference between the two zones. If you have combination skin you may notice that your pores are different sizes on different parts of your face, and you can never find one product that satisfies all of your needs.
Sensitive skin usually comes in combination with dry skin, though it can be present alongside any. What makes skin sensitive is how it reacts to external factors. This can be the weather (for example, if your skin seems oily in the summer, but dry in the winter, you could be weather sensitive), or products you apply (if you can’t use products with alcohol in them or mild acids on your face because of a burning or itching sensation, you could be ingredient sensitive), but is always affected by external forces, rather than the way that your skin naturally acts.
There is a great deal of debate about what counts as mature skin. For a long time in the western world, mature skin has been directed at those aged forty plus, but with the recent rise in popularity of Korean and Japanese skincare, it has become well acknowledged that our skin actually begins aging by the time we are twenty five! Of course, this doesn’t mean that every skincare product that promises anti-aging should be slapped on as soon as we reach our mid- twenties, but it does mean that we should understand how our skin reproduces, and at what point it is time to take a little extra care of it.