Not all skin is created equal!
Anyone and everyone can benefit from a skincare routine, but even the best products will be of little benefit if they aren’t matched to your skin type.
We’ve all seen products with labels claiming they are made for “combination skin” or “oily skin”. Learning what skin type you have is the first step in creating a skincare routine that works for you.
Which skin type you have is determined by how much sebum (also known as oil) your skin produces. There are five skin types: oily, dry, combination, sensitive, and normal.
Oily: Oily skin produces more sebum than it needs. It will feel and look greasy or shiny and will commonly be accompanied by large pores that can clog easily. It is more prone to breakouts.
Dry: Dry skin produces less sebum than it needs. It will often feel tight, especially after being washed. It may be flaky, itchy, irritated, or a combination of these. It is prone to showing visible lines.
Combination: Combination skin is characterized by some areas that are oily and some areas that are dry. Most commonly, the “T-zone” – the forehead, nose, and chin – will be oily while the cheeks will be dry.
Sensitive: Sensitive skin becomes irritated and inflamed easily. Those with sensitive skin may notice stinging, burning, bumpiness, redness, or other negative reactions after applying products. The amount of sebum produced by the skin does not affect sensitivity, and so those with all the previously mentioned skin types can also have sensitive skin, though it is most commonly associated with dry skin.
Normal: “Normal” skin produces an amount of sebum that keeps skin hydrated without becoming overly oily or greasy. It is less prone to breakouts and is usually accompanied by small pores and a smooth and clear complexion. However, those with “normal” skin may still have blemishes. Don’t feel you are abnormal if you don’t have “normal” skin! Those with normal skin can still benefit from a skincare routine to ensure their skin remains healthy.
Hopefully you can determine your skin type simply from reading these descriptions. However, if it is still unclear, or if you want to be sure of your conclusion, you can do the quick and easy “wash and wait” test, which can be completed in about 30 minutes.
Begin by washing your face with water and, if you have one, a gentle cleaner. Pat your skin dry with a soft towel. After 30 minutes, have a look at your face in the mirror. If it appears oily and greasy, you probably have oily skin. If it feels tight and appears dry and flaky, you probably have dry skin. If your T-zone is oily and your cheeks dry, you likely have combination skin. If your skin is red or irritated, you likely have sensitive skin. If your skin feels hydrated and comfortable, you likely have normal skin. If you want to take an extra step to be even more accurate, press a blotting sheet to your face and hold it up to the light. This will allow you to see if certain areas of your face are oilier than others.
Discovering what type of skin you have is the first step in meeting your skincare goals. Keeping your skin type in mind, you can begin to research which skincare products will work best for you and know which ones to avoid without wasting time and money with endless trial and error. Still, it is always a good idea to do a spot test whenever you try a new product. Use your new knowledge to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy, and don’t forget to do a check-in every once in a while to decide whether any adjustments should be made to your routine.