Want to know what your skin type is and how best to look after it?
There are four main skin types: normal, dry, oily and combination (both oily and dry). Your skin type can change over time, as well as be affected by factors like hormones, medication and diet. To get an idea of what your skin type is, gently wash and leave your skin product-free for several hours before paying close attention to different areas.
Normal skin type
Your skin is neither too dry or too oily. In other words, well-balanced skin which has few imperfections and a clean, soft appearance.
Characteristics of normal skin
Normal skin has…
- soft and smooth texture
- no to few blemishes
- fine pores
- good blood circulation
- isn’t prone to sensitivity
It’s also perfectly normal for your T-zone (forehead, chin and nose) to be a little oily!
Skincare for normal skin
Having normal skin doesn’t mean you don’t have any skin care concerns you’ll have to take care of with your daily skincare routine. Every skincare routine should include products which target your skin’s own problem areas. For example, if your skin is or can occasionally get dry, or if it leans slightly oily or combination.
The best way to care for normal skin is by following the basics of every skin type needs. Daily use of a gentle, effective cleanser, toner and serum loaded with skin-replenishing ingredients, and a skin-restoring, soothing moisturiser forms the basis of any skincare routine.
Your skin dries out because it doesn’t have enough moisture. This isn’t always serious, but it can be irritating and uncomfortable.
Characteristics of dry skin
Dry skin symptoms include…
- peeling, flaking or scaling
- cracked skin
- a feeling of tightness – especially after you’ve been in the water (e.g. showering or swimming)
If your dry skin is severe, you should contact your doctor for advice.
Skincare for dry skin
There are many causes of dry skin, from the temperature outside to how much moisture is in the air. Your skin can also become drier as you age.
If you’ve found that your skin gets drier at certain times in the year, you’ll need to adapt your skincare routine depending on this season. (Changing up your skincare routine with the season is actually recommended for all skin types!)
To combat dry skin, you’ll want to focus on products which are full of nourishing and moisture-rich ingredients. These can help fortify your skin’s lipid barrier, keeping moisture in and acne-causing bacteria out.
Be aware that dry skin can be aggravated by harsh and drying ingredients. Focus on gentle and nourishing skincare products, which aren’t heavy oils and hydrators that can clog your pores. Also avoid over-cleansing your skin. This can strip it of the naturally-occurring oils which keep your skin hydrated.
If you have an oily skin type, this means your glands overproduce a substance called sebum. Sebum is great for keeping your skin lubricated and preventing it from drying out. But it also makes your skin prone to imperfections, such as acne.
Characteristics of oily skin
Oily skin has…
- a glossy shine
- enlarged, clearly visible pores
- prone to blackheads, whiteheads and acne
- can become red and inflamed
If your T-zone is oily, but other areas of your face (e.g. chin and cheeks) are normal or dry, you may have combination skin. Continue reading to find out more.
Skincare for oily skin
Oily skin is often hereditary. If one or both of your parents have oily skin, it’s not uncommon for you to also have this skin type. Hormonal changes which happen during puberty or pregnancy, as well as some women’s menstrual cycles and menopause, can lead to oily skin.
Also be aware that stress, some types of medication and some make-up products can make your skin more oily.
There’s little you can do to change your skin type, but there are things you can do to keep your oily skin under control. These include avoiding harsh products and over-exfoliating your face, which strip your skin of moisture. This will cause your glands to overproduce oil, making it more oily in the long run. Washing your face daily and regularly cleaning your bed sheets (we naturally sweat more at night) will stop dirt from clogging up your pores and leading to more breakouts.
Your skin has a combination of both dry skin and oily skin characteristics. This means it will dry or normal in some areas, and oily in others.
Characteristics of combination skin
Combination skin can have…
- An oily T-zone (forehead, chin and nose)
- Normal to dry cheeks
- Larger and more open pores
- Prone to blackheads and blemishes
Most of us have a combination skin type!
Skincare for combination skin
Your skin is likely to need different care in different areas. The key to building a skincare routine for combination skin is giving each part of your face what it best needs and achieving balance.
You’ll want to avoid any intense formulas in your skincare products. For example, the more a product helps to reduce oil, the more it might dry out flaky skin. You might also want to apply different products to different areas of the face, adopting a ‘divide and conquer’ approach to skincare.
Still not sure?
Everyone’s skin is unique. The different skin types are just one part of how we understand our skin and its needs.
Sometimes there’s no way to tell whether a product works for you until you try it. However, by paying close attention to how your skin feels and acts on a daily basis, as well as carefully reading a product’s label and ingredients, you can build a skincare routine which works for you.