Know your skin type
You’ve heard the buzz about normal, oily, dry, combination, or sensitive skin types. But which one do you have?
It can change over time. For example, younger people are more likely than older folks to have a normal skin type.
What’s the difference? Your type depends on things such as:
- Water content – affects your skin’s comfort and elasticity.
- Lipid (oil) content – affects your skin’s softness and nutrition.
- Level of sensitivity – affects your skin’s tolerance to certain substances.
Here’s what you need to know about what skin type you have and how to take better care of your skin.
Normal skin type:
Normal skin is soft to the touch and its complexion is more or less even. Its texture is regular and its pores (little cavities in the skin, dilated to a lesser or greater degree) are hardly visible. Normal skin does not display any obvious imperfection. Its cells produce in adequate quantities the elements that are needed to maintain good hydration and protect it from bacteria.
A relative definition
A normal skin defines itself in view of the other types of skin: it is neither too oily or too dry. It has a light shiny appearance, a minor greasy feeling, it does not get tight nor is it prone to redness.
Very often, you would only need to clean it properly and hydrate it sufficiently in order to maintain its soft and unified appearance.
Good capacity of adaptation
Normal skins respond well to change in temperature and humidity. They support well daily aggressions such as pollution and UV rays.
However, it is rare to maintain such skin quality throughout one’s life.
Oily skin type:
Everyone needs a certain amount of natural oil to keep their skin supple and moisturized. Skin type is determined by how much oil the skin on your face produces; depending on this, your skin type can be categorized as dry, combination and oily.
An oily skin type is exactly what it sounds like – excess oil on the face produces a persistently shiny or greasy appearance. If you don’t treat your oily skin, pores can become clogged and enlarged, and dead skin cells may accumulate. Blackheads, pimples and other types of acne are also common with this skin type.
If your skin exhibits the following, then you have an oily skin type:
- Your face is shiny and usually appears greasy later on in the day
- Makeup doesn’t stay on and seems to “slide” off
- The oilier areas of your face have blackheads, pimples or other types of acne
- Pores are visibly enlarged, especially on your nose, chin and forehead
Take special note of your T-Zone. The T-Zone is the region of the face consisting of the forehead and nose which naturally tend to have more active oil glands that may produce excess sebum. If your T-Zone is oily but the rest of your face looks normal or dry, then you have combination-type skin. Anyone’s skin can have multiple “types,” and that these types can change due to hormones, climate and stress levels.
Oily skin is more common in youth. It occurs when glands in the skin secrete too much oil (lipids). Oily skin can produce:
- Enlarged pores
- Dull or shiny, thick complexion
- Blackheads, spots or other blemishes
Oiliness can change, depending upon the time of year or the weather. Oily skin can be caused or worsened by:
- Puberty or other hormonal imbalances
- Exposure to heat or too much humidity
Here are some tips for taking better care of oily skin:
- Wash your skin no more than twice a day, and after you perspire heavily.
- Use a gentle cleanser and don’t scrub.
- Don’t pick, pop or squeeze spots. This prolongs healing time.
- Use products labelled as ‘non comedogenic’. They don’t tend to clog pores.
Dry skin type:
This skin types have very little oil on it. Traits include very small pores that are almost invisible, visible lines on the skin, a rough and dull complexion, red patches on the skin and lower elasticity level
Dry skin isn’t usually serious, but it can be uncomfortable and unsightly.
Serious dry skin conditions — an inherited group of disorders called ichthyosis — can sometimes be disfiguring and upsetting. Fortunately, most dry skin is caused by environmental factors that can be at least partially controlled. These factors include hot or cold weather, low humidity, and soaking in hot water.
You can do a lot on your own to improve your skin, including using moisturizers and avoiding harsh, drying soaps. Chronic or severe dry skin problems may require evaluation by a doctor who specializes in skin (dermatologist).
Dry skin (xerosis) often has an environmental cause. Certain diseases also can significantly affect your skin. Potential causes of dry skin include:
- Skin tends to be driest in winter when temperatures and humidity levels plummet. But the season may not matter as much if you live in desert regions.
- Central heating, wood-burning stoves, space heaters and fireplaces all reduce humidity and dry your skin.
- Hot baths and showers.Taking long, hot showers or baths can dry your skin. So can frequent swimming, particularly in heavily chlorinated pools.
- Harsh soaps and detergents.Many popular soaps, detergents and shampoos strip moisture from your skin as they are formulated to remove oil.
- Other skin conditions.People with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis are prone to dry skin.
Anyone can develop dry skin. But you may be more likely to develop the condition if you:
- Are in your 40s or older. The risk increases with age — more than 50 percent of older adults have dry skin.
- Live in dry, cold or low-humidity climates.
- Have a job that requires you to immerse your skin in water, such as nursing and hairstyling.
- Swim frequently in chlorinated pools.
How to prevent a dry skin
Here are some tips for taking better care of dry skin:
- Take shorter showers and baths, no more than once daily.
- Use mild, gentle soaps or cleansers. Avoid deodorant soaps.
- Don’t scrub while bathing or drying.
- Apply a rich moisturizer right after bathing. Ointments and creams may work better than lotions for dry skin. Re-apply as needed throughout the day.
- Use a humidifier and don’t let indoor temperatures get too hot.
- Buy natural cleaning products.
- Wear gloves when using cleaning agents, solvents or household detergents
Combination skin type:
Your skin can be dry or normal in some areas and oily in others, such as the T-zone (nose, forehead, and chin). Many people have this type. It may need slightly different care in different areas.
Combination skin is just what the name implies—skin that is a combination of both dry and oily types. If you drew a big “T” on your face, all the skin under that T would likely be oily, while the areas left outside the T are dry and potentially flaky. That’s why we use the term “T-zone” when referring to those with combination skin.
Combination skin also means that you may have fine lines and wrinkles and shininess and clogged pores at the same time. You may also experience uneven skin tone or large pores on your nose.
Of course this combination of characteristics and problems can make combination skin particularly difficult to deal with.
In general, the nose, chin, and forehead of those with combination skin have more active oil glands, which is why these areas may be prone to clogged pores. The cheeks, on the other hand, may have less active oil glands, which is why they may appear dry and flaky.
In some cases, however, if you’re using harsh products or products with drying ingredients like sulfates and alcohol, you can actually encourage the skin to produce more oil in the T-zone area, which can also create the symptoms of combination skin.
Not sure whether you have combination skin?
Try washing it with a gentle cleanser, pat dry, then wait for about 10-15 minutes. (Don’t apply any other products.) Most likely, your cheeks, temples, and other areas will feel dry and tight, while your nose, chin, and forehead will look oily and shiny — or perhaps have clogged pores.
Another clue that may mean you have combination skin is that you have a hard time finding skin care products that work. Some make you breakout, while others leave you too dry and dull.
Sensitive skin type:
If you have sensitive skin, you’ll be all too aware of the wide variety of emotional and environmental factors that can affect it – from a change of weather to household pets, stress and even dust. Read on to discover more about the triggers of sensitivity and how you can protect your skin from them.
Sensitive skin can show up as:
These are a few of the most common reasons for sensitive skin:
Acne is from oil in the skin that clogs pores and allows for the overgrowth of skin bacteria. Treatment may include:
- Tea tree oil
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Salicylic acid
Rosacea is a common skin condition with symptoms including flushing, pimples, and broken blood vessels. Treatment includes the use of antibiotic gels.
Contact dermatitis can be caused by allergens or irritants. If you’re allergic, your immune system makes antibodies against certain substances, causing a reaction. A dermatologist can perform patch testing to see if you are allergic to a substance such as a fragrance or preservative. You can also be sensitive to irritants. It’s important to realise that even natural or organic ingredients, such as essential oils and fragrance, can cause reactions in sensitive skin.
Common skin irritants include:
- Bath soaps
- Eye cosmetics
More people than ever consider themselves to have sensitive skin, and a recent European study found that up to 52% of participants reported sensitivity of some kind.
The severity of skin sensitivity, however, can vary from occasional reactions, to extreme sensitivity that occurs on a daily basis. This kind of everyday reaction can cause discomfort, dry, flaky patches, blemishes and redness, which in turn has a knock-on effect on a person’s confidence, mood and self-esteem.
Use a daily skincare routine that is suitable for your skin type, formulated especially for sensitive skin. Look for products with relatively few ingredients.
Cleanse every evening, moisturize twice a day and wear an SPF of 15+ with UVA protection. Always choose cosmetics that are suitable for sensitive skin, too. Avoid chemically laden cleaning and laundry products, which can also irritate your skin.
Why is it important to know your 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 skincare altogether.