Your skin type impacts every aspect of your skincare and makeup routine, from the types of products that will work best for you, to the way that you should apply them.
Therefore, your first step when changing your skincare or beauty routine (or pursuing them for the first time), should be to identify what your skin type is. Luckily, this is a very simple thing to determine and does not require any special tools or professional input.
Understand the Different Skin Types
The major categories of skin type are: dry skin, oily skin, combination skin, acne-prone skin, sensitive skin, and mature skin. It is important to note that you can have multiple skin types at once, and your skin type can also change over time.
Characteristics of dry skin include:
- Rough or flaky texture;
- Tightness/lack of elasticity;
- More noticeable fine lines and wrinkles;
- Redness and irritation;
- Barely visible pores.
If you have dry skin, choosing the right moisturizer is incredibly important. You may benefit from using a thick ointment, or even a combination of ointment and lotion, with a focus on the areas that are typically the driest. It is also important to note that your skin should be damp when applying your moisturizer, for it to properly lock in moisture. As far as makeup goes, you should ideally use a liquid foundation that contains moisturizer.
Characteristics of oily skin include:
- Enlarged pores;
- Shininess or greasiness;
- Less visible fine lines and wrinkles;
- Prone to acne;
- Does not hold makeup well.
There is a common skincare myth that if you have oily skin, you shouldn’t use a moisturizer. That is not the case. If you have oily skin, you should use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer. In terms of makeup, a powder foundation or an oil-free liquid foundation will likely suit you best. Oily skin often doesn’t hold makeup very well over time; and therefore, it will also be helpful to utilize primer, as well as setting spray or powder, to prevent wear and smudging.
Combination skin, as the name implies, has characteristics of both dry and oily skin. Typically, in this case, your T-zone will be oily, while other areas of your face are dry.
One option for combination skin is to use different products (such as moisturizers and foundations) for the dry and oily sections of your face. However, it is possible to find products that are specifically made to suit combination skin, if you would like to avoid the hassle and expense of using different products.
The primary indicator of acne-prone skin is of course acne, blackheads, and blemishes. Additionally, acne-prone skin often goes hand-in-hand with oily skin.
Many people with acne-prone skin can benefit from oral or topical medications, which is something you should discuss with your doctor. But there are a few other things you can do as part of your routine to manage acne-prone skin, including:
- Regularly wash your face with a cleanser that is formulated for acne.
- Use a toner.
- Use an oil-free moisturizer.
- Use powder or oil-free liquid foundation.
- Look for non-comedogenic products.
Characteristics of sensitive skin include:
- Itchiness, stinging, burning, or agitation;
- Redness, rashes, or blemishes;
- Allergic reactions;
- Roughness or flakiness;
- Sensitivity to sunlight.
When it comes to sensitive skin, there is often a lot of guess-and-check involved. You will need to find products that don’t aggravate your skin, and therefore, it will be helpful to sample products before you buy a larger size. Typically, the products that work best for people with sensitive skin are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and contain SPF. It will also be helpful to wash skin carefully, rather than scrubbing.
Mature skin refers to skin that has changed texture, appearance, or other traits as a result of aging. These changes may include:
- Loss of elasticity;
- Fine lines and wrinkles;
It is important to wash mature skin carefully, with a gentle cleanser, to avoid damage to delicate skin. For the same reason, it also becomes more important than ever to moisturize and use SPF to prevent damage. Ointments, creams, and lotions can also be used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
People with mature skin may also try products such as:
- Eye cream for dark circles;
- Eye cream for wrinkles;
- Neck cream;
- Night cream;
- Retinol cream;
- Wrinkle cream;
- Spot corrector;
- Collagen cream;
- Firming cream;
- Collagen supplements.
Methods for Identifying Your Skin Type
Beyond looking for the characteristics listed above, there are several other steps you can take to identify your skin type.
It can help to observe your skin under different conditions. In addition to closely observing it over time, it is often beneficial to use the “bare-faced method” to determine whether your skin is dry or oily.
This method involves gently washing your face and then leaving it for about a half-hour without using any product. After waiting for a full half-hour, dry skin will often feel tight or itchy, and may even feel flaky or rough to the touch. If your skin is also sensitive, it may burn or show signs of a rash. Meanwhile, oily skin will typically appear shiny. If you see signs of both dryness and oiliness, you may have combination skin.
Blotting Sheet Method
You can use blotting paper to determine how much oil your face exudes. If you lightly dab your face with blotting paper and hold it up to the light, you can see any excess oil from your face.
Ideally, you should compare the oil production of different sections of your face, as well as the oil production of your face over time, under different conditions, and using different products. In doing so, you can determine not only whether you have dry, oily, or combination skin, but also how your skin reacts to different products and routines, as well as factors such as the weather and your diet.
There is another strategy you can use in combination with the bare-faced method. After cleaning your face and allowing it to dry, observe your face as you smile. If your cheeks and/or skin feel tight or if any fine lines or wrinkles seem particularly distinct, you may have dry skin.
As mentioned, your skin and its needs may change over time due to things like age, lifestyle, and environment, and therefore it will be helpful to regularly reassess your skin type.