As the largest and one of the most important organs of the human body, taking care of your skin is just as important as you would any other vital organs in your body such as the heart and liver. However, when it comes to caring for our skin, we often tend to overlook the answer to two very important questions: What type of skin do we have and how do we properly care for it?
If you’ve ever asked, “What is my skin type?” you’re not alone. Many people are unknowingly using the wrong products for their skin type which may be causing more harm than good. Knowing what type of skin you’re working with is critical to choosing the right products so you can get the most out of your skincare routine.
Our skin types are largely determined by genetics, however the condition of our skin can vary greatly according to the various internal and external factors it is subjected to. Our skin type can also change over time due to environmental factors, age, hormones and other health-related issues.
Below, we’ll discuss an at-home method in determining what your skin type is. However, it’s important to remember, that the most accurate way to learn what your skin type is, is to visit your local dermatologist and discuss any concerns or questions you may have.
The Bare Face Method
After thoroughly cleansing your face with a mild cleanser and gently patting it dry, leave skin bare. Don’t apply any serums, toners, or moisturisers on your skin. After 30 minutes, examine your cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead for any evidence of shine. Then wait another 30 minutes. After that time is up, evaluate your skin, making note of any shine or tight sensation in your face. If your skin appears flaky or feels tight especially when making facial expressions, you’re likely to have dry skin. If there is a visible shine on your forehead and nose, you most likely have normal/combination skin and if there’s an additional shine on your cheeks you’re likely to have oily skin.
Lucky you! Normal skin refers to skin that doesn’t experience any kind of excessive skin conditions. Those with this skin type have a great balance of oil and moisture. Not too dry and not too oily, normal skin feels supple and is less likely to suffer from skin conditions, severe sensitivity as well as breakouts. Normal skin also doesn’t tend to react negatively to new products or weather changes. Free from visible blemishes, greasy patches or flaky areas, those with normal skin have barely visible pores and present an even, clear and smooth skin tone and radiant complexion. Normal skin is more likely to occur in younger people.
Dry skin can be a result of genetics or environmental factors. Those with this skin type may lack some of the natural moisturising factors that help the skin retain water and may produce less sebum than other skin types. People with dry skin seem to have an overall dehydrated and tight feeling to their skin with a dull complexion and areas of roughness, flakiness, itchiness and unusual redness.
Unlike dry skin, oily skin produces more sebum than usual. Those who have oily skin are prone to excessive oil production in the T-zone area. This can translate to a shininess or even greasiness of the skin that continues throughout the day. Make up does not stay on and seems to “slide” off. Due to the amount of sebum being produced by the skin, those who have oily skin are easily prone to clogged pores (often visible and enlarged on the nose, chin and forehead), leading to blemishes and breakouts.
Combination skin is most easily defined by an oily T-zone (the strip across the forehead and the line down the nose) and dry or normal skin on the rest of the face. When you have combination skin, the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) is oily because it contains more active oil (sebaceous) glands. These glands can create a glossy appearance, clogged pores, and even breakouts. In contrast, certain areas of the face such as the cheeks can feel flaky and dull at times due to a lack of sebum and a corresponding lipid deficiency. Skin often tends to be oilier in summer and dry in winter. With combination skin, you might feel like your face is dry and tight after you wash it, but also shiny and oily by midday or at the end of the day.
Sensitive skin refers to a range of conditions, from genetic ailments, such as rosacea and eczema, allergies or environmental factors. While many people typically experience a skin reaction at some point or another to a product or ingredient, those with persistent issues are classified as having sensitive skin. Symptoms of sensitive skin may include itchiness, dry skin and tautness. Those with sensitive skin are also more prone to display redness such as red rashes and tiny bumps, blushing and flushing as well as broken capillaries that become visible near the surface of the skin (often seen on the nose and cheeks).
There are five basic skin types — normal, dry, oily, combination, and sensitive — and all of them can be linked to acne. Despite the popular belief that acne is largely a teen issue, it can affect people of all ages and is largely caused by genetics and hormones. If you get frequent breakouts (or ones that just never seem to go away), you more than likely have acne-prone skin. Acne-prone skin tends to get congested easily due to thicker oil that can get trapped below the follicle and is unable to come to the surface. This means that your pores tend to clog easily, making you more susceptible to whiteheads, blackheads or pustules.
If you develop breakouts from wearing a mask, you’re not alone. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing a face mask has become part of our daily lives. While in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 we’re covering up our mouths and noses. But some of us are uncovering a new problem — maskne. The medical term for “maskne” is acne mechanica, a skin condition brought on by the long term effects of wearing facial personal protective equipment. Excessive moisture and sweat, friction and occlusion on the skin is one of the main reasons wearing a mask can cause acne. When you breathe, talk and sweat your mask tends to trap in a lot of hot air, causing a lot of warmth and moisture to develop under the mask. This not only increases oil production but also allows dirt to sit on the skin’s surface, making it easier for bacteria and breakouts to develop on the skin. Friction may also cause maskne. Those who struggle with acne or sensitive skin tend to do better when their skin isn’t being touched of rubbed, so any sort of constant friction can make breakouts worse by causing dirt and oil that may be sitting on the skin’s surface to be pushed further into the pores.