What type of skin do I have? If you didn’t think you’d be asking this question, you’re not alone. Although millions of people are unaware, your skin type can actually play an important role in choosing products and treatments.
Work with your body. It’s the best way to get results. Over time, dermatologists have learnt that the least invasive, most natural procedures can often be the most effective—without the risks.
Performing a skin type test is the next step towards safeguarding against irritation. Your skin should be respected as the complex, sensitive organ it is. Use products that align with your body and get to know what it needs.
How to tell your skin type
So, before we go into more detail, let’s quickly assess your skin type. This is a fairly easy process (particularly if you’ve been plagued by specific skin issues). Look at a list of the following symptoms to see which match your skin most closely. Remember: it’s possible to be a combination of 2 or more types in different regions.
Your ‘T-Zone’ is the best place to test. This is the region of the face including your forehead and nose. Why? These are the areas that tend to accumulate the most facial oil. Along with this, you should also be checking your mouth and cheeks.
- Not noticeably oily or dry
- Few imperfections or blemishes
- Rosy/fresh complexion
- Pores are almost invisible/difficult to see
Good circulation gives normal skin its healthy complexion—blood is able to get where it needs to. This helps other processes work well, meaning there’s not excessive sebum (sebaceous oil) on the surface (so no spots!).
- Rough to touch, almost no moisture
- Pores are almost impossible to see
- More wrinkles/lines
- Patches of irritation
Dry skin produces far too little sebum, resulting in a cracked, flaky appearance. Because of this lack of protective oils, there’s nothing keeping moisture in. Skin can also feel tight.
Oily Skin / Dehydrated Skin
- Large, visible pores
- Lots of blemishes and spots
- Shiny skin
Oily skin produces too much sebum. Interestingly, the cause of this is a lack of water. While too little sebum causes dry skin, dehydrated skin (which lacks water) leads the body to produce too much oil to compensate! This means you could have the symptoms of dry skin with a thick film of oil sitting on top.
- Inflamed redness
- Burning sensation
- Exaggerated symptoms of dry skin
Sensitive skin is typically caused by underlying conditions such as rosacea or food allergies. Unlike other skin types, this skin will become noticeably irritated easily—often with itchy red patches.
The symptoms above are a good starting point in assessing your skin type. It should be fairly easy to figure out which of these groups apply to you. With the exception of first thing in the morning, where skin is typically excessively oily, whatever condition your T-Zone is regularly in should tell you what your type is.
How should you change your skincare?
The complexities of skin types might be overwhelming at this point, but you should have a general idea of which category you fall into. Remember:
- Dry skin is caused by a lack of oil production
- Oily skin is caused by skin lacking water
- Sensitive skin is often caused by conditions
Let’s look at some practical ways to change your skin care routine:
- Moisturiser could just be your saviour. You need to help your skin lock in moisture when the sebaceous glands aren’t working well.
- Showering/bathing too often can strip remaining oils, creating more dryness. Instead of obsessively washing, use a moisturiser the maximise the effects of water on your skin.
- Eat more fats in your diet. Particularly foods rich in vitamin E. Foods like oily fish, nuts and avocados all contain chemicals which boost cells’ protective barriers, letting them retain more moisture.
- Cleaning regularly with gentle cleansers (ideally soap-free) will be your main asset.
- Limit washing your face to once or twice a day. Although it’s tempting to repeatedly wipe off the oil, your body can react by producing more if too much is stripped.
- Exfoliating can be extremely beneficial. Just like washing, try to limit to once a day and use a soft exfoliant so as not to cause more damage.
- Try limiting the amount of fats in your diet. Although they’re still essential for good health, reducing your intake creates less sebum production. Eat foods rich in vitamin A and zinc.
- Avoid powdered makeup. By using sparingly on shiny areas, you can reduce the chance of increasing oil production. Powder and oil also tends to cake.
- Get an allergy test to determine whether food sensitivities are causing skin issues. Then, eliminate offending items from your diet.
- Skin care should remain as normal, but with a serious inspection of products used. Anything with noticeably unnatural ingredients or additives should be removed. Typically, more natural ingredients should have less of a direct effect on skin.
- Take care washing and drying. Creating more inflammation by rubbing skin with coarse textures can lead to further complications and create wounds.
In order: changing your diet, washing routine and skin care products should be enough to solve normal skin complaints. It’s always important to consult with doctors before making any major changes (if you feel your skin issues are serious).
Even if you have normal skin, it’s worthwhile taking on board the suggestions above. Positive changes in diet and hygiene have wider health benefits than just the skin of our faces.