Here’s How to Determine Your Specific Skin Type Once and For All

While there are only a handful of basic skin types, it can still be incredibly difficult to determine what your specific skin type is. But it can be even harder to know what products your skin needs without knowing exactly what your skin type is. So, to aid in battling skincare problems, knowing what your skin type is the first and most important step.

close up of woman with radiant skin, freckles, and her hair in an up-do.

This way, you can kick start your new skincare routine that is specifically tailored to your skin type. So, whether your skin is dry, oily or a combination of both, getting a proper verdict is the place to start.

Keep reading as we show you how to determine your skin type once and for all and how to care for each skin type properly.

Why is it So Difficult to Determine Your Skin Type?

On the surface, it may seem rather simple and straightforward to determine your skin type, however, in reality, this isn’t always the case.

Though your skin type is what you are born with, it can go through phases, so determining your skin type can be tricky for a number of reasons. These can include genes, diet, stress level, hormonal fluctuations, medications, and your skincare regimen. In all, they determine how much oil your skin produces, causing it to fall into a particular skin type category.

Your skin texture and condition can change greatly from season to season and, also, it can change multiple times over your lifespan as you age.

Women are particularly prone to their skin type changing due as they go through hormonal changes such as puberty, pregnancy and menopause. So, while oily skin is common in young women it is possible that as they age, many find that their skin becomes drier. This is especially so during their mid-30s.

While it can be hard to pin yourself down to just one specific skin type, knowing which category you fall into will allow you to adapt your skincare routine accordingly.

Array of skin types modelled by drawings of different women.

Why Should You Use Products Specifically Suited for Your Skin Type?

The products you use on your skin should compensate what the skin naturally lacks to complement it. So, using the wrong products can cause your skin to trigger reactions that you don’t want and may even do more harm than good.

Using cleansers and treatments that are too harsh, even if they are recommended for excessive oiliness, may send the signal to your skin that more oil is actually needed. Conversely, applying moisturisers that are too thick or heavy can result in the reduction of natural oil production, resulting in even drier skin.

Most products are formulated for specific skin types and it should usually say it on the packaging. So, make sure you read product packages carefully to see if it targets the specific problems your skin has. 

What are the Basic Skin Types?

To put it simply, your skin type is determined by the amount of sebum your skin produces. Here are some of the basic skin types and the signs you should look out for to determine what your skin type is.

Dry Skin

Dry skin occurs when the skin’s sebaceous glands don’t produce enough oil to hydrate the skin properly. Additionally, this skin type tends to feel tight and thirsty without moisturiser.

Furthermore, you may notice an increase of visible redness and fine lines easily, along with dry patches on your skin that can feel flaky and irritated. This can be down to external factors such as the environment or weather changes, or even physical changes as a result of excessive cleansing that can strip the skin of its moisture.

woman's face with zoomed circle of dry skin on her cheek area.

Suggested Article: Skin Redness – 7 Reasons Your Skin is Red and Sensitive and How To Fix It.

Oily Skin

Oily skin means the oil glands in the body are overactive and produce more oil which can, in turn, clog pores that lead to breakouts.

  • Your face may appear shiny, feel greasy easily and can get oily quickly after cleansing.

This skin type is more prone to clogged pores and breakouts as patches of oil can begin to build upon the face quickly. 

close up image of a persons face with oily skin.

Combination Skin

The oil glands for combination skin tend to be more overactive on certain areas of the face than others. This results in either both dry and/or oily patches on the skin. Additionally, people with combination skin may have an oily T-zone, however, the rest of their skin appears dry.

Normal Skin

If you have normal skin, then lucky you! This skin type has the least skincare issues compared to the others.

Normal skin types don’t experience that many breakouts and, essentially, it isn’t too sensitive to new products or weather changes. It feels neither oily nor dry and feels and looks the same on all areas of the face. Furthermore, it will generally feel comfortable and radiant without any major skin issues.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin tends to be thin and delicate. Frustratingly, this skin type can become easily aggravated and show bad reactions. This can be due to genetics, allergies or, even, environmental factors. Furthermore, this skin type can often have patches of dry, flaky, irritated skin and can have frequent rashes and bumps. The skin can also appear as thin as the natural barrier function is weak causing this to be a sign. 

side profile of a woman with glowing skin.

Suggested Article: Makeup for Sensitive or Allergy Prone Eyes.

Knowing the Difference between Skin Type and Skin Condition

It’s important to note the difference between skin type and skin concerns when it comes to care and treatment. Both skin conditions and types can change over time or may be affected by environment, age or hormone changes. For this reason, among others, skincare products should be selected to match skin type and address skin condition.

Skin Colour

Skin colour and ethnicity influences how our skin reacts to external forces such as the sun, pigmentation disorders, irritation and inflammation.

Suggested Article: How to Shop for Drugstore Foundation for Darker Skin.

Mature Skin

Everyone’s skin matures with age. Symptoms and signs show on mature skin as age spots, wrinkles and fine lines. Furthermore, the skin can also become dryer as you age, and you may even notice sagging and dullness. 

mature woman applying anti-ageing product to face.

How to Determine Your Skin Type

Every person’s skin is unique, but there are a few common skin types that may help you to identify where your skin fits in the most. There are a few simple tests and observations you can do to figure out what your skin type is. So, we suggest that you try at least two to three of them to see if you get the same conclusion each time.

Examine Your Pores

Grab a mirror and closely examine your pores. Their size and tendency to get clogged can tell you a lot about your skin type.

Oily Skin – Large pores indicate oily skin.

Those with oily skin often struggle with clogged pores as it can easily get congested with both sweat and sebum. Since the oil gland is hyperactive, more oils try to pass the pores than normal. This, in turn, can cause them to look larger.

Dry Skin – Dry skin produces less oil, so generally, the pores will appear smaller

No visible pores can mean dry skin and large pores only in your T-zone means you may have oily skin. Since dry skin produces less oil, generally the pores will appear smaller. Those with dry skin often have small, tight pores that are less prone to getting clogged.

Normal Skin – If your pores are neither large nor visible, you may a normal skin type.

Normal skin types tend to have fine pores that are generally unnoticeable.

Combination Skin

If your pores are large around your nose but unnoticeable on your cheeks and around the other areas of your face, then you may have combination skin.

Extra: Pinch Your Cheeks

woman pinching her skin near her eye.Gently pinch your cheeks and examine the skin. If it appears plump and smooth, then it means that your skin is hydrated. This could be an indicator for oily skin or normal skin. However, if it wrinkles easily, then you may have dry or combination skin. Furthermore, if it feels firm and doesn’t show any wrinkles or fine lines, then you may have normal skin.

Use Blotting Sheets

Once you wake up in the morning, grab a lens cleaning wipe or blotting sheet, or even rice paper, and start to blot all areas of your face. Be sure to pay attention to which parts of your face the paper picks oil up from. If it shows signs of oils, then you may have oily skin. But if the sheet is dry and your skin appears flaky and tight, then you have dry skin. Furthermore, if your nose, cheeks and forehead are shiny and oily while the rest of your face is dry, then you have combination skin.

Notice How Your Skin Feels After Cleansing

It is important to pay attention to the texture of your skin and how it feels. Doing so can reveal a lot about your skin’s essential nature. So, after cleansing your face with a gentle face wash, wait an hour or so and see how your skin feels.

Normal Skin – Your skin will feel nice and balanced. It won’t feel either too dry, oily or too sensitive. It should feel firm.

Dry Skin – Dry skin can feel incredibly tight and cracked in its natural form, especially during the winter months. In addition, after cleansing, it can look dull and lack radiance as dryness can cause the skin to flake. This is a result of dead skin cells still clinging to the skin’s surface.

Oily Skin – The skin may feel clean and oil-free straight after cleansing, however, it won’t be long before the oil returns.

Sensitive Skin – It will tend to feel tighter and inflamed after cleansing. 

How Does Your Skin Look with Makeup On?

Dry Skin – Makeup can appear patchy and flaky.

Oily Skin – You will find that your makeup doesn’t stay on for long throughout the day

Combination Skin – Makeup can appear patchy on your cheeks and other areas of your face but not stay on your T-zone or appear dewy and shiny.

Sensitive Skin – You may find that certain products can cause you to break out and cause irritation to your face. You will also be more likely to notice flare-up when you use new beauty products.

Normal Skin – Appears well balanced and makeup applies well and smoothly.

woman using makeup sponge to apply makeup to her face.

How to Take Care of Each Skin Type?

Now that you know exactly what your skin type is, you can customise it with the right products and skincare routine that works for you.

Dry Skin

Moisture is the key to caring for dry skin types.

The key is to boost hydration levels by opting for nourishing and moisturising products that won’t strip the essentials oils from your skin. So, when it comes to cleansing, try to stick to only cleansing your skin once a day with an oil-based cleanser. Additionally, be sure to avoid exfoliating your face more than once a week to avoid stripping it off any natural oils.

When it comes to moisturiser, try and opt for thicker creams along with using a serum for an extra hydration boost. You can even use essential oils as part of your routine which is nourishing and vitamin-rich.

Furthermore, during the colder months, try and use a humidifier in your house to avoid the central heating and cold weather from drying out your skin further.

Suggested Article: DIY Natural Hydrating Body Wash for Dry Skin.

Normal Skin

Normal skin requires low maintenance, so keep things simple with your skincare routine.

Make sure to stick to light moisturisers and cleanse your face once a day with a gentle cleanser to keep it clean. In addition, try and avoid anything too abrasive but you could also exfoliate your skin once or twice a week to try scrub away any dead skin cells. Doing so will keep your skin nice and smooth.

Suggested Article: Sea Salt Beauty: 11 Ways to Use Sea Salt for Beautiful Hair, Skin, Teeth and Nails.

Combination Skin

With combination skin, it is important to find the right balance that works to combat your oily skin, without stripping the oils from the dry parts of your face.

The biggest mistake for combination skin is using just one product for the whole of your face. Certain areas of the face will need different needs, so make sure you find a product that treats both problems at the same time. For example, you should try and use different products on your face to combat the problems of each area, like the use of a mild cleanser on the dry areas of your face and a stronger one for your T-Zone. Also, try and introduce toners and balancing creams into your routine to try and even out the skin. 

a woman laughing, whilst rubbing sun protection into her cheeks.

Suggested Article: Make Your Own Natural DIY Face Masks for Every Skin Type.

Oily Skin

You may think you need to steer clear of moisturisers and creams if you have oily skin. In fact, it needs quite the opposite. However, just because your skin is naturally oily, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to moisturize. It’s a good idea to try and stick to light, oil-free formulas. This is due to thick formulas reacting where they can clog your pores further to cause even more breakouts.

To clean the skin, use a strong face wash to combat oil production and keep your skin clear. Importantly, you should use cleanser morning and night to aid in keeping oiliness at bay.

It should be noted that you should also watch to not over wash your face. This is because it can produce even more oil to compensate for the oil that has been stripped off the skin. If you prefer your skin to have a clear, fresh feeling then you could try to use a clay mask one to two times a week to keep the oil at bay. In addition, if oily skin is causing you to break out, then use spot treatments on your blemishes to treat them. 

Sensitive Skin

You need to be careful when choosing skincare products for sensitive skin, to ensure your skin doesn’t react badly to it. So, try and opt for gentler skincare products that are free of harsh chemicals.

To make this process easier, introduce only one new formula or product at a time. Patch testing a new formula on your inner forearm is an excellent way to minimise potential reactions on the face. If your skin shows no sign of flaring up, apply the formula to the area behind one of your ears before using it on your face.

It’s always advised to avoid fragrances and seek out products with calming, healing and anti-inflammatory properties.  Also, exfoliators should be used sparingly as is can aggravate the skin. In addition, do not over-wash the face, so keep it simple with a gentle cleanser and moisturiser.

In particular, you should remember to avoid changing or mixing brands/products. You should stick to the ones that you know work well for your skin without causing irritation. 

Mature Skin

Everyone’s skin goes through changes as they age. So, as your skin starts to show signs of ageing, look out for restorative skincare products, that are full of collagen, to increase elasticity in the skin. Furthermore, look out for anti-ageing products that can plump the fine lines to restore youthfulness.

Though everyone should apply sunscreen daily, it’s vital to protecting mature skin and prevent further damage. Reapply it as needed for even more protection along with looking for beauty products with SPF.

mature woman with her hair tied up, whilst wearing a wool jumper.If you follow these steps and still find it hard to determine what your skin type is, then it is best to visit a beauty expert for a face to face consultation. Your skin can change from time to time, but to keep it balanced and beautiful you should examine your skin regularly to see if any adjustments need to be made to your skincare routine.

Taking these essential steps to identify the needs of your skin can keep it healthy and looking its best.



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