How to Figure Out Your Skin Type

Just as many women go around for years wearing the wrong bra, thinking they are a 34C when they’re really a 32D, a large percentage of women diagnose their skin type incorrectly. Wearing the wrong bra can damage the body, and so can using the wrong skincare products. To discover your true skin type, an expert has to look at your skin, free of make-up, and to look and feel the texture. In my years behind a beauty counter, I used machines that could analyze the skin; they could see whether a skin was dehydrated, sun damaged, or was oily. Different parts of the skin yield varying results, but remember the skin type does change according to other factors such as the weather, diet, stress, illnesses, and medication.

You don’t need a machine to analyze and determine your skin type, but you must be aware that it can vary slightly in different parts of the face. If you use the wrong products for your skin type, it can cause a reaction, or the issue won’t get resolved. For example, using an astringent on dry skin will cause more dryness, or using a moisturizing cream on an oily skin will make it uncomfortable and over stimulate the sebum production. One of the most common issues I have seen is people confusing dehydration with dryness, and using heavy creams to help with their skin feeling tight. That doesn’t help, as they wonder why the cream won’t absorb (the remedy is below). Here is a guide to most skin types, and remember you can have a combination of skin types. An example is my own skin type—I have normal to combination skin type, with an oily t-zone only during summer, slightly sensitive (I have a lactose intolerance which means any products with milk proteins could cause a rash), and am prone to dehydration on the cheeks during the winter.

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Normal

This is the hardest skin type to maintain, but is considered perfect skin like a baby. The skin is free from dry flakes, lines or tightness, and there is no excess sebum or open pores.

Combination

The most common skin type and considered to be normal for most people where there is a t-zone (forehead, nose and chin) that can be slightly oily. Often this occurs during puberty and when hormone levels increase, and as one ages, it can fade away. If you choose to use an astringent, only use it on the t-zone, and not on the cheeks, otherwise it will strip the cheeks of oils and water.

Oily

Having oily skin has been rumored to the type that doesn’t age or wrinkle, however, an oily skin can also be dehydrated, and sensitive. In order to find the right products you must focus on the various issues. Parts of the face may have a different skin type, for example, the cheeks maybe more sensitive that the forehead, and you would need to adjust your skincare routine and not use the same products all over.

Sensitive

The skin can be sensitive in addition to the other skin types. Often this is when the skin layer can be fragile and thin, but can also be due to a reaction of certain ingredients. Most people with sensitive skin should avoid products with acids, ones that are too active, and not to over exfoliate.

Dry

Often people confuse dryness with dehydration, but you can have both. If the skin is flaky and irritated, that is a sign of dry skin. If the skin is feeling tight after cleansing, then it is dehydrated too. The best way to treat this skin type is to use a rich hydrating softening lotion, followed by a serum, and a moisturizing cream. To help reduce dryness, exfoliate and use a moisturizing mask 2-3 times a week; this will help repair the skin. This is sometimes due to a lack of exfoliation, poor cleansing habits, and a slow skin regeneration cycle, combined with cold weather.

Dehydrated

Many people experience dehydration at some point in their life. When the skin feels tight and you can feel it move, that’s dehydration. This is the prime cause of lines and wrinkles as well as sun damage, and is due to a lack of water (hydration) in the skin. Besides drinking water, people who skip the toner/softening lotion or tonic stage of their skin care routine often find their skin will be dehydrated. This is when fine lines and wrinkles begin to form, and is not due to a lack of moisture, but water. Moisturizer (whether it’s a cream or lotion) is the food that feeds the skin with oils, and the toner or softening lotion is the water that hydrates the skin. A healthy skin needs both; think of a meal, you need water to help you digest your food, and if you don’t you feel thirsty. Don’t skip the hydration stage, especially if you don’t cleanse with water (a tissue off cleanser, or facial wipes), because your skin will be more susceptible to dehydration.

There are several ways to test your skin type:

  • To test for oiliness, press a tissue against a cleansed face (with no products) after an hour to see which parts are oily. You can see if you have a t-zone and whether your cheeks are are as well. Generally oily skin can appear to have larger pores, due to excessive sebum secretion.
  • A dry skin will flake and have dry patches after cleansing. Make-up will look uneven when it’s applied, and the skin will feel rough.
  • Sensitive skin can be either be thin and fragile skin, or have a sensitivity to certain ingredients, Often the skin will be react and become red quickly, and the best way is to do a patch test either behind the ear or on the neck.
  • A normal skin when pressed immediately bounces back. Press the cheek, and if there is resistance or a slow response then that maybe dehydration.

Using the correct products will help maintain your skin, but just because you have used a product before doesn’t mean that it will always suit you. The skin does change, and you must adapt to the seasons, climate, and as you age. The aim is to have perfect baby skin—well hydrated, with no excess sebum, lines, or dry patches. It’s possible by using the right products on the correct parts of the face, just by knowing your real skin type, and adjusting your skincare routine whenever necessary.

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