All skin types can benefit from daily cleansing and moisturizing, but different skin types, which include oily, dry, normal, combination and sensitive skin, have different needs—which is why understanding your skin type is the first step in caring for it. But how do you know what type of skin you have? The answer can be found through simple observation.
What You Need to Know
There are five different skin types: oily, dry, normal, combination and sensitive. By understanding what type of skin you have, you can begin to make informed decisions—giving your skin the care and protection it needs now and for years to come.
Finding Your Skin Type
Skin type can generally be determined by simple observation. With two types of tests you can perform at home, we can help you understand what kind of skin you have in just 30 minutes (and most of that time is spent relaxing at home with a clean face).
Common Characteristics of Skin Types
Oily skin produces an excess of sebum that causes the skin to appear shiny and feel greasy—especially throughout the T-Zone (forehead, nose and chin). If you have oily skin, you may be more likely to have enlarged pores, develop acne blemishes and be more prone to acne breakouts.
Dry skin is typically dull and may become rough, flaky or even scaly. It often feels tight or less elastic and may be prone to showing more visible lines. In addition, it may become itchy or irritated.
Normal skin is balanced—feeling neither dry nor oily. It is not prone to breakouts, flakiness, feeling slick or tight. Pores are generally small, the skin’s texture is smooth, and it is less likely to be prone to sensitivity or blemishes.
Combination skin includes areas that are dry as well as oily—with the T-Zone commonly being oily, and the cheeks being either dry or normal.
Sensitive skin is often referred to as a skin type, but you can have oily and sensitive skin, dry and sensitive skin or normal and sensitive skin. Regardless of which type of skin you have, if you have sensitive skin, it may be red, feel like it’s burning, itching or dry. These symptoms may be related to having skin that is more vulnerable to external irritants and may be triggered by certain ingredients, like dyes or fragrance, as well as environmental factors. If your skin is sensitive, you may be able to determine what triggers your sensitivity and avoid products containing those specific ingredients or alter your environment to reduce your exposure to triggering agents.
If descriptions of the different skin types didn’t help you come to a conclusion, there are tests you can perform at home to help you determine what type of skin you have.
Watching and Waiting
This at-home test allows you to understand what kind of skin you have by just observing how your skin behaves after cleansing. To start, wash your face with a gentle cleanser then gently pat it dry. If after 30 minutes your skin appears shiny throughout, you likely have oily skin; if it feels tight and is flaky or scaly, you likely have dry skin; if the shine is only in your T-Zone, you probably have combination skin; and if your skin feels hydrated and comfortable, but not oily, you likely have normal skin.
When pressed to the skin, blotting sheets absorb oil—and you can use them to help you understand what type of skin you have. After washing your face with a gentle cleanser, patting it dry and allowing it to rest 30 minutes, press blotting sheets to various areas of your face, then hold the sheets up to the light to see the oil markings. If the sheets reveal an abundance of oil in all areas of the face, you have oily skin; if they absorb little to no oil, then you probably have dry skin; if the sheets show only a small amount of oil from your T-Zone, you have combination skin; and if you only see minimal oil from every area of your face, you most likely have normal skin.
Regardless of what kind of skin you have, it can also be sensitive or prone to acne breakouts, though those with normal skin are less likely to experience either. However, with the right products you can care for your skin while addressing sensitivity or acne blemishes.