Understanding your skin type

So, you’ve got skin. Excellent. Skin is the biggest organ in the body, but it can be mysterious. Sometimes… we try to take care of it, and it doesn’t always appreciate our efforts.

This is because skin is a complicated scamp, who just wants – no, NEEDS to be understood. And to do that you need to understand it. Or more specifically understand your skin type.

Most of us can relate to one of the four main skin types; oily, dry, combination and normal. Knowing which one is the most like yours is the first step to understanding how best to nurture your skin.

We’ve put together this handy guide so you can work out what skin type you have from the comfort of your own home – no trips to the dermatologist required!

Step one: Skin care audit

Your current skin care routine might be having an impact too. For that reason, we’d recommend doing a quick ‘skincare audit’ before you try to identify your skin type and consider cutting any products out that you suspect of causing any of the following:

Exfoliating, but still dry?

Exfoliating is great, but when you do it too often or use an unsuitable product (eg. body scrub on your face) it can damage the skin’s barrier and create an even more flaky appearance. A vicious circle indeed. Try cutting down how often you exfoliate or go for a more gentle product.

Moisturiser making you greasy?

The likelihood is the product your using is too rich for your skin. Your skin’s ability to absorb moisturiser isn’t directly linked to your skin type, but it does vary from person to person. So if you think you have oily skin, consider switching to a lighter moisturiser and seeing if things improve.

Skin feeling tight and dry?

Check the alcohol content of your products (toner is particularly bad for this one!) Sulfates found in foaming cleansers can also strip moisture from your skin. Swap for products that aren’t based around these ingredients and you’ll more than likely notice a difference.

Skin feeling irritated?

If a product is irritating your skin you shouldn’t use it – end of. Often the ingredients found in products are the source of this irritation so check out the ingredients in your skincare products and if there’s a common denominator – get rid!

Step 2: The blot test

Once you’ve checked out your current routine and are sure that it isn’t the culprit, follow these easy steps to learn what your skin type is:

  1. Wash your face using a mild cleanser. After you’ve washed don’t apply any products to your face (this is really important!)
  2. Wait for 2-3 hours.
  3. Get a tissue and lightly blot your forehead. Then, take another tissue and do the same on your cheeks.
    1. Is the tissue from your forehead shiny but the one from your cheeks not? You have combination skin.
    2. Both tissues looking a little greasy? Then you have oily skin!
    3. Both tissues as clean as a whistle? Move on to the next step
  4. Now it’s time to have a good think about how your skin ~feels~. If it’s feeling tight, like it’s pulling towards your chin then you have dry skin.
  5. If it’s not feeling tight and is just going about its day, then you are the envy of pretty much anyone else because you have… normal skin.

These steps should give you a good indication of the skin type you were naturally blessed with. Of course, there is a lot of margin across each skin type – for example skin can be slightly oily, or very oily.

So you can feel completely sure of your skin type, we’ll take a brief look at some of the signs and symptoms that come with each of these four skin types.

Oily skin

Oily skin is characterised by excess oil and large pores. When caused by your skin type, these annoyances always come hand in hand as your skin can’t produce excess oil without your pores getting larger – so if you find that you have excess oil with small pores it won’t be your skin that’s causing it.

People with oily skin are also significantly more prone to breakouts and acne than those with different skin types.

Dry skin

People with dry skin often feel a tightness across their face and notice a sensitivity to some ingredients which others may not. In some cases they may also have rough patches, with cracks and flaking skin.

People with dry skin don’t suffer from breakouts, because their skin doesn’t produce the oil that is needed for them to occur – every cloud. People with dry skin are likely to have symptoms away from the face, particularly on the arms and legs.

Combination skin

Combination skin is the most common one. Perhaps unsurprising when you consider how many different…umm… combinations it can come in. As a general rule, people with combination skin have an oily T-Zone (that’s your forehead, nose and chin) and dry cheeks.

The degree to how oily or dry certain areas of your face are varies from person-to-person. Some people may only experience the oiliness of the T-Zone, without experiencing any dryness on the cheeks, which is why combination skin is defined by areas of oiliness as opposed to areas of dryness.

People with combination skin are often prone to breakouts in the T-Zone area.

Normal skin

Aah normal skin. A distant dream for many people. Those with normal skin tend to exude a radiant glow, have fairly invisible pores and suffer from little to no breakouts. They may suffer with a little oil in the T-Zone in warmer months and a little dryness in winter months, but any issues that are faced are generally caused by external factors.

Each type of skin has its own specific needs and methods of care necessary to keep it looking mighty fresh. Now you know how to recognise different skin types, it’s time to find out how best to care for your skin type.

We’ve put together four ultimate guides to each skin type. In each of these you’ll find little pockets of wisdom on food stuffs that are specifically good for each skin type; some of our favourite homemade, natural remedies, and some lifestyle adjustments that can help with managing your skin type. Just click below to find tips on the relevant skin type:

Keep reading…