How To Identify Your Skin Type

How To Identify Your Skin Type


Do you actually know what is your skin type? Knowing the answer to this question is an important first step in discovering the most effective way to take care of your skin. It may feel like a complex and often confusing quest to find the answer, but let me assure you that it is absolutely worth taking the time to find out because while all skin types benefit from using products like cleansers and moisturizers, the ones you use will depend on your skin type. Fret not, here we have a quick guide to help you identify your skin type, so that you can give it the appropriate love and care.

Speaking of skin types, did you know that these labels were coined in the early 1900s by a cosmetics entrepreneur, Helena Rubinstein? She said that there were four fundamental types of skin: dry, oily, combination and sensitive. Ever since then, the cosmetics industry has used this very same categorization with little to almost no modifications, to this date.

Methods to Determine Skin Type

There are two simple ways to determine your skin type at home without having to go to a dermatologist.

#1 The wash test

For this test, wash your face with a mild cleanser and do not apply any skincare products on your face afterwards. Wait 30 minutes before examining your skin.

What does it look like? If your skin looks shiny around your cheeks and t-zone, you most likely have oily skin. If your skin feels tight and looks flaky around certain areas, you most likely have dry skin. Or if your T-zone is shiny but the rest of your face is mostly matte looking, then you probably have combination skin. If you feel your skin itching and looking reddish, then you probably have sensitive skin.

#2 The blotting test

Another method to determine your skin type at home is to use a clean oil blotting sheet on different parts of your face. Once you’ve done that, hold up the sheet against a light to see how much oil has been absorbed.

If the blotting sheet has absorbed a lot of oil, then you are most likely an oily skin type. Conversely, the same applies for dry skin. If there is very little oil absorbed, then you’re likely to be a dry skin type. This method may be a little trickier to identify combination skin using one sheet throughout, so alternatively you can use two different blotting sheets, one for the cheeks and another for the T-zone.

However, if you’ve done any one of these tests and found that you have minimal oil, flakiness or redness on your skin, then hurrah! You’re probably one of the rare few unicorns with a normal skin type! Having a normal skin type feels almost like you’ve won the lottery, but it doesn’t mean that you can kick back, relax and stop following your skincare routines.

This is because your skin type can change over the years. It’s never set in stone. Think of your skin type as your own personality. If you’re an introvert, most of the time you would prefer to stay at home and read a good book but there would also be rare occasions where you would like to attend a big house party. Your skin can be like that too. But usually changes in a person’s skin type is due to age, hormones or the environment.

How To Care For Your Skin Type

Oily Skin

All of us have sebaceous glands that produces natural oils (sebum) to help keep our skin hydrated and healthy. But for people with oily skin, their sebaceous glands produce too much oil, thus giving the skin that unwanted shine. Without proper care, excess oil can lead to clogged pores and blemishes. There are many causes of oily skin, and these range from genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

Tips for oily skin

  • Moisturize regularly – People with oily skin often skip out on moisturizing because they think that the moisturizer will make their skin look even greasier. That’s absolutely not true. In fact, those with oily skin should ALWAYS moisturize otherwise their skin will overcompensate and produce even more sebum to keep the skin hydrated. Instead, opt for lighter, oil-free moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated and the sebum production at bay.
  • Use an oil-based cleanser – It may sound counterintuitive but trust us when we say that using an oil-based cleanser would be best for those with oily skin types. This is because like attracts like, meaning to say that the oils in the oil cleanser will be better at attracting the oils out of your pores, thus making it easier to be washed away.
  • Wash twice daily – While some people can get away with washing their faces once a day, those with oily skin should make it a point to wash their faces twice daily, once in the morning and another time at night before bed. Washing twice daily can help remove any excess dirt and bacteria that may clog your pores. However, don’t overwash! Overwashing removes the necessary oils from your skin and may result in sensitive skin and an overproduction of sebum.
Dry Skin

Much like how oily skin is caused by an overproduction of sebum, dry skin is caused by an underproduction of sebum by the sebaceous glands. While drinking more water and staying hydrated can help with dry skin, sometimes a more topical approach may be the solution. Possible causes of dry skin can again be attributed to genetics, environmental factors or even lifestyle factors.

Tips for dry skin

  • Avoid hot water – While a scalding hot shower after a particularly long day at work may feel nothing short of amazing, that hot water is not good for your skin. This is because hot water strips your skin of the already scarce natural oils, and you need that layer of natural oils to help trap moisture. If you must take a shower, use warm water instead of hot water, and try to spend no longer than 10 minutes in the shower.
  • Invest in a humidifier – Often times dry skin is caused by the environment. Whether it’s  spending a lot of time in an air-conditioned room, or if you live in a cold country, the lack of moisture in the air could be aggravating your dry skin. Considering investing in a good humidifier, as it can replace the moisture in the air, and help retain your skin’s natural moisture.
  • Carry a facial mist around – While there have been conflicting accounts on whether a facial mist helps hydrate your skin or if it actually dries out your skin even more, dermatologists weigh in and say that choosing the right facial mist is what matters. For those with dry skin, avoid choosing products containing tea tree oil and citrus as it can make the skin drier. Instead, opt for those with hyaluronic acid and rose extracts, as they are hydrating and anti-inflammatory.
  • Moisturize!! – This may seem like a no brainer for those with dry skin, but do apply your moisturizer immediately after washing your face while the skin is still damp as it will be able to absorb the moisture better. Opt for richer moisturizers such as those that contain shea butter, ceramides, stearic acid or glycerin.
Combination skin

If your T-zone is oily but your cheeks are dry, then chances are you have combination skin. Caring for combination skin can be a little tricky, since different parts of your face have different needs. Nonetheless, we have a few tips for how to care for your combination skin. Sometimes, combination skin can be caused by genetics or harsh products.

Tips for combination skin

  • Switch up your products – As different parts of your skin have different tendencies, you might need to switch between products, alternating days or morning and night, to keep your skin healthy and happy. Some products that work on dry skin may be harsh on oily skin. Try using one product on your T-zone and another on your cheeks. Basically, apply appropriate products on targeted zones only.
  • Treat Your Skin to a Multi-mask – Apparently applying a mask is a great way to take care of combination skin. Multi-masking means applying different face masks to different areas of your face to treat different issues at the same time. Try applying a clay face mask along the T-zone and a soothing face mask to hydrate your cheeks.
Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin doesn’t actually follow the sebum criteria mentioned for the earlier skin types, but instead it is characterised by visible signs of redness and a feeling of tightness on the skin after applying products. Sensitive skin can be caused by internal or external factors. Internal factors leading to sensitive skin include hormonal changes, stress, and lack of sleep; meanwhile, external factors that can cause sensitive skin is excessively cold weather or a polluted environment.

Tips for sensitive skin

  • Do a patch test – Before applying any skincare products on your face, apply a small amount of the product on your hand first and wait for 24 hours before assessing if there are any adverse effects. If your skin doesn’t react to it, then you know it’s safe to apply on your face.
  • Avoid sulphates and parabens – Sulphates and parabens have been in skincare products for a while now but it wasn’t until recently that we found out that these ingredients are actually harmful for your skin. Parabens increase skin photosensitivity while sulphates can cause acne.
  • Choose fragrance-free products – Skincare companies usually hide their fragrances behind “masking ingredients” to prevent others from stealing their fragrance formula. What this means is that you essentially don’t know what those skincare products contain and what you are applying to your skin. So to be on the safe side, avoid using products with fragrance to prevent sensitive skin.

The Bottom Line

Different skin types require different skincare routines. Identifying your skin type isn’t as difficult as it looks. Your skin type can also change over the years, so be aware and change your skincare routine accordingly should the need arise.

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