- Skin type determines which products work best
- Skin type is related to the amount of oil produced by the sebaceous glands
- Skin can be dry, oily, normal, combination or sensitive
- Skin type can change with age
- Several tests are available to help determine your skin type
Why Knowing Your Skin Type is Important
It’s important to know your skin type so you can develop a customized care routine that keeps your skin looking its best. For instance, if you’ve got oily skin and buy products designed for use on dry skin, chances are the heavy oils in the products are clogging your skin. If you use water-based moisturizer on dry skin, it’s probably not receiving a proper amount of hydration. It’s also possible for different areas of the skin to have different skin types.
Those with T-zone skin usually have oily skin on their chins, noses, and foreheads, with normal or even slightly dry skin elsewhere on their face. This is because these areas contain more sebaceous glands than other facial skin.
Nearly all adolescents experience some degree of acne due to increased production of sebum caused by hormonal fluctuations. Although breakouts are commonly associated with oily skin, they can occur sporadically in those with other skin types. For instance, hormonal changes that stimulate the sebaceous glands may cause episodic acne in women of childbearing age.
Skin Type Tests
There are tests that can help you figure out which skin type you have. These are the five skin types:
Following are four tests that you can use to help you determine your skin type.
The day test
The simplest way to tell what type of skin you have is to leave it alone for a day. After using a mild cleanser in the morning, pat it dry gently and don’t put on any moisturizer, makeup or other products.
- Oily skin appears shiny and feels slick to the touch
- Combination skin is oily in the T-zone and dry or normal on the rest of the face
- Dry skin feels taut, rough to the touch and may be flaky
- Sensitive skin may be itchy and inflamed, appearing red or blotchy
- Normal skin feels soft, supple with no noticeable oil, dryness or irritation
The wash test
If you don’t have time for the day test, try the wash test for faster results. Leave your face bare for 30 minutes after washing it with a mild cleanser and patting it dry, and examine your skin using the same criteria listed above.
The paper test
After washing your face with a mild cleanser, leave it bare for three hours. Place a piece of blotting paper over various parts of your face to check for oil content. If the paper sticks and you notice patches of oil when you hold the paper up to the light, you’ve got oily skin. If it sticks but doesn’t have any noticeable oily spots, your skin is probably normal, and if it doesn’t stick at all, you likely have dry skin.
Combine skin will produce oily spots on the paper when it’s applied to the T-zone. This test won’t determine if you’ve got sensitive skin.
The pressure test
The pressure test is designed to determine skin’s overall resilience. Simply apply pressure to the skin on your face and watch what happens. If it doesn’t quickly bounce back, it’s probably dry. Normal and oily skin quickly return to normal after pressure is applied.
Keep in mind that environmental factors affect the results of these tests. For instance, you’ll perspire more in higher temperatures, causing your skin to seem oilier than it really is. Always perform these tests in as normal as possible conditions.
Skin Types in Dermatology
You may need to see a dermatologist for certain conditions associated with your skin type, such as when acne blemishes caused by excess oil production get out of control. Prescription-strength topical retinol is an effective treatment for acne in most people.
If you’ve got very dry skin, ask your dermatologist to recommend prescription or over-the-counter products designed to promote optimal hydration.
The 16 Baumann skin types
Developed by Dr. Leslie Baumann in 2004, the Bauman skin type system categorizes skin into 16 unique types. The system establishes 4 parameters used to evaluate skin types:
- Dry vs. oily
- Sensitive vs. resistant
- Pigmented vs. non-pigmented
- Wrinkle-prone vs. tight
The 16 skin types involve various combinations of these conditions for a more detailed skin type analysis.
|1||very light skin that sunburns easily and never tans|
|2||light skin that always sunburns but tans with difficulty|
|3||medium skin that sometimes develops mild sunburns and tans with little difficulty|
|4||light brown skin that rarely sunburns and tans easily|
|5||brown skin that never sunburns and tans easily|
|6||black skin that never sunburns and tans very easily|
Although the Fitzpatrick skin type classification doesn’t determine whether your skin is dry, oily, sensitive, combination or normal, it does determine your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Everyone should limit sun exposure and wear sunscreen as part of their daily routine, those with Type 1 and Type 2 skin are more at risk of sun damage, and their skin may become dry and leathery as time goes by.
How to Care for Your Skin Type
Once you’ve determined your skin type, you can devise an appropriate skin care routine.
Use a gentle cleanser that won’t strip the skin of its natural oils morning and night. If your skin is very dry, skip the morning wash and wipe your face with a clean cloth and water. Apply moisturizer and sunscreen each morning.
Your skin produces oil as you sleep, so use a cleanser designed to cut through the oil when you wash your face in the morning. Pat on a balancing serum and a water-based moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid can stand in for moisturizer if skin is extremely oily. Washing your face in the evening with an oil-based cleanser and then wash it again with your morning cleanser to any oil residue.
Finish your evening routine with an application of witch hazel or a salicylic acid exfoliating product and smooth on an oil-free moisturizer.
Use a mild, non-drying cleanser morning and evening. Apply witch hazel or other another astringent to oily T-zone areas and hyaluronic acid to dry areas, and then apply a water-based moisturizer over the entire face.
Sensitive skin needs a minimal routine that cleanses and hydrates without causing further irritation. Use a cleanser with a milk or cream base both morning and evening, and follow with a moisturizing product containing calming ingredients. Avoid products containing fragrance.
If you’re prone to flare-ups, keep a calming serum on hand to use when these happen.
Normal skin type simply needs to be kept clean and hydrated in order to look and feel its best. Use a gentle cleanser morning and evening and the moisturizing product of your choice.
|Dry skin||Clean without drying and hydrate to keep skin supple||Safflower, sunflower, jojoba and apricot oils, hyaluronic acid, aloe, glycerin and ceramides|
|Oily skin||Clean, tone and hydrate without clogging pores||Salicylic acid, tea tree oil, witch hazel and hyaluronic acid|
|Combination skin||Clean, tone and hydrate according to different needs of the T-zone||Glycerin, witch hazel, salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid|
|Sensitive skin||Clean and hydrate without causing added irritation||Ceramides, green tea, squalane|
|Normal skin||Clean and hydrate to maintain normal condition||Vitamin C serum, products with alpha-hydroxy acid|
To find the best skin care routine for your skin, you need to identify your skin type — and this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Certain tests exist for the purpose of helping you identify which type of skin you have, but be aware that variations occur within each type. For instance, most people with acne have oily skin, but not everyone with oily skin has acne. It’s possible to have dry skin but not extremely dry skin, and skin type changes as we age and can even change with the season. Overexposure to the sun often makes normal skin turn prematurely dry.
The Baumann skin type classification breaks down the standard skin types into 16 unique categories, making it easier to pinpoint an exact type.