From a nourishing cleanser to a re-plumping serum and the perfect sunscreen, building an effective skin care routine can help to transform your skin for the better. But if you want to see results – as in minimized fine lines, blemishes, dark spots and more – you need to know your skin type.
While all skin is made up of the same biological components, internal levels of hydration and oil vary from person-to-person. Some of us are gifted both in equal measure, while others have a little more of one and less of the other. Whatever the distribution, it impacts what the skin barrier looks and feels like. With the aim of bringing balance to the skin, choosing the right products for your skin type is key to giving your complexion exactly what it needs.
So, how exactly do you determine your skin type? It’s actually very easy! Follow these three steps:
Start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser, like a cream formula. Avoid using anything that could be overly drying, like a clay cleanser, or one that contains exfoliating ingredients, such as glycolic acid. An oil cleanser should also sit this one out.
After cleansing, gently pat your face dry and let skin settle for 1 hour. Don’t apply a serum or moisturizer, just let your bare face rest for 60 minutes.
When one hour is up, get a mirror and inspect the state of your skin. Observe how it looks and feels overall, while also noting specific areas such as the T-Zone (which runs across the forehead and down the middle of the face) and the cheeks.
Taking note of how your skin looks and feels, find your match in one of the following descriptions to learn more about your skin type and how to treat it right.
Does your skin look like it has a slight sheen, or feel like it has a slick finish to it?
If yes, you have oily skin. Oil, also called sebum, is naturally present in all skin types, but an oily skin type will produce excess sebum which leads to a shiny appearance and/or greasy feel. Oily skin often has congested pores, which makes them appear larger, as well as blackheads. It can also be acne-prone because sebum has a thick, sticky consistency that can build up in a pore and become trapped along with dead skin cells which create a pimple. The best products for oily and acne-prone skin contain the BHA ingredient salicylic acid which will help to regulate sebum production, as well as breaks down sebum to remove congestion and reduce inflammation. AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) are also trusted workhorses. Glycolic acid, for example, is highly capable at regulating sebum production
Does your skin feel tight or rough and/or are there are any flaky patches present?
If yes, you have dry skin. Dry skin naturally lacks moisture, and the ability to retain it. Both aspects are important! You not only want (and need) adequate moisture deep within your skin, but you want skin to be able to hold onto it on the surface, so your skin barrier looks and feels hydrated for as long as possible. Seek out products designed for dry skin that understand the assignment. Layering textures from lightest to thickest (try: serum, gel, cream), and incorporating the ingredient hyaluronic acid into a routine will work to nourish and replenish the epidermis with long-lasting hydration.
Does your skin feel inflamed, itchy and/or does it display redness?
If yes, you have sensitive skin. Ranging from mild; slight reactivity that occurs by simply washing or touching your face, to more severe; such as an eczema flare up, sensitive skin tends to also be on the dry side. But not always, you can have an oily-sensitive complexion. Either way, the main objective here is to keep skin calm and comforted. Choose a skin care routine that includes with soothing ingredients rich in fatty acids, such as shea butter or squalane, and humectants, like glycerin, to reinforce the skin barrier. Remember to practice daily UV protection with a mineral sunscreen to help minimize inflammation caused by free radical damage.
Does your skin feel a little slick in some areas, but dry or dehydrated in others?
If yes, you have combination skin. This commonly includes oily skin showing up through the T-Zone (since there are more sebaceous glands in that part of the face) with dry or normal skin present on the cheeks. A skin care routine that marries gentle exfoliation with lightweight hydration is the best approach to treating combination skin. Look for a weekly treatment that contains lactic acid. It’s the gentlest AHA thanks to a larger molecule size and can help to decongest pores and slough away dead skin cells. To balance moisture levels, pair it with squalane – an emollient that mimics our own natural oils and never feels heavy.
Does your skin feel totally fine, i.e., your face skin appears to have no or very minimal shine, dry patches or redness?
If yes, you have normal skin. With moisture and oil levels in equilibrium, the best advice for those with normal skin is to focus on preventative measures. A routine anchored by antioxidant ingredients will help to protect skin from environmental stress that can contribute to sagging, fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots. Using Vitamin C in the morning and retinol (aka Vitamin A) at night, along with gentle cleansing, daily sun protection, and lightweight hydration will maintain skin barrier health.
Understanding what you’re working with makes you better informed about the needs of your skin and will lead you to the powerhouse ingredients and hardworking formulas that can get the job done, whatever the task may be.satisfy your skin