How to Determine Your Skin Type

Do you have normal, oily, dry, or combination skin? Learn how to know. Then choose the right makeup, lotions, sunscreens, and cleansers for your type.

Skin Types: What Complexion Do You Have?

Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our skin, but it’s actually a vital organ that needs to be taken care of appropriately. One way to do so, is to care for your skin’s individual needs. Although every person’s skin is uniquely their own, they can generally be categorized under some basic groups. The first fundamental step toward knowing the correct way to treat your skin is to know under which basic category your skin type falls.

Here are some ways to understand what skin type you are so that you know which products to choose for the best results, and the healthiest possible skin.

Do i have dry skin?

If you have severely dry skin, you probably already know. You have problems with itching, flakiness, and chapping, and your foundation ends up getting cakey and flaky within hours of putting it on. However, if your dry skin isn’t severe, you may not be aware that you fall under this category.

Some subtle signs that your skin type might be dry can be identified in several ways. First, try washing your face with a gentle cleanser, and patting dry. Do not apply any products. Wait twenty to thirty minutes and then check your face for tightness. Does it feel like it’s pulling tight when you smile or raise your eyebrows? If so, you probably have dry skin.

Another identification method involves blotting. After washing your face and letting it dry completely, you can use a blotting-pad, or a piece of tissue paper and lightly pat your face. Then hold the tissue paper up to the light. If you see no oil, or very little, your face is probably dry.

Dry skin does not produce the amount of sebum that it needs to retain the necessary moisture for a protective barrier.

To care for dry skin, you should gently exfoliate daily to rid your face of dead skin cells and then moisturize. Removing the layer of dead skin will help your skin to better absorb your moisturizing products. Avoid alcohol-based products and harsh astringents. Drink plenty of water to help keep skin hydrated.

Do I have an Oily skin complexion?

If your skin has extremely excessive sebum production, you probably already know. You may have struggled with acne, and you probably never go anywhere without a powder compact. Your skin always looks dewy, and your makeup may slide away from where you put it. But if your oily skin is more subtle you might not be aware that your skin needs special treatment.

To determine if your skin is oily, wash your face with a mild cleanser and pat gently dry. Wait about thirty minutes and then examine your face in the mirror. Does it look shiny? If you have shine not only on your nose and forehead but also your cheeks, you probably have oily skin.

You can also try the blotting test with a thin tissue paper. Blot your skin after it has dried, and hold the tissue up to the light. If you see excessive oil, you have oily skin.

To care for oily skin, use mild soap and oil-free moisturizers. Use a daily toner and a weekly astringent. Do not over-wash your face, as that can cause your skin to produce more oil in response.

The bright side of having oily skin is that you will wrinkle less, and retain a dewy, youthful look longer than your dry-skinned friends!

Do I have a Normal skin complexion?

If you try the blot test and only find a little oil on your nose and over your eyebrows, you probably have normal skin. You are lucky enough to be able to use most products without sensitivities, your makeup stays where you put it. You aren’t excessively shiny and can choose to powder, or not powder. Your skin doesn’t feel tight or itchy and doesn’t flake or cake. Lucky you!

Do I have "combination" skin?

Combination skin can be tricky. If you are this skin type, you might find that while your cheeks feel dry and tight after washing, your T-zone (nose and above the brows) are shiny and oily, and may have enlarged pores.

To care for combination skin, avoid alcohol-based products and harsh astringents just like those with oily skin. Instead, use a gel-based moisturizer that is quickly absorbed where needed, but not too heavy for places that need less moisture. You can also spot-treat your problem areas with products specific for that area.

What causes the different skin types?

Your skin type is usually predetermined by genetics, but your environment can contribute, for instance, if you live in a dry or humid area, your skin issues could be improved or worsened by environmental factors.

It’s important to know your skin type so that you can choose the best options in products specifically for you.

Resources— DermStore, Tatcha, Eucerin