Misunderstanding your skin type has real, visible results. For example using cleansers and exfoliating scrubs that are too harsh, even if they are recommended for excessive oiliness, may send the signal to your skin that more oil is actually needed. Conversely, applying a face moisturizer that is too thick or heavy can result in decreased natural oil production, resulting in even drier skin. Taking the time to learn your skin’s specific needs will help you to choose the right options that will balance skin resulting in a healthier, more radiant complexion.
“Wondering how to know your skin type and why it’s so vital? The most important step in caring for your skin comes in understanding your specific skin type and how it adapts to certain circumstances or seasonality. “
THE BLOTTING SHEET METHOD
This method is much faster and often an excellent differentiator between oily and dry skin types. Gently pat a blotting paper on the different areas of your face. Hold the sheet up to the light to determine how much oil is visible. If the sheet picked up little to no oil, you most likely have dry skin. If the blotting sheet reveals oil from the forehead and nose areas, your skin is combination. Finally, if the blotting paper is saturated with oil, it is extremely likely that you have oily skin.
Take the below quiz to properly determine, once and for all, exactly what your skin type is. It’s the best way to kick off a fresh new skincare routine that’s tailor made for your skin’s unique strengths and weaknesses.
QUIZ: What is My Skin Type?
1. When I wake up in the morning, my skin feels:
A. Dry and tight
B. Oily already
C. Oily in spots and dry in others
2. By noon, my skin looks:
A. Even drier than before I put moisturizer on
B. My foundation performed a disappearing act
C. Oily in spots
D. Flushed and splotchy
3. I can’t go to bed without first:
A. Lathering on a rich night cream or oil
B. Using a clarifying cleanser
D. Removing my makeup
4. My skin care MVP is my:
A. Coconut oil
B. Oil blotter
C. Facial brush
5. My biggest concern is:
A. Patches of flaky skin
B. It’s a tie between shiny skin and large pores
C. Just the large pores
D. The fact that anything new triggers a breakout — no matter how mild a product is
6. The makeup I use on the daily:
A. Cream foundation
B. Long-wear foundation
C. Mattifying foundation
D. Paraben- and sulfate-free products
Mostly A’s: Dry Skin
Dry skin can feel tight throughout the day and may experience noticeable flaking. Dry skin is largely due to genetics, environmental factors such as lifestyle & diet, hormonal changes, and climate. Dehydration is also a leading cause of dry skin, so drinking plenty of water and avoiding diuretics like alcohol and caffeine can make a significant difference in how your skin feels and looks.
How to best care for dry skin? Daily exfoliation with gentle, non-abrasive ingredients helps promote skin cell turnover without removing skin’s natural oils. Without an additional layer of dead skin, serums and treatments will be absorbed more easily.
The best moisturizers for dry skin are those containing hyaluronic acid (often listed as sodium hyaluronate in ingredients) and glycerin. Also, and marine actives, like algae, are wonderful because of their ability to attract water and deliver it directly to skin cells. Additionally, emollients, including squalane and camellia oil, help smooth and hydrate your skin evenly and effectively.
Mostly B’s: Oily Skin
Excess oil can oftentimes leave pores congested and clogged. The happy news however is that oily skin looks younger and more supple because it has more natural moisture and is less prone to fine lines.
Oily skin can feel overwhelming, but here are a few tricks to keep the face looking healthy and happy. Daily enzymatic exfoliation is essential to promote cell turnover and prevent sebum buildup in pores. A gentle physical exfoliator (that does not use abrasives such as crushed nuts or seeds that can cause tiny tears in the dermis) is also useful for balancing the tone and texture of your skin.
Oilier skin is also prone to PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), a condition which leaves dark spots on the skin after a breakout has healed. Exfoliation will also help lighten these dark spots by polishing away the uppermost layers of skin and revealing new cells. Those with moderate to severe acneic breakouts should consider using an exfoliator that includes anti-bacterial ingredients to speed healing and prevent future blemishes. And don’t forget the moisturizer! You may feel tempted to skip a moisturizer altogether, but hydrating (albeit with lightweight products) is just as important for oily skin as it is for dry skin.
Mostly C’s: Combination Skin
People with combination skin often experience dryness on the cheeks, making it important to find a moisturizer that is not too heavy but also substantial enough to retain moisture where needed most. Those with combination skin are not prone to breakouts on their cheeks, and tend to have a well-moisturized t-zone (which includes the forehead, chin, and nose).
Caring for combination skin can feel tricky – but it’s quite simple. Gentle, daily exfoliation is also important to keep the t-zone and cheek areas balances. For hydration, moisturizers with a gel-like texture are absorbed more quickly and less likely to clog pores and cause breakouts. Start with a small amount and increase as needed to avoid over-moisturizing and stressing the skin.
Mostly D’s: Sensitive Skin
Many people can have either dry, oily, or combination skin – and sensitive skin. Managing sensitive skin can be challenging, as it takes considerable time and effort to determine which ingredients cause inflammation and irritation. To make this process easier, introduce only one new formula or product at a time. This rule applies to both skincare and cosmetics. Patch testing a new formula on your inner forearm is an excellent way to minimize potential reactions on the face. If your skin shows no sign of flaring up, apply the formula to the area behind one of your ears before using it on your face.
Also, look for labels that identify formulas as non-irritating and non-sensitizing and free of parabens, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, sulfate detergents, phthalates, urea, DEA or TEA, as these ingredients can result in redness and itchiness. Does this sound like your skin?
Our skin’s needs can change over time, and taking steps to best identify its needs is essential for it to function and look its best. Keeping the health of your skin in mind and “checking in” regularly to determine whether any adjustments to your current ritual are needed will keep it balanced and beautiful.