Knowing your skin type is an incredibly important step in creating the perfect skincare regimen – one that’s tailored to your skin and its needs. Unfortunately, a lot of women go years without knowing their actual skin type, or assuming they have a different type than they actually do. They see their skin exhibit certain characteristics, like oiliness or dehydration, and they assume that’s what their skin type is. But a lot of the time, they’re wrong!
After reading this post, you should have a much better understanding of what actually determines your skin type, plus an easy process for figuring out what your skin type is. In the upcoming posts in this series, we’ll talk about which skincare and makeup products are best suited for each skin type, and how to create a custom skincare routine that caters to your skin type and concerns!
First up, how many skin types are there?
The Six Major Skin Types
Although you’ll hear various numbers depending on who you talk to, I like to go by these six types:
Each of these six types has its own set of unique characteristics, so let’s take a closer look at each one.
#1. Oily Skin
Girls with oily skin will have medium to large sized pores, their face will often get oily or “shiny” throughout the day, and they might find that their makeup wears off quickly.
#2. Dry Skin
Girls with dry skin will have relatively small pores. Their skin will often feel tight (especially if they haven’t applied moisturizer), and it may also be flaky in some areas.
#3. Combination Skin
Girls with combination skin will have areas of their face that are dry, areas that are oily, and/or areas that are normal. This generally appears as oily with larger pores in the T-Zone, and normal to dry skin with smaller pores everywhere else (although that’s not always the case).
#4. Normal Skin
Girls with normal skin don’t tend to get a lot of oiliness or dryness on their face. Their pores are small to medium in size, and their skin generally feels quite balanced.
#5. Sensitive Skin
Girls with sensitive skin will find that their skin is often reactive to external factors. This might include:
• Sun / heat
• Touch or pressure
• Ingredients in products (fragrances, dyes, sulphites, etc.)
Their skin may appear red or irritated a lot of the time, and they might also suffer with eczema, rashes, or allergic reactions (hives, swelling, etc.)
#6. Mature Skin
As you get older, your skin naturally changes; it loses elasticity and plumpness due to a decrease in elastin and collagen in the skin. This leads to the development of fine lines and wrinkles, and may cause parts of the face to appear sunken in or hollow. Brown spots or “age spots” may also be present.
So, which of these six skin types do you have? Let’s find out!
How to Determine Your True Skin Type
For this method, you’ll need to set aside 3-4 hours first thing in the morning. You’ll be going makeup-free during this time, so it might be best to do this on a weekend or on a day when you don’t have anything special planned.
In order to understand how and why this method works, we need to consider the two main factors that are responsible for determining one’s skin type:
1. Pore size – which, in turn, determines oil production
2. Skin reactivity
Okay now that we’ve got that covered, let’s begin!
Step #1. Examine Pore Size
When you wake up in the morning, wash your face with a gentle, non-irritating cleanser (one with no harsh ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or sulphites). Don’t apply a toner, moisturizer, or SPF. Then, let your skin relax into its natural state for a few minutes. This is a good time to eat breakfast, have coffee, brush your teeth, etc.
Next, grab a mirror and have a close look at your pores. Note their size in different areas of your face. Are they large in one area? Tiny in another spot? Medium all over? Be sure to check on your nose, chin, inner cheek, outer cheek, and forehead, and write down what you find.
Also make note of any fine lines, wrinkles, or age spots you see. If these are common characteristics on your skin, and you’re in the 40+ age bracket, you likely have a MATURE skin type.
Step #2. Test Skin’s Reactivity
Next we’re going to test your skin’s reactivity to pressure. To do this, grab a bit of skin on your inner cheek between your thumb and forefinger, and pinch the skin lightly a few times. Note: Does the skin turn red immediately? Does it turn light pink? Does it look essentially the same as the rest of your skin?
Do this pinch-test on your inner cheek, outer cheek, and your forehead, and record what you find. If your skin immediately turns pink or red, and/or you have other skin characteristics like eczema, rashes, hives, rosacea, or sun/heat sensitivity, you likely have a SENSITIVE skin type.
Step #3. Examine Oil Production
Lastly, we’ll be looking at the amount of oil your skin naturally produces. As I mentioned before, this is largely determined by your pore size – the larger the pores, the more oil will be produced. To test your oil production, you need to leave your skin unattended for 3-4 hours. Don’t apply any products to your skin whatsoever, and try not to touch your face during this time.
After the 3-4 hour period is up, head back to the mirror and have another look at your skin. Are there oily patches? Where? Does it feel tight and dry in certain areas (or all over)?
Record what you find, and if you haven’t already fallen into the Sensitive or Mature skin types, compare your results with the information below:
• If your skin isn’t oily, dry, or tight, it feels quite happy and balanced, and you have a small to medium pore size, you have a NORMAL skin type.
• If your skin is oily in many places, and most of your pores are medium to large in size, you have an OILY skin type.
• If your face feels tight, dry, and dehydrated, and your pores are generally quite small and fine, you have a DRY skin type.
• If you’ve found a mix of two or more of the above categories (dry, oily, normal), you have a COMBINATION skin type.
Once you’ve found your result, tell me: Was this the skin type you thought you had all along?
Where People Go Wrong
For years I thought I had an Oily skin type, but it turns out I actually have Sensitive-Combination skin. It was the PRODUCTS I was using – makeup and skincare – that were making my skin appear more oily than it actually was. Who knew!?
This is why it’s so important for you to run these tests without putting any makeup on or using any skincare products beforehand (except the gentle cleanser!) Using those kinds of products can tamper with your results.
NOTE: Sensitive and Mature skin types are a bit different than the other four types, in the sense that they can also exhibit characteristics of one of the other skin types. For example, my type is Sensitive-Combination. Sensitive is the main factor, because my skin is SUPER sensitive, but it also gets oily in my T-zone and is dry/normal everywhere else.
Another example would be someone who has Mature skin with Dry tendencies. This means that they have traits of Mature skin — wrinkles, brown spots, etc. — but their pores are quite small and their face often feels tight and dry.
Us sensitive and mature-skinned gals get to have a whole lot of fun when it comes to building our skincare regimens! Because we have a bunch of concerns to content with, we get to incorporate lots of different products to help balance out our skin (which, being a skincare-geek, I find super fun!)
That’s it for today’s post babes! Stay tuned for the next posts in this series, where we’ll be breaking down what skincare and makeup products you should use depending on your skin type. Until then!