How to Determine Your Skin Type

Sara Howell

Posted on January 16 2020

One of the first things you should ask yourself before investing in a new skincare elixir is: “What’s my skin type?” Knowing this will help you choose products that will mesh with your skin—instead of making things worse. Here’s an extreme example: if you use a serum formulated for super-oily, blemish-prone skin but you have sensitive and dry skin, the result would be an itchy, flaky disaster.

Although most people aren’t restricted to just a single category, it’s helpful to know what type your skin generally falls into. Read on to learn more.

What skin type do you have?

As you determine your skin type, first think of the main concerns you have—the recurring, ever-present issues. Is it on the oilier side or is it often very dry? Is it ultra-sensitive and easily gets itchy or red? Does it break out on most days or weeks? Consider that and see if you fit into any of the four basic skin types: 

Your skin is always changing and adapting

Keep in mind you may not always have the same skin concerns. You may have one skin type during adolescence and another as an adult; one type in the summer and another in the winter. Skin type, and the concerns that go along with it, can be influenced by many different factors, including:

  • Climate – Excess humidity can cause acne when extra moisture in the air causes pores to open, allowing dirt and other impurities in. The result is clogged pores. On the flipside, in areas with low temperatures and dry air, skin can become overly dry and may start to crack, flake and peel.
  • Diet – There is evidence that foods rich in carbohydrates can make acne worse, for instance.
  • Age – As skin matures, it has a harder time retaining moisture and can become more prone to roughness and dryness.
  • Hormones – When the body produces too much of a hormone called androgens, it can lead to acne breakouts due to an increase in sebum production. This is common during puberty. Pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives can also cause an increase in sebum production, leading to acne.
  • Stress – Emotional stress and anxiety can worsen acne and can even cause pruritus (itchy skin).

In addition to your skin type changing, you may also have a combination of two or more different skin types at any given point in your life! Some people have oily skin that’s also very sensitive. Others have dry skin that also breaks out easily. It’s clear that your skin is as unique as you are.

Let’s take a closer look at the four main skin types and what you can do about the skin concerns that go with them.

Combination Skin

If your skin is oily in some places, like in your T-zone (forehead, nose and chin area), and too dry in others (like on your cheeks), then you probably have combination skin. It can seem like a never-ending battle trying to keep that oil at bay without making your skin dry. The trick is to address both issues, but gently.

The best products for combination skin will help control oil and shine without being overly drying. They’ll contain ingredients like tea tree oil and salicylic acid along with hydrating and balancing ingredients like botanical oils. Try Citrus Balancing Toner, Chia Seed & Passion Fruit Cleansing Oil and About Face Combination Skin Kit.

Sensitive Skin

If you usually need to be extra cautious about what you put on your skin because it often becomes itchy, red, irritated or breaks out in a rash, you may have sensitive skin. Sometimes, general dryness can also be a sign of sensitive skin.

The best products for sensitive skin will contain non-irritating, soothing ingredients that are free of alcohol and synthetic colors and fragrances. Try these gentle and soothing favorites: Ultra mild face wash, Cucumber milk facial cleanser and Bulgarian rose phytonutrient elixir.

Oily / Acne-prone Skin

If your skin is acne-prone, it probably breaks out frequently with pimples or blackheads and may look shiny or greasy.  

The best products for oily and acne-prone skin will have skin clarifying and pH-balancing ingredients, as well as those that soothe irritation and help fight breakouts. Some ingredients to look for are salicylic acid or witch hazel for blemishes and calming ingredients like aloe and chamomile. Here are a few products with these ingredients: Blemish control cleansing gel,  Shine control face lotion and Advanced blemish control serum.

Dry / Mature Skin

As the skin matures, it often becomes drier and may start to develop fine lines or wrinkles. Alternatively, you can simply have dry skin, to begin with—even in your 20s, 30s or 40s. The best products for dry or maturing skin will contain soothing, moisture-rich ingredients like almond oil and hyaluronate, as well as protective ingredients like vitamins C and E. For quenching thirst, wrinkle-prone skin, try Honey moisture mask with propolis extract, Moisture magnet, and Swiss apple wrinkle remedy.

Once you’ve determined what type of skin you have, you’ll be one step closer to finding just the right products for you. And you’ll be one step closer to keeping your skin looking and feeling it's very best. So, let the exploring begin!

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