Whether it's flaky skin, enlarged pores, acne or blotchy skin, most of us have something about our skin we'd love to change. And while there is little we can do to change our skin type, there are ways to manage our most bothersome skin problems so our skin always looks its best. When determining what skin care regimen is best suited for you, your first step is knowing how to determine skin type. Understand however, that it takes an expert eye to correctly differentiate between skin types. Although you may think you know how to determine skin type and how to design your own skin care regimen, it is best to visit a licensed esthetician or dermatologist for an expert skin analysis.
How to Determine Skin Type
When you visit an esthetician or dermatologist for skin care advice, they will look for certain characteristics in your skin to determine skin type. Generally speaking, there are five different skin types. Here is a breakdown of the different skin types and their primary characteristics:
- Oily Skin – Oily skin is characterized by shiny skin, enlarged pores and a susceptibility to acne breakouts.
- Dry Skin – Dry skin often feels tight after cleansing, is prone to fine lines, flakes easily and develops red patches. Because it lacks moisture, dry skin also tends to feel rough.
- Combination skin – As its name suggests, combination skin types are characterized by a combination of oily and dry skin. Oily skin is most commonly found on the forehead, nose and chin, while dry skin is frequently a problem on the cheeks. Occasional breakouts and larger-than-normal pores on the nose are also frequently found on individuals with combination skin.
- Sensitive Skin – Sensitive skin is characterized by thin, delicate skin and small pores. Sensitive skin is also easily irritated by harsh soaps and medications, reactive to stress and sensitive to changing weather patterns. Rashes, allergic reactions and easily flushed skin are also common in individuals with sensitive skin types.
- Sun-Damaged Skin – Too much time in the sun without proper protection can eventually lead to sun-damaged skin – a problem characterized by tight, leathery skin, fine wrinkles, changes in the skin's pigment, sagging skin tissue and broken capillaries.
Skin Care Tips for Different Skin Types
Now that you know how to determine skin type, you can develop a skin care routine that is customized especially for you. Here are some basic tips to get you started:
- Oily Skin – If you have oily skin, you should cleanse your face morning and night with a gentle, oil-reducing cleanser. When washing your skin, be careful not to use products that are too harsh, as this can stimulate the production of oil in your pores and exacerbate your already oily skin. It's also very important to moisturize the skin after each cleansing – ideally with an oil-free moisturizer. Make sure your daytime moisturizer has SPF protection to shield your skin from sun damage.
- Dry Skin – Protect your skin from overdrying by keeping the water temperature low when washing your face and showering. Because dead skin cells from dry skin can accumulate and cause the skin to look dull, gently exfoliate your skin once or twice a week to remove dead skin and create a healthy glow. Applying a moisturizer after each cleansing is also important for improving the skin's moisture and eliminating rough patches.
- Combination Skin – Because combination skin types have characteristics of both oily and dry skin, it can be a challenge to treat this skin type effectively. For best results, use a gentle cleanser on the skin that is effective at removing excess oil. If clogged pores or acne is a problem, use a toner or a clay mask on just those parts of the skin that need it most. After cleansing the skin, apply a light moisturizer to your entire face.