You probably know your skin type, at least generally.
You’re dry, oily, or combination.
It used to be that you had to know this first before you went shopping for skin care.
But with today’s minimalist routines and cleaner skincare products, is it still necessary to know your skin type?
What is Skin Type?
Skin types are categories that dermatologists often use to describe a person’s natural skin, including how active the sebaceous (oil) glands are, and how reactive the skin is.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recognizes the following five skin types:
- Normal Skin: Not noticeably dry, oily, or sensitive. Produces enough sebum (skin oil) to keep the skin evenly hydrated without becoming greasy.
- Oily Skin: The skin produces more sebum than it needs. The skin may feel greasy, look shiny, and have large pores that easily clog.
- Dry Skin: The skin produces less sebum than it needs. The skin may feel tight and dry, look dull or ashy, and easily flake, itch, or develop small cracks.
- Combination Skin: Some areas of the skin are dry and some oily. Typically the “T-zone,” which includes the forehead, nose, and chin, is oily, while the cheeks are normal or dry.
- Sensitive Skin: The skin is easily irritated or inflamed, and may react to different products, foods, weather, and other triggers. The skin may burn, sting, or itch after applying products, and may react with bumps, hives, or peeling.
Looking at these descriptions, you are likely to find one that seems most like your skin. The AAD states that understanding your skin type “will help you learn how to take care of your skin and select skin care products that are right for you.”
How to Determine Your Skin Type
If you’re not sure about your skin type, follow these tips to find out:
- Wash your face with a mild, non-stripping cleanser. Make sure it’s not drying or exfoliating.
- Don’t apply anything else.
- Wait for at least 3 hours.
- Using blotting papers or tissue, tear small pieces off and try to stick them onto your forehead, nose, chin, left cheek, right cheek, left jaw, and right jaw.
- In the areas where the paper/tissue doesn’t stick, your skin is dry. If it sticks with only a little oil, your skin is normal. If the paper/tissue sticks and has a lot of oil on it, your skin is oily.
Next, grab a mirror and check your skin up close:
Are your pores visible? Large pores indicate oily skin, while smaller pores are present on dry or normal skin. (If you have a hard time finding your pores, you’re likely dry.)
If you notice larger pores on your nose, forehead, and chin, but smaller pores on your cheeks, you’re combination.
Finally, think back to how your skin usually feels, particularly after three hours of being bare:
- If it feels fine, you have normal skin.
- If it feels tight and itchy, it’s dry.
- If it’s greasy, your skin is oily.
- If it feels greasy in the T-zone and dry on your cheeks, your skin is combination.
- If you see redness, bumps, and itching, your skin may be sensitive.
Caring For Your Skin with Your Skin Type in Mind
For many years, we’ve been told to first, determine our skin type, and then figure out how to care for our skin.
Following that logic, you would use:
- Basic products (gentle cleanser, toner, light moisturizer) for normal skin.
- Hydrating products for dry skin, while avoiding drying cleansers and toners.
- Balancing products for oily skin, while avoiding those that clog pores.
- A little bit of both for combination skin.
- Clean and minimal-ingredient products for sensitive skin, particularly products that contain no fragrances or other harsh ingredients.
Does Your Skin Type Matter?
Though knowing your skin type can give you a general sense of how you need to treat your skin, it can be limiting too. You may feel locked into using only certain skin care products, or feel like you have to have a long and drawn-out skincare routine to properly care for your skin.
But we know more about the skin today than we did decades ago. We know that the environment and climate can influence how skin acts and feels. Whereas you may have oily skin in the summer, you may be more combination in the fall and winter.
We also know that skin type naturally changes with age. Most people find that their skin turns dryer as they get older.
Lifestyle and stress levels matter too. You may have been born with dry skin, but if you’re going through a stressful period, you may find your skin producing more oil and breakouts. Or if you’ve been eating a lot of junk food on the go, your skin may be responding with more hyperpigmentation, redness, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Considering all this, we could say that skin type doesn’t really matter. It’s more about how your skin is acting and feeling at this stage of your life, where you are right now. If you get locked into a certain routine because of your “skin type,” you may be missing out on some changes that could help improve the health and appearance of your skin.
The Answer: Listen to What Your Skin Needs Now
The answer is to know your skin type, but be willing to be flexible based on what your skin needs.
If your oily skin now feels tight and dry, ditch the oily-skin products and go for something more hydrating. If your normal skin suddenly starts to react to your usual products, realize that you may have developed an allergy and you need to choose a clean line of products instead.
Noticing more fine lines and wrinkles? Seek out moisturizing products that will help skin look more youthful.
Struggling with acne breakouts? Use a clarifying cleanser, but don’t skip your moisturizer. Use one that will not clog your pores—our Rescue + Relief Spray and Calming Moisture can help!
And if you’re just not sure which way to go, try our simple line of four multipurpose CV Skinlabs products. They’re made for all skin types to nourish, restore balance and radiance, and to maintain good skin health.
Our solution-based formulas address a multitude of concerns, as they are intended to help tame inflammation, heal, repair, and protect the skin. They’re 100 percent free of any harsh chemicals or ingredients related to allergic reactions and contain non-comedogenic natural oils, vitamins, and extracts that give the skin what it needs to look its best.
Do you think your skin type matters in how you care for your skin?