What's my skin type? 

If you’ve ever taken a walk through a drugstore aisle, you know that there’s no shortage of options when it comes to skincare. And while it might seem overwhelming when deciding which products to choose, taking the time to properly understand your skin type is an important step in the right direction. 

Knowing your skin won’t just narrow down your search, but it’ll help you choose the products that will be most effective in helping you achieve your skincare goals. While everyone’s skin is unique, there are five categories that we all fall under: oily, normal, combination, dry and sensitive. This post dives into each of these categories and offers a few tips on catering your routine towards your particular skin type. 

Just like its namesake suggests, oily skin tends to produce excess sebum or oil, giving your face a shiny, greasy appearance, while also making you more prone to enlarged pores and breakouts. While oily skin may prevent your makeup and products from staying on as well as you’d like, it will be less likely to dry out and wrinkle as you age. Stress, hormonal imbalances such as puberty, and humidity can make oily skin worse.

Skincare tips: While it might feel instinctual to want to wash off the excess oil, over-washing will only ramp up oil production. Look for products that are gentle, non-alcohol based, and non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores), refrain from squeezing pimples, and exfoliate 2-3x weekly to remove dead skin cells. 

Dry skin is characterized by its lack of sebum/oil. This skin type is prone to flakiness, itchiness, and cracking and is more susceptible to wrinkles and fine lines. Dehydrated skin is actually an entirely separate issue. It stems from the skin not retaining enough moisture and can affect all skin types, although it might present itself differently with each. For some, skin might have a tight, papery appearance, while others might notice a ramped-up oil production. Both dry and dehydrated skin can be influenced by environmental and lifestyle factors, such as climate, temperature, humidity, UV exposure, environmental pollutants, poor nutrition, and aging. 

Skincare Tips: For dry skin, you’ll want to invest in a gentle cleanser, fragrance-free products, and a rich moisturizer. You may also want to consider using a humidifier in your home and opting for shorter showers and baths. For dehydrated skin, opt for water-based skincare products over oil based. Also, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.  

The goldilocks of skin types, normal skin is just right - not too dry nor oily. Normal skin tends not to be too sensitive to new products, has minimal flakiness and breakouts, and barely visible pores. 

Skincare tips: Your skin can tolerate most products, but it’s still essential to keep a gentle cleanser, hydrating moisturizer, and sunscreen in your daily skincare rotation. 

With combination skin, your skin has a tendency to be oily in some areas and drier in others. In a lot of cases, this tends to mean your face is more oily around the t-zone and drier around the cheeks, but everyone’s skin is different. Combination skin is more prone to enlarged pores and breakouts as well as dryness and flakiness.

Skincare tips: Look for skincare products made for all skin types. These tend to help balance without drying out skin or causing excess oil. Just like you would with dry or oily skin, steer clear of alcohol-based products

While sensitive skin presents itself differently from person to person, it tends to show signs of redness, itching, burning, and dryness. Negative reactions to products and fragrances are common, as well as a higher tendency to experience irritation, rashes, and bumps. 

Skincare tips:  This skin type should be extra mindful when choosing products, opting for those that are alcohol-free, paraben-free and fragrance-free. When introducing new products to your routine, do so one at a time and test on your inner arm to determine how your face will react. 

Wondering what skin type you have? Wash your skin with a mild cleanser and gently pat dry. Do not apply any other product. Wait 30 minutes or more then examine different areas of your face. Does your skin feel tight and dry? Is there already a sheen? Or is there a combination of both? If you’re still not quite sure, check in with a skincare professional to help better guide you.