Walking into the health and beauty section of your local drugstore can be an overwhelming experience: the amount of beauty products on the shelves is staggering. Today’s market is saturated with all sorts of skin care products for every condition, season, and demographic.
In order to zero in on what products are right for you, you need to know what type of skin you have – once you know that, those aisles become a lot less intimidating, and a lot easier to navigate! What’s more, you’ll be able to pick products that work with, not against, your skin, helping you achieve bright, beautiful, healthy skin, and avoid skin blemishes and irritations.
Products are normally targeted according to 5 categories of skin types: normal, combination, oily, dry, and sensitive. You will also often see products aimed at mature skin types – these are generally richer, thicker formulations of “normal” skin products, with added moisturizing ingredients. Your skin could very likely be a combination of these different types – particularly as our skin changes according to other changes in our lives, including diet, stress levels, weather conditions and use of cosmetics. Products will often be suited for a range of skin conditions, with labels such as “for normal to combination skin”, or for “combination to dry skin”.
- Normal Skin: This is skin that is relatively uncomplicated and for the most part, presents little or no problems. If your skin is generally smooth, not easily irritated, generally acne-free or prone to minimal breakouts, and if you don’t find it particularly dry OR oily, then you would fall under this “normal skin” category. Your skin is already mostly balanced, meaning that the production of sebum from the sweat glands is relatively even – your skin is not secreting too much (oily) or too little (dry).
- Routine: Keep your routine clean and simple – don’t mess too much with a good thing! Cleanse with a mild cleanser, and follow with a light moisturizer. Pay attention to your skin: if you notice increased oiliness or dry patches, alter your routine accordingly, either decreasing or increasing the amount of moisturizer you use, or how often you use it.
- Combination Skin: Combination skin is “normal” skin, but with “problem areas” – certain areas of the face that tend to be either oilier or drier than the rest of the face. These areas include the T-shape (forehead, between your eyebrows and down your nose); under the eyes; around the nostrils; and around the corners of the mouth.
- Routine: Pay greater attention to these problem areas according to the issue, i.e. oily vs. dry. If oily, cleanse regularly and avoid using too much moisturizer or makeup on those areas. If dry, use a gentle cleanser that won’t strip the natural oils, and moisturize more frequently – particularly in dry and cold weather.
- Oily Skin: If your pores secrete a high amount of sebum, the result will be an oily skin type. Excess oil can give the skin a sheen and result in acne. The most affected or noticeable areas of the oily skin type are the forehead and the noise. Skin that is oiler tends to look younger than dry skin types; however, the pores are easily clogged leading to breakouts.
- Routine: Regularly clean your face with a medium to strong cleanser, one aimed for oily skin. Avoid using rich moisturizers – if you need one at all, pick a very light, thin cream. Clean your face at least twice a day: morning and evening. If you find it is particularly bad, try cleaning wipes that you can carry with you as you go about your day. A quick swipe or two will help combat the accumulation of oil.
- Dry Skin: If you often have dry patches, or if skin flakes off easily from the forehead, nose and chin in particular, then you have dry skin. Dry skin is caused by a lack of sebum produced by the facial oil glands.
- Routine: Choose a very gentle cleanser as a daily cleanser. Once a week, use a gentle exfoliating cleanser to help slough off the dead skin – however, pay attention to your skin. If you notice redness or skin irritation, the exfoliating cleanser may be too harsh for your skin. Consider adding a serum to your daily routine, or at least every second day – these products have higher concentrations of oil. Finally, try using a toner before your moisturizer: the toner helps hydrate your face, and will allow greater absorption of your moisturizer. Choose a moisturizer that is thick and rich.
- Sensitive Skin: Sensitive skin is a type that is easily irritated. While some of us just have naturally delicate skin, skin can also become sensitive due to exposure to certain environmental conditions. Cosmetics which use artificial colours, fragrances and synthetic materials can also bring on skin allergies and sensitivities. Sensitive skin will often feel itchy and look raw and red. It can also be prone to acne.
- Routine: Be very aware of what ingredients are in your products – you may have a sensitivity to a common ingredient in particular. Use very gentle products, with minimal ingredient lists. Stay away from rough exfoliating products, heavy creams, and products that have fragrances. Try more natural skin care products that have less synthetic ingredients, and that are less likely to provoke a reaction.
In all likelihood, your skin will be a bit of all these types, according to your location, the weather, and your mood. However, try and distinguish which type your skin mostly falls under – knowing your skin type will help you find the appropriate products for you on the shelves.