Skin type is the description and interpretation of how and why your skin looks, feels, and behaves as it does.Often blemish-prone skin is included under the oily or combination skin types, though it is sometimes listed as a skin type all by itself. Occasionally, sensitive skin may be listed as an individual skin type.

Determining Your Skin Type 1

The four most common and relatively helpful skin-type categories used by the cosmetics industry are:

  • Normal (no apparent signs of oily or dry areas)
  • Oily (shine appears all over skin, no dry areas at all)
  • Dry (flaking can appear, no oily areas at all, skin feels tight and may look dull)
  • Combination (oily, typically in the central part of the face, and dry or normal areas elsewhere)

When it comes to determining your skin type you need to forget what you’ve been taught by cosmetics salespeople, aestheticians, fashion magazines, and even some dermatologists.The typical categories of normal, oily, dry, and combination are good basics, but they don’t address every nuance, and they can change and fluctuate with everything from the weather to your stress levels.Different skin types require different product formulations.

Determining Your Skin Type

Even though many skin types often need the same active ingredients such as sunscreen agents, antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and so on, the base they are in (lotion, cream, gel, serum, or liquid) should match the needs of your skin type. Skin type is the single most important factor influencing the decisions we make about the kinds of skin-care routines and products we buy. But we need to be careful about the way we categorize our skin or the very products we thought would help could actually make matters worse.

To effectively evaluate your skin and determine the correct skin-care routine, here are some of the factors that need to be considered:

Internal Influences:

  • Hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause, menstrual cycle, and more all cause skin conditions to fluctuate from oily to breakouts, skin discolorations, and dryness)
  • Skin disorders (rosacea, psoriasis, dermatitis, with each one posing its specific concerns)
  • Genetic predisposition of skin type (oily versus dry, prone to breakouts, sensitive skin)
  • Smoking (cause of necrotic skin that cannot be corrected by skin-care products)
  • Medications you may be taking (some birth-control pills can increase oily skin and breakouts while other types can actually improve the appearance of acne)
  • Diet (there is research showing a diet high in antioxidants and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can improve the appearance of skin)

External Influences:

  • Climate/weather (cold, warm, moist, dry)
  • Your skin-care routine (over-moisturizing or over-exfoliating, using irritating or drying products, using the wrong products for your skin type can create skin problems that weren’t there before)
  • Unprotected or prolonged sun exposure (the major cause of wrinkles and skin discolorations)
  • Secondhand smoke (see above)
  • Pollution (creates additional free-radical activity that damages collagen and the skin’s genetic stability)

These complex and often overlapping circumstances all contribute to what takes place on and in your skin, which in turn determines your skin type.