Seems like a simple question, isn't it. But do you really know what your true skin type is? Without this knowledge any skin care product you purchase will not only be useless but can also cause havoc within your skin.
Many people confuse actual skin types with skin conditions, and this leads to choosing cosmetic products that aren't suitable for their skin. Unlike skin conditions, skin type is determined by genetics and ethnicity. A person's skin type is based mainly on how much oil is produces in the follicles(pores) from sebaceous(oil) glands and on the amount of lipids found between the cells. However it, just like everything else, can change over time. Generally, our skin becomes drier overtime as our cellular metabolism and oil/lipid production slows down as we age. There are 5 skin types: oily, combination, dry, normal and sensitive. The latter can be both skin type and skin condition. Despite of what you may see in the internet, aging, acne or pigmentation are not skin types, they are skin conditions.
Normal skin has a good oil-water balance. The follicles(pores) are a normal size and this type usually is free of blemishes. The size of pores for this type usually varies from medium at the T-zone (area through the middle of the face that includes chin, nose and forehead) and small around the rest of the face. This type is pretty easy to take care of. Although it may fluctuate and become more dry or oily, depending on the seasonal changes or other factors. The goal for this type of skin is maintenance and preventive care.
This skin type does not produce enough oil. The follicles(pores) in this type are so small that you can barely see them. The texture of the skin can be slightly rough and tight. Since this type lacks sebum(oil) , which helps protects the skin from environmental damage and aging, this type can be more sensitive than others. Dry skin needs extra care and protection. Dry skin can be easily confused with dehydrated skin, which is a skin condition that can be seen with all skin types. Dehydrated skin lacks water, while dry skin lacks oil. Even oily skin can become dehydrated. Dehydrated skin can look thin and flaky and can feel tight and dry.
Combination skin can be both oily and dry (or oily and normal). This skin type is usually characterized by an oilier T-zone with rest of the face being dry or normal. If you take a closer look at this skin type, you can see that the pore size is changing from medium to large just outside of the T-zone at the enter of the face. This skin type is very common and can be very tricky to take care of. It may even require using two different products for the T-zone and rest of the face. The goal with combination skin is to balance the water-oil production within the skin.
Oily skin is characterized by excess oil production. This skin type has visibly larger pores over most of the face. Overproduction of oil usually leads to clogged pores and buildup of dead skin cells, which may lead to blemishes and comedones. While oily skin requires more cleansing and exfoliation, it is important not to over-cleanse it. When skin is stripped of oil the skin becomes unbalanced, and to compensate for dryness on the surface skin might go into "defense mode" and will actually produce more oil.
Sensitive skin may be both a skin type and skin condition. Due to the exposure to environmental pollutants, sun, stress and other factors this skin type is becoming increasingly common. It is characterized by fragile, thin skin and redness. It is easily irritated by skin care products, heat and sun. Oftentimes you may see broken or dilated capillaries being present in this type. Sensitive skin can be also a result of age or use of certain medications. This is the most challenging type to deal with, as it has low tolerance to most products and any kind of stimulation.
Regardless of the skin type, the goal is always to balance oil and water levels in the skin. The choice of cosmetic products and skin care treatments will not only depend on the basic skin type. When analyzing the skin we should also take in consideration what skin conditions does our skin currently have and also what is our skin type according to the Fitzpatrick scale (measures skin tolerance to the sun). These will be discussed in the upcoming posts.
Still are unsure what your skin type is or have any other questions? Scroll down and leave a comment.