You want to take the best possible care of your skin, but in order to do that you need to understand your specific skin type. If you’re like most people, you might have a vague idea but determining your true skin type is often more complicated than it appears on the surface.
If someone were to ask you what your skin type is, you might answer something along the lines of “normal with an oily T-zone” or “dry and sensitive”. These are accurate descriptions and might be true, but skin type isn’t static. Our skin changes over time thanks to the gloriously beautiful process of aging and other factors like hormonal changes and even the weather. Understanding your skin type involves recognizing the basic characteristics of your skin and how it adapts to both physiological and external elements.
Your skin is your largest organ and it plays a much more crucial role than just serving as the fresh faced canvas you present to the world each day. Your skin plays a major part in temperature regulation, supporting your immune system, serving as one of the main modes of sensory communications between the outside world and your brain, and aids in your body’s natural detoxification process.
In other words, your skin is under a lot of pressure to perform every day and you want it to look great in the process. Taking good care of your skin is important, and this all begins with gaining a true understanding of your skin type. Let’s talk a little more about different skin types and how to care for them.
What Do You Mean By “Skin Type”?
When we talk about skin type, we’re referring to the basic “personality” of your skin. Everybody tends to fall mainly into one specific skin type, although they may have tendencies towards other types – we refer to this has having combination skin.
The basic categories of skin types include normal, oily and dry. As mentioned, a person can have varying degrees of combination skin types. For example, they might have dry skin in certain areas and oily in others. Some people can further classify their skin type as being sensitive, meaning that in addition to their basic type, their skin tends to easily become inflamed, sensitive or acne prone.
The challenge with skin types is that it is incredibly difficult to put everyone into neatly defined categories. Even among people with the same skin type, there are still differences in their skin’s personality and how it responds to certain products. Although we talk about the main categories, our skin type can almost be as unique as our individual fingerprints.
This can make it difficult to correctly identify your skin type and develop a skin care routine to properly care for it. When we fail to care for our individual skin type we travel down the road of constant skin problems that can sometimes last for years.
Changing With the Times
One of the reasons so many of us struggle with finding skin care that perfectly suits our skin is that we tend to get locked into an idea of what skin type we have. For instance, someone in their late 20s may have combination skin that is mildly oily, but still perceive their skin to be as oily and inflammation prone as it was a decade earlier.
Women in their 30s and 40s have similar struggles with changing skin types. Generally speaking, our skin tends to become drier as we age but it will still hang on to some of its basic characteristics during what is typically a slow transition. Add in the effects of the hormonal rollercoaster that accompanies hormonal contraception use, pregnancy, postpartum periods and perimenopause and it’s easy to see why these decades have many women confused over what their real skin type is.
Men don’t necessarily have it any easier. Although they don’t have the same hormonal peaks and valleys, they do often struggle with combination skin as they age due to testosterone being responsible excess oil production.
When it comes to skin care, we also have a tendency to focus on one or two main problem areas rather than the whole picture. For instance, a person in their 30s with acne prone skin may use harsh treatments to minimize breakouts without taking into consideration how the rest of their skin has changed and is in need of something gentler. Many of us are also guilty of going overboard with heavy moisturizers at the first signs of those barely noticeable fine lines, regardless of the type of skin care the rest of the face needs.
Caring for your skin properly involves removing any preconceptions about what your skin type is and doing an honest assessment of your current skin health. A dermatologist can help you with this, but this is something that you can also easily do on your own. Let’s talk about a few tips for determining your current skin type.
Determining Your Skin Type
In order to determine your skin type, you need to become well acquainted with your skin. This is one of those things that many of us feel we have mastered but actually fall a little short on. One of the most common signs that your skin type has changed is when you’re noticing that your tried and true skin care products just don’t seem to be doing their job anymore. For instance, your skin may become more sensitive as it matures and you might notice that your regular cleanser or moisturizer seems to produce areas of redness, irritation or dryness. This means that it’s time to reevaluate your skin type and discover a new routine that will nurture and heal your skin.
One of the most effective ways to assess your skin type is by determining how your skin responds to something as simple as a gentle cleanser. Start with a gentle cleanser that is free of fragrance, dyes and other known irritants. Cleanse your face and then don’t do anything else – at least not yet.
At this point, you’ll want to skip any toners, serums, moisturizers or cosmetics. This also means skipping your daily dose of SPF, so plan on doing this when you can spend a couple of hours indoors.
After about two hours, stand in front of a mirror in well lit room. You’ll want to notice how your skin looks and feels. If your skin looks perfectly normal, meaning no noticeable oily sheen, dry patches or redness, then this is a good indicator that you have normal skin.
If you’re skin type is oilier, you’ll notice a bit of shininess to your face that isn’t necessarily concentrated in one area. Skin that is dry will feel tight, taunt and might also look or feel a little patchy, scaly or frail in some areas.
If you notice that your skin has an inconsistent appearance, such as an oily sheen in certain areas yet normal or dry skin in others, this means that you combination skin.
Because of the gentle cleanser that is used in this method, it can be a little difficult to pick up on whether or not your skin falls into the category of being sensitive, unless you already happen to know that it is. If you experience redness, dryness or inflammation in response to a gentle cleanser, it’s worth a trip to the dermatologist to help you decide on a skin care routine that will minimize sensitivities.
It might also be that you have skin that is sensitive only to certain ingredients. For instance, some people notice reactions when they use products that contain alpha hydroxyl acids, retinols or harsh acne fighting ingredients. In almost every case, it’s possible to find a gentler solution that will meet your skin care needs without having to endure painful reactions.
Caring for Your Skin Type
Once you understand your skin type, you can begin to adopt a skin care routine that nourishes, replenishes and protects it on a daily basis. Here are a few guidelines to help you care and nurture your skin to perfect health.
Normal Skin: If you have normal skin you can consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Comparatively, it’s relatively easy to care for normal skin. At this point, you don’t need an arsenal of products that are designed to “fix” your skin.
You’ll want to start with a good cleanser that is gentle but contains a soothing and healing antioxidant, like vitamin C. OZNaturals Vitamin C Facial Cleanser is a good choice. The other absolute essential for normal skin is a high SPF natural sunscreen that doesn’t contain any toxic or irritating ingredients.
Oily Skin: Caring for oily skin can be a challenge. You want to care for it in a way that minimizes shine and the effects of an overproduction of oil. However, being too overzealous or using products that contain too harsh of ingredients can push oil production into overdrive and increase the chances of inflammatory reactions.
Your key words for oily skin care should be natural, effective and gentle. Consider using a gentle, sulfate free cleanser twice a day, such as our Ocean Mineral Cleanser. The goal with cleansing is to remove excess oils and unclog pores without completely stripping the skin of oils that are necessary to protect it.
Exfoliation can also help eliminate breakouts. Your skin is continuously shedding old skin cells. When you have oily skin, these skin cells can become trapped by the excess oil and settle into your pores – which only leads to breakouts. An gentle physical exfoliant like our Bamboo Dermafoliant will help to remove dead skin cells without the irritating abrasiveness of grainy alternatives.
Also, just because your skin is oily doesn’t mean that you should skip the moisturizer. A well balanced, lightweight moisturizer such as OZNaturals Sea Infused Moisturizer will protect and repair your skin. Finally, don’t forget to layer on a natural, mineral-based sunscreen.
Dry Skin: Taking care of dry skin can be incredibly frustrating without the right, supportive skincare products. Skin tends to become drier as we age, but dry skin also happens as a response to the use of skincare products that contain irritating and drying ingredients. In some cases, the products you’re using to heal and protect dry skin are actually making the situation worse.
Start with a gentle, antioxidant rich cleanser that doesn’t contain any harsh, drying ingredients. Follow this up with a plumping moisturizer that delivers its benefits deep into the skin’s surface. Hyaluronic acid and vitamin E are great for accomplishing this and are contained in our Super Youth Retinol Moisturizer. If your skin is dry, you’ll want to take care to moisturize in the morning and at night.
Depending on your age and other skin health factors, you might want to use products targeted at specific areas for dry skin. For instance, a rich eye cream such as our Ultra Ageless Eye Crème can help to eliminate the appearance of fine lines while plumping up the fragile under eye area.
The secret to protecting dry skin is to reduce surface dullness by using a gentle exfoliant once or twice a week and then taking advantage of multiple moisturizing products to nourish the skin.
Combination Skin: How do you care for skin that seems to have multiple personalities? Some people take the approach of using various types of products to target individual areas of their skin. Not only is this the most complicated approach, it can also work against your efforts in trying to stabilize the condition of your skin.
For example, choosing a heavy moisturizer for your areas that are dry is likely to cause problems for areas that are acne prone. In response, you might use a toner in your t-zone that strips away too many necessary, natural oils. Your skin becomes more confused and the problem continues.
Some spot treatments are appropriate – for instance, a moisturizing eye serum or an acne spot treatment that has been prescribed by a dermatologist. However, the best solution is usually one that takes a holistic approach to taking care your skin.
Choose cleansers and moisturizers that are more neutral and lightweight. These types of products will help soothe dry skin while caring for oilier areas without amping up oil production. Look for ingredients that are well tolerated by most skin types, such as Vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and other antioxidants. OZNaturals Combination Skin Regimen contains an excellent assortment of products for this skin type.
If there’s one thing that all skin types have in common, it’s that they need to be cared for using natural, effective skin care products that support healthy skin and a healthy environment. Beautiful, radiant skin is within your reach, no matter what your age or skin type.