Knowing your skin type is a fundamental aspect of choosing the right skincare products to meet your unique needs as well as maximizing the benefits of your beauty regimen.
Here’s a simple 10 tips article to determine your skin type and find out what kind of skin care you need without destroying your skin and emptying your wallet on harmful and unnecessary products.
Unfortunately, I know firsthand that figuring it out is not always as easy as it seems. So, how did I finally learn (and re-learn later in life) what my skin type is? By making tons of mistakes! Yep, I had no clue what I was doing. That’s why I created this post. So that you don’t have to put your skin through hell before figuring it all out :).
Before we get started, I want to clarify one important point:
According to dermatologists, there are 5 skin types:
Other terms, such as “dull skin,” “dehydrated,” or the evergreen “mature skin,” are NOT skin types but, mostly, skin conditions. These are usually temporary and have nothing to do with your true skin type, which is determined by the quantity of oil it produces.
Meaning: You might have oily skin, which is also dehydrated, or dry skin with acne. Our body likes to complicate things, don’t they? 🙂
By following these nine easy tips, you can determine your skin type and choose the right skincare products for your needs.
Just a quick reminder, whether you know your skin type already or not, always remember to take care of it by using a good sunscreen, and moisturizer, drinking plenty of water, and knowing how to use irritating ingredients properly, like tretinoin, Vitamin C serums, or TCA Chemical Peels, especially at home.
So, after all these premises, let’s get started, shall we?!
Tip 1: The Wait and See Method: Wash Your Face
The first step in determining your skin type is to wash your face with a gentle cleanser and let it return to its normal state before assessing it. Washing your face is crucial in removing excess oil, dirt, and makeup from your skin. Use a clean towel to gently pat your face dry after washing.
How To Choose The Right Cleanser To Determine Your Skin Type:
Choosing a gentle cleanser suitable for all skin types is essential in your skincare routine, particularly if you are uncertain about your skin type. Taking good care of your skin is crucial, and selecting the right cleanser can make a lot of difference.
I performed this test more than once to ensure I was using the correct cleanser. I had to change at least six before I found one that didn’t dry my skin out, or leave some oily residue. But also to conducting it in different conditions, for example after taking a shower, in the morning or in the evening etc. If the results are similar, you will get a more reliable result.
Here are some gentle cleansers worth trying: they are all very good, and I tried them all to find one that works for me. Test them when you don’t have makeup to avoid a double cleansing routine that might give you inaccurate results.
- La Roche posay Toleriane
- Aaveno Calm And Restore Cleanser
- Banila Co Clean it Zero Balm
- Vanicream gentle cleanser
- Cetaphil gentle cleanser
- CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser
- La Roche Posay Purifying foaming cleanser (only if you think you have VERY oily skin, and even then, use a small quantity)
Remember this: your skin does NOT need to feel stripped off or “squeaky clean” after washing your face. That’s a common mistake I also made when I was younger. If you have this feeling, it means you are overwashing your face and starting to compromise your skin barrier. Not good! Your skin should feel soft and clean, not tight.
I will write a specific article about the best cleansers for each skin type and how washing your face properly is a game changer for having the best skin ever (article coming soon).
These are just general guidelines, as every person’s skin is unique and might also change depending on factors like age, hormones, weather, etc.
Why Waiting One Hour Is Important For The Test:
Following your face-washing routine, you’ll have to wait at least an hour (or more) before continuing to the next step of the “wait and see” test. Avoid touching your face or applying products to your skin during this period is best.
This allows your skin to return to its natural state and helps you get a more accurate reading of your skin and how it really works in producing oil.
According to a reputable study, waiting at least one hour after washing your face can help reduce the effects of environmental factors on your skin and provide a more accurate assessment of your skin type.
Tip 2: Examine Your Skin After One Hour (And Use Oil Absorbing Paper).
This is the last step of the “wait and see” test to discover your skin type, and below are the results for what your skin should look like one hour after washing it according to your skin type.
There is also a second method, similar to the first test, where you use oil-absorbing paper on the skin; apply it after one hour and check the amount of oil that stays on the paper. Use both (in the same session) for more accurate results.
You will fall into one of these five categories:
Look for shine or oiliness on your forehead, nose, chin (the “infamous” T-zone), and other face parts. Check out your pores. You likely have oily skin if they look large all over your face. It’s important to note that having oily skin doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have acne, but it does increase your risk if combined with other factors.
On the flip side, producing more oil, altough annoying, has its benefits. You will probably curse your skin when young, but will thank it later. Having oily skin protects you from many environmental stressors, and your skin will likely look younger and with less wrinkles than other skin types after 30/ 40 years of age. So cheer up and thank your pores 🙂
You may have dry skin if your T-zone lacks shine or oiliness; other parts of your face exhibit dryness or flakiness. Dry skin is a condition that occurs when the skin doesn’t retain enough moisture. Several factors can cause dry skin, including genetics, environment, and age. Symptoms of dry skin may include itching, flaking, and cracking. Dry skin can also lead to more severe conditions like eczema or dermatitis.
My husband, who’s younger than me (31 years old), has very dry skin, and he developed dermatitis, which we are trying to takle with help of a dermatologist and the right skin care routine.
You have combination skin if you see oiliness in the infamous T-zone: Forehead, nose, and chin, and dryness on other parts of your face like the cheeks and the under-eye area.
This is my type of skin (with the tendency to become oily in summer and drier in winter), and it’s annoying to deal with. Sometimes I need to use separate products AND makeup for the different areas of my face. Double trouble!
People with sensitive skin will have slightly red, itchy/ irritated skin after one hour. I think this is the skin most must be taken care of. Especially when buying new skincare, check out the product ingredients and avoid those that may irritate you, such as fragrances and harsh chemicals.
You can spot sensitive skin also if your skin tends to get red or irritated by cold temperatures or external factors such as wind, dry air, or pollution.
People with normal skin will have a very even complexion and will not usually have blemishes or acne. Their skin will be smooth and soft, and the pores will not be very visible. The skin will have a nice glow, and it will not be oily.
People with normal skin will have a healthy skincare routine that includes using a good cleanser and moisturizer to keep their skin looking healthy and radiant.
Basically what everyone else is aiming for when it comes to skin goals 🙂
Other Tips to Determine Your Skin Type:
These are the most common methods to discover your skin type, but they have flaws. For example, you might use a cleanser that’s not right for you, not remove makeup properly, or use too much or too little detergent. The results, in this case, can be inaccurate.
The best way to assess your skin type is to combine multiple “tests” in different seasons, time of the day and cycle period, using various detergents. Read more about what to check to finally know for sure your skin type and start taking care of it properly. The sooner, the better!
Tip 3: Check for Tightness
Next, check if your skin feels tight or dry. If it does, you likely have dry skin. Dry skin may also appear flaky or rough. Always remember to use a gentle cleanser to asses your possibly dry skin, or else you might have mixed results.
According to a study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, people with dry skin tend to have lower levels of natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) in their skin, which can lead to dryness and irritation.
Tip 4: Look for Blemishes
You may have combination or oily skin if you notice blemishes or pimples on your skin quite often, especially in the T-zone area or, in general, all over your face. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Not quite, as people with dry skin can suffer from acne too. See this scientific article that proves it.
If you are still uncertain about your skin type, refer to the other tips and methods and combine them to determine your skin type, as suggested earlier.
Tip 5: Assess Your Pores.
Take a closer look at the pores on your nose and cheeks. If they appear large and visible, you likely have oily skin. You likely have dry or sensitive skin if they are small and barely visible.
Look at the pores on both your nose and cheek area. You may have oily skin if they are visible and larger in size. You may have dry or sensitive skin if they are small and not easily visible.
According to a review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, examining your pores can help determine your skin type.
Tip 6: Observe Your Skin’s Texture
If you are searching for ways to determine your skin type, observing its texture is one of the most helpful methods. If your skin feels smooth and soft, there is a good chance that you have normal skin. On the other hand, if it feels rough or bumpy, you may have dry or combination skin.
As you can see, it’s an additional step that’s very easy and straightforward to perform. I suggest you check out your skin texture a few times (without makeup on) during the course of one day to one week in different humidity conditions if possible.
Tip 7: Consider Your Age
As we age, our skin tends to become drier. If you are over 40/50 years old and notice that your skin is becoming drier, you may have “mature” or dry skin. This can depend on many factors, such as the hormonal changes that occur before and during menopause with a decrease in oil production
Please note that the word “mature skin” is not a classification of your skin type but rather a description of your skin’s current phase.
That said, consider your age carefully, and don’t assume that older always means dryer. I know cases of women and men with mature skin that is still oily. Remember, each skin is unique. Observe it carefully.
Tip 8: Consider Your Environment and Humidity Levels
According to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, environmental factors such as humidity, wind, and temperature can affect skin hydration levels. The study found that individuals living in dry climates tend to have lower skin hydration levels than those living in humid climates.
Does this help in determining your skin type? Yes and no. You can have dry skin and live in a humid environment, which will partially mitigate the dryness, but your skin type will still be dry.
Same with the other types of skin. The environment does not define your skin type, but rather the state in which your skin is at the moment. This is also important because it allows you to adapt your skincare.
I can clearly see how my skin changes almost radically in winter with the heating on compared to summer in high-humidity environments.
I need to change my beauty routine solely based on the temperature and humidity. Despite having combination skin, I have to switch my products and use ticker consistencies and hydrate / protect my skin more, or use super lightweight serums and creams depending on the enviroment.
Tip 9: Consult a Professional
If, after testing these tips, you still are unsure about your skin type, consider consulting a dermatologist. They can help determine your skin type, tackle issues you might have (like rosacea, dermatitis, or acne), and recommend the best skincare products.
Knowing your skin type and its reactions to different environments and external factors is crucial to avoid products that might impair your skin barrier, cause breakouts or irritate it.
So, what skin type are you? Did you figure it out? If not, or if you want to confirm it, take my skincare-type quiz here (coming soon!) and let me know in the comments if you have questions or share your skin type and routine with me!