If you know your skin type, it’s a lot easier to work out what skincare and make-up products are going to work best for you. There are a few ways of classifying skin type. The most common is by looking at the amount of oil your skin naturally produces.
There are two main skin types: dry and oily. Dry skin doesn’t produce enough oil, while oily skin produces too much oil. If you’re incredibly lucky, you might have normal skin where your skin produces the right amount of oil.
A lot of people have combination skin, where different areas of your face will be dry, oily and normal. For most people, the T-zone, which is the forehead, nose and chin, naturally produces more oil than the rest of the face - the cheeks tend to be a lot drier. Your skin type is mostly based on genetics, but there are temporary changes that can alter your skin type as well.
• Stress,which can cause your skin to produce more oil.
• Big changes in your diet
• Medications like the birth control pill and the acne medication, Accutane, can change oil levels
• The amount of oil produced can also change throughout the year with the seasons.
• As you get older, your hormone levels will drop, so your skin will change too. For most people, the skin gets drier with age.
So now that we know what skin type is, how do you work out your skin type?
Oily skin tends to have larger pores and maybe some blackheads, especially in the T-zone of the face. Sometimes there might be shiny oil patches on your skin, and you can feel the oil come off onto your fingers when you touch it. You might even get greasy spots on your pillowcase, and your hair might tend to be greasy as well. You probably don’t use very much moisturiser, and your skin tends to be more prone to acne and breakouts. You might also find that your make-up slides around over the course of the day.
Dry skin, on the other hand, tends to have smaller pores. But it’s also more prone to fine lines, cracking, rough patches and flaking, especially when it’s cold and dry. Dry skin will feel tight, especially after washing if you don’t apply moisturiser right away. Your skin will also drink up moisturiser very quickly. Dry skin usually looks matte, and make-up tends to settle into fine lines. You can also try the paper test. Get a small piece of blotting paper, and a few hours after washing your face, press it onto your nose or the area right next to your nose. If the paper sticks to your skin or a grease spot shows up, you probably have oily, or at least, combination skin. If it doesn’t stick and there isn’t a grease spot, your skin is probably mostly dry.
On top of skin type, you might have a skin condition that changes your skin’s needs. Skin conditions can change a lot over time and can usually be treated with the right skincare routine.
A very common skin condition is dehydration, which is when your skin doesn’t have the right amount of water. Water keeps your skin flexible, plump and smooth, and also ensures that the processes inside your skin are working properly. Dehydration happens when your skin barrier is weakened, increasing the amount of water that evaporates. Dehydrated skin can be genetic, or it can happen with cold and dry weather, a harsh skincare routine or too much sun or wind exposure. You might have dehydrated skin if you have these signs: your skin feels tight and stiff, and if you pinch it, you see fine, stiff folds. It might even feel like there’s a tough film sitting on top of your skin. A common situation is when your skin’s oily, but also dehydrated, so your skin feels like it’s both dry and oily at the same time.
Another condition is sensitivity. This is when the dead layers on top of your skin aren’t acting as an effective barrier, so irritants and allergens can get in and irritate the living layers. If you have sensitive skin, you probably already know! People with sensitive skin often react to new skincare and makeup products, so you’ll have learned to introduce new products carefully. You might frequently get rashes, burning, itching, stinging, redness or swelling with skincare and makeup products. Fragranced products might give you particularly strong reactions. Even changes in weather might trigger a reaction - your skin might be extra sensitive when it’s very hot or very cold, or when it’s especially dry or humid. You might have a diagnosed sensitivity like rosacea or eczema.
Acne is a very common skin condition. Around 80% of people have acne at some point in their lives. As well as pimples, acne includes blackheads, whiteheads and closed comedones, which are small flesh-coloured bumps under your skin that can eventually turn into pimples. Severe acne involves large, painful cysts and nodules deep under the skin and should be treated by a dermatologist. Acne is caused by a bunch of things, including hormones - a lot of women find that their acne fluctuates during their menstrual cycle, so you might get a few big pimples around the time you get your period. There are a few studies that have found a link between acne and diet, but the results aren’t that strong, so it looks like it varies in individuals. Common acne triggers seem to be high GI foods with lots of simple sugars, and low fat dairy products.
Ageing is usually counted as another skin condition. It’s when your skin starts showing signs of getting old - wrinkles, uneven pigmentation and sagging. Obviously getting older will make your skin more likely to show signs of ageing, but one studied showed that in Caucasian skin, the sun caused around 4 times more damage than actual age! Generally, the darker your skin is naturally, the slower your skin will age since the melanin acts like a natural sunscreen. Smoking is another big cause of aging skin.
Finally, there’s hyperpigmentation. This is when your skin forms patches where there’s more pigment than normal. This is where having melanin is a disadvantage, since dark skin is more capable of producing pigment, so there’s a bigger chance of something going wrong. The biggest causes of hyperpigmentation are sun exposure, aging, and inflammation. Pigmentation that’s caused by inflammation is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH. For example, when a healed pimple leaves a brown mark that can take weeks or months to fade - that brown mark is probably PIH.
Knowing your skin type and what skin conditions you have will help you choose the right skincare and makeup. Stay tuned for our post on creating the perfect skincare routine for your skin type!