Quick Guide To Identifying Your Skin Type & Treating It Right
We asked a number of women whether they can identify their skin type, while some could, others were unsure or didn’t know their skin type at all!
So we thought we should address this subject as well. After all, what good are skincare products if you aren’t applying the right one suited for your skin type?
Today, you’re going to receive the complete lowdown on skin types, identifying your own skin type and how to take good care of it.
How many skin types are there?
There are 4 basic categories that every skin can be put under. These are:
Dry skin is, well, dry. Okay, but how do you know for sure? If you feel incomplete without a bottle of moisturiser within an arm’s reach, if your pores feel tight and if your skin appears dull and rough, there you are.
Dry skin has one notorious problem of being flaky. And as a result, you feel compelled to use an exfoliating scrub to slough it all off, more often than normal. This only causes further damage to your skin. Dry skin is also less elastic and has more visible lines, making it appear aged.
Apply moisturiser when your skin is damp, to lock in all that moisture.
You’re going to need heavy duty moisturisers – preferably an oil or an ointment. The best ones are those containing Hyaluronic Acid or Sodium Hyaluronate, glycerine, ceramides, and emollients like Vitamin E, avocado oil, coconut oil and the like. Lotions won’t work, and petroleum jelly offers nothing of benefit, so don’t bother with those.
Wash your face with a cleanser only once a day. And use an exfoliator not more than once-twice a week. When you’re picking an exfoliant, make sure you go for something gentle.
Avoid bathing in very hot water or taking very long showers, as it can dry out your skin further.
For dry feet, make sure you apply a moisturising body cream and wear soft cotton socks.
Use only sulphate free products.
You know you have oily skin if your face appears like a big, shiny mirror at any point of time. All you want from your makeup is to do its damn job at mattifying your face. And although this skin type is the most age-defying of all skin types, you can’t help but feel that the cons outweigh the pros. I feel you.
Oily skin is prone to severe acne and blackheads. Because the pores on this skin type are so large, it’s easily clogged with dirt and product residue.
Another major trouble with oily skin is the misconception that you don’t need a moisturiser. Many people with oily skin tend to skip moisturisers entirely, and instead use harsh cleansers and toners, that strip your skin of natural oils, without replenishing or restoring moisture.
Oily skin needs some of that good old hydration too. But, you don’t need a heavyweight to do that for you. A gel or water-based moisturiser works well for your skin. Even a light face oil ( yes face oil!) with anti bacterial properties can balance the skin!
Since your skin is so easily prone to attract dirt, grime and gunk, make sure you wash your face twice a day, but not more than that. Go for products that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and/or glycolic acid. Cleansing oils work extremely well on oily skin. Yep, you heard me – cleansing OIL – because oil attracts oil, and therefore will do a more thorough job at cleaning your pores.
After cleansing, use a toner for a deeper cleanse and also to regulate the excess oiliness.
Exfoliate regularly, and invest in at least a monthly deep cleanse to clean out your pores.
Products labelled non-comedogenic are your best friends, as they are devoid of pore-clogging ingredients.
Combination skin is marked by an oily T-zone (forehead and nose) and chin, but dry cheeks. Because of this, the pores on your face are also varied in visibility – some are big, but some barely visible. It’s truly absurd, I know.
The greatest trouble for people with combination skin is that they get the worst of both worlds – acne prone oily areas and flaky dry areas.
Add to that the fact that some pores are large and visible and some are tight and barely there, caring for your skin becomes a real puzzle.
Luckily, scientific development has led to the existence of skincare products formulated specifically for combination skin, so you don’t have to apply multiple products at the same time. But, if your skin is intensely dry and greasy, you can use two different moisturisers – a water-based one for your T-zone and an emollient for the cheeks.
Use an alcohol-free toner.
Invest in a lightweight face serum. Serums help other products get absorbed better, moisturising the skin as well as maintaining oil balance.
If the concept of acne prone skin, visible pores, sensitivity, dry and flaky skin are all alien to you, kiss your skin thank you. You belong to the ‘normal’ skin club. Your skin is evenly toned, your pores are barely visible, and is neither too dry or too shiny.
Except for the rare pimple, acne outbreak or sun tan, you don’t really face any major issues. And even these problems are easily fixed.
What isn’t broken doesn’t need fixing. But it definitely needs protecting and maintaining. Keep your routine simple but thorough.
Wash your face with a mild water-soluble cleanser once a day. Exfoliate not more than once a week – fewer times if you don’t step out in the sun and dust often. Never get out without applying sunscreen.
Go for products enriched with antioxidants, to boost your skin’s natural health and suppleness.
Use an alcohol-free toner. Something as natural as rose water will work marvellously on your skin.
If combination skin types don’t know what to put on their skin, sensitive skin types are too scared to put anything on their skin. Your skin easily reacts to even a mildly harsh product, leaving you too scared to experiment. Your face appears flushed on exposure to the sun, wind and after cleansing, and responds too quickly to stress or unhealthy food.
Please note:- The thing with sensitive skin is that dry skin and oily skin can be sensitive too.
With sensitive skin, there is no in between; a product either works beautifully or breaks all hell loose. The struggle is truly real.
You experience frequent outbreaks. You also tend to develop rashes and redness if exposed to the sun or to harsh and synthetic products.
You experience flaking, itching, swelling and even a stinging sensation on using certain products.
This skin type needs to be handled with utmost care and gentleness. Do not let anything near your face without doing a patch test first.
Stay miles away from products containing petroleum and/or petrolatum, sulphates, surfactants and alcohols.
Avoid foaming cleansers. Use a non-comedogenic cleansing oil, as it won’t strip away the natural oils from your skin. Wash your face with cold or lukewarm water. Exfoliate your skin once in 10 days.
Use a sunscreen before getting out in the sun. If you’re averse to sunscreen, make sure you cover your face and hands fully. Go for fragrance free moisturisers.
Where do I fit in?
If you’ve had trouble identifying your skin type just by touching it, that’s okay. Here’s a very simple way to figure it out. All you need is a couple of blotting papers.
Step 1: Before you go to bed, wash your face with a cleanser.
Step 2: Do not apply any moisturiser, night cream, serum, face oil, etc. Just leave your face bare.
Step 3: Go to sleep.
Step 4: When you wake up the next morning, grab some blotting paper, and pat it over your face.
Here’s what the blotting paper will say about each skin type –
Oily skin – the blotting paper is covered with an oily sheen, no matter where you rub it on your face.
Dry skin – the blotting paper shows no traces of oil, except maybe just a little bit on your nose.
Combination skin – the blotting paper picks up oil from your T-zone (i.e. nose and forehead) but nothing from the rest of your face.
Normal skin – the blotting paper may pick up oil, but just a little bit.
Sensitive skin – just like in the case of dry skin, no oil. But you will notice redness wherever you’ve rubbed or dabbed the blotting paper. All though skin of type is sensitive, so while we categorise this, it is applicable to dry skin and oil acne prone skin as well.
Simply paying close attention to your skin daily will also give you a clear idea about your skin type. For instance, after you wash your face with a cleanser if your face still feels greasy or appears shiny, you have oily skin, but if your entire face feels like parchment, you have dry skin. Similarly, redness and a mild burning sensation indicate sensitive skin, whereas oiliness in the T-zone but dryness on the rest of the face means you have combination skin. As for normal skin, well, they feel nothing!
Without knowing your skin type, even the most scientifically proven products become nothing but a layer of useless chemicals sitting on your skin, doing only more harm than good. But now, armed with all this information, go forth and give your skin all the love it deserves!