Back To Basics Skincare: What Skin Type Are You?

‘Combination’ and ‘dehydrated’ are just a couple of terms often mentioned when referring to skin, but what exactly do they mean? Our new skincare series takes you back to basics – with the help of dermatologist Debra Price and beauty expert Rona Berg – to map out the best paths for every skin type and concern. First up, we’ll help you determine your skin type and concerns…

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THE TEST

Former beauty editor of The New York Times Magazine, Rona Berg, details an easy way to work out your skin type at home in Beauty: The New Basics. Just wash your face with water – no products – pat dry and then leave your skin for 20 minutes and let it naturally rebalance. Berg explains, “Take a few pieces of tissue and press on different spots on your face. If your skin is oily, the paper will stick, pick up oily bits and become translucent. If the paper doesn’t stick or pick up any oily spots, your skin is dry. If it sticks in your T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) then you have combination (or normal) skin. About 70% of women have combination skin.” We recommend separating the sheets in one tissue for this test. So, now you have a better idea of your type, now onto what this means and how you need to care for it…

DRY OR DEHYDRATED?

Here’s the difference between dry and dehydrated skin – dry means there is a lack of oil, and dehydrated means it’s lacking water. Dry skin feels tight after cleansing and you may find annoying flaky skin or patches that make-up clings to. It can often appear ashy or dull and generally a bit lack-luster. Dry skin occurs when you lack lipids in your skin barrier – try taking essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 supplements.

Dehydrated skin is down to environmental factors like not drinking enough water, using overly-stripping cleansers or smoking. Seek out products high in hyaluronic acid, which is famed for holding up to a thousand times its weight in water. It occurs naturally inside your skin located beneath the dermis (outer layer) and helps your tissues stay hydrated. When you apply the ingredient to your skin’s surface, it plumps up your cells by forming an elastic film of moisture and instantly smoothing rough surfaces. Layer a hyaluronic-based serum underneath your moisturiser to boost its hydrating properties and lock in long-lasting moisture.

COMBINATION & NORMAL

Combination skin is often oily along the T-zone and dry on the cheeks. Try catering your moisturiser to each area, using a richer one for the cheeks and a lighter oil-free one on the shinier zones. Keep things balanced with no harsh cleansers or extremely rich moisturisers that can mess with your skin’s natural PH levels. Think gentle, thorough cleansing with catered serums and oils depending on where you need it and how your skin is feeling.

OILY & ACNE-PRONE 

Oily skin is just that – an excess of oil. Skin tends to get greasy an hour or so after cleansing and is prone to to enlarged pores, blackheads and spots. Make-up can slide off easily and skin ends up looking shiny. Dermatologist Dr. Debra Price recommends minimising breakouts by using skincare with calming ingredients like calendula and witch hazel, and using salicylic acid to deeply decongest deeper layers of skin. Avoid over-drying the skin with harsh products – foaming cleansers tend to strip the skin of its natural oil which means it overcompensates and produces more.  Look for oil-free moisturisers that will work with the natural oils in your skin and not add to them. Cleansers that don’t foam are better for this skin type – acne-prone skin is sensitive, so treat it kindly.

SENSITIVE SKIN & ROSACEA:

Got sensitive skin? Rosacea often comes with the territory. Whether you have frequent blotchiness or get flushed easily, you should stick with gentle, fragrance-free skincare products. It’s also wise to avoid spicy foods, direct sun exposure and prolonged exposure to hot climates (if possible!).

HYPERPIGMENTATION & SUN DAMAGE:

Darkened skin spots or hyperpigmentation are often the result of sun damage or acne. Try looking for products with retinol or glycolic acid, which resurface the skin and gently stimulate the production of collagen, creating a complexion that is lighter, clearer, and more even. Sun damage can look like general signs of ageing – fine lines, wrinkles and dull or lackluster skin. Vigilant use of sunscreen is a must-have for ALL skin types!

Want to know more about skincare and what products are best for each skin type? Read a dedicated post on each here: Dry & Dehydrated, Oily & Acne-prone and Normal & Combination. 

– Grace

4 comments

  • Sara Thomas (@xPrettyInPinkxx)says :

    I’m literally all 4 of those categories, there is no hope for me!

    • Gracesays :

      Hi Sara. There is hope, we promise! Have you taken the test? If you think you are a mixture of all types, you probably have combination skin – stay tuned for an upcoming routine on this.

      Grace x

  • onyinyesays :

    I practically do all that you recommended for oily skin but I still have acne, I don’t know what to do anymore

  • Brighton Botoxsays :

    I do agree with you. Its vital to take care of your skin. You should go for best beauty products and service providers after having a look on their reputation.

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