You don’t need to be a skincare expert to become an expert on your own skin. Below, find out how to tell your skin type and our top tips to care for it properly.
Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered what kind of skin do I have? The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recognizes five main skin types:
Understanding your skin type can help you find the right products to address your skincare concerns and achieve your #glowyskingoals! We’ve taken a deeper dive into each of the five types below.
Feeling flaky? Your skin could be dry or dehydrated.
Dry skin can feel tight throughout the day, and may also feel itchy, rough, or flaky. Often it’s temporary (caused by cold weather or low moisture in the air), but genetics, hormonal changes, and environmental factors like lifestyle and diet can also contribute.
If your skin is naturally dry, you may experience cracks, rough patches, itchiness, redness, and visible flakes or scales. In severe cases, dry skin is associated with conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Dehydration is also a leading cause of dry skin — although this is not the same as having a dry skin type. Dehydrated skin lacks water, whereas dry skin is caused by a lack of sebum, the natural oils produced by your skin (check out our deep dive on sebum production here!). Dry skin is a skin type, while dehydrated skin is considered a concern or condition.
If you think your skin may be dehydrated, try this simple test: gently pinch a small portion of the skin on your cheek for three seconds and release. Observe how long it takes for your skin to return to its normal shape. If it bounces back quickly, that’s a sign of proper hydration. But if you notice that it doesn’t snap right back after you let go, your skin may be dehydrated.
If you’re still unsure, a dermatologist or aesthetician can help you figure out if your skin is dry or dehydrated.
Tips for dry skin types: When it comes to caring for dry skin, moisturizer is your BFF (check out our complete guide to all things moisturizer here!). Apply it several times a day to seal in moisture and keep water from escaping. You’ll also want to limit water exposure (keep bath or shower time to 10 minutes or less) and avoid harsh soaps and alcohol-based personal care products. Alcohol can have a serious drying effect and it depletes vital substances needed for healthy skin.
Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, can be treated by drinking more water. Start with the old rule of eight glasses of water per day, though you may need more depending on your body weight and activity levels. Your doctor can help you determine the appropriate amount.
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There’s more to this skin type than just a bit of extra shine. Oily skin types exhibit the following:
Tips for oily skin types: Caring for oily skin is all about shine control and balancing oil production. Oily skin can be worsened by a lack of moisture and stripping cleansers, which in turn can make your skin produce more oil.
Look for lightweight moisturizers (yes, you still need to moisturize daily!) and skincare products labeled “non-comedogenic” (i.e. won’t clog pores). Your cleanser should be able to cleanse oil and makeup, but should not leave your skin feeling dry or rough. Toners with mild astringents like witch hazel can be ideal for oily skin. Ingredients like vitamin C and niacinamide can be useful to try as well.
Certain foods can offer oil-balancing benefits, too.
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Combination skin can be dry or normal in some areas and oily in others. It’s commonly defined by an oily T-zone (the strip across the forehead, down the nose and chin), enlarged pores, and normal-to-dry cheeks. People with this skin type may need slightly different care in different areas.
Tips for combination skin types: The main thing to keep in mind with combination skin is there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You’ll have to divide and conquer by using different products to care for different parts of your face. But when you’re armed with the right info and the best products, you can create a beautiful balance! Toners and serums with balancing ingredients like rose and green tea can be a good choice for combo skin.
Shop products for combination skin types.
Common signs of sensitive skin include stinging, burning, itchiness, redness, and tightness, whether the culprit is a skin condition (like eczema or rosacea) or an allergic reaction to certain ingredients. Chemicals, environmental stressors (like weather or pollution), acne, genetics, and immune diseases are all known causes of skin sensitivity.
Tips for sensitive skin types: Botanical-powered skincare products are perfect for people with this easily-aggravated skin type. A natural ingredient, whether it’s a botanical herb, oil, or extract, will likely be more gentle and soothing than an artificial chemical or fragrance. Seek out natural beauty and skincare products formulated to help calm, soothe, and heal sensitive skin.
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If you have normal skin, you’re likely dealing with few imperfections, no severe sensitivity, and barely visible pores (lucky you!). Your skin can tolerate most ingredients, which means you can have fun experimenting with different products and formulas until you find exactly what works best.
Tips for normal skin types: If your skin isn’t giving you any problems to solve, choosing the right products for your skin type comes down to personal preference. Go with what feels, looks, and smells the best to you!
To help maintain balanced, healthy-looking skin, you should still try to avoid products with aggravating ingredients like artificial chemicals and fragrances.
Shop products for normal skin types.
Some skin types are easy to identify, but if you’ve ever looked in the mirror and thought what type of skin do I have?, this is for you! Here are two easy methods to determine your skin type at home.
Start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry with a clean towel. Leave skin bare (do not apply any creams, serums, or other treatments) and observe how your skin looks and feels after washing.
After 30 minutes, observe your skin again. Do you notice any shine on your cheeks, chin, nose or forehead? If so, you likely have oily skin. If your skin feels tight, parched, or flaky, it’s likely dry. If you notice a mix of oiliness and dryness, you probably have combination skin. Normal skin will look clear and even, while sensitive skin may sting, burn, or itch after washing.
Another way to quickly determine your skin type is to use blotting sheets. Gently press a clean blotting paper on different areas of your face, then hold the sheet up to the light to see how much oil was absorbed. The more oil you see on the paper, the more likely you are to have oily skin. If the sheet picked up little to no oil, you most likely have dry skin. If the blotting sheet reveals minimal oil from your forehead and nose, your skin is likely normal/combination.
Learning how to properly care for your skin is not an exact science, but it’s something we can all learn! Follow our Botanical Blog for more on harnessing the power of plants in your skincare routine — plus our top botanical beauty picks for each skin type!