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How to Determine Your Skin Type

24 Jan 2018
by S. Safa

The first and most important step in skincare is understanding your skin type. Knowing your skin type will allow you to customize a skin care routine that will work best for you. Using products that suit your skin type will balance your skin and keep your skin healthy and radiant. Today I will try to help you find out what skin type you have so you can look for and choose products that are right for you; an important part of Korean skincare is adapting your routine to your specific skin type and needs. 

How to Determine your skin type: Bare faced method

There are 4 main skin types: normal, dry, combination, and oily skin. It may seem like skin type is a group you belong to, but it’s not. Skin type is more of a spectrum rather than a group, and everyone’s skin falls somewhere on that spectrum. You could be on the dryer side of dry skin, and on the oilier side of oily skin. Your skin type can also change throughout the years, or even during seasons. With that being said, there is a simple way of determining what skin type you currently are:

1. Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser.
2. Don’t apply any product on your skin. So no toner, no serum, no moisturizer, nothing.
3. Wait for an hour.
4. Now examine your skin.

If your skin feels tight and parched, you probably have dry skin. If you notice shine on your forehead/nose/chin area, you most likely have combination skin. If you’re shiny on your cheeks in addition to your forehead/nose/chin are, you probably have oily skin. If your skin doesn’t fall under any of these categories, you have normal skin.

Skin Types

Dry skin
Dry skin feels tight and dehydrated throughout the day, and often accompanies flaking and redness. Having dry skin is mostly due to genetics, but can also result from environmental factors like climate, lifestyle, diet, and hormonal changes. To prevent dehydration make sure you keep hydrated and drink lots of water. Also avoid consuming diuretics like alcohol and caffeine.  

If you have dry skin, make sure you incorporate a good, gentle exfoliant to get rid of dead skin cells and flakes. Buildup of dead skin cells will form an additional layer of skin and prevent serums and treatments to penetrate your skin effectively. Choose a moisturizer that contains lots of humectants -like Hyaluronic acid or Glycerin- to attract moisture, and preferably has a rich, emollient texture to help smooth out your skin and lock in that moisture. Your skin will benefit most from rich, nourishing products that strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and prevent moisture loss. 

Oily skin
Oily skin is caused by overactive oil glands that produce excessive amounts of oil. Those with oily skin typically experience shininess, blemishes and have large pores. Like all skin types, having oily skin is mostly genetic, although some environmental factors –climate, season, and hormones- may play a role as well. Having oily skin is not necessarily a bad thing. Those with oily skin are less prone to wrinkling and other signs of aging, because the oil helps to keep moisture locked in. The downside of having oily skin is that oily complexions are very susceptible to clogged pores, blackheads, and buildup of dead skin cells. Oily skin can be rough in texture and tends to have very large, visible pores. This skin type is also more prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

To prevent pores from clogging up, use chemical exfoliants to promote cell turnover rates. This also helps lighten dark spots by polishing the upper layer of skin cells. Then a gentle physical exfoliant can help to refine your skin’s tone and texture. Contrary to popular belief, oily skin also needs hydration. If your have oily skin, you will find that your skin agrees best with lightweight, gel-type moisturizes. Richer creams tend to clog up your pores even more and make your skin even shinier.

Combination skin
Combination skin, as the name suggests, is characterized by having both dry and oily areas on different parts of the face. This skin type usually has an oily T-zone (forehead/nose/chin) and is normal to dry everywhere else. The oily parts may have enlarged pores and blemishes, and the dry parts can be flaky.

Combination skin may need different care in different areas. If you have combination skin, you can treat oily parts of your face as being oily skin and dry parts of your face can be treated like dry skin. This is not much of a problem when it comes to exfoliation, since both oily and dry skin benefit from some mild exfoliation. But choosing a moisturizer can be a bit tricky. You often see moisturizers being recommended by companies for oily and combination skin together, as if they’re one group. You can generally follow those recommendations. However, if you feel like the products you use work fine for your T-zone, but are too light for your cheeks, you can apply richer, more nourishing products on your cheeks. 

Normal skin
Normal skin is not too dry, and not too oily; it’s the perfect in-between. It doesn’t feel tight, it’s not greasy, and it’s not prone to redness. The complexion is more or less even. Its texture is regular, it doesn’t display any signs of imperfections, and pores are barely visible.

Gentle, daily exfoliation keeps the T-zone and cheeks in check. Choose a moisturizer that is not too heavy, but adds enough moisture to keep your skin balanced.

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin is not a skin type by itself. You can have oily sensitive skin, but you could also have dry sensitive skin. There is no dermatological term for having sensitive skin. The term is generally used to describe skin that easily breaks out in rashes and gets blotchy or itchy in response to products or weather. Sensitive skin is not a skin disorder, but skin disorders (like rosacea or eczema) can make skin sensitive. Taking care of sensitive skin can be challenging. It takes a lot of time to figure out which ingredients cause your skin to flare up. To make this easier, try to introduce new products into your routine one at a time. This doesn’t only apply to skincare, but also cosmetics. Before applying a new product to your face, try patch testing it on your inner forearm. If your forearm shows no signs of irritation, you can try applying it to your face. Korean skincare is known for it's abundance of mild, soothing formulas that are perfect for sensitive skin. 


I want to repeat what I mentioned at the beginning of this post: skin type is not set thing, it can change. Our skin’s needs can change over time, and it’s important that we regularly check up on our skin to determine whether our skin has changed and if our skincare routine needs adjustments.  
Over the next couple of weeks I will try to go more into depth about each skin type and what products to use and what to avoid. 

See you next week! 
XXX- Soha

Bibhuti Dhakal
8 Oct 2020
This was really helpful. Thank you so much
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