Decoding Your Skin Type

Decoding Your Skin Type
Decoding Your Skin Type

Time and again we hear how overwhelming it can be to walk into the beauty department of a store and find literally thousands of different skin care products. On a recent visit, I noticed one prestige line of skin care alone has 27 different moisturizers. Nighttime, Daytime, Day and Nighttime; for Face, for Eyes, for Décolleté; Lotions, Creams, Serums, Gels; for Dry Skin, for Normal Skin, for Oily Skin; with SPF, without SPF and every combination of these you can imagine.

It’s no wonder more and more women are choosing not to choose, and are using a much simpler system for the basics of healthy skin care: a product to cleanse, occasionally a product to exfoliate, a product to hydrate, and a product to protect. But even with this much simpler approach you will probably have to select your products by skin type, so here’s how you can tell if you’re “Oily” or “Combination,” “Normal” or “Sensitive.”

Read more about what your skin says about your health

Oily Skin

Oily skin is most often a result of overactive sebaceous glands, which sit at the base of each hair follicle and produce sebum, or oil. Most often a result of genetics, oily skin can also be caused by long-term damage to your skin’s natural protective barrier – the outermost “layer” or skin.

This is probably your skin type if your nose and forehead tend to be oily in as little as an hour after cleansing. You most likely are prone to blemishes and breakouts, and have larger pores. Look for products that contain jojoba oil, which is said to regulate the production of sebum, and avoid products with petroleum ingredients and silicone – these can both clog pores.

Dry Skin

There are numerous causes of dry skin. Of course, hereditary low sebum production is the primary factor, but sun exposure, climate and other environmental factors can also play a significant role in drying out your skin. If your skin feels tight after cleansing and if moisturizer absorbs immediately but still leaves you parched, your skin is dry.

Just as jojoba oil can help stave production of sebum in oily skin, it can promote production of sebum in dry skin. Look also for products formulated with botanical oils, which tend to be more effective hydrators than mineral oils, and products with high glycerin content, which attracts moisture and locks it into your skin. People with dry skin should be especially careful with their sun exposure, which evaporates moisture, and harsh “soaps” that contain sulfates which are very drying.

Combination Skin

Ironically, combination skin, often referred to as “Normal Skin,” requires the most complex care because it can be both oily and dry. Typically, if your T-Zone is oily while outlying areas of the face – forehead, cheeks, and chin, are drier, you have normal skin. Your pores are likely not noticeable and your skin tone is even.

While the temptation might be to find a “one size fits all” solution, the best treatment is a combination of products targeting certain areas – lighter moisturizers for oily patches, heavier moisturizers for dry patches. Avoid over moisturizing, which can result in increased oil production, or over-cleansing, which can irritate and inflame dry areas.

Sensitive Skin

Interestingly, over 60% of women claim to have sensitive skin; often on top of dry or combination skin. By definition, sensitive skin tends to be thin and delicate, has fine pores, and is prone to allergic reactions and rashes.

This skin type is most vulnerable to harsh chemicals in skin care, and can be easily aggravated by certain ingredients. While everyone should look for healthy skin care formulations, people with sensitive skin in particular should avoid products with synthetic fragrance (‘parfum’), parabens, mineral oils, alcohol, menthol and citrus extracts.

Read more about dangerous ingredients in kids’ cosmetic “toys”

Knowing your skin type is the first step in a healthy skin care regimen. By selecting products that appropriate to your “type,” you are giving your skin the nutrition it needs to normalize. Normal skin is not only the best looking skin, it is also the healthiest skin.

Skin Type Signs
Oily Skin Large pores, oily after cleansing, blemish prone.
Dry Skin Tight and parched even after hydration, small pores, rough.
Combination / Normal Skin Oily T-Zone, dry outlying areas, even skin tone.
Sensitive Skin Red, uneven skin tones, fine pores.

Image: -Salvaje-

Leave a Comment
Bill Baker is the General Manager of Consonant Body Organic Skincare. In addition to leading the company’s innovations in natural personal care products, Bill campaigns for greater industry and government oversight of cosmetics ingredients, manufacturing, and labeling. To learn more, please visit