Well, it’s been a while since I wrote an “Ask Bonnie”, don’t you think? And in my opinion, how to determine your skin type is a perfect question for this blog category! smile
So today, I wanted to focus on a fundamental step when choosing your skincare products and to complement your perfect skincare routine: how to determine your skin type aka the skin diagnosis.
Ideally, of course, the best thing to do is to see a skin professional who can really help you to precisely determine your skin type. But sometimes you don’t have the time / the budget to go to a beauty salon or to see a dermatologist. You may also want to choose your products yourself and there’s nothing wrong with that!
So today, I will help you find your skin type by following some simple steps: observation and questions.
The skin is generally defined in two ways: according to its type, and according to its condition. And no these are not at all the same thing.
– the skin type is usually accurate when you are 20. You can have dry skin, oily skin or combination skin. This can also change with time though.
– the skin condition affects all skin types. It’s often linked to the environment and it can be temporary or become permanent. Some examples: dullness, dehydration, redness, fine lines, wrinkles, sagging…
You can recognize the different skin types and conditions visually, in observing the skin and also according to how you feel your skin during the day.
I would just like to add that in this article, I only speak about feminine skin. In case you are wondering, male skin is a completely different topic! wink
Here I am without an ounce of makeup, and my skin is totally naked (but I’m not, calm down!)! Can you guess what my skin type is just by looking at my skin? wink
The skin observation:
A little trick that can help you if you have no idea of what is your skin type, is the cigarette paper test.
The test requires the following simple steps:
1 – clean and dry the skin of your face,
2 – wait half an hour, which is the time that the sebaceous glands become active,
3 – apply vertically on the face several (cigarette/blotting type) papers:
- – 3 in the center line of the face (nose, forehead, chin)
- – 1 on each side, against the cheek and temple
4 – Press without rubbing for one or two minutes.
The condition of the paper will inform you about the nature of your skin:
– if all the papers have important greasy traces: your skin is oily.
– if the papers placed on the T-zone shows traces of oil but the other doesn’t, your skin is combination.
– if all your papers look clean: your skin is definitely dry.
Let’s see that in more details! smile
The different skin types:
There are mainly 3. I deliberately excluded the “normal” skin, which essentially concerns children.
1 – dry skin:
Dry skin is lacking natural fats (sebum) because the epidermis (the upper part of the skin) doesn’t produce them in enough quantity.
Its characteristics (visual and feel):
– the skin texture is fine and tight (very few visible pores)
– a matte appearance (little or no shine)
– a rough skin to the touch on some areas,
– a lack of comfort, some dryness and tightness that intensifies throughout the day,
– the appearance of fine lines quickly (dry skin ages faster).
The following are generally aggravating factors for dry skin:
– a face cleanser that is too harsh,
– a diet that is poor in essential fatty acids,
– the sun, the wind, the cold,
– extreme climates and an inadequate protection when faced with them,
– the age (the skin produces less and less sebum with age) …
2 – oily skin:
Exactly the opposite of dry skin, oily skin generally produces too much sebum.
– a rather thick skin,
– visible pores,
– an overproduction of sebum with a lot of shine on the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin),
– some occasional blemishes (blackheads, whiteheads, pimples)
– a dull complexion,
– a skin that has a tendency to sag with age (rather than getting wrinkles).
The following are generally some aggravating factors for oily skin:
– your genetic heritage (thanks Mom! wink ),
– any hormonal changes (puberty, stopping the pill, pregnancy, menopause…),
– a hot and humid climate,
– a face cleanser that is too harsh (if it’s too aggressive, the skin reacts by producing more sebum) but also a too rich skincare cream.
3 – combination skin:
The skin is combination when the middle of the face (forehead, nose, chin) tends to be oilier than the rest of the face. The skin of the cheeks may be normal to dry or very dry.
In short, it has the same characteristics as an oily skin on the T-zone and those of dry skin on the rest of the face.
Regarding the condition of the skin, this is less about visual observation and more about measuring the feeling you have of your skin.
The questions to ask yourself:
They will help you to determine the condition of your skin, which is always combined with your skin type.
– How do you feel your skin is at the moment?
You “live” with your skin every day, so you’re most likely to know what your skin type is.
Specifically, there are key moments in the day when your skin “expresses”itself:
– do you wake up with the face of someone who slept all night? (your skin is probably tired)
– the morning after you clean it: is it red, does it feel dry, tight? (if it is, your skin may be dehydrated or sensitive)
– is there any redness that appears during the day? A discomfort? A feeling of tingling? (if the answer is yes, your skin is probably sensitive)
– if you wear makeup, how does your makeup last during the day? Does it last all day or you are left with an almost bare face at the end of the day? (if your skin “eats” your makeup, it’s usually a sign that it’s dehydrated)
In short, you must be attentive to all the little “signs” from your skin to be able to determine its needs and condition.
– How do you take care of your skin every day?
Crucial question! Are the skincare products you use, the right ones for your skin?
If your skin reacts (more or less strongly) with the use of a product, there’s a good chance that it’s not a good match for you. This doesn’t mean its a bad product it’s just probably not the right product for you.
For example, your skin is red and feels tight after using your morning cleanser. Your skin is sensitive and can also probably be dehydrated.
A tip: avoid anything that rubs the skin (like cotton pads) and foaming products or worse with grains, that are very aggressive to the skin. Prefer cleansing milks, creams or balms (yes, even if you have oily skin) and above all, use your hands!
Another example, your skin feels super uncomfortable a few hours after applying your cream. Your skin is probably dry and/or dehydrated.
- How to tell the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin?
A simple trick: Apply a rich cream (= greasy) or even a face oil on your skin (a normal amount, like if you were applying your day cream). Allow a few hours on your skin.
– your skin absorbs it and you feel relieved: your skin is dry, it likes rich and nourishing products.
– your skin doesn’t completely absorb the cream or the oil after a few hours, you are shiny and your skin still feels tight: your skin is dehydrated and will need moisturizing products, based on water/moisturizing ingredients rather than rich ones.
– What are your main concerns about your skin at the moment?
If you notice a change in your skin, it’s usually the sign of the manifestation of a skin condition. This may be temporary but it can also become permanent if it’s not treated.
Another case, the fact that your skin has more redness or discomfort than the usual. This can also be a sign of a loss of balance of your skin.
Of course, a sudden appearance of pimples or blackheads is also to be considered.
In short, as soon as your skin changes, it shows a lack or a need then it means that you must adapt the products you use accordingly.
Here are some examples of different skin conditions:
These are conditions which generally combine with the skin type. All skin types can be affected by one or more of them.
– Dehydrated skin:
This skin condition is often confused with dry skin but the cause is different (although they may look and feel similar).
Dehydrated skin is a skin that lacks water (hydration). All skin types can be dehydrated, at least occasionally.
– a dull aspect/lack of radiance,
– some fine lines and a rough aspect (the skin may even peel) on dehydrated areas,
– a “normal” production of sebum on the central region of the face,
– the makeup is very visible on dehydrated areas,
– a feelings of discomfort and tightness in localized areas.
General aggravating factors can be:
– too hard water,
– a cleanser that is too aggressive, moisturizers that don’t hydrate your skin enough,
– the sun, extreme climates (cold, wind …) and inadequate protection to them,
– the fact of not drinking enough water,
– a diet that is poor in essential fatty acids
– Sensitive skin:
Sensitive skin, also called reactive skin is characterized by the presence of redness on the face or neck, that can systematically occur through contact with water, stress and climate change (cold, wind, sun).
It also tends to react by tingling, itching, or even a burning sensation.
You may have always had a sensitive skin or have weakened your skin over the years by the use of unsuitable and too aggressive skincare products, or because of your lifestyle (stress, smoking, bad diet…) or external aggression (climatic conditions, pollution, excessive exposure to the sun …).
– Tired:dull skin:
A dull skin is a skin which lacks radiance.
It can be a characteristic of oily skin, but it can also be due to:
– the thickening of the skin by accumulation of dead cells which decreases the transparency of the skin,
– a slowdown in the renewal of the skin,
– a poor micro-circulation with results in poor oxygenation of the skin.
Dullness can also be the result of external factors such as cigarette smoke, pollution, or causes such as lack of sleep, stress or age.
– Mature skin:
It’s not just the age that determines if the skin is mature or not, but rather an hormonal situation. At menopause and even pre-menopause, the skin experiences strong changes.
Specifically, this means:
– a drier skin, although sometimes the skin can also experience acne breakouts (because of hormonal changes),
– deeper wrinkles,
– a loss of firmness, with the oval face that tends to sag,
– a dull complexion,
– in certain cases the appearance of age spots,
– a more sensitive skin, redness,
– a thicker skin surface, rougher to the touch.
Hyperpigmentation affects many women, regardless of their skin tone and skin type.
Under the action of the sun, hormonal variations and/or aging, pigmentation disorders come in the form of dark spots but also a less homogeneous complexion with darker areas and duller skin.
This concerns the most exposed areas like the face, chest, legs and back of hands.
I’m not sure I can qualify acne as a “skin condition” as this is more a skin disease. But as it’s quite common, I think it’s still an important thing to consider when you diagnose your skin.
Acne is a chronic disease of the pilosebaceous follicle (the gland which secretes sebum, the root of facial hair), which often occurs in adolescence but also during any hormonal changes (stopping the pill, pregnancy, pre-menopause, menopause …)
It is characterized by:
– a thicker skin
– a hyper-production of sebum (the skin is more oily)
– the presence of black spots and more or less inflamed pimples.
Acne is generally located on the face, neck, chest, shoulders and back.
I probably forgot some very specific cases but let’s say that all these examples are the most frequent ones!
Obviously, it’s not always easy to determine your skin type all by yourself and only a skin expert can help you achieve a more accurate diagnosis! wink
In this article, I didn’t really talk about any treatments for these skin types and conditions but if you’re interested, I published a few months ago a post about the 10 key questions for an effective skincare routine. This may give you some ideas! smile
I hope this was helpful. Please, tell me if this kind more “informative” blog post interests you, if it helps you and it’s not too boring to read… And if you have any topics you would like me to write about, please feel free to leave me a comment! wink wink
The answer for my skin type (and my skin conditions at the moment) is:
– oily skin
– dehydrated skin
– dull/tired skin
– acne prone skin (a result of stopping my birth control)
Did you guess it right? ;P
Photo credits: bonnie-garner.com (I illustrated this article with photos of skincare products I’m using in my own skincare routine at the moment :) ), © Fotolia
Cet article est aussi disponible en français: Comment déterminer son type de peau?