We've all purchased skincare at some point that we thought was good for our skin but ended up breaking out or was left incredibly dry and tight. It's not always that the products were bad, it's that they weren't ideal for our skin type.
When deciding on which skincare products are best for your specific needs, it is first important to understand which skin type you actually have.
Do you Really Know Your Skin Type?
Just because you get shiny throughout the day doesn't actually mean you have oily skin. There are a few skin type myths out there, and we are going to debunk them all. This post will take you back to basics and help you understand what skin type you actually have.
Skin Type Myths
One of the most common skin type myths says that if you have excess oil topically, it is due to having an oily skin type. While occasionally true, this is not always the case.
Often when skin is excessively dry, it triggers oil production in an attempt to compensate for this dryness. The majority of "oily skin" I see is actually "dry skin" that is trying to moisturize itself.
Lipids do Feed Skin
Another myth I hear is, "oily skin does not need oil." There is a fear among oily skin types that using facial oils will cause breakouts. Not all oil is created equal. The reality is that some oils, rich in specific essential fatty acids, are fantastic for oily skin and can even treat acne.
There is a saying that, like treats like. This is very effective in skincare. By using an oil topically, you can trick your skin into thinking it has enough sebum, and it will slow down its natural oil production.
Now that we've learned a little bit about how skin works, let take a closer look at our own.
Signs in Your Skin
The easiest way to unlocking your skin type is through your pores! Grab a mirror and take a closer look. Can you even see your pores? Are your pores so prevalent they are staring right back at you? Can you see pores in some places but not others?
No matter what skin type you have, pores are more prevalent through the center of your face. This area is often referred to as the T- Zone, which spreads over your forehead, nose, and chin. Keeping that in mind, look are the pores on your cheeks as a reference.
Pore size is not the only indicator of skin type. Let's now look at some other factors. How is the texture of your skin? Is it smooth, or is it rough? Can you see flaky spots of excess skin?
Does your skin feel tight when you move your face? The texture and consistency of your skin, along with pore size, will give you a better understanding of what type of skin you actually have.
The Four Skin Types: Normal, Oily, Dry and Combination
Oily Skin Type
If you have noticeable pores all over your face, more than likely, you have an oily skin type. If you can hardly see pores anywhere, more than likely, you have a dry or normal skin type.
Oily skin characteristics
More noticeable pores over the entire face.
Supple skin. Skin does not feel tight when you move your face.
Less noticeable wrinkles.
Skin has a dewy finish and a light layer of sebum across the surface.
As skin ages, wrinkles are minimal.
Normal Skin Type
If you can see pores through your T-Zone but not on your cheeks, more than likely, you have a normal or combination skin type.
Normal Skin Characteristics
Pores are minimal through T-Zone and almost non-existent over the rest of the face.
Skin feels supple, smooth, and does not feel tight.
Skin has a satin finish, not overly dewy or matte.
As skin ages, wrinkles are minimal.
Dry Skin Characteristics
Pores are tiny and almost non-existent.
Skin feels tight when bare.
Skin has a matte finish and a noticeable rough texture.
In some parts of the face, there are patches of flaky excess skin As skin ages, wrinkles are prevalent.
Combination Skin Characteristics
Pores are noticeable in some areas and non-existent in others.
Some areas seem tight, rough, and have texture, while others are smooth. Often, cheeks are dry while T-Zone is oily.
Some areas of the face are flaky with excess skin, while others shiny with excess sebum.
Now that you have a better idea of what your skin type might be, let's look at some of the most common skin concerns, things like acne, sensitivity, dehydration, pigmentation, and aging skin. These concerns can plague any skin type. Looking at this list, you might find you identify with one or even all of these skin issues. As you learn more about each concern, you'll come to find that dehydration is a precursor for almost every item listed.
Sensitivity -Redness and irritation topically, often accompanied by distended capillaries and visible blood vessels.
Pigmentation- Dark spots on the skin caused by an excess production of melanin due to extended sun exposure, inflammation, injury, or hormone stimulation.
Aging- Wrinkling, loss of elasticity, laxity, and rough-textured appearance due to intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
Congestion- Comedones, pustules, and congested pores created by the build-up of dead skin and debris in the pore and often accompanied by inflammation.
Dehydration -Uneven tone and texture with exaggerated line depth, due to lack of skin hydration.
Dehydration & Your Lipid Barrier
Your skin is pretty amazing. It has its own built-in defense system called the Lipid Barrier. The Lipid Barrier has two functions, to keep the outside world out and to lock moisture in preventing it from evaporating through the skin's surface in an activity called transepidermal water loss or TEWL for short.
When micro-particles of pollution sneak their way through the Lipid Barrier, they wreak havoc, causing inflammation, cellular damage, destroying DNA, and can even lead to premature aging. When skin's defenses are thinned, TEWL allows moisture to evaporate through the surface, leaving skin dry and dehydrated.
This dehydration left untreated evolves into larger issues like dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. This means that one problem, dehydration, can actually cause all other skin concerns. So, what's the thing we should be doing everything in our power to stop? Dehydration! Okay, but how do we do that?
How to Protect your Skin
The best way to protect your skin from dehydration and all other dehydration derived concerns is to beef up your barrier! Your Lipid Barrier is the front line of defense against all your skin concerns. It locks in moisture, it prevents inflammation and age inducing damage, and it is home to all the resident microbiota that inhabit your skin's surface.
Harsh detergents and chemicals strip your skin of its natural barrier and kill necessary bacteria that helps keep breakouts at bay.
Use the Right Product for your Skin Type
Using products ill-fitting for your skin type, also weaken your skin's defenses. By having a better understanding of your skin type, you are now able to pick products appropriate to your skin's needs, aiding its incredible barrier!
About the Author:
The Organic Esthetician
Katie has six years of licensed esthetics experience. She’s worked in salons, high end skincare boutiques and luxury spas. She’s performed hundreds of facials on every skin type imaginable, men and women. She has quired some pretty unique and specific knowledge about holistic skincare, ingredients, formulation and the practical application of these to treat skin disorders. While organic skincare is her obsession, education is her passion.