Before you can work out an effective skin care routine, you need to know your skin type — the secret to healthy skin lies in knowing your type and understanding what may impact on it. You also need to remember that changes to the skin can occur due to both external and internal influences and that, unlike your blood type, for instance, your skin type can and probably will change over time.

Identifying Your Skin Type

To determine your skin type, wash your face with a mild, chemical-free cleanser, then rinse and gently pat the skin dry. Wait for at least an hour. Using a number of small facial tissues, pat each area of the face, and examine the tissue for oily residue or flakes of skin.

  •  If there is oily residue on all the tissues, your skin is oily.
  • If the oily residue is located in the central panel of the face, you have combination skin.
  • If your skin feels “tight” and there are flakes of skin on the tissues, your skin is dry.
  • If the tissues come away clean and clear from your face, you have normal skin.

What Influences Skin Type?

There are a number of factors that can influence skin type. These include age, ingredients in skin care products, environmental factors such as air quality and humidity, natural oil production in the body, damage from the sun, diet, medication, smoking, hormonal activity, genetic predisposition, and skin disorders.

Know What Works For Your Skin

A range of natural, chemical-free products that are suitable for your skin type and offer built-in protection from sun damage should work well for most people.

Lighter serums and lotions are good for normal or combination skin. Oily skin responds well to liquids and gels, while for dry skin, moisture-intensive creams and lotions are the best option.

Check the ingredients in your chosen skin care product range and ensure there is nothing that will irritate your skin or make existing problems worse. If you’re unsure about this, a dermatologist can advise you on ingredients to avoid.

Skin types can change over time, and you may develop sensitivity to certain ingredients. Your skin’s elasticity and softness may vary due to fluctuations in hydration and antioxidant levels, too.

Normal Skin

Normal skin still needs care to protect it from premature aging and to maintain the right level of hydration and nourishment. This type of skin can react to environmental changes, hormonal activity, drugs and diet, so you must monitor your skin condition closely and adjust your skin care routine to deal with any changes.

Combination Skin

This skin type has larger pores in the central T-zone, which includes the nose, chin and centre of the forehead. This area is almost always shiny and oily. The rest of the face is likely to be dry or normal, so you may need to use different skin care products for each area.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is often sensitive skin. It is frequently easily irritated, so it may be difficult to find suitable skin care products. Therefore it’s even more important to use natural, chemical-free products to minimise the risk of reaction.

Oily Skin

This skin type is more common in young adults and adolescents, due to increased hormonal activity and overproduction of oil by the sebaceous glands. Certain ethnic skin types are also more prone to oily skin, such as Caribbean, African, Asian and Mediterranean. The pores are enlarged and more visible compared to other skin types. Blemishes and blackheads are a common feature with oily skin, although the skin may show comparatively fewer signs of aging than other types.

Sensitive Skin

Common causes of sensitive skin are rosacea, dermatitis, acne and genetic factors. Sensitive skin can cause dryness, burning, redness, itching and general irritation. Avoid skin care products containing alcohol and perfumes and opt for natural, soothing ingredients such as chamomile.

A basic understanding of your skin type and the kind of skin care products you should be using is the key to choosing the best skin routine for you. Eat a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and antioxidants and drink enough water to keep your skin hydrated. This makes for healthy skin from the inside out, and it will help to keep you looking young and radiant, no matter what your age!