What’s My Skin Type: The 4 Different Skin Types
There are four main categories of skin, and identifying which yours is can be incredibly useful on how to care for it. The four main kinds of skin are normal, dry, oily, and combination. Identifying which type of skin will help you tremendously in developing your unique skincare routines and treatment.
Let’s dive into each one a little more.
Normal Skin Type
Normal skin is classified as well balanced, not oily, and not dry. “Normal” might seem like a funny word to describe a type of skin that is not inherently the standard, but rather seeing it as “well-balanced” is a good way to distinguish it.
Dry Skin Type
Dry skin may look ashy, rough, and dull. Generally, dry skin produces less sebum than well-balanced skin. Due to that lack of sebum, dry skin doesn’t contain the lipids that it would need to absorb moisture in the skin, helping it build a protective layer.
Dry skin may start flaking when scratched and may be particularly sensitive to fragrance in skincare products.
Oily Skin Type
Oily skin is visible as a gloss-like shine across your face, with visible pores, and affects the entire area of your face. Oily skin has a heightened production of sebum, called seborrhea, that can clog pores and may lead to an increased risk for breakouts.
Combination Skin Type
This skin type is marked by its variation from area to area. Combination skin is oily in the T-zone (the area of your face that’s made up of the forehead and nose) but also has normal skin in other places. As the name suggests, combination skin is when different areas of your face have a different texture.
Combination skin is caused by the overproduction of sebum causes the excess oil in the T-zone. The dry parts of your combination skin are caused by a lipid deficiency and lack of sebum.
Identifying Normal Skin
Normal skin is the skin that we aim for. The hallmark of normal skin is an even, rosy, fresh complexion that is free of blemishes.
Normal skin is really just well-balanced skin. This skin type is not necessarily “normal,” but rather what is considered to be the most even and healthy skin type.
Normal, well-balanced skin consists of:
- Fine pores
- Good blood circulation
- Soft and smooth texture, no dry patches
- Even complexion
- No blemishes or acne
- Not sensitive
Identifying Dry Skin
Dry skin, also known as Xerosis cutis, is skin that produces less sebum than you need to achieve normal, well-balanced skin. It needs to hold in moisture but is unable to because it doesn’t contain the lipids that would help do so. The missing lipids also result in a less-effective protective layer against bacteria and other external forces.
Because of this, the skin barrier is naturally weaker.
Dry skin exists in different levels of severity. It’s important to note that more women than men struggle with this skin type. This skin type can continue to dry out as you age, which may make wrinkles and lines on your face look more pronounced and visible.
Dry skin has some of these qualities:
- Skin feels rough or tight
- Skin is in constant need of rehydration
- Persistent perspiration leads to water loss that depletes water from the skin’s deepest layers.
Dry skin will look ashy, rough, and dull.
Overall, dry skin produces less sebum from the oil glands than well-balanced skin. Due to that lack of sebum, dry skin doesn’t contain the lipids that it would need to absorb moisture in the skin, helping it build a protective layer and retain hydration.
Identifying Various Degrees of Dryness In Your Skin
Dry skin can range from a little bit dry to extremely dry. Many factors (both internal and external) can disrupt the skin’s capability of absorbing and retaining moisture and staying hydrated.
These are the key differences between dry skin, very dry skin, and extremely dry skin:
- Feels rough and dry
- Texture is a bit coarse
Very Dry Skin:
- Scaling, flakiness, skin shedding in patches
- Rough and uneven appearance
- Exaggerated signs of aging
- Potential itchiness
- Likely more sensitive
Extremely Dry Skin:
- Can additionally affect the hands, feet, elbows, and knees, all those areas that get chapped in the cold.
- Chapping and cracks in the skin
- Calluses formed
- Extreme scaling
- High level of itchiness
- Common on dehydrated and elderly individuals
- Often causes sensitive skin types
Identifying Oily Skin
Oily skin means that you have a high level of sebum being produced in your skin, a condition known as seborrhea.
Many things can cause this overproduction, but the most common are:
- Hormone shifts
- Anxiety and Stress
- Sensitivity to make-up
Oily skin is made up of enlarged pores that are highly visible and usually affect the T-zone. Oily skin is especially common in those going through puberty.
- Large, visible pores
- Shiny face
- Prone to blackheads, whiteheads, dead skin cells, and all forms of acne
- Appears most commonly on the neck, shoulders, back, and chest
- Papules and pustules can appear in more severe cases, causing inflammation and redness
Identifying Combination Skin
Your forehead, nose, and chin make up the area known as the T-zone on your face. Combination skin is when you have an oily T-zone but a dryer rest of your face (cheeks).
Combination skin can be defined by:
- Oily T-zone
- Large pores with blackheads or whiteheads
- Normal or dry cheeks
Evaluating Your Skin Type
Understanding your specific skin type and identifying your unique requirements when it comes to skincare can be hugely beneficial in aiding you along your skincare journey.
There are both internal and external factors that affect your skin, like climate, pollution, medicine, anxiety and stress, genetics, and sweat can alter how your skin appears. Additionally, the kind of moisture your skin is receiving through the products you choose for your skincare routine.
By identifying your skin type, you can choose skincare products like creams, lotions, exfoliating routines, and serums that best aid you in your specific set of skincare needs, as there are many factors that affect your skin.
Maybe you remember how quickly your skin changed in junior high, how almost overnight you were tossed into a new world of skincare needs that you had no idea how to address.
Whether it was oily, dry, or combination, you were not alone. Skin changes many times in this life as we evolve, grow, and age.
Those who have oily skin when they’re young teenagers could end up with drier skin toward the end of their teen years. Similarly to those who have normal skin may acquire a drier skin tone with age. Skin ages along with the rest of you. It loses its elasticity, along with potential changes in its pigmentation.
Basically, skin is anything but consistent, and the skin you have now is likely not the same type of skin you’ll have in a decade.
Skin Color and Ethnicity
Skin color is partly determined by genetics and ethnicity. It is affected by how much time you spend in the sun, pigmentation disorders, skin irritation, and swelling.
The density of the epidermis (uppermost layer of the skin) determines how much melanin your skin will produce to pigment your skin.
Skin that is especially sensitive or easily irritated will generally be more reactive than other skin types. By identifying redness, rashes, stinging, itching, burning, or irritation, you will be able to determine which type of condition it is.
Not everyone reacts to the same triggers or factors in the same way. What might not pose a problem to someone with normal skin might be a source of irritation to more oily skin.
Sensitive skin can be a lifelong condition. But for some people, their skin sensitivity only pops up when exposed to a certain trigger. If you notice that your skin is affected by external factors like extreme heat or extreme cold, or a specific product, that could be a sign to keep an eye on your surroundings. Then, you can try to be preemptive about what irritants you expose yourself to.
The symptoms you experience within these conditions or products will only be exacerbated the longer you are around them. If you notice specific makeup or cleansers that dry out your skin or cause redness, irritation, or sensitivity, it’s likely a sign to stop using them.
In addition to finding the proper skin routine for your specific skin type, it’s extremely critical to wear SPF. Beyond those two, always remember to gently remove your makeup before you go to bed at night and make sure to wash your pillowcases often.
Excess Sebum and Sweat Production
The sebaceous gland controls the amount of sebum that is produced in the skin, and thus, affecting the quality of your skin. When sebum is produced in a high quantity, your skin will become excessively oily. When sebum is produced in too low of a quantity, your skin will become dry.
The body contains preparatory glands in the skin, which help regulate your body's temperature. This means that being exposed to extreme temperatures for long periods may interrupt this process, and sweating a lot can exacerbate your oily skin.
It’s essential to set our skin up for success by giving it ingredients that help it bind to water and retain moisture. Hydrated skin leads to healthy and sustained elasticity in the skin, as well as maintaining firmness. When the protective barrier of the skin is damaged, it is much harder to hydrate your skin, leading to more problems.
Identify and Conquer
Knowing which skin type you are of the four different kinds will lead to increased knowledge of how to treat your specific skin for the most optimum results and is the first step in understanding how to achieve a glowing, fresh, youthful complexion.
Exfoliating, cleansing, and moisturizing techniques and ingredients will all vary based on skin type, so understanding which type you are is exceedingly important.
The Baumann Skin Type Indicator | ResearchGate
Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options | NCBI
Dry skin management: practical approach in light of latest research | NIH