The Basics of Skin Types and How to Identify Yours

Posted by Emily van Oosterom on

Understanding your skin type is the foundation of effective skincare. Your skin type determines the products and routines that will work best for you. In this blog post, we'll delve into the different skin types, how to identify your own, and provide tailored skincare tips for each type.

The Importance of Knowing Your Skin Type

Your skin is unique, and its needs can vary significantly from someone else's. The key to a successful skincare routine is knowing your skin type, as it allows you to choose products and practices that address your specific concerns. Whether your skin is dry, oily, combination, or sensitive, identifying its characteristics will guide you toward achieving a healthy and radiant complexion.

The Five Common Skin Types

  1. Normal Skin: Normal skin is well-balanced, with neither excessive oiliness nor dryness. It has a smooth texture, small pores, and an even tone. Normal skin types are fortunate to have fewer issues and can benefit from a basic skincare routine to maintain their natural glow.

  2. Oily Skin: Oily skin tends to produce excess sebum, leading to a shiny appearance, enlarged pores, and a higher likelihood of acne. Effective skincare for oily skin involves controlling oil production while maintaining hydration and preventing breakouts.

  3. Dry Skin: Dry skin lacks sufficient moisture and can feel tight and rough. It may also be prone to flakiness, redness, and fine lines. Hydration is the key to managing dry skin, and products that provide deep moisture and protect the skin's barrier are essential.

  4. Combination Skin: Combination skin is a mix of different types, with some areas being oily (usually the T-zone, which includes the forehead, nose, and chin) and others being normal or dry. Balancing the needs of different areas is crucial for managing combination skin.

  5. Sensitive Skin: Sensitive skin is prone to irritation, redness, and reactions to certain products or environmental factors. It requires gentle and hypoallergenic skincare products that soothe and calm the skin.

Identifying Your Skin Type

  1. The Bare-Faced Test: Start with a freshly cleansed face and observe it for an hour. If your skin feels comfortable and looks balanced, you likely have normal skin. If it appears oily, you might have oily skin. If it feels tight and shows signs of dryness, you probably have dry skin.

  2. Blotting Paper Test: Press blotting paper onto different areas of your face. If the paper picks up oil from your forehead, nose, and chin, but not from your cheeks, you likely have combination skin.

  3. Reaction Test: If your skin reacts easily to new products with redness, itching, or stinging, you might have sensitive skin. Keep track of these reactions to inform your skincare choices.

Tailoring Your Skincare Routine

  1. Normal Skin Care: Stick to a simple routine with a gentle cleanser, serum, moisturiser, and sunscreen. Regular exfoliation can help maintain the natural radiance.

  2. Oily Skin Care: While it can seem natural to remove oil when you have oily skin, using an oil cleanser can help here, by teaching your skin to produce less oil, follow this with a lightweight, balancing serum and/or moisturiser, non-comedogenic moisturizers and sunscreens. Incorporating gentle exfoliants and occasional clay masks may also help.  When dealing with enlarged pores, consider using a product that incorporates bakuchiol (rather than harsh retinol) or a product containing peptides, to shrink the appearance of pores and help tighten the skin.  Acne-prone skin types should look for natural balancing, anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as blue tansy and bakuchiol, to combat breakouts.

  3. Dry Skin Care: Opt for a gentle, non-stripping cleanser, a serum that focuses on reducing transepidermal moisture loss, a rich moisturizer, and products containing hyaluronic acid to maximise hydration. Regular, gentle exfoliation and the use of nourishing oils can also help combat dryness.

  4. Combination Skin Care: Use a mild cleanser, a lightweight serum, and a balanced moisturiser followed by a light sunscreen. Gentle exfoliation can help balance the skin's texture.  

  5. Sensitive Skin Care: Choose products labeled as fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Look for ingredients like ceramides and niacinamide that strengthen the skin barrier. Always patch test new products before using them.

Identifying your skin type is the first step towards a skincare routine that truly suits your needs. By understanding your skin's characteristics and addressing its unique concerns, you can achieve a healthy, glowing complexion that reflects your inner beauty.  

Whatever your skin type, what you do from the inside will have a profound effect on the health of you skin.  Drink plenty of water, consume ample healthy fats, and perhaps most importantly - get enough sleep!  It won’t take long to find your glow.



  • Baumann, L. (2008). Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles and Practice. McGraw-Hill Professional.
  • Rawlings, A. V. (2004). Trends in stratum corneum research and the management of dry skin conditions. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 26(2), 63-95.
  • Pagnoni, A., Kligman, A. M., & Elsner, P. (2002). Cosmetic and dermatologic use of alpha hydroxy acids. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 47(5), 814-822.

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