What is My Skin Type?


When it comes to discovering your skin type, the first thing you need to do is forget everything you’ve read or heard before! From decades of researching skincare products to add to your normal skincare routine, we know much of the information given out by cosmetics salespeople, estheticians, fashion magazines, and even some dermatologists can be incorrect. Why? That information rarely takes into consideration the skincare products you’re using, which can have a major impact on your skin type. That will all change now.

Rethink What 'Skin Type' Means

While the typical categories of oily, dry, combination, and sensitive skin types are good basics, they don't address the wide variety of other problems or nuances that can have an impact on your skin type. Those include acne, sun damage from years of unprotected sun exposure, redness, temperamental skin, clogged pores, or a combination of these skin concerns.

These basic skin type categories also don’t take the degree of each skin type into consideration. For example, having dry to very dry, oily to very oily, or oily and dehydrated skin at the same time. Your skin type is rarely as simple as what the basic categories represent.

Confusing, isn’t it? However, learning what your skin type is exceptionally important as it drives everything about the texture and types of products you should be using. The more you know about your skin type, the more you'll be able to help your skin look and feel as normal as possible, and more normalised skin is the goal.

Problematic Skincare Products Can Hide Your Real Skin Type

Your skincare products can be hiding your real skin type. When skincare products contain harsh, abrasive, or skin-aggravating ingredients, they can trigger problems that wouldn’t normally be there.

For example, if you have dry skin and you’re using the wrong skincare products, your skin can get drier and flakier than it already is. If you have acne and you aren’t using products containing the critical ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, you’re unlikely to ever get the bumps and clogged pores under control or it could aggravate your acne.

Emollient products can make your skin oilier if you already have oily skin. If you’re using a mix of skincare products with harsh ingredients and products that are emollient, you could be creating a combination skin type. This is why it’s so easy to alter your natural skin type with the wrong products!

All of this ends up being the very definition of running your skin around in circles. The merry-go-round stops now. All skin types must avoid these things:

  • Alcohol denatured or SD alcohol
  • Unfriendly ingredients such as menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, citrus oils, citrus juices, lavender, and witch hazel. Non-irritating and gentle are the only appropriate choices for everyone!
  • Thick, heavy occlusive emollients (unless you have extremely dry skin)
  • Fragrance (natural or synthetic, even those labelled with the term "essential oils")
  • Abrasive scrubs
  • Stiff-bristled cleansing brushes
  • Harsh or drying face cleansers

How to Identify Your Real Skin Type

Once you've stopped using all of those problematic ingredients and products on your skin, your real skin type will begin to reveal itself. Now you can take a closer look and start seeing improvements!

Before you grab your mirror to get a closer look at your skin, it's best to wash your face with a gentle face cleanser and then wait about 15 to 30 minutes and see how your skin behaves.

If your skin quickly starts showing oil diffusing over the face, you have oily skin.

If your skin starts experiencing some dryness and feels tight, you have dry skin.

If your T-zone, such as the area around your nose, chin, and central forehead, starts looking oily but your cheeks and jaw area start feeling slightly to moderately dry, you have combination skin. This is the most common skin type because everyone has more oil glands in the centre of their face than on their cheeks.

What about those with a sensitive skin type? At Paula’s Choice Skincare, we recognise that everyone has sensitive skin whether they know it or not. Despite having a normal skincare routine, everyone’s skin is still prone to irritation and damage because it is impacted by various factors such as the environment (think pollution), sun damage from unprotected sun exposure, midlife changes, health concerns, and simple day-to-day activities like taking off your makeup. All of these make the skin vulnerable, temperamental, and unpredictable.

From that viewpoint, it’s easy to understand how everyone needs to treat their skin as if it’s sensitive, because it is! Even more so, if you use anything other than non-irritating, gentle products, it will make any skincare concern you have worse, regardless of skin type.

Choosing the Right Products for Your Skin Type

When you finally discover what your skin type really is, you can make better decisions about the products you should be using. Although all skin types absolutely need the same essential skincare staples such as broad-spectrum sunscreen for the face, antioxidants, skin-replenishing ingredients, and skin-restoring ingredients, the textures of those products need to be very different based on your skin type. Here’s how that works:

  • If you have oily skin, you should only be using products with a light fluid, liquid, thin lotion, or gel texture. Any other texture will make your skin feel oilier and risk clogging pores.
  • If you have dry skin, you should only be using products that have rich lotion, cream, or velvety serum textures.
  • If you have combination skin, you may need to use a mix of skincare products for the dry and oily areas. For dry skin, you would need more emollient products and products with the lightest weight texture are for the oily areas—but can be layered beneath products for the dry areas.

Regardless of the product type, moisturizer, skin toner, face serum, skin booster, or products for uneven skin tone, the brilliant ingredients must be there but the texture is what differs based on your skin type. 

And as we mentioned, here at Paula’s Choice Skincare, most of our products are formulated to be appropriate for those with  sensitive skin. Taking gentle, beautiful care of your skin is our only mission.

Learn more about your skin type here.

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