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How Do I Figure Out My Skin Type

Tanya Sharma
It's easy to determine your skin type!

If you're in the process of choosing an appropriate skincare regimen, it's important to ask yourself how do I figure out my skin type? before you actually purchase anything. With so many products available for various types and conditions, it can be quite a daunting task determining the right lineup for your skin. Fortunately, the first step - determining your skin type - is relatively simple.

Know Your Skin

Maybe your skin is consistently flaky. Maybe it's your nose that shines like an oil slick all day long. Or maybe your cheeks are constantly red and irritated. Perhaps you even deal with all three of these problems - or maybe you don't deal with any of them. It's quandaries like these that lead women to ask, how do I figure out my skin type? There's a name for everything described here, and there are millions who deal with each on a regular basis.

Skin type is dependent on three main factors:

  • Sensitivity levels, which denote the skin's tolerance and resistance
  • Lipid content, which renders the skin healthy and soft
  • Water content, which promotes moisture and comfort

In order to determine your skin's condition, it's helpful to become familiarized with the various skin types:

  • Normal skin is generally healthy. It is free of visible pores and imperfections, boasts a sufficiently balanced amount of both lipid and water content and is not overtly sensitive. The texture is smooth and even.
  • Dry skin is dull and occasionally red, and often marked by flakes and rough patches. The pores are practically invisible, and the skin may be normal or oily at times. It is usually quite delicate and responds negatively to environmental stressors, such as excessive cold or heat.
  • Oily skin is usually shiny in the T-zone (the area comprised of the forehead, nose and chin) and may suffer from blackheads and blemishes. Pores are also enlarged. Oiliness may be extreme or may change in response to hormones and the environment. Excess sebum production may cause the skin to appear waxy and thick.
  • Combination skin, as one might imagine, is a little bit of everything. The T-zone may be oily, while other parts, such as the cheeks, may feel occasionally rough. Usually the skin is either excessively oily or dry.
  • Sensitive skin is essentially defined as the type that responds negatively to products or weather conditions. Individuals may suffer from redness, stinging, itchiness, rashes and, in some cases, even psoriasis or eczema.

Just How Do I Figure Out My Skin Type?

Determining your skin type is usually quite simple. You probably know if you're dry or oily, as you will usually see visible evidence of each type on a regular basis. In order to be completely sure, though, give yourself an at-home "test" of sorts. Here is what you'll need to do:

  1. Begin by washing your face with a mild cleanser.
  2. Pat it dry with a towel.
  3. Take a sheet of rice paper (such as Palladio's) or an eyeglass lens cleaning cloth and press it firmly onto the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead.

That's it! Now it's time to "read" your results:

  • If your skin is oily, the paper or cloth will stick to your skin, lift up oil and appear translucent.
  • If your skin is dry, the paper or cloth will not stick or lift up oil.
  • If your skin is combination or normal, the paper or cloth may stick to your T-zone or parts of it.

Sensitive skin, of course, is not usually detectable with a test like this. However, it's usually evident if the skin reacts strongly to everything from the weather to various products (in many cases, most products cause reactions, making it difficult to determine what to use). Specific ingredients, such as fragrance, alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, alcohol, lanolin and retinoids, are often to blame, so sensitive skinned individuals may opt for natural or organic skin care products.

Of course, it's impossible to know how your skin will respond to a product without trying it first - and truth be told, anyone can experience a reaction, even if the skin is not normally considered sensitive. That's why it's helpful to conduct a patch test 24 hours prior to using the product. Simply rub it into the forearm skin and avoid washing the area. If your skin remains clear, you should be safe. At the first sign of discomfort from any product, however, discontinue use immediately.

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How Do I Figure Out My Skin Type