What Is Skin Type?

Simply put, skin type is the description and interpretation of how and why your skin looks, feels, and behaves as it does.

The four most common and reliably helpful skin-type categories used by the cosmetics industry are:

1. Normal (no visible signs of oily or dry areas)
2. Oily (shine appears all over skin, no dry areas at all)
3. Dry (flaking can appear, no oily areas at all, skin feels tight and may look dull)
4. Combination (oily, typically in the central part of the face, and dry or normal areas elsewhere) Often blemish -prone skin is included under the oily or combination skins, although it is sometimes listed as a skin all by itself. Occasionally, sensitive skin may be listed as an individual skin type. However, I feel strongly that all skin should be considered sensitive, and I'll explain why in just a moment.

As nice and neat as those four (or six) categories may be, and they are an excellent starting point, the truth is that understanding your skin is more often than not far more complicated, which is why lots of women find identifying the skin type an elusive, changing puzzle that never settles down in one specific direction. Yet understanding your skin type is incredibly important, and just not in the way the cosmetics industry approaches it or the way we've been indoctrinated to think about it. First, skin is never static. The variations of what is taking place on your skin can not only change season to season but month to month and even week to week. Adding to the complexity is the strong potential of skin disorders such as rosacea (which affects more than 40% of the Caucasian population), eczema, skin discolorations, precancerous conditions, blackheads, sun damage, and whiteheads. Four or six categories of skin just can not cover it.

When it comes to determining your skin you need to forget what you've been taught by cosmetics salespeople, aestheticians, fashion magazines, and even some dermatologists.

The typical categories of normal, oily, dry, and combination are good basics, but they do not address every nuance, and they can change and fluctuate with everything from the weather to your stress levels.

Why is recognizing all the nuances of your skin so important? Because different skin requires different product formulas. Even though many skin types often need the same active ingredients such as sunscreen agents, antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and so on, the base they are in (lotion, cream, gel, serum, or liquid) should match the needs of your skin. it is the single most important factor influencing the decisions we make about the kinds of skin-care routines and products we buy. But we need to be careful about the way we categorize our skin or the very products we thought would help could actually make matters worse.