What’s your skin type?

What’s your skin type?

Some guidelines from the International Dermal Institute…

No two skins are the same and an individual skin analysis by a professional therapist is always best, but, for the purposes of finding the best product match for you, it can be useful to think of your basic skin type as normal, dry, combination, oily or sensitive.

So which one are you?

Normal skin

There really is no such thing as ‘normal’ skin but if you have no obvious abnormalities, go for a product suitable for this skin type.

• Produces just the right amount of oil (sebum)
• Does not feel oily or dry under usual circumstances, but can be a little dry on cheeks or slightly oily in the T-zone on occasion
• Does not have prominent pores
• Experiences the occasional blemish or blackhead

Dry skin

This is a skin type that is very commonly misdiagnosed. Many people claim to have a dry skin when, in fact, they are dehydrated (lacking water). If you feel you have dry skin and are using the richest moisturiser you can find with no improvement, you may well be using the wrong product. A lighter, more hydrating product suitable for a dehydrated skin condition may be required.

• Does not produce enough natural oil (sebum) to keep itself soft, comfortable and supple
• Is not prone to shine and remains matte even in the T-zone
• Can experience flakiness, ‘peeling’ and tightness
• Has tiny, almost imperceptible pores
• May have fine dehydration lines
• More likely to be seen in mature skin as sebum production slows with age

Combination skin

• Producing varying amounts of oil (sebum) in different areas, this skin type is characterised by patchiness. It’s possible to be oily in some areas (particularly the T-zone) but normal or dry in others
• Has most visible pores in the T-zone
• Is prone to oily shine, though not necessarily all over the face

Oily skin

• Produces more oil (sebum) than it needs to stay healthy
• May be prone to blemishes, blackheads and breakouts
• Is often shiny all over by lunchtime
• Has larger, visible pores all over

Sensitive skin

A true sensitive skin is relatively uncommon and is part of the genetic make up. People with this skin type are often allergy prone, have a fairer, thinner skin and usually have blonde or red hair.

• People with a Northern European background are more likely to have sensitive skin than people from other backgrounds
• Linked to a genetic history of hayfever, asthma and allergies
• Symptoms include dryness, itching, burning, redness, ‘flare ups’ and stinging
• Triggers can include climatic conditions, diet, hormones, stress or cosmetic products and ingredients
• May become more prone to reaction with age
• Sensitive skin is genetically programmed and, though  reactions can be managed, sensitive skin will be sensitive for life

Some conditions often confused with type

Sensitised skin

A skin condition rather than a type, sensitised skin is distinct
from sensitive skin as there is no genetic predisposition. Sensitised
skin can experience itching, burning, dryness, flushing and stinging.
Sensitised reactions are triggered by environmental factors, including
climate and air quality, skincare products and anything that comes in
contact with the skin. All skin types have the potential to become


Though dry skin is most susceptible, even oily skin can be
dehydrated! Dehydrated skin is lacking in moisture (rather than oil)
and is characterised by a ‘lifeless’ appearance, dullness, flakes, fine
crepe-like lines and feelings of tightness and discomfort.


All skin types are susceptible to damage from incorrect product
usage, the elements and, your skin’s number one enemy, the sun. There
are many signs of damage, including sunburn and redness, discomfort,
unevenness of skin tone and pigmentation, dryness, lines and wrinkling
(90 per cent of the visible signs of ageing is actually sun damage).
Even a golden tan is a sign of sun damage!

Things to remember about your skin

The five basic skin types are general guidelines, not complex tools for diagnosis. If your skin is tough to manage or has characteristics from a few types, a visit to a skin therapist or dermatologist (your GP will need to refer you to a dermatologist) can clarify things for you.

As your skin type is genetic, it rarely changes except with age (e.g less oil production) or hormonal influence. Good home care and regular professional skin treatments can help keep your skin in optimum condition by treating your skin type directly.

However, the condition of your skin can change throughout your life and even season-to-season, depending on factors like climate and your environment, hormones and your age. Speciality products, such as boosters and serums, can be used to treat these conditions as required. Think of your skin as a living, dynamic organ and reassess it regularly.

– Tracey Withers

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