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Dry, oily, sensitive or combination: How to determine your skin type?

There are various skin types, and knowing what you have can help you choose the right regime and products for healthy skin.
a woman touching her cheek
Skin is divided into various categories based on hydration, oil production, sensitivity and texture. Image courtesy: Freepik
Anjuri Nayar Singh Updated: 10 Jul 2024, 03:04 pm IST
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The Cleansing-Moisturising-Toning routine is a given for a healthy skincare regime, but different skin types have different needs. Choosing the right products, depending on your skin type – dry, oily, sensitive or combination – can go a long way in keeping skin problems at bay. While some people have oily skin and require a water-based moisturiser, others with sensitive skin may need a product that helps them stay acne-free. So, the bottom-line is to know how to know your skin type!

What do we mean by skin type?

Skin type is categorised based on the natural characteristics of the skin and the way it is impacted by different conditions. “These conditions include hydration, oil production, sensitivity and texture. Understanding your skin type is vital for selecting appropriate skincare products and therapies to keep it healthy,” explains dermatologist Priyanka Kuri.

Multiple factors can impact your skin. These include your age, regular sun exposure, other environmental factors, diseases, hormonal changes, diet and medications. A study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology divides skin into various skin-type classifications based on sensitivity, hydration, oiliness, elasticity, and skin tone, as well as five corresponding subcategories such as erythema, roughness, pores, wrinkles, and pigmentation, respectively.

What are the various types of skin?

The most common types of skin include normal, oily, dry, combination and sensitive.

1.Normal skin

Normal skin is balanced. It is neither too oily nor too dry. If you have normal skin, you will notice that it has minimal imperfections and a healthy complexion.

2. Oily skin

Excessive sebum and oil production on skin often gives you a shiny appearance. With this skin type, you are likely to have acne problems as well as enlarged pores.

3. Dry skin

Dry skin lacks enough moisture leading it to look rough or scaly. Plus, sometimes it may be sensitive too.

A woman applying cream on her cheek
Skincare products must be applied keeping in mind the skin type. Always do a patch test before. Image courtesy: Freepik

4. Combination skin

Combination skin type is characterised by both oily as well as patches but especially around the T-Zone, that is the forehead-nose-chin. It is more greasy than any other areas, while your cheeks would appear dry all the time.

5. Sensitive skin

This one is always prone towards such reactions like redness, itching or burning and this occurs mostly when certain products have been used in addition to some factors in your surroundings.

How to classify skin types?

There are various ways of determining the kind of skin you have. According to a study published in Cosmetics, The Fitzpatrick Skin Phototype Classification and the Baumann Skin Type System are popular instruments used for skin type classification.

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The Fitzpatrick Skin Phototype Classification method is a system that uses the response to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure to assess skin. The method divides types into six categories. It sets a range from ‘I’, that has very fair skin that always burns, never tans to ‘VI’, skin that is deeply pigmented, dark brown or black skin that never burns and always tans. The classification is based on the amount of melanin pigment in the skin and how the skin reacts to sun exposure. In this method, a series of questions are asked about the colour of the eyes and hair colour, skin colour, freckles, and reaction to sun exposure.

The Baumann Skin Type System is a division system that comprises 16 distinct skin types. These are determined by a scientifically validated questionnaire known as the Baumann Skin Type Indicator (BSTI). The system is based on four main skin characteristics: dry versus oily, sensitive versus resistant, pigmented uneven skin toned versus non-pigmented even-toned, and wrinkle-prone versus tight non-wrinkle prone, states this study in Dermatologic Clinics.

How to determine your skin type at home

It is very simple to understand your skin type at home. You can follow this procedure for the same.

  • Start by washing your face using a mild cleanser and patting it dry.
  • Leave it for an hour to allow the skin to go back to its normal condition, make sure to use no products.
  • By observing your skin, you will be able to note its texture. You ca check for oiliness, dryness or sensitivity. “You can as well use blotting paper in different facial areas to see how much oil is being absorbed; that can show if you are oily skinned,” says Dr Kuri. Deciding on the category of skin type is a result of these observations and such tests.

Skincare for different skin types

1. Oily Skin

If your skin is oily, use non-comedogenic and oil-free skincare products. Cleanse your face twice a day to remove the excess oils from it thereby avoiding clogged pores. “Use gentle exfoliators once per week to remove dead cells which may lead to acne. Pick light-weight moisturizers based on water that can maintain hydration at bay without causing more oils,” says Dr Kuri.

Also Read: Best water-based moisturisers for oily skin: 6 top picks

2. Dry skin

Moisturise your parched skin by applying a heavy-duty hydrating lotion right after cleansing. Avoid alcohol, fragrance or harsh chemical-based products that strip natural oils off your body. “Get mild hydrating cleaners instead of those with large amounts of foam when looking for them. Drink enough water and maybe put up some air humidifier in your room,” says Dr Kuri.

3. Combination Skin

Combination skin requires you to balance your routine. Use different products for different areas of your face if needed. “You can use oil-absorbing products on the T-zone and hydrating products on dry areas,” says Dr Kuri. Opt for a gentle cleanser suitable for all skin types. Choose a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturiser to balance hydration. Also, use spot treatments for oily areas and rich creams for dry patches.

Also Read: Best serums for combination skin: 6 top picks for proper hydration

4. Sensitive skin

Always do a patch test before using new products to check for adverse reactions. Stay away from products with fragrance, alcohol, and harsh chemicals. “Opt for products specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Keep your skincare routine minimal to reduce the risk of irritation,” says Dr Kuri.

skin care products
Make sure to be consistent while trying out skincare products to get results. Image courtesy: Freepik

What to remember while using skincare products

Make sure to remember a few things while trying out new products in your skincare routine.

  • Always test new products on a small area of skin to check for reactions.
  •  Use products as directed, and avoid overuse to prevent irritation or adverse effects.
  • Stick to a consistent skincare routine for the best results.
  •  Always use sunscreen during the day to protect your skin from UV damage.

Summary

It is very important to understand your skin type before you decide to buy products or try skincare routines for your skin. Skin types are divided into many categories such as sensitive skin, dry skin, oily skin, and combination skin. Each skin type has products specifically designed for the various needs it presents. However, make sure to do a patch test before trying a new product.

 

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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