How to identify your skin type

person looking in the mirror at their face

Knowing your skin type is an important factor to consider when creating your perfect skincare routine. Whether your skin is oily, dry or a mixture of both, each of them come with their own set of pros and cons. Understanding where the skin falls on the skin type spectrum is key if you want to build a routine personalised to you.

The basic skin types

You have probably already heard of oily, dry and combination being used when talking about skin types and skin care products, but which one do you have?

Dry skin

Dry skin doesn’t contain enough oil. Dry skin could feel tight or look dull, but extreme dryness can cause the skin to flake, crack or peel. Dehydrated and dry skin can often be used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Dehydrated skin is caused by a lack of water, and it can happen to anyone regardless of their skin type.

Oily skin

Oily skin is characterised by an overproduction of sebum, which is the skins natural oil. This increased oiliness can make the skin appear greasy or shiny and is often accompanied by other skin issues such as enlarged pores and blackheads. Oily skin can be a big contributor to breakouts due to the clogged pores it can create.

Combination skin

Combination skin is a mixture of both dry and oily skin in different areas across the face. Some people with combination skin may have an oilier t-zone (nose, chin and forehead), whilst their cheeks may be drier.

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin usually reacts to stressors, which include skin care products. The degree of sensitivity can vary from person to person and some people only feel mild irritation, whilst other people with sensitive skin can suffer with itching, redness and discomfort. However, sensitivity isn’t always visible, and it can be about how the skin feels.

Normal skin

‘Normal’ skin is neither too dry nor too oily, it sits just in the middle. ‘Normal’ skin is characterised by skin that is well balanced and displays no consistent skin issues.

Can your skin type change?

Over time your skin type can, and probably will change. When you are a teenager, it is common to have blemish-prone or oily skin. However, this doesn’t mean you will have oily skin for the rest of your life. In fact, your skin gets drier as you get older, so it is not uncommon for it to change.

The climate you live in can also influence your skin type. For example, cold, dry air is often linked to dry skin, and hot weather can be linked to oilier skin. If you change climates, or live in an area with an extreme climate, your skin type may change.

How to determine your skin type

To find out which type of skin you have, there are two different methods that can help you identify your skin at home.

Bare-faced method

A simple way to find out your skin type is to monitor your bare skin. You begin by washing your face with a mild cleanser which is gentle enough for all skin types. When you have dried your face, observe how it behaves for the next 30 minutes without applying any skincare products.

If it feels tight and uncomfortable, you most likely have dry skin. If you have excess shine, you are likely to have oily skin. If you have a mixture of both, you could have combination skin. If you have irritation, you may fall into the sensitive skin category. If you are having none of these concerns, you most likely have normal skin.

Blotting sheets method

Another easy way to determine your skin type is to press a blotting sheet against different areas of your face. If there is lots of oil on the paper, your skin is likely to be oily. If there is little to no oil on the sheet, it indicates that your skin is probably dry. For the best results, this should be done around midday or in the evening, because blotting your skin too soon after cleansing can alter the results.