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What is my Skin Type?

Many people ask me how they can figure out what type of skin they have. Knowing your skin type is very important in keeping your skin healthy and therefore reducing the impact of your skin's aging process. So check out this quick guide to help you determine your skin type. 

There are 3 basic types of skin: normal, oily and dry. And each skin type has a range within it - for example very oily or very dry. Additionally, you can have a combination of the skin types - like normal on your cheeks but oily on your "t-zone". Below is a brief description of the 3 skin types and how to take care of them. Much of the "technical" information I have here is from textbooks. Take a look at the descriptions and see which one you most likely fall into. You might be surprised to find

Normal Skin

Normal skin is what we all hope to have but few actually do have. The best way to describe "normal" skin is that it is what most children have (before they hit puberty). In normal skin, hydration is perfect and the oil glands secrete just enough oil to keep skin soft and supple. It looks healthy, with good color, a smooth texture and it's free of large pores and wrinkles. Lots of things can deteriorate the quality of normal skin - with the biggest being the natural aging process. Additionally, lack of proper hydration and the lack of a healthy diet with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to provide proper cell reproduction also play a big role. 

Lastly, how you take care of your skin plays a role - use of harsh soaps and scrubs, the climate you live in and sun exposure through lack of proper use of sun protection. The best way to take care of normal skin is to wash twice daily - morning and (most importantly) evening. Use a gentle cleanser that won't strip your skin of the natural oils and will keep skin balanced, smooth and healthy. Washing should be followed by use of a toner and a moisturizer - along with any additional anti-aging products you are using (serums, eye creams etc.). Normal skin will also benefit from weekly exfoliation. Lastly, and always most importantly, proper use of sun protection is vital. 

Dry Skin 

Dry skin is a common occurrence among people who are over 40, as our skin naturally slows its production of oils which cause it to look dried out and dehydrated. Additionally, many people simply have dry skin that they have had all of their lives. Dry skin is the result of sebaceous glands that are underactive - so they are not producing sufficient oils to keep skin moist and dewey. Because of the lack of oil, it is less able to maintain proper levels of hydration because the oils typically act as a barrier to prevent loss of moisture. Without the oils, the moisture is free to leave the skin layers and then the skin begins to appear dry and dehydrated. 

Dry skin tends to look thin, very delicate and often flaky. Pores tend to be almost invisible and the skin shows wrinkles and lines very easily. Obviously exposure to the sun will exacerbate the situation. Dry skin should be taken care of carefully, using non-drying face cleansers as well as moisturizers that provide a sufficient barrier to trap moisture such as hyaluronic acid. Careful use of additional anti-aging products is also recommended (eye creams, serums etc.) Periodic (gentle!) exfoliation is helpful to rid skin of the flaking and peeling, but most importantly the weekly use of a hydrating masque is crucial. It is key for people with dry skin to use products specifically formulated for dry skin.

Again, it is always extremely important to use sun protection. 

Oily Skin 

Oily skin is obviously the opposite of dry skin. Oily skin results from sebaceous glands that are over-active. It is easily recognized as it has a shiny, thick and firm appearance - and it tends to have large pores. People with oily skin often suffer from blemishes, typically on the forehead, chin and nose areas. The good news is that people that suffer from oily skin when they are young, tend to have fewer wrinkles and younger looking skin as they age. This is due to the fact that the sebaceous glands slow their production as we age, so people with oily skin typically end up with more "normal" oil production resulting in younger looking skin! Oily skin is one of the most challenging to take care of properly. 

Common myths about oily skin are that you want to dry skin out to get rid of the oil and that you should not use any products with oils in them so it won't get even more oily. However, these tactics can get you into some worse trouble! If you have oily skin, you should thoroughly but gently (not harshly) cleanse your skin morning and evening with products designed specifically for oily or problematic skin. Toners again can help maintain proper skin balance and maximize the effects of the moisturizer. And yes - you definitely want to use a moisturizer, as well as anti-aging serums and eye creams. Any moisturizing product should be one that helps to regulate oil gland secretion. And most importantly, a bi-weekly use of an exfoliator is key - to keep skin soft and smooth and reduce the appearance of thickening skin. 

It's interesting because I hear from many clients that they sometimes have oily skin and sometimes dry skin. But more likely what is happening is that they have oily skin and are using products or doing something that is dehydrating their skin. It's important to remember that your skin has layers that hold a lot of water and layers with oil. So it is important to keep it hydrated as well as maintain the proper levels of oil - if you have oily skin that gets dry in spots it's likely that you have used astringents, scrubs or soaps either excessively or you have chosen ones that are simply too harsh. Again, seek out products with hyaluronic acid as it can help to trap the moisture in the skin. are underactive - so they are not producing sufficient oils to keep skin moist and dewey. 

And as with all other skin types, it is vital to protect your skin from the sun. Look for a natural sunblock that isn't too oily or heavy. 

What about sensitive skin? Sensitive skin is a whole separate topic. People with dry, normal or oily skin can also have sensitive skin. Look for an upcoming article to tackle this "sensitive" subject!

Now that I know my type - how do I take care of it? Check out this video for a quick 60 Second Skin Care Routine from Garden Girl.