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What Is Your Skin TypeWhat Is Your Skin Type

What Is My Skin Type?

What’s your skin type? The question we hear at beauty counters around the world is often difficult to answer. When you consider the complexity of our skin and all the factors that affect it, it's a bit surprising that dermatologists identify only five skin types.

  • Normal. Most young women have normal skin—neither oily nor dry, with fine pores, little to no imperfections, and no severe allergies. It’s the easiest type of skin to care for, but because of its perceived resilience, it can often be subjected to harsh chemicals that may eventually alter the skin condition and potentially cause allergies.
  • Oily. Large pores, shiny complexion, and skin that’s prone to pimples, blackheads, and acne—it’s the bane of puberty. But oily skin is also caused by other factors, like stress, certain antibiotics, and excessive heat and humidity. You can help keep the oily skin situation under control by cutting down on fried and fatty foods, and using gentle cleansers designed specifically for the skin type. A mild astringent, particularly on the T-zone area can help, but whatever product you use, make sure it is non-comedogenic so it won’t clog your pores.
  • Dry. Skin that’s rough and patchy, shows less elasticity and more visible lines is prone to cracking and peeling. It gets worse during cold weather which is why it’s important to keep your skin hydrated. Replace strong cleansers, which only dry out your skin further and can cause inflammation, with soap- and fragrance-free formulas that are also hypoallergenic. Wash no more than twice a day and only with lukewarm or cool water. Make moisturizing a part of your morning and nighttime routine. You might also consider using a humidifier at home.
  • Combination skin is as it sounds. A combination of dry, oily and normal skin. Different parts of the face, or body may have different skin type characteristics. For example, those suffering from combination skin may have symptoms of oily skin in areas such as their T-zone, whilst having dry or normal skin in other areas.
  • Sensitive skin is easily irritated, and symptoms can include redness, itching, blotchiness, burning, dryness, scaling, bumps or hives. According to dermatologist Leslie Baumann , up to 50 percent of her patients have some form of sensitive skin. A 2013 study shows that women across the industrialized world are increasingly experiencing sensitive skin and that environmental factors can also contribute to skin sensitivity.

There is really only one thing that differentiates normal, dry, oily, and combination skin from one another — how much oil is produced; whereas sensitive skin is different from the other types because your skin type could be any of the other four (normal, dry, oily, or combination) and also be sensitive. You may find your skin type changes from one type to another over time, which is common.

Some of the other factors that can affect your skin include:

  • Environment: Many environmental factors can affect your skin. Skin becomes drier when the air is cold and dry, sunlight can burn your skin, and heat can cause heat rash. Your skin can be affected by chemical irritants such as pollution, allergens, and second-hand smoke. Your skin may also react to biological irritants such as pollen, mold, and pet dander.
  • Lifestyle: Lifestyle factors such as stress level, diet, exercise, and hydration all impact your skin.
  • Age: Your skin changes as you age, and the biggest factor in the change is hormone levels. As hormone levels fluctuate during puberty, most teenagers experience at least some acne. At the other end of the spectrum, the decrease in hormones that accompanies aging leads to drier, thinner, less-elastic skin
  • Hormones/Heredity: How much oil your skin produces is determined by such factors as genetics and hormone levels. For example, dermatologists believe that some forms of acne are inherited. Also, your sensitivity to the sun's rays is largely determined by the color of your skin. Those with fair-skin and freckles are more sensitive, while people with a darker complexion are less likely to experience sunburn.