what is my skin type? your ultimate guide to different skin types

what is my skin type? your ultimate guide to different skin types

You’ve probably wondered: what is my skin type? Or, can my skin type change? Or even, what’s the difference between a skin type and skin condition?

A professional skin therapist can give you a detailed analysis of your skin, but by reading up on   what determines different skin types, you’ll be able to build a picture of what your skin type is, allowing you to care better for the health of your skin.  


what causes your skin type?

It’s pretty straightforward – skin types are measured by the level of oil in the skin or reactivity. This is genetically determined, meaning you are born with your skin type. There are six different skin types: oily, dry, combination, balanced, sensitive and acne. For clarification, the term skin complexion type refers to the genetic colouring of your skin, from very fair skin through to black skin.

skin types and characteristics

If you have a comprehensive understanding of what constitutes each skin type, you can identify what yours is. This can then be confirmed by a professional skin therapist. As well as looking at your skin in the mirror when analysing your skin type, touch and feel your skin for texture and temperature too. Let’s look at the characteristics of the six skin types.

characteristics of oily skin

Most of us experience oil on our skin, but with an oily skin type the skin on the entire face is generally oily - this is due to overactive oil glands. Larger pores and morning shine are tell-tale signs of an oily skin. You’re also likely to be congested and experience breakouts anywhere on the face. Implement a daily double cleanse and exfoliation into your skincare routine is essential if you are an oily skin. PreCleanse and Active Clay Cleanser are the perfect double cleansing companions for oily skins.


characteristics of dry skin

In direct opposition to an oily skin, a dry skin doesn’t produce enough oil. The skin often feels taught and tight, and you won’t have any open pores or an oily shine. Interestingly, it’s not common for young people generally to have dry skin, for the majority of people, it comes with age. People tend to think they’re a dry skin, when they are in fact they are dehydrated, which is a skin condition - more to come on this - when the skin is lacking in moisture, not oil. Dry skins should invest in milky cleansers, rich moisturisers, and products containing plant-based butters and oils, like Melting Moisture Masque, which is a dry skin’s best friend!

characteristics of combination skin

Combination skin is the most common of skin types. You sit in between an oily and a dry skin, with oiliness in the T-Zone and a drier skin on the outer regions of a face. You’ll usually lean more one way then the other, being an oily combination skin or a dry combination skin. Foaming cleansers, hydrating serums and medium weight moisturisers work best for a combination skin type.  Special Cleansing Gel and Skin Smoothing Cream are fan favourites among combination skins.


characteristics of balanced skin

Sometimes referred to as normal (is there such as thing?!) a balanced skin type displays not too much oil secretion and not too little. It’s very balanced, with no visible open pores, congestion or redness. Foaming cleansers, hydrating formulas and a simple, but consistent skincare routine help maintain this skin type. A weekly dose of Hydro Masque Exfoliant, a 2-in-1 gentle exfoliant and hydrating masque, will keep a balanced skin, well balanced.


characteristics of sensitive skin

Now, this skin type can be tricky to diagnose, as sensitivity can be a skin condition too. To determine if you’re a sensitive skin type, consider how long you have experienced a reactive, skin. Remember skin types are generally driven by genetics, so you’d likely have experienced sensitivity your entire life. We also see allergies such as asthma, hay fever and eczema common among sensitive skin types. Furthermore, fairer skins with a northern European ancestry are associated with sensitive skins. Similar to a dry skin, sensitive skin types should focus on rich formulas that strengthen the barrier and help calm, cool and reduce redness. Keep it simple is the skincare mantra for sensitive skin types. UltraCalming Mist can be spritzed on the go to calm, cool and hydrate a sensitive skin throughout the day, as needed.

characteristics of acne skin

Acne skin types can cause the same confusion as sensitive skin types, as acne (or breakouts) can be found on the list of skin conditions. Again, if you have suffered with breakouts and inflammation from a young age, and you have a family history of acne, you’re most likely an acne skin type and will always needs to manage your breakouts. Like an oily skin, double cleansing and exfoliation are important steps to promote a clearer skin. AGE Bright Clearing Serum can be used daily to help prevent and heal breakouts – it contains 2% Salicylic Acid, a plant-based complex to target acne bacteria plus hydrating actives. Alternatively, if you want to address skin clarity and premature skin ageing there’s, Retinol Clearing Oil – this night time nourishing oil, gently infuses skin with both Retinol and 2% Salicylic Acid, to minimise breakouts and fine lines.

can my skin type can change?

Genetics are the key driver of skin types, but age, illness and medication can change your skin type. For example, acne medication supresses oil production, and depending on the duration and dosage, your skin may shift to a drier skin type.  Also, as you age, your skin type will slowly and progressively change. Most skin becomes drier with age, and in particular, skin often becomes significantly drier for women post-menopause.

No skin is the same and although you may share the same skin type as someone else, it doesn’t mean you have the same skin. This is where skin conditions come in – we have one skin type (at a time), but all skin types, can experience the same skin conditions.

what is the difference between a skin types and skin condition?    

Your probably now wondering, what’s the deal with skin conditions? Whilst skin types are driven by genetics, skin conditions are driven by our lifestyle, environment, and internal influences, and can fluctuate constantly. A good example of this is the menstrual cycle. Most women tend to breakout on the chin (the area of the face associated with the ovaries in Chinese face mapping) a week to 10 days before their period, with this cycle repeating every month. 

The good news about skin conditions is that they are generally considered temporary and can be corrected with changes to our external and internal environment, and the correct skincare.

common skin conditions

The most common skin conditions and their causes are:

    • Dehydration – this represents a lack of water in the skin. Your skin may be oily on top and feel dry underneath, along with flakiness. Congestion commonly accompanies dehydration, as the skin compensates a lack of water with more oil.

    • Sensitised – Inflammation and skin damage caused by a multitude of factors such artificial fragrance, stripping alcohol (S.D alcohol) incorrect product use, stress, pollution and harsh climates.
    • Ageing– Of course we are programmed to age naturally, but what we now know is 50% of visible ageing is driven by our exposome – everything outside of genetics.

    • Pigmentation​/Uneven skin tone – Skin discoloration is largely caused by UV exposure, but can also show up from stress, hormonal changes, and skin trauma. Just think of the mark that is left on your skin after a breakout.

    • Congestion– A common symptom of an oily skin, congestion (clogged pores) can come about because of other factors. An inconsistent or poor cleansing routine, pollution, humidity, exercise, and diet can all cause this skin condition.
    • Breakouts​ – As already mentioned, hormonal changes are a major driver of breakouts. This includes stress hormones that can increase oil production and inflammation. A diet high in GI is also up there as a leading culprit of acne.

Understanding your skin is both simple and complex. Both your skin type and skin conditions need to be considered when curating your skincare routine. Given our skin does change, it follows that we should be flexible with our skincare routine. A good habit to get into, is to check your skin around a change of season to see if you need to modify your skincare. 

every skin type needs a sunscreen

The skin is an incredible organ that tells a story about who we are. Regardless of your skin type and skin conditions, a sunscreen is essential for the health of your skin. Daily application will not only help slow down premature skin ageing, but most importantly help protect against skin cancer. As a rule of thumb, whenever there is daylight, you need to wear your sunscreen! Check out Dermalogica’s selection of sunscreens that are designed to support and address different skin types and conditions.

For a complimentary professional skin analysis, reach out to your local Dermalogica professional skin therapist. You can find your nearest Dermalogica treatment centre via our store locator. Alternatively, use our digital Face Mapping skin analysis tool for insight into your skin and personalised skincare recommendation – it’s as easy as taking a selfie!
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