The Start of Your Skincare Journey: What's Your Skin Type?
Getting to know your skin..
With the constant bombardment of skin "perfection" and quick fixes that many of us come across, know that everyone's skincare journey is unique. Healthy skin has pores, produces a certain amount of oil and for many of us have scars, marks, blemishes, and pigmentation. Did I mention that we all age? We all naturally get fine lines and wrinkles where we laughed the most and cried the hardest. There is something beautiful about that, not just because it’s unique -- but because it’s yours. The most important part of this skincare journey is about getting to know your skin and learning what it needs, so you can develop a healthy relationship with your own skin and help it to be its best version. As with most important things in life, it takes time and patience -- one part of that is truly giving a product a chance to "do its thing" but the other part is observing how your skin reacts to different routines and products so you can narrow down what works best for you. One of the main concepts you'll come across in skincare that can help to narrow down which products will likely work for you is the category of Skin Types. There are four skin types—Oily, Dry, Normal, and Combination—these are primarily used by the cosmetic industry for marketing purposes, but they offer some hidden benefits. In fact, it's one of the useful marketing tactics that can actually help guide you to which products might suit your skin the best at the start. Don’t however get too attached to this, since it's possible that you might find some products that work really well for your skin even if it isn’t labeled for your skin type. Your skin is an organ after all and adjusts to changes due to environment, hormones, stress, age, and medication. All that really matters is finding what works for you regardless of who it's labeled for. Try to keep that in mind while getting to know your skin. :-)
$$$ When the price is right...
As for products, it can sometimes feel like you’re missing out because you want that super expensive $250+ cream (no joke - I'm not going to name names here), but keep in mind that more expensive doesn’t always mean better. A lot of the price goes into nice packaging and elaborate marketing. That isn’t to knock all "expensive" brands, there are brands that put that money into research and development of the product, but in many cases it’s to make the product look appealing instead of actually being better compared to its less expensive counterparts. Let me caveat this by saying that no one's judging you if you get that super expensive product—if it works for you, then who are we to judge! Just know that if you aren't in a position to be laying down $$$$, know that there are excellent products for every budget!
Steps to figuring out your skin type...
The most common way of figuring out your skin type is to start with the base of any good routine, a good cleanser and moisturizer for a week (if you've already found an SPF that works for you or are on any medications that make you UV sensitive please wear it daily/as prescribed!). This way you’ll eliminate any products that may make your skin seem like it’s one type over another. To start, cleanse your face and wait a few hours to blot certain areas of your face. Skin types are based on the amount of oil/sebum your skin produces.
- Small pores
- Often feels tight, especially after cleansing if you don’t use a moisturizer
- No shiny oil, skin usually looks matte
- Tendency to flaking and rough patches
- Make-up settles into lines and around skin flakes
- Large Pores
- Oils comes off when skin is touched or leaves oil behind on clothing/pillows
- Moisturisers usually make it more oily
- Prone to acne and breakouts
- Make-up slides off throughout the day
Normal skin is between the two types above.
Combination: Can be normal, dry, and oily on different areas of your face.
Next, you’ll want to figure out if there are specific concerns you would like to address such as Acne, Aging, Dehydrated, Sensitive and Hyperpigmentation. These concerns are what you want your products, especially your serums to address. When adding new products to your routine, it’s important to already have a compatible cleanser and moisturizer for your skin—think of it as a baseline. This way when you add a new product to your routine, you’ll be able to determine how your skin reacts to it (good or bad) and if it provides adequate results (within a reasonable time frame). A side note here --when using specific products to target concerns like hyperpigmentation for example, you typically won’t see major difference unless you use the product regularly for at lest 4-6 months. I know, I know, but results take time.
Some common skin concerns:
Dehydrated: Usually occurs when there is an increase in TEWL/Transepidermal Water Loss (to see the definition, go our Common Skincare Terms blog), and the skin barrier is weakened. Genetics can play a role in how prone your skin is to dehydration, but it can also occur due to using harsh cleansers, overexfoliation, sun exposure/harsh environmental exposure, cold and dry weather, hot air heating or air conditioning. You might be thinking that if you have oily skin you can’t have dehydrated skin. Not true, dry or oily skin can both become dehydrated!
Common signs that your skin is dehydrated:
- If your skin is oily but still feels tight and dry
- Skin feels tight after washing it and especially if you don’t apply moisturiser on right away.
- If you pinch your skin approx. 1 cm and it creates a fine wrinkle
- Skin gets flaky easily
- Skin feels smooth if you put moisturiser on
Sensitive Skin: Typically becomes red easily but not always. You can still have sensitive skin without any visible redness or rashes.
- Certain products cause itchiness, burning, stinging, a rash or swelling
- Your skin reacts to metals in jewellery, latex, laundry detergents
- Fragrance in soaps and lotions make your skin burn, itch or sting
- Skin gets uncomfortable when it’s hot, cold, dry or humid
- You’ve been diagnosed with eczema, dermatitis, rosacea, atopic dermatitis
When areas of the skin have coloured patch’s that are typically, pale brown, purple-black, or dark reddish-brown colour.
Can be caused by:
- Sun Damage
- Inflammation: Like the marks left behind form a wound or after a pimple is gone
- Hormonal changes: Like Melasma
Now that you have a rough idea about how to figure out what skin type you have right now and what condition you would like to address if there are any. You can begin to listen to your skin, get to know it, and build your routine starting with a good cleanser, moisturiser, and SPF. It might take some trial and error to find the right products but be gentle and take your time. You’ll find the rights ones eventually!