The most important step in caring for your skin is understanding your specific skin type and how it adapts to certain circumstances or seasonality. Your skin is the largest organ in your body, as complex and intelligent as your heart, lungs, liver, and other vital organs. Using cleansers and treatments that are too harsh, even if recommended for excess oil, can signal to your skin that more oil is actually needed. Conversely, applying moisturizers that are too thick or heavy can result in decreased natural oil production, resulting in even drier skin. Taking the time to understand your skin’s specific needs will help you choose the right options that will balance your skin and result in a healthier, more radiant complexion.
Everyone’s skin is unique, but there are some common skin types that can help you identify where your skin fits the most. The three main types of skin are commonly known as oily, combination, and dry. Here are two easy ways to determine your skin type at home:
THE NUDE METHOD
Cleanse your face thoroughly with a mild cleanser and pat dry. Leave skin uncovered (and do not apply additional moisturizers, serums, or treatments). After 30 minutes, examine your cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead for any shine. After another 30 minutes, assess whether your skin feels dry, especially if you smile or make any other facial expression. If your skin feels tight, it is probably dry. If in addition to the forehead and nose there is shine on the cheeks, it is most likely that you have oily skin.
THE BROADCAST SHEET METHOD
This method is much faster and often an excellent differentiator between dry and oily skin types. Gently pat the different areas of your face with a blotter. Hold the blade up to the light to determine how much oil is visible. If the sheet picked up little or no oil, you most likely have dry skin. If the blotting sheet reveals oil from the forehead and nose areas, your skin is the combination. Lastly, if your blotting paper is saturated with oil, you most likely have oily skin.
Dry skin may feel tight throughout the day and may experience noticeable flaking. Dry skin is largely due to genetics, environmental factors such as lifestyle and diet, hormonal changes, and the weather. Dehydration is also a leading cause of dry skin, so drinking plenty of water and avoiding diuretics like alcohol and caffeine can make a significant difference in how your skin looks and feels.
Daily exfoliation with gentle, non-abrasive ingredients helps promote skin cell renewal without stripping your skin’s natural oils. Without an extra layer of dead skin, serums and treatments will absorb more easily. The best moisturizers for dry skin are those that contain hyaluronic acid (often included as sodium hyaluronate in the ingredients), glycerin, and marine actives like algae, due to their ability to attract water and deliver it directly to skin cells. . Emollients, including squalane and camellia oil, help smooth and hydrate the skin evenly and effectively.
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People with combination skin often experience dry cheeks, so it is important to find a moisturizer that is not too heavy but substantial enough to lock in moisture where it is needed most. People with combination skin are not prone to breakouts on the cheeks and tend to have a well-hydrated t-zone. Gentle daily exfoliation is also important to maintain the balance of the t-zone and cheeks. Moisturizers with a gel-like texture absorb more quickly and are less likely to cause breakouts. Start with a small amount and increase as needed to avoid excessive hydration and stress on the skin.
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Excess oil can often leave pores congested and clogged. However, the good news is that oily skin looks younger and more supple because it has more natural moisture and is less prone to wrinkles. Daily enzymatic exfoliation is essential to promote cell renewal and prevent sebum build-up in the pores. A mild physical scrub (one that doesn’t use abrasives like crushed nuts or seeds that can cause small tears in the dermis) is also helpful in balancing the tone and texture of your skin.
Oilier skin is also prone to PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), a condition that leaves dark patches on the skin after an outbreak has healed. Exfoliation will also help lighten these dark spots by buffing the upper layers of the skin and revealing new cells. Those with moderate to severe acne breakouts should consider using a scrub that includes antibacterial ingredients to speed healing and prevent future blemishes.
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Special Note For Sensitive Skin
Managing sensitive skin can be challenging as it takes considerable time and effort to determine which ingredients cause inflammation and irritation. To facilitate this process, enter only one new formula or product at a time. This rule applies to both skincare and cosmetics. Testing a new formula on the inside of the forearm is a great way to minimize potential reactions on the face. If your skin shows no signs of swelling, apply the formula to the area behind one of your ears before using it on your face.
Look for labels that identify the formulas as non-irritating, non-sensitizing, and free of parabens and other irritating ingredients which can cause redness and itching.
Our skin’s needs can change over time, and taking steps to better identify its needs is essential for it to function and look its best. Taking into account the health of your skin and “checking” regularly to determine if there are any adjustments to your current ritual that are needed will keep it balanced and beautiful.