What's My Skin Type?

What Type of Skin Do I Have?

The first step in properly caring for your skin is understanding your skin type. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), there are five primary types of skin: oily, dry, normal, combination, and sensitive(1). Each skin type has different needs, and understanding those needs can affect the look and feel of your complexion. If you're unsure what your skin type is, keep reading. 

Common Characteristics of Each Skin Type

As our largest organ in our body, our skin has some amazing functions. The outermost layer, also known as our skin barrier, keeps water in and germs/substances out.

Each individual's skin is unique in many ways. Here are the main characteristics in understanding your predominant skin type.

Oily Skin

 Below are common characteristics of oily skin:

  • larger pores, blackheads, blemishes
  • visible oil on skin, grease spots on pillow
  • makeup tends to slide off during the day
  • blotting papers are your friend

Oily-prone skin tends to produce an excess of sebum that causes the skin to appear shiny. One positive note is that people with oily skin tend to have less wrinkles.

Oily skin does not necessarily mean it requires less moisture than other skin types. It requires the right type of products that will nourish and hydrate without clogging your pores. 

The ideal oily skin routine should include an oil cleanser, cleansing balm, or gentle foaming cleanser. Follow up with a light-weight moisturizer, and look for oils that are high in linoleic acid, such as: safflower seed oil, sunflower seed oil, hemp seed oil, sea buckthorn oil, evening primrose oil, meadowfoam seed oil, or rosehip oil. The occasional clay mask 1-2 times per week will also do wonders.

Dry Skin

Below are common characteristics of dry skin:

  • smaller pores
  • prone to cracking, visible flakes, and dry patches
  • no visible shine on the face
  • makeup settles into fine lines
  • moisturizers seep in very easily

Dry skin generally produces less oils than other skin types. Skin can feel tight or less elastic. Because of these characteristics, skin may become irritated or itchy.

The ideal dry skin routine should include soothing, hydrated ingredients with a lot of humectants (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA)). According to Mayo Clinic, they recommend avoiding excessively long, hot showers, and opt for ingredients that are fragrance-free and alcohol-free (2).

 Normal Skin

Below are common characteristics of normal skin:

  • balanced skin - not dry nor oily
  • not prone to breakouts
  • skin does not feel tight
  • skin does not feel greasy
  • small pores, smooth skin texture

For normal skin types, any cleanser or moisturizer will work. Just watch for slight changes in your skin needs as the seasons change. And note that Jojoba Oil and Squalane Oil work wonderfully on any skin type.

Combination Skin

Below are common characteristics of combination skin:

  • Oily in the T-zone (forehead, nose chin)
  • Dry or normal around the cheeks
  • Skin varies throughout the seasons

For combination skin, excess sebum may be produced in specific areas, and dry patchy skin may show up in other areas. It's also possible to have normal skin in most areas, but an oily T-zone. 

It's important to use a gentle cleanser, and non-alcoholic based products. Use an emollient-rich product in the dry areas, and use oil-absorbing products just where needed only.

Sensitive Skin

Below are common characteristics of sensitive skin, but note that any skin type can also be sensitive:

  • skin appears red
  • skin may feel burning, itchy, or dry
  • skin is easily affected by irritants such as fragrances, dyes or environmental factors

Even though this is considered a category of its own, it is possible to have oily sensitive skin, dry sensitive skin, or normal sensitive skin. Sometimes sensitivity is due to allergic reactions to environmental factors or specific ingredients. Take caution when using any kind of acids (lactic acid, malic acid, AHA's, BHA's, salicylic acid, glycolic acids, etc). 

Identifying My Skin Type at Home

Step 1: wash your face with a gentle cleanser

Step 2: wait 30 minutes

  • if skin is shiny - oily skin
  • if skin feels tight, flaky, scaly - dry skin
  • if the shine is in your T-zone only - combination skin
  • if skin feels hydrated and comfortable - normal skin

Whatever your skin type may be, a simple skincare routine can greatly help you achieve your skin care needs. 



1. "Skin Care Tips" By the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)

2. "Dry Skin - Diagnosis and Treatment" By Mayo Clinic