You skin type is what you're born with and is measured by the amount of secretions in the skin (too much or too little), plus how quickly your skin reacts and turns red. While you can’t change skin type, you can manage the associated issues of dryness, oiliness, and irritation through lifestyle, product and treatments; without this intervention, however, the skin would revert to the original state. Types include combination, oily, dry (lacking in oil), sensitive.
Select your cleanser, toner and moisturizer based on your skin type in regard to the type of formula. Gels are often great for combination and oily skins, while milky or creamy formulas are better suited to dry or sensitive types.
Due to external and internal factors like UV exposure, climate, cleansing habits, medication, stress, and lifestyle, the condition of our skin will fluctuate, whereas our skin type remains constant. And, it’s not uncommon for one skin type to experience many skin conditions all at the same time, but the good news is this is all treatable and correctable. Conditions include rosacea, dehydration, breakouts, congestion, hyper-pigmentation, aging, and sensitized.
Address skin condition issues with specific ingredients in your moisturizer and treatment serums, concentrates, and masques. You might need to also spot treat different areas, like an oily T-zone, or a reactive under-eye area.
Getting the best skin of your life starts with figuring out exactly what your skin type is, as well as your major concerns. Here are some proactive steps to take depending on your skin type.
Many people have skin that is oily only in certain areas and dry or normal in others. This is known as combination skin, which is the most common skin type — and sometimes the most frustrating as you don’t know what to use. A few signs of combination skin is when you're oily only on the forehead, nose, and chin, or if you have large follicles (pores) and occasional breakouts in your T-zone. Often times, your cheeks can feel dry or dehydrated.
Look for a light, foaming cleanser, spritz-hydrating toner, and a treatment gel for the T-zone during the day. Be sure to use a hydrating serum under your moisturizer for cheeks on your cheeks, and I recommend using two moisturizers: an oil-absorbing one for nose and chin, and a hydrating one for cheeks. Try a silicone-based eye product to smooth lines. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe, green tea, and algae for cheeks, and salicylic acid, camphor, niacinamide for your T-zone.
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Oily skin is shiny, thick, and can appear dull. With this type of skin, the oil-producing sebaceous glands are overactive and produce more oil than is needed, leaving it to sit on top of the skin. Oily skin often looks greasy, is categorized by large pores, visible blackheads, and frequent breakouts.
Look for a foaming gel or clay-based cleansers and purifying wipes to mop up oil. Use a clay-based masque twice a week, and make sure you use a lightweight moisturizer and overnight treatment gel that exfoliate and absorb oil. Oil-free matte sunscreen is a great option, too. Try a cooling gel eye product to combat puffiness, dark circles and hydration.
Look for ingredients like laolin, bentonite, sarcosine, zinc gluconate, salicylic acid, lactic acid, enantia bark, tea tree oil, and benzoyl peroxide. These soak up oil and slow production, control bacteria, and help prevent cell build up.
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If you have true dry skin, it will include the whole body, scalp, and face — all due to underactive and smaller sebaceous glands. Dry skin also makes fewer barrier lipids so has a poor protective function which leads to water loss and possible sensitivity. It can often feel tight and irritable, and is categorized by tight pores, flaky skin, and visible fine lines. If you're not sure if you're skin is dry, take note of how your skin feels after you wash your face.
Because dry skin requires stimulation, warmth, and oil-rich products, creamy, emollient cleansers are key, as are cream-based masques, hydrating serums, and heavier moisturizers. It’s really about the percentage of emollients and oils you use and going for a water-in-oil emulsion (heavier cream) rather than an oil-in-water emulsion (lotion).
Exfoliation must be a regular habit (at least three times per week with a gentle exfoliant) for skin to look healthier. Look for ingredients like argan oil, vitamin E, rose oil, evening primrose oil, shea butter, sunflower, avocado serols, and sodium hyaluronate.
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As Dermalogica's in-house skin care guru (oh, and their Director of Global Education), Annet King is an invaluable trove of beauty know-how. Luckily, she's letting us pick her brain on everything from hyperpigmentation to the best supplements for your visage. Prepare to get schooled.