Everyone’s skin is different. It’s a pretty variable organ and will appear and behave differently depending on the season, the climate, and your diet – it will even change depending on how stressed you are.
Most skincare ranges are divided into just four main skin types: dry, normal, oily and sensitive. It is worth remembering that the broad definition of each is open to interpretation, and you should tailor your skincare regime to suit how your skin is feeling.
Your skin is as unique as you are, and your skin care programme must take into account your lifestyle, exposure to environmental aggressors and, of course, your individual skin type. If it’s oily during the day but needs extra nourishment at night, don’t be afraid to mix up your regime a little by using a light, mattifying moisturiser to face the day and a rich, intensive cream before bed.
Read on to discover more about skin types, and remember – you may find you identify with more than one, which is a combination skin type.
1. Dry skin
Dry skin occurs when the epidermis does not contain a sufficient level of plump, moisture-rich cells called lipids. Whilst moisture can be lost due to the skin’s permeability, it is permeable in both directions, so this moisture can be replaced to keep skin supple, soft and comfortable.
Dry skin is prone to premature ageing, as depleted moisture content leads to the breakdown of collagen function and the weakening of elastin fibres. Keeping skin well cared for will lessen this risk, so it is vital to choose the right products to cleanse, tone and moisturise your skin gently and keep it supple and hydrated.
Do I Have Dry Skin?
An interesting way to see if the skin is dry is to view it in a magnifying mirror. If the pores are invisible, it is more likely to be dry, as the dehydrated skin has shrunk due to the lack of moisture in the dermis.
Looking after dry skin
To combat dryness, use gentle formulations that will intensively put moisture back into the skin rather than sap it of its nutrients. Wash with a creamy cleanser that is rich in skin-nourishing ingredients such as shea butter, almond milk and vanilla to calm distressed skin and comfort it with intensely hydrating ingredients.
A toner is always useful for clearing away excess cleanser, although those with dry skin must choose their product carefully as some formulations can be very drying. A toner with little to no alcohol and added essential oils will respect the skin’s natural PH.
Finally, moisturise with a formulation that contains nourishing emollients to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier and soften surface roughness.
2. Normal skin
It has been argued that there is no such thing as normal skin, though there do seem to be a lucky few who experience minimal day to day problems. However, those with normal skin should not ignore their complexions, as skin type changes with age and the environment.
Do I Have Normal Skin?
Normal skin will always appear fresh and clear, from morning to night, and will need very little in the way of special care and treatments.
Looking after normal skin
Maintain your skin’s natural PH with a gentle, soap-free cleanser that won’t disrupt your well-maintained skin equilibrium.
A gentle, alcohol-free toner will sweep away all leftover makeup.
A few dabs of a lightweight, hydrating moisturiser will brighten skin and leave it glowing.
3. Oily skin
Sebum production is a natural and essential part of skin metabolism. Acids in this oily substance contribute to the skin’s protective mantle and help keep the epidermal surface supple. While cleansing is essential for oily skin, it is still important to moisturise as excess sebum can mask the problem of insufficient lipids at a deeper level.
Do I Have Oily Skin?
To discern whether your skin is oily, it is useful to use a magnifying mirror and examine your pores, as they are likely to be open and visible. This is thought to be due to the continual secretion of sebum from the pore openings.
Looking after oily skin
Oily skin needs an extra helping hand to regulate its sebum production, so an exfoliating cleanser to unblock and clear out pores is a good place to start.
An astringent toner will mop up excess oil and also clear away any excess cleanser, tightening up the pores whilst making the skin tone more even.
Using a lightweight, mattifying moisturiser will help your skin to feel fresh all day long, providing deep-down hydration whilst keeping the dreaded ‘shine’ (oil secretions that collect at the skin’s surface level) at bay.
Other oily skin champions include blemish sticks to tackle stubborn spots and reduce inflammatories and pore-minimising serum to intensively refine large pores and help to control excessive sebum production on a more long-term scale.
4. Sensitive skin
Sensitive skin is extremely susceptible to irritation and redness from external sources. Such irritants can include even plain water and abrasive clothing, as well as ordinary skin care products. Recent research has identified stress as a major factor in the incidence of sensitive skin: nerve endings in the dermal layers have been found to trigger the secretion of certain chemicals in response to emotional stress and exhaustion, which causes sensitive skin.
Do I have sensitive skin?
Over 70% of women consider themselves to have sensitive skin. An isolated reaction to a single facial cream does not mean that the skin is sensitive, even though such an event may sensitise the epidermis for some time afterwards.
True sensitive skin is usually very dry and reacts to external disturbances by becoming red, blotchy, itchy, flaky and uncomfortable.
Looking after sensitive skin
Combat this trend by keeping your skincare routine extremely simple and uncluttered so that your skin is not overburdened. Use soothing formulations that have plenty of natural extracts, soothing floral essences and healing botanical ingredients. Rose in particular, is a great botanical remedy for redness and discomfort, and using rose-based will soften and smooth your skin like little else. Light textures and fewer products will work wonders for your skin, and pruning out unnecessary steps that load your skin up with the product will make an instant difference.