This Is How You REALLY Determine Your Skin Type

Nadine Dilong

If you already know this, you’re a genius.

I always admire people with flawless skin. While the Miranda Kerrs of this world wake up with radiant, glowing skin in the morning and require nothing but a tinted moisturizer (if at all), I need at least 15 minutes to apply foundation, concealer and highlighter to make the base of my face look decent.

While I will probably never have perfect skin, I have learned how to make the most of my skin by using the right products suited to my skin type (sensitive with an oily T-zone, by the way), but only after blindly using many random products for years, believing their empty promises, only to be repeatedly disappointed when they did nothing for my skin.

After many years in the beauty industry, I finally understand that knowing your skin type is absolutely crucial when creating a skincare routine, but figuring it out isn’t always as straightforward as one might hope.

Paula Begoun, founder of skincare line Paula’s Choice, says the typical categories of oily, dry and combination skin are good basics, however they don’t address the wide variety of other problems that can affect skin type, such as rosacea, acne, sun damage or eczema. Moreover, our skin types can change depending on factors like the hormonal (and emotional) chaos when getting your period, stress levels, or even the weather.

“Even more important is to realize that you can have more than one skin type: sensitive and dry, oily and acne-prone, sun damaged with large, clogged pores,” the skin expert explains.

In order to really determine your skin type, try the following three steps:

1. Banish irritants

First and foremost, it is important to stop using abrasive scrubbing agents and products that contain irritants such as alcohol, menthol, waxes or fragrances, as these ingredients can create problems with your skin that you might not naturally have. “In order to know for sure how your skin really behaves,” Begoun argues, “you have to figure out if your products are to blame.”

2. Prep your face

If you’re like me, you never leave your skin bare, always applying some sort of serum or moisturizer after washing. But in order to determine your skin type, you need to cleanse your skin and remove all product to see how it behaves in its natural state. Begoun recommends applying nothing but a gentle skin toner and then waiting at least two hours “to see what your skin does without additional products or makeup”.

3. Analyze your skin

After a few hours, it’s time to get up close to a mirror and have a really good look at your skin.

According to Begoun, your skin is normal if you see no signs of flaking or oiliness. You have oily skin if it looks shiny and feels slick to the touch all over and you usually experience routine breakouts. Your skin is dry if it feels tight and/or has flaky areas, and you have combination skin if your T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) is oily and your cheeks are normal to dry.

“Remember, anyone’s skin can have multiple ‘types’,” says Begoun, which means you might need different products for your cheeks and your T-zone.

Now that you’ve figured out your basic skin type, don’t forget to factor in any skin concerns such as rosacea and sun damage when choosing skincare products. But as a general rule, “traditional lotions or creams are best for dry to very dry skin, gels and liquids for oily or blemish-prone skin, and lighter lotions and serums are best for combination or normal skin”, says Begoun.

Being able to determine your skin type is the first step to great skin, as you can not only customize your skincare routine and thereby give your skin exactly what it needs, but you will also be able to make educated decisions when it comes to more advanced skin treatments, such as facials and peels. Even better, you won’t waste money on products that won’t work on your skin type – something I had to learn the hard way.

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