What’s Your Skin Type?

You’ve heard the buzz about normal, oily, dry, combination, or sensitive skin types. But which one do you have?

It can change over time. For example, younger people are more likely than older folks to have a normal skin type.

What’s the difference? Your type depends on things such as:

  • How much water is in your skin, which affects its comfort and elasticity
  • How oily it is, which affects its softness
  • How sensitive it is

Normal Skin Type

Not too dry and not too oily, normal skin has:

  • No or few imperfections
  • No severe sensitivity
  • Barely visible pores
  • A radiant complexion

Combination Skin Type

Your skin can be dry or normal in some areas and oily in others, such as the T-zone (nose, forehead, and chin). Many people have this type. It may need slightly different care in different areas.

Combination skin can have:

  • Pores that look larger than normal, because they’re more open
  • Blackheads
  • Shiny skin

Dry Skin

You may have:

  • Almost invisible pores
  • Dull, rough complexion
  • Red patches
  • Your skin is less elastic
  • More visible lines

Your skin can crack, peel, or become itchy, irritated, or inflamed. If it’s very dry, it can become rough and scaly, especially on the backs of your hands, arms, and legs.

Dry skin may be caused or made worse by:

  • Your genes
  • Aging or hormonal changes
  • Weather such as wind, sun, or cold
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds
  • Indoor heating
  • Long, hot baths and showers
  • Ingredients in soaps, cosmetics, or cleansers
  • Medications

Use these tips to help your dry skin:

  1. Take shorter showers and baths, no more than once daily.
  2. Use mild, gentle soaps or cleansers. Avoid deodorant soaps.
  3. Don't scrub while bathing or drying.
  4. Smooth on a rich moisturizer right after bathing. Ointments and creams may work better than lotions for dry skin but are often messier. Reapply as needed throughout the day.
  5. Use a humidifier, and don't let indoor temperatures get too hot.
  6. Wear gloves when using cleaning agents, solvents, or household detergents.

Oily Skin Type

You may have:

  • Enlarged pores
  • Dull or shiny, thick complexion
  • Blackheads, pimples, or other blemishes

Continued

Oiliness can change depending upon the time of year or the weather. Things that can cause or worsen it include:

  • Puberty or other hormonal imbalances
  • Stress
  • Heat or too much humidity

To take care of oily skin:

  • Wash it no more than twice a day and after you sweat a lot.
  • Use a gentle cleanser and don't scrub.
  • Don't pick, pop, or squeeze pimples. They'll take longer to heal.
  • Look for the word "noncomedogenic" on skin care products and cosmetics. This means it won’t clog pores.

Sensitive Skin

It can show up as:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Dryness

If your skin is sensitive, try to find out what your triggers are so you can avoid them. There are many possible reasons, but often it's in response to particular skin care products.

The 6 Basics of Skin Care

No matter what type of skin you have, these tips will keep it looking its best.

  1. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
  2. Avoid direct sunlight, and wear a hat and sunglasses.
  3. Don't smoke.
  4. Stay hydrated.
  5. Wash your skin gently but thoroughly every day and never wear makeup to bed.
  6. Moisturize.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on June 20, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

The National Skin Care Institute: "Skin Types." 

The National Skin Care Institute: "Skin Types: Dry Skin." 

The National Skin Care Institute: "Skin Care."

American Academy of Dermatology: "Dermatologists' Top 10 Tips for Relieving Dry Skin."

AcneNet: "Skin Care for People with Acne."

American Academy of Dermatology: "Sensitive Skin."

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