There is no one-size-fits-all product when it comes to skin care. Even those touted as the best of the best by magazines or that have five-star reviews on websites may not work for you. This is because there are a number of different skin types and each one needs a different kind of TLC.
To get healthy, glowing skin, you first need to know its needs. Answer the following quiz to determine your skin type and take it from there.
1 How would you describe your pores?
A They’re large all over.
B They’re practically invisible.
C The ones on my nose are larger than the ones on my cheeks.
D I can barely see them underneath all the redness.
2 What happens half an hour after you wash your face?
A Here comes the shine…
B It still feels kind of tight.
C I can see some oil starting to form on my nose and forehead.
3 What happens when you use a new moisturizer?
A Who needs moisturizer when your skin has a permanent shine?
B Ooh, no more flakes! For now.
C My cheeks feel nice and smooth but my T-zone starts to break out.
D New moisturizer? I don’t want to risk it.
4 It’s the end of the work day. What does your skin need?
A Another thorough washing.
B A spritz of a hydrating facial mist.
C Blotting paper on my T-zone.
D A specially formulated ointment to manage the itching.
5 My dream for my skin is for it to…
A Stop breaking out!
B Not have visible fine lines.
C Make up its mind.
D Be able to handle any new product I want to try.
If you answered:
Mostly As: Your skin type is oily.
If you have oily skin, it’s likely because of genes (you’re born with it), hormones (like when they go haywire during puberty or pregnancy), or even stress. Those with oily skin have large pores that work overtime secreting excess sebum (a.k.a. oil), giving that greasy sheen. When this excess oil combines with dead skin cells, bacteria, or other irritants, it can clog pores and result in blemishes like acne, blackheads, and whiteheads. It’s not all bad though; oily skin does tend to age slower than dry skin, so those fine lines and wrinkles come in later.
If you have oily skin, you might be tempted to wash often throughout the day but try to limit washing to twice daily (once in the a.m. and once at night)—over-washing can backfire on you, as the constant stripping away of oil may signal your skin to produce even more oil. Face feeling slick between washings? Use blotting paper to remove excess oil.
The three-step routine of cleanse, tone, moisturize still applies even if you have oily skin. Try a cleanser with salicylic acid, limit toner usage to a couple of times a week (daily use might signal your skin to produce more oil), and do not skip the moisturizer. Instead, choose a water-based version. When it comes to makeup, powder or mattifying foundation is your best bet.
Mostly Bs: You skin type is dry.
Dry skin tends to appear dull and, in the extreme, can be flaky, scaly, or itchy. It can be caused by such things as the weather (especially if you’re traveling to cooler climes) or showering or washing your face too often, which strips your skin of its natural oils. It can also be caused by aging, as skin tends to secrete less sebum as you get older. Fine lines tend to appear earlier and look more noticeable on those with dry skin.
If you have dry skin, avoid taking lengthy hot showers and instead go for warm or cold showers that last for less than 10 minutes. Also use moisturizing cleansers and avoid soaps with lots of ingredients that may dry out your skin.
Once you step out of the shower, immediately apply moisturizer—find one that’s especially formulated for dry skin. Moisturize as needed throughout the day, splashing your skin with some water prior to applying the product. Apply a facial mask for a moisture boost when you need it. And don’t forget to hydrate from within by drinking lots of water.
When choosing makeup, steer clear of powder formulations and try liquid or cream foundations instead. Consider using all-natural organic skincare products that may have fewer chemicals that can cause your skin to dry out.
Mostly Cs: Your skin type is combination.
Get a piece of tissue paper and press it against your face. If you see a T-shaped patch of oil running down the center, it likely means you have combination skin. This means that your skin is oily in spots (particularly your T-zone—your forehead, nose, and chin) and dry in others.
It’s tricky having combination skin because you might have to use different products for different parts of your face. While a rich moisturizer can reduce flakiness and do wonders for your cheeks and hairline, it might end up clogging the pores on your nose.
Choose heavier formulations for dryer areas and lighter, water-based ones for your T-zone. Same goes for applying masks: Slather on a moisturizing one with, say, honey, on your dry spots, and an oil-absorbing clay mask on the oily areas.
Mostly Ds: Your skin type is sensitive.
If scratching—or resisting the urge to scratch—is a daily part of your routine, then you may have sensitive skin. Those with sensitive skin may experience a stinging sensation or suffer from conditions like contact dermatitis (when skin reacts to an irritant, say, a new night cream), atopic dermatitis or eczema, or rosacea. The common factor is inflammation, meaning your skin tends to flare up.
If you have sensitive skin, avoid hot showers and use mild skincare and beauty products. When trying a new product, patch test on your arm first and keep an eye out for a reaction before using on your face or the rest of your body. And only introduce one product at a time every couple of weeks or so, instead of coming up with a brand new skincare routine in one go. This will make it easier for you to trace which products cause a reaction.
All-natural organic skincare products may be good for your skin, but make sure you aren’t allergic to any of the natural ingredients. If your skin problems seem severe, consult with a dermatologist who can recommend products that work best for your specific skin concerns.
If you can’t relate to any of the questions and answers, then you most likely have normal skin. (Lucky you!) No matter what your skin type—even if you have no major skin issues—make sure to wear sunscreen daily (formulated especially for your type of skin) and remove all traces of makeup at the end of each day.