Our skin is the wrapper that protects us from the world. It is also a major part of the “face” that we show to the world. Our health and vitality, or lack of it, are displayed in our skin.
The cosmetics industry is a multi-billion dollar one. Although it often gets a bad reputation for the way it promotes its products, there is no doubt that their success is largely consumer-driven.
We care about our appearance, and our skin is a big part of that appearance. In caring for our skin, there is certainly an indulgent, rewarding feeling of self-care when we apply products to our skin that we know, or believe, is adding to its health and beauty.
Skin health and beauty starts within. A fortune spent on beauty products will not make up for self-abuse through poor diet and lifestyle choices.
Research has determined that there are four broad skin types. While there are many factors relating to skin health that are common to all, there are also many aspects that are particular to the specific skin type.
Here I discuss general skin health and care, and gives guidance on caring for each of the skin types. You’ll learn how to recognize your skin type and how to care for it, to help your skin be the very best it can be .
Do You Know Your Skin Type?
To find out if your skin type is normal, simply blot your face in the morning with a clean tissue. There should be no oil (sebum) on the tissue if your skin is normal and has good circulation.
If any oil is present on most areas, you may have an oily skin type.
If there is no oil on the cheek areas, but oil is present on the nose and forehead (the T-section) then your skin type is a combination of both normal and oily. Combination skin types are more common and are characterized by the “T” zone.
If there is no oil at all, and the indicators are of dry, itchy skin, or scaly skin and noticeable lack of elasticity, then your skin is of course dry.
Your skin type will likely change over time too. When you’re a teenager you may be plagued with oily skin that breaks out periodically in pimples or acne. The older you become, the less able your skin may be able to both produce oil and retain moisture.
Water is an important factor in the care of the skin and it affects the elasticity and comfort of the skin. Oiliness can make the skin softer, but can cause other problems, especially if produced in excess.
You are very lucky if you’re blessed with a normal skin type. You’ll usually notice fewer imperfections and will likely have a radiant and easy to care for complexion.
Skin Care Steps for All Skin Types
All four skin types should be cared for correctly to keep skin soft and supple and free from problems. The look and feel of your skin can affect the way you present yourself to others and even have an effect on your self-esteem.
There are a few common steps that will benefit each skin type. They include:
- Apply sunscreen – Apply a sunscreen if you are going spend more than 20 min in the sun.
- Don’t smoke – Smoking dries and damages your skin and causes fine lines to appear around your mouth. Smoking has too many bad effects to list them all here! Just don’t smoke – period!
- Wash your skin every day – Cleansing your skin gets rid of impurities and makeup residue. Your skin can’t breathe if it’s clogged up with dirt and grime. There will be dirt you can’t even see, so don’t assume it’s clean!
- Apply moisturizer day and night – A good moisturizer for your skin type is essential to keep away lines and wrinkles. Apply a day cream and a night cream for maximum results.
- Hydrate your skin and body – Drink water often. You would have heard a million times over to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. That’s because your body is made up of water and your skin needs water too! If you are dehydrated your skin will show it. Plump it up with water and see your skin glow.
Here is a test – pinch some skin between finger and thumb. When you release it the skin should quickly return to its normal position. If it holds the ‘pinched’ shape and normalizes slowly, you are possibly dehydrated.
As we age, we can become less aware of thirst triggers, so don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Train yourself to drink regularly, and not soft drink or coffee! The body needs water!
Fill it up with sodas and unhealthy drinks, and watch your skin getting problems. Your skin will show the negative effects sooner or later.
The steps above will provide benefits to all skin types. There are also actions that are more specific to each type. Knowing the different skin type characteristics and the proper way to care for each will help you get the maximum results for a radiant complexion – as free from imperfections as possible.
Skin Care for Normal Skin Types
If you have a normal skin type with no significant problems, that doesn’t mean you can ignore taking care of it. To keep your skin looking radiant, it helps to be vigilant in making sure it stays that way. So, love your skin all the time!
You may be fortunate to look in the mirror and see no signs of oiliness or dryness. Even though you may not be too concerned about any skin problems now, it doesn’t mean that problems can’t arise later.
So, don’t rest on your genetically-gifted laurels.
You may also be young enough, or have been careful enough, to see little sign of scaling, brown spots from either too much sun and/or aging, uneven skin tone and other signs of a downturn in the health of your skin, but still treat it with care.
The best skin care advice for minimizing skin problems is preventative action, rather than trying to undo damage already done.
A good skin care regimen is just as important for normal skin as for those skin types that present problems. You want your skin to be its healthy and attractive best every day and to minimize the ongoing effects of age, sun damage and environmental damage.
Facial Products to Consider
When selecting products to keep your normal skin type looking and feeling great, find a gentle cleanser and toner, an exfoliant, an appropriate SPF sunscreen and an indulgent-feeling moisturizer with skin-replenishing ingredients, that will soothe and soften the skin.
Normal skin can sometimes have fleeting issues with dryness or oiliness. Therefore, depending on your skin’s current condition, choose products to suit.
Your hormones, environment and even stress levels may mean differences throughout the month. Don’t exacerbate a situation by lazily using what you always have. Use what is appropriate for the skin type being expressed at that time.
Use a light moisturizer under your makeup during daylight hours and a creamier, richer one at night after you cleanse your skin.
Since your skin is normal you do have more options than other skin types.
Remember to choose products that make your skin feel good based on your own preferences. You may enjoy the way a creamy moisturizing product feels, or you may prefer a light non-greasy moisturizer, that’s so light, you don’t even know it’s there.
Keeping your skin healthy is one sure way to slow the signs of aging and keep it looking younger, longer. Your overall skin health comes from within, so it’s imperative that you drink adequate water and adhere to a diet plan that keeps you whole body healthy, which will show in your skin.
Take Care with Facial Scrubs
Never use harshly abrasive techniques on your skin such as hard, scratchy scrubs or bristled brushes. They will not only damage your skin, but could create the same skin issues you’re trying to avoid.
Choose a natural scrub with soft beads, that polish the skin rather than scratch.
Taking care of your skin daily will ensure that it stays healthy and in good condition for years to come!
Skin Care for Dry Skin Types
Dry skin is characterized by a dull appearance with almost invisible pores, flakiness and sensitive red patches that are easily irritated. Your skin will feel less elastic and you’ll likely have more lines and wrinkles, as a result of the dryness.
The dryer your skin is, the more sensitive it becomes. Cracking, itching, peeling and a reaction to many products you try may be a constant problem if you suffer with dry, sensitive skin.
It may be particularly irritating on the backs of your legs, arms and hands. Quite often you may even see small ‘dots’ on the tops of your arms and legs, when the skin is dry and in need of moisturizer.
If you allow your skin to become even drier, you may notice more lines and wrinkles than usual too. After moisturizing, they may disappear or become less distinct as the skin responds to the added moisture.
What’s Causing Your Dry Skin?
Causes of dry skin can include aging and hormonal changes, UV (Ultraviolet) radiation – especially from tanning beds, too much exposure to indoor heating, and weathering from the wind, cold and sun.
Dry skin can also be brought on by certain medications, ingredients in soaps, cleansers or cosmetics you may be using and even from taking long, hot baths and showers. You may be washing away all your natural moisture!
If your skin is particularly sensitive, try to isolate which products could be causing a problem and avoid them.
Skin Care Tips for Dry Skin
Here are some other techniques you can include to care for dry skin:
- Use a humidifier in the home – Humidifiers put moisture back in the air which relieves dry air and dry skin! They are especially helpful when you have air conditioning or heating, especially during the dry, winter months.
- Moisturise after bathing – Using a creamy moisturiser just after bathing is an excellent way to moisturise your skin. The skin is ready to soak up the moisture. If a regular moisturiser isn’t enough, try special ointments and creams designed for extra dry skin.
- Cleansing your skin – Only use gentle soaps and cleansers, and don’t use deodorant soaps.
- Bathing tip – Baths and showers should be taken once daily if possible and avoid overly hot water. Instead use warm water. Don’t stay laying in a bath for hours, or having indulgent showers either.
- Protect sensitive hands – Wear gloves when cleaning with products containing abrasive and drying ingredients. Most do, so always read the label.
- Use a gentle cleanser – Always use a gentle cleanser and cleanse at night rather than in the morning. Products which contain retinol can be used even with dry skin for their anti-aging ingredients. If your skin is sensitive to retinol, reduce the frequency of the applications.
- Use products containing hyaluronic acid – Products containing hyaluronic acid are particularly helpful for dry skin. They help keep the moisture in your skin. Use it beneath your moisturiser to ensure that water stays in your skin.
More than any other skin type, you should be careful when adding new products to your dry skin treatment. If unsure, do patch tests on your skin. It may take some time to develop a reaction to a new product, so be aware and discontinue if in any doubt.
Skin Care for Oily Skin Types
If your skin feels oily before the day is over, you can say you are an oily skin type. Oily skin can be problematic, but there are also benefits to having oily skin! You are less likely to wrinkle as fast as those that have dry skin, so you can look younger, for longer. Although at times you may hate the oiliness, be thankful too.
Oily skin doesn’t necessarily mean acne problems, but if you do experience breakouts, you can usually develop a skin care routine that works for you so that breakouts and acne occur less, and make less of an impact.
Keeping your skin clean from excess oils and trapped impurities is essential.
Unlike dry skin, oily skin seldom has a sensitive reaction to skin products and has more natural protective agents to shield you from the harmful rays of the sun. Unfortunately, an oily skin type is more prone to breakouts of acne, than other types.
Acne occurs when the hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells along with oil from your skin. You’ll see whiteheads, blackheads and pimples and after they have gone, scarring may occur on the face, back and chest.
Hormonal changes may trigger acne during puberty, and genetics will likely also play a big role in who gets acne and who doesn’t. Although often thought that cleanliness plays a role in acne, research doesn’t validate those findings.
Heat and humidity may also be factors in acne and pimple breakouts and stress can also be a cause.
It still isn’t known for sure if cigarette smoking plays a part in acne, but bacterium — always on the skin — is a definite factor. Certainly, cigarette smoking causes a disruption in oxygen flow, which isn’t good when the health and proper function of all your cells, including skin cells, are reliant on good, clean oxygen.
Oily Skin Care Regime
A good maintenance routine for oily skin and one that frequently breaks out in acne is:
- Cleanse – Cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser. You should apply the cleanser each morning and evening, rub gently with your fingertips for about 30 seconds and then rinse. Choose products that are made from natural ingredients.
- Use medicated, alcohol-free salicylic acid – Medicated salicylic acid cleansers can be applied to the oily sections of your skin two or three times per week.
- Retinol – You can use retinol to lessen oil production. Retinol also reduces the appearance of large pores and can be an anti-aging product for those who have oily skin.
- Use an oil-free moisturizer – Many who have oily skin don’t feel they need to moisturize, but if you have oily skin, you still need to do this important step! Use an SPF30 type of oil-free moisturizer. Your skin may be less subject to skin damage than other types, but you still need protection.
- Don’t squeeze – Never squeeze pimples or it will take longer for them to heal – and always look for a cosmetic or skin care product with the ingredient, “noncomedogenic” on the label. These products won’t clog your pores like others.
Skin Care for Combination Skin Types
A combination skin type is the most difficult to care for because it requires a balancing act to keep the dry skin properly moisturized and the oily skin moisturized using a different method.
If you have a combination skin type, you likely have oily skin in the “T” zone on your face. The “T” zone is the nose, chin and forehead and it is likely you have dry skin outside of that zone.
You may also develop fine lines and wrinkles, while at the same time experience clogged pores. An uneven skin tone or brown spots may be visible and the pores on your nose may appear larger.
With this dichotomy of issues going on, it’s sometimes difficult to address with a single line of skin care products. Your nose, forehead and chin may have overactive oil glands which make the pores clog easily. However, the cheeks and other areas of your face may appear dry and flaky and require special attention.
You should attempt to take care of your skin according to ‘skin type’. With combination skin you should stay away from harsh toners and exfoliating your skin too frequently. This procedure can damage the protective layers of the skin.
Combination Skin Care Regime
A typical skin care routine for combination skin types might look like the following:
- Use a gentle cleanser – Once a day is usually sufficient unless your skin is particularly oily in some areas. Stay away from medicated cleansers that might be too harsh for the drier areas.
- Target breakout areas – Treat breakout areas only with salicylic acid every other day. Don’t treat the whole face.
- Moisturizing procedure – Spot treat the oily sections of your face with an oil-free, SPF 30 product and use a richer moisturizer on the dry areas of your face.
- Exfoliating – All skin types should exfoliate – including combination types. It will open the pores in both the oily and dry areas and help the moisturizer to penetrate the skin. Just be a little bit gentle around your cheek areas when exfoliating.
- Applying a mask – You may like to use a nourishing mask such as a purifying mud mask. This mask will help absorb excess oils and help keep your skin hydrated where it needs it too.
- AHA products – You can treat your combination skin type with a gentle alpha-hydroxy acid product. AHA is added to many skin care products as it is being seen as an anti-aging ‘must-have’. It’s similar to an exfoliant, in that it helps remove dead skin cells and is promoted as being able to rejuvenate the skin to a more youthful-looking complexion.
Some alpha-hydroxy products use natural ingredients such as milk, sugar cane and malic, so look for these products. You can treat your skin as needed – usually once to three times per week is recommended.
You’ll want to rejuvenate your skin and keep it from becoming damaged by stress caused by environmental factors. Choose a product that contains nourishing, natural and anti-aging ingredients – and you may want to use an eye cream to reduce the fine lines and to repair the delicate skin around the eyes.
Lifestyle issues also have a great deal to do with keeping combination skin types under control. For example, exercise regularly and adhere to a good diet filled with essential fatty acids that will help moisturize your body and skin from the inside out.
Skin Care for Sensitive Skin Types
Sensitive skin is reacting to various ingredients that our too harsh for this type of skin. Very often irritation shows up as redness, itching, burning, dryness and sometimes if expose for long time to irritant leads to eczema.
Sensitive Skin Care Regime
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. Even though these products are made by popular brands, harsh ingredients and a lot of preservatives can flare up you skin.
- Use a gentle cleanser – Once a day is usually sufficient unless your skin is particularly oily in some areas. Stay away from medicated cleansers that might be too harsh for the drier areas.
- Moisturize after cleaning – Using a creamy moisturizer just after bathing is an excellent way to moisturize your skin. The skin is ready to soak up the moisture. If a regular moisturizer isn’t enough, try special ointments and creams designed for sensitive skin to calm down.
- Use oils on your face and body – vegetable oils and products that contain only oils in most cases don’t contain preservatives, so using them you avoid harsh ingredients and help your skin to fight dryness and burning sensations.
- Avoid using too much makeup – be very careful when buying as well as applying makeup. Avoid using waterproof cosmetics and throw away any out of date products.
Regardless of your skin type, if the routine you’re using isn’t working as you had hoped after using it for a few weeks, either try different products or make an appointment to see a dermatologist.
Remember your skin is the largest organ of your body, so it’s important you learn how to care for it properly. We are all unique, so what works for our friends, may not necessarily work for us.
Also remember, that your diet and water intake can make your skin glow from within! Products are wonderful, but your lifestyle is a major part of skin health.