How to Determine Your Skin Type & Pick the Best Skincare Products

What’s your skin type?  Dry? Oily? Maybe combination?  What’s the difference between dry and dehydrated skin anyway?  When selecting skincare products, it’s best to choose the main products - cleanser, moisturizer, exfoliant, and SPF  - based on skin type. Then, you can pick your corrective products like serums and masks based on current conditions like breakouts or hyperpigmentation, since these can fluctuate throughout your life.  Let’s start with selecting your skin type and then we can discuss the best products to help keep it in optimal condition.

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Dry Skin = lack of moisture and oils in the skin. Wrinkles and flakiness are more obvious on dry skin types.  The skin may feel rough and look “tired”. Skin will not appear oily until the evening,  if at all. Extremely dry skin may even appear drier at the end of the day. Some dry skin types feel like there is not a moisturizer heavy enough on the planet to help their skin.


Oily Skin = overabundance of oil production.  Skin appears oily in by morning or midday.  Many oily skin types feel the need to blot skin throughout the day and often experience breakouts more often than drier skin types.  Oily skin types fear heavy moisturizers more than anything.


Normal Skin = fortunate!  Skin feels mostly balanced and never too oily or dry.  Lucky You!! Let’s face it, those with “suffering” with chronic normal skin probably aren’t even reading this article.


Combination Skin = a blend of oily and dry.  Many combination skin types live in a constant state of “What the heck is going on with my skin TODAY?” and probably have more skin care products in their bathroom than they’d like to admit.


Below we’ll discuss each skin type more in-depth and products to balance them out.  Then other issues like acne and hyperpigmentation are more easily addressed.


Dry Skin:

Some of us are genetically predisposed to drier skin.  This means our skin naturally produces fewer oils than those with normal, oily or combination skin.  Dry skin can also be a temporary condition where the skin has been compromised due to environmental conditions, aggressive exfoliation or underlying health conditions or medications.  Those of us with dry skin benefit from using gentle or creamy cleansers that do not strip the skin and moisturizers that contain beneficial oils like avocado, borage, evening primrose, rosehip or jojoba.  These oils are occlusive and help repair the skin’s barrier. They are not recommended for oilier skin types or those struggling with acne.  


Obagi Hydrate and Hydrate Luxe both contain some of these nurturing ingredients.  SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore also helps repair barrier function by incorporating ceramides and lipids in its formulation.


Dehydrated Skin:

Dehydrated skin can occur naturally, however, it is most often the result of extrinsic factors - lifestyle choices like too much sun exposure, lack of appropriate water intake, too much alcohol and caffeine intake as well as a side effect of many medications.  It also occurs as we age and stop producing as much of our own internal hydration in the form of hyaluronic acid and our barrier function becomes impaired leading to dehydrated skin.  


Dehydrated skin will benefit from gentle cleansers, less aggressive exfoliants and hydrating products like PCA’s Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum. Hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate attract and hold 1,000 times their weight in water on the surface of the skin for instant smoothing and hydration.  Hydrating SPFs are also your friend.


Oily Skin:

Everyone’s skin produces oil, also referred to as sebum.  These natural oils help create a protective barrier to keep our skin healthy.  Oily skin types will find that despite using appropriate skin care products, their skin is still feeling greasy by mid-morning or midday whereas a normal skin type won’t feel oily until the end of the day.  Oilier skin types are also prone to breakouts and acne. This skin type will benefit from foaming cleansers and products that contain salicylic acid which helps control sebum production. Oily skin also likes products that have a “matte” finish which means they contain ingredients to help absorb those pesky oils throughout the day.


Revision’s Brightening Facial Wash contains salicylic acid as well as other ingredients to brighten dark spots which can sometimes occur due to acne inflammation.  Oily skin also does well with lightweight serums instead of heavier moisturizers. Hyaluronic serums are great because they hydrate skin without being heavy or occlusive. 


Combination Skin:

Possibly the most challenging skin type is combination skin….dry in some areas, oily in others with occasional but recurring breakouts.  Those of us with combination skin benefit from having a variety of trusted products in our home skincare arsenal to help keep things in check throughout the month.  This often means having two cleansers; one that is gentle for drier days and one that can help do a deeper clean a few times a week. Exfoliants should be multitaskers, containing both mechanical exfoliants like jojoba beads and low percentages of glycolic and lactic to also help slough off dead skin.  A purifying mask for occasional spot treatments on breakouts, a hyaluronic serum to keep skin hydrated and plump and a heavier soothing moisturizer for dry phases. I encourage my combination skin clients to find their favorite tried and true products and try to stock up when on sale to help with the need for multiple products.


Conditions like Acne, Rosacea, and Hyperpigmentation are issues that can affect any skin type and can be addressed by adding corrective products targeting those issues into their regimens.


If you’re struggling to find the right mix of products for your skin, schedule a facial appointment with a professional esthetician who is trained to analyze, assess and recommend appropriate facial services and products to help correct issues as well as keep skin balanced.  I recommend facials every 4-6 weeks and corrective peel series once a year to keep skin happy and aging gracefully.

Katrina Hopper