Choosing The Right Skincare: Learn Your Skin Type And Skin Concerns

If you feel totally overwhelmed with the number of skincare products available, you aren’t alone. Skincare is a multibillion dollar a year industry, and companies are constantly launching new “must-have” products and increasingly complicated skincare regimens to try and get more market share and make more money, while they convince you that you need a cabinet full of products to have healthy, beautiful skin. 

The truth is - this simply isn’t true! Taking care of your skin, having healthy balanced skin and correcting the skin issues you aren’t happy about doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t have to require a myriad of products. In fact, using too many products from different brands can actually lead to irritation, sensitivity and dull skin. In order to decide which products you need and what products will work for your lifestyle, you first need to determine exactly what your skin type is.

Skin types:

Depending on who you ask, skin type can mean two totally different things. If you hear a Dermatologist talking about skin types, they are most likely referring to Fitzpatrick Skin Types. Developed in 1975, the Fitzpatrick method classifies skin type according to the amount of pigment your skin has and your skin's reaction to sun exposure. 

This information can help predict your overall risk of sun damage and skin cancer. It can also help you know how your skin will act towards skincare ingredients or procedures that cause irritation and inflammation. To compare the different ends of the Fitzpatrick Skin Type scale, typically Fitzpatrick Skin Type I will become red when irritated/inflamed which tends to be temporary, and Fitzpatrick Skin Type VI will hyper or hypo pigment - and these pigment (melanin) changes can be permanent. 


Skin type

Typical features

Tanning ability

I

  • Skin color (before sun exposure): ivory/pale white
  • Eye color: light blue, light gray, or light green
  • Natural hair color: red or light blonde

Skin always freckles, always burns and peels, never tans


II

  • Skin color (before sun exposure): fair or pale
  • Eye color: blue, gray, or green
  • Natural hair color: blonde

Skin usually freckles, burns and peels easily, rarely tans

III

  • Skin color (before sun exposure): fair to beige/darker white, with golden undertones
  • Eye color: hazel or light brown
  • Natural hair color: dark blonde or light brown

Skin might freckle, burns on occasion and tans after initial burn

IV

  • Skin color (before sun exposure): olive or light brown
  • Eye color: dark brown
  • Natural hair color: dark brown

Doesn’t really freckle, burns minimally and tans easily

V

  • Skin color (before sun exposure): brown to dark brown
  • Eye color: dark brown to black
  • Natural hair color: dark brown to black
  • Sun reaction: rarely freckles, almost never burns, and always tans

Doesn’t freckle, almost never burns and tans darkly easily

VI

  • Skin color (before sun exposure): deeply pigmented dark brown to darkest brown
  • eye color: brownish black
  • natural hair color: black

Never freckles, never burns and always tans darkly


When the average consumer or skincare companies talk about skin types, they are usually talking about how much oil or sebum and moisture is present in the skin. Sebum is produced by the skin’s sebaceous glands, and when the skin is healthy and “normal” and functioning correctly enough sebum will be produced to keep the face soft, supple and feeling comfortable. Moisture (water) is retained in healthy, functioning skin cells but can be depleted if the skin’s barrier is not functioning correctly or has been disrupted through harsh products, medicines or environmental exposure (sun, wind, water).  As we all know once you enter the teen years and beyond most people won’t have a “normal” skin type without some help from really good skincare. Here are the most common skin types defined:

Dry Skin:

Dry skin or xeroderma is a condition in which the skin lacks sebum and moisture. Dry skin can be caused by a number of things including sunburn, medications, low humidity, and vitamin deficiency. Treatment for dry skin includes moisturizing the skin with creams, lotions, and ointments. Dry skin is characterized by: the skin feeling tight, especially after showering, bathing or swimming; skin that feels and looks rough; itching (pruritus), slight to severe flaking, scaling or peeling, fine lines; gray, ashy skin, redness. Dry skin is more likely to show fine lines and wrinkles as well as crepiness.

Normal Skin:

Normal skin is soft, supple and glowing without any real issues. Normal skin doesn’t feel tight after showering, bathing or swimming. When you have normal skin, you will wake up in the morning with your skin feeling balanced and healthy without any tightness or oily patches.

Combination Skin: 

Combination skin has everything going on! There can be areas that feel normal and healthy, with oily patches and/or dry patches all at once. Most people experience combination skin at some point in their life. 

Oily Skin:

Oily skin is characterized by an overproduction of sebum. Oily skin will look shiny when you wake up in the morning, won’t feel tight after bathing, showering or swimming and will become shiny quickly in the morning after cleansing. Oily skin can often appear “thicker” than other skin types, and the pores can be more visible. Oily skin has a tendency to break out when pores become blocked with the sebum produced by the sebaceous glands, and doesn’t tend to show fine lines and wrinkles and is rarely crepey.  

Sensitive Skin:

All skin types can be sensitive. Skin sensitivity is usually a reference to irritant contact dermatitis. Certain skincare ingredients are known to cause irritation and sensitivity in the skin - including, stinging/burning, itching (pruritis) and peeling or flaking (for example traditional retinoids and retinol can cause sensitivity). Oily skin is less likely to be sensitive than dry skin due to the higher sebum and moisture levels in the skin counteracting the irritating effects of certain skincare ingredients. 

Now that you’ve learned what skin type you are, make sure to select products that are either specifically formulated for your skin type - or are formulated to be suitable for all skin types (look for clinical testing information on the product’s website).

Skin Concerns:

Once you have determined which brand is suitable for your skin type, look at the products they offer taking into consideration what you want to take care of (basic skin maintenance such as cleansing, moisturizing and sun protection). Then identify what skin issues you want to treat, so that you can select specific products for these issues and add them to your skincare regimen.

Your skin concerns are likely to include some of the following, which can all be treated with well formulated skincare products - and with a high quality, clinically proven skincare brand you wont need a separate product to treat each issue. 

  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Dark marks
  • Enlarged pores
  • Congested skin
  • Breakouts
  • Rough skin
  • Irritated skin
  • Dull skin
  • Sagging skin
  • Dark under eye circles
  • Under eye puffiness
  • Dehydrated skin (doesn’t look plump/firm)

So, for example, you can have dry sensitive skin with dark marks and occasional breakouts --- your goal will be to balance out your skin, even out your skin tone and keep those breakouts at bay. 

It’s always a good idea to start off with a “less is more” mindset when it comes to skincare. Select a high quality, clinically proven skincare line and start with just the basic products that you need using these for at least two weeks consistently before you add in any additional products to allow your skin to adjust to your new skincare routine.

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