Flawless Skin 101: Know Your Skin Type

If you want flawless complexion, the first step is to know your skin type.

Once you have determined what skin type you have, you can find the right products to maximize the benefits and minimize the risk of developing unnecessary skin woes. Forget everything that you have heard before from beauty therapists, cosmetics salespersons, dermatologists and even fashion magazines! Most of these advice previously given to you is likely incorrect, confusing, contradicting (from different sources) and designed to make you feel inadequate so you will buy more products. Or simply out-of date because you were in a different phase of life with different stressors and hormones that changed your skin type over time.

Everybody knows there are four general categories of skin: normal, dry, oily and combination. But these generalization do not address the wide variety of issues that can also affect your skin type. Other skin-related issues include hyper-pigmentation, eczema, acne, sun damage, aging, rosacea and many more. It is important to recognize what factors are affecting your skin because different skin conditions require different formulations.

And did you know you can have more than one skin type: dry and sensitive, oily and acne-prone, sun-damaged with pigmentation? In fact, it is uncommon for most people (especially middle-age and older) to fit in just one skin type category without any related skin concerns.

How to determine your skin type?

1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. Do not over-cleanse. You want your face to be freshly cleaned – free of makeup, oils and dirt accumulated throughout the day.

2. Wait an hour. This allows your skin to return to its natural state. Do not touch your face. During this time, your skin should start to tell you how it feels through sensations and the way it looks. Does it feel tight? Does it appear dry, matte and flaky? Can you see fine lines and pigmentation? Is your skin looking shiner and more glossy in certain areas? Do you notice any redness?

3. Dab your face with facial tissue. Even better, use a facial blotter. Concentration on your T-zone area – nose, forehead and chin.

4. Determine your skin type using the 4 general categories.

Your skin is normal, if: you don’t find any trace of oil or flaky skin. It should feel elastic, subtle and smooth. This is the least problematic type of skin that requires minimum care and products.

Your skin is dry, if: you see dry flakes of dead skin. It should feel taut, tight and stretched. Dry skin is often associated with small pores. Moisturizing and hydrating are important for this skin type. If left unattended, dry skin can develop fine lines, wrinkles and a dull tone easily. Dry skin can also advance your skin’s sensitivity leading to conditions like eczema.

Your skin is oily, if: you see shine and find oily patches on your tissue or facial blotter, especially on your cheeks, forehead and nose. It should feel greasy and thick. Oily skin is often associated with open pores and have a tendency to breakout into acne. While oily skin is problematic, the skin is more resilient to aging.

Your skin is combination, if: you find oily patches on your tissue or facial blotter coming from the areas of forehead, nose and chin only. It should be non-oily around your cheek area. While this may be the most common skin type, it is also the most cumbersome. It requires double duty in your skincare regime. You need to treat dry skin areas as you would dry skin and oily areas as you would oily skin.

5. Determine your skin concerns. Most common skin concerns that are associated with skin types are sensitive, acne-prone and hyper-pigmentation.

Your skin is sensitive, if: it reacts to regular skin products by turning red, itchy or if rash forms. Sensitive skin is often associated with skin that is extremely dry which becomes inflamed and easily irritated. This is the most fragile and problematic type of skin that requires you to really pay attention to everything you put on your face. Sometimes even the most generic and dermatological-certified products will not do.

Your skin is acne-prone, if: you still get pimples and acne (and you are no longer a teenager!). Acne-prone skin is often associated with oily skin. This type of skin requires you to shop for good acne-related skin products that will help improve the condition.

Your skin is hyper-pigmented, if: you see light, brown small flat spots appearing on areas of sun exposed skin such as cheeks and nose. This darkening of the skin is caused by the skin’s increased production of melanin. This condition requires immediate attention and treatment. If left unattended, the darkening of spots will only continue to grow and multiply. Good skin care products and professional treatments may be needed to rectify and improve this condition.

Once you have done the above steps, it is much easier to ascertain exactly what skin type you have.

This is the first of a 2-part series. Continue to read Flawless Skin 101: Know Your Acids

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