Understanding Your Skin Type

March 14, 2019

Understanding Your Skin Type

Whether you’re working towards flawless skin to go #bare or you’re putting on your makeup for a night out, it’s always a bummer to see dry flaky patches on your face or god forbid to see some breakouts specifically where that highlighter goes.  To ensure you reach your skin goals, it’s super important to first identify what skin type you are and understand how you can correct your skin concerns with the appropriate products. 

There’s four skin types: normal, dry, oily and combo.  And then there’s skin conditions you may be worried about including sensitive skin, you could be worried about skin ageing and wrinkles, or you could be thinking about making your hyperpigmentation go away.  In this post we’ll explore each skin type and some skin conditions. 



Skin Types

Normal Skin

Normal skin is well balanced skin, smooth complexion.  You don’t feel too oily or too dry. 

Dry Skin

Dry skin occurs when your sebaceous glands do not produce sufficient amounts of sebum.  For healthy moisturized skin, the sebum on your facial skin acts as an occlusive, meaning it slows down the water evaporating from your skin.  Think of it as a moisture protective barrier. When there isn’t enough sebum to perform this function, you get excessive trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL).  Dry skin is a result of lipid deficiency.  If you feel like your skin is rough, dull, or flaky, and if it feels taut when you stretch your jaw, you have dry skin.  To restore healthy oil levels to your dry skin, use a moisturizer several times a day (you may separate ones for day and night and also separate ones for the changing seasons). 

Oily Skin

Oily skin occurs when your sebaceous glands overproduce sebum.  This may be attributed to several factors, including genetics, hormonal changes, medication.  Oily skin sometimes links to breakouts because the excess oil accumulates enough to clog your pores.    If your skin has a sheen, your pores look enlarged and you just feel plain oily (in absence of any products), you have oily skin.  If you do, you still need to use a moisturizer!  But use one that is specifically formulated for oily skin.  Make sure to exfoliate, to use non-comedogenic makeup and skincare.  Do not use products containing alcohol or that will dry you out because this will only exacerbate your sebum production.

Skin Anatomy



This is a common skin type and is a bit tricky because it’s the easiest to self-misdiagnose.  You may think you have oily skin if you have an oily t-zone while you may have some dryness going on in other patches of your face like your cheeks. 



Dehydrated Skin

Having dehydrated skin is not the same as having dry skin.  Dry skin is lack of oil in your skin.  Dehydrated skin is lack of water retained in your stratum corneum [skin's outer most layer] to keep it healthy.  Just to be clear, you can still have excessive levels of sebum in your skin (oily skin) and experience dehydration.  You may experience this when constantly in an air-conditioned or heated environment, prolonged exposure to the sun, and if you follow a fat-free diet (which deprives your skin of essential fatty acids). 

Sensitive Skin

Dry skin is usually a precursor to sensitive skin.  You introduce sensitivities when skin suffers of lipid deficiency.  This lipid deficiency allows for higher levels of moisture loss (TEWL) and it allows irritants to penetrate through, causing rashes, redness, swelling.  Look out for ingredients that are anti-inflammatory like chamomile and turmeric and you can always do a diy spritz or mask to calm down your skin.  Also look for moisturizers with healthy fats for skin repair.


As we age our skin loses density and as a result wrinkles start to appear.  Although we cannot stop this process we can care for our skin in a way that makes it preserve its youthful appearance for longer.  The first and easiest thing you can do to prevent wrinkles from setting in early is to apply sunscreen every day.  The highest contributor to deep wrinkles is UV rays.  The next thing you can do to avoid premature aging is ensure your skin is moisturized and well balanced. 

Uneven Skin Tone

Hyperpigmentation is that annoying condition when you get darker patches of skin than the rest of your skin.  Most common reasons are acne or age spots.  The best preventative measure is to use sunscreen.  And if you already have these spots, you may use a brightening skincare product rich in Vitamin C (best used at nighttime since Vitamin C can make your skin too sensitive for sun exposure during the day and potentially cause damage).


Even though acne is mostly associated with oily skin, people with dry skin are highly susceptible to this skin disease.  People with dry skin are more vulnerable to inflammation caused by acne-inducing bacteria.  Other triggers include diet, hormones and hormonal changes, medication, comedogenic makeup, and stress.



Now that you’re better equipped with information, hopefully you can determine what your skin type is with more certainty.  Some tips on improving your skin health:


-Hydrate from inside out by drinking water or eating foods with high water content (think cucumber and watermelon!)

-Always use sunscreen: this avoids premature skin aging and damage

-Try aloe vera gel: Aloe vera is so good for all skin types really, it helps lock in moisture.  You can get a aloe leaf from your local Whole Foods, cut it through the middle, get the gel out and store in a jar [compost the leaf 😉].  You can combine this with your moisturizer by applying it on the skin with a reusable cotton round.

-For sensitive skin: Try products with anti-inflammatory properties, like chamomile, green tea or turmeric.  Avoid fragrances, alcohols and harsh cleansers.  Exfoliating is not necessary and apply your moisturizer while your skin is damp.

-For dry skin: Cleanse with a gentle cleanser (avoid products containing alcohol that will dry you out).  Use a humectant toner that helps lock in moisture.  Try doing honey masks with oats 1-2x a week (will help draw in moisture and deep nourish).  Use a moisturizer rich in fatty acids and antioxidants to repair your skin’s protective barrier and lipid function.

-For oily skin:  Lightly exfoliate either with an acid serum or a sugar/salt scrub regularly.  Look out for a cleanser that doesn’t strip the oils from your face.  Use a moisturizer that helps with sebum production balance, reduces severity of breakouts and helps with prevention.    Try clay masks to deep cleanse your pores 2x a week!




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