Skin Care

The Rulebook: How To Figure Out Your Skin Type

Words by Kathy Iandoli

Words by Kathy Iandoli

Everyone’s skin has at one point or another reflected a particular skin type. Maybe your workout routine produced a good sweat and your skin felt oily. Or, perhaps really cold air dried out your face. The truth is, that while skin conditions are often temporary, they do suggest a permanent skin type. It’s important to understand those types and how to identify them, especially when it comes to daily face washing and facial hair growth. Check out the skin types, and which category you fall under.

First Things First: What Is A T-Zone?

t zone image
Your T-Zone is the area comprised of your forehead, nose, chin and area around the mouth. Those “zones” form the shape of the letter T and are used to determine which skin type you have. T-Zones are notorious for an over production of oil compared to other areas, because your oil glands are more populated in those “zones.”

Next Comes The Test: First Comes The Wash

While there are a number of online quizzes that break down skin types, there’s a very practical way to figure it out yourself. Wash your face with a regular cleanser (avoid soap), then pat skin dry. Don’t scrub or dry too hard. You want your skin to be clean, but not abused and blotchy for this test to work. Wait about an hour; do not add any moisturizers, after shaves, or any facial products to the skin during this time.

Step Three: The Tissue Test

After about an hour, grab two tissues. Use one tissue to pat onto your T-Zones, and use the other to pat on the other parts of your face. Inspect the tissues, because they will provide the most valuable information in figuring out your skin type.

The Results Are In!

What did the tissues say? Was the T-Zone tissue full of oil and the other tissue normal? If so, then you have what is called Combination skin, meaning your T-Zones produce the most oil and the rest of your face does not. If your T-Zones are oily but the rest of your face is dry and flaky, then you should pay attention to how you moisturize those dry spots without affecting the T-Zone area.

If both tissues are oily, then you have categorically Oily skin. If both tissues have minimal oil but your face looks tight, dry, and flaky, then you have dry skin. The easiest remedy is moisturizing. If your skin is inflamed or blotchy after gentle washing, then you have sensitive skin. Normal skin means no oil and no flakes. You are #blessed.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Well, now it’s time to proceed with caution. Sensitive skin types, choose cleansers and moisturizers geared toward sensitive skin. For oily skin types, do not overwash your skin. The skin will naturally go into panic mode, and produce more oil than necessary. Keep the washings to twice a day max, however make sure to wash after workouts.

Beware of your beard, since hair growth on oily skin can be disastrous, and choose face products that specify oil-free. For dry skin, they key is to moisturize, though avoiding harsh cleansers will also prevent the skin from over drying. If you have a beard, then beard oils are already your best friend. Combination skin? Use cleansers geared toward oily T-Zones and handle the rest of your face with care. For normal skin, keep it normal: moisturize, be gentle, and keep it clean.

Final Word: Diets And Hydration

Man picking up healthy food
Understand this: while skin types can’t often be changed topically, a big reason for your skin type is your diet. Fatty foods produce oil, lack of any fatty acids produce dryness. See the connection? And a lack of hydration makes it difficult to flush your body and your skin reflects that. The solution? Eat a healthy diet with healthy fats and vegetables, but drink as much water as you can. Your skin will thank you in the long run.