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Skincare 101

How To Determine Your Skin Type

Anyone can benefit from a skin care routine – seriously, we’re pretty aware ladies, but most guys have no idea that some basic care can go a long way towards a sexy glow. 

Understanding your skin type is the first step in knowing where to begin. That can feel a little daunting for newcomers; fortunately, there are only a handful of widely accepted skin types that dermatologists recognize, important to honing in on the ideal skin care plan for you. 

What type of skin do I have? 

Skin gets grouped broadly into four categories: oily, dry, combination, and sensitive. A closer understanding and a little self-reflection can make a meaningful difference in navigating the world of skincare – and the future of your complexion. 

Oily Skin

Folks with Oily Skin tend to know. Your face often looks shiny, it feels oily, you may have large pores, and makeup tends to have a harder time staying put. Larger pores can mean more congestion, build-up, and blackheads, and oily skin types are sometimes more prone to not only acne but post-inflammatory pigmentation after a breakout has healed. 

The good news is that oily skin tends to look younger and stay softer & more supple through life due to that ever-present natural moisture. 

Dealing with oily skin can be as simple as using only non-comedogenic (meaning they don’t clog pores) and oil-free products, as well as avoiding heavy creams and ointments. Stick to lighter moisturizers and formulations, like serums, gels, and lotions, and don’t be tempted to over-cleanse or over-exfoliate. When you deplete your skin of necessary oils with too much cleansing, your skin can actually go into over-production in an attempt to re-hydrate itself. 

Dry Skin

Does your skin feel tight during the day, or look flaky at times? Does it feel particularly tight or even dehydrated after a shower or bathing? 

Chances are you’re dealing with Dry Skin, sometimes a result of environmental or lifestyle factors but just as often a matter of chance and genetics. Dehydration can cause dry skin as well, and ensuring you’re properly hydrated is not only good for your guts and brain – c’mon, you knew that – but great for your skin as well. 

Be careful not to overdo it - dry skin requires gentle cleansers that will avoid completely destroying ALL of your face’s necessary oils. Then, try applying a facial moisturizer every day to keep skin hydrated and protected all year round. Sufficient moisture and UV protection are key, and ingredients to look for include propylene glycol and glycerine, which will help to pull water into the outer layer of your skin. 

Combination Skin

“But this ALL happens to me!” you scream. I hear you. You very likely have some combination of the above – descriptively known to dermatologists and skincare experts as Combination Skin.

Those of us with Combination Skin often experience an oily feel or shiny appearance only in the “T” zone: the forehead, nose, and chin (yes, a literal T). That shiny appearance sometimes drifts to the cheeks as well, but more often it’s the T-zone that suffers while our cheeks feel the opposite: tight and dehydrated after a shower, or flaky during the day. You may even feel oily in the summer and dry in the winter.

Combination Skin is the most common skin type and in some ways the most annoying to deal with precisely because it’s so inconsistent. What feels good and works on one part of the face doesn’t help a bit on another. Meanwhile, what’s been working all winter all of the sudden makes you feel plugged up and heavy come summer. 

Combination skin needs some TLC to find the right cleansers, moisturizers, and protectants that will work in the right places. It’s a good idea to start with extra gentle products, and as you identify challenge areas, oily areas, or particularly dry areas, begin to dial in what’s working well, and where. Don’t assume that one product will fit all - combination skin types may require a little more finesse. 

Sensitive Skin

Do you find that new makeups or cleansers cause more problems than they solve? Do you break out every time you switch skincare products?

Sensitive Skin – We feel for you girl. Managing sensitive skin is a challenge: what works? What irritates? What causes inflammation or worse? 

Sensitive Skin is sometimes known for having an underlying redness to it, and it almost always needs a little extra TLC. The best course of action is to find great solutions that work for you through some slow, gentle trial and error. Change as few variables as you can at one time. Don’t add three new makeups at once, and consider patch-testing new products on more discreet parts of your body - behind your ears, for example. Look for hypoallergenic solutions and those that are free of essential oils, fragrances, and parabens. Better yet, for people with sensitive skin one of the fastest paths to great skincare is with the help of a trained dermatologist.

How To Determine Your Skin Type 

Knowing your skin type is important to finding the best skin care routine for your body. After all, your skin IS the largest organ in your body.

A quick at-home test can give you a better idea of where to begin in understanding your own skin type. Start by cleansing your face with a gentle cleanser, or one that you’re already familiar with. Pat dry...then wait. 

After 30 to 45 minutes, it’s time to assess your skin. 

Are your cheeks, nose, and forehead already beginning to shine? You’re probably on team Oily Skin. 

If you smile or make facial expressions, does your skin feel parched and dehydrated? You’ve probably sapped what small amount of oil your skin had, and it’s taking time for your skin to bounce back: team Dry Skin. 

Has the shine returned, but just on your nose and forehead, or some variation of these areas? Team Combination. 

You can take this test a step further – and more quickly –with blotting sheets. Blotting paper picks up oil rapidly and makes it stand out to the naked eye. If your blotting sheets are saturated with oil, you probably have Oily Skin, and if it’s just from the T-zone, you have some level of Combination Skin.

Knowing your skin type is important to perfecting your routine and knowing which skincare products are the most effective and safe from irritation or breakouts. 

No matter where you are on your skincare journey, the dermatologists and physicians at Nava MD can help. We’ve worked with patients just like you to provide effective and affordable prescription skincare solutions, if appropriate, tailored to your skin and delivered to your door. 

We’re the dermatologist visit you’ve never had – online and affordable. Get started today with your free visit.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency