Knowing your skin type allows you to choose the skincare products and treatments that are best for your skin needs. For example, someone with dry skin shouldn’t use products designed for oily skin, because they’ll further dry out the skin and lead to irritation. Skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and peeling, are all signs that your skincare routine needs a little adjusting.
But figuring out your skin type can be difficult. What does it mean when your skin is dry and oily at the same time? What’s the difference between dry and dehydrated skin? What type of acne do you have? It can leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed.
Here at Sisu Clinic, our goal is to help all of our patients feel confident and well-informed when it comes to their skin. That’s why we’ve summarized everything you need to know so you can figure out your skin type once-and-for-all. Let’s get started.
Skincare Isn’t A One-Size-Fits-All
When it comes to skincare, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. We are all unique, and have different skin types, needs, diets, genetics, lifestyles and goals. This means that our skincare also needs to be different. Personalizing your own skincare routine is essential to have the best skin possible, particularly if you are currently experiencing a skin issue like acne. What works for someone else might not work for you, which is why it’s important that you do your research!
But doing the research is what leads many people astray. Information online can be confusing, and skincare companies are always trying to sell products - so send a message that their products are suitable for all skin types. When in reality, certain ingredients are a no-go for certain skin types, but you’ll only know that if you know what to look for.
Reading a skincare label can also be overwhelming. With 20 different ingredients all impossible to pronounce, and nothing you’ve ever seen before - you’re probably feeling lost. Having great skin starts with great skincare. So being able to figure out your skin type is essential.
Most importantly, it’s critical that you understand that skincare isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Try to avoid getting swayed by brilliant marketing, beauty influencers, or even by what your friends are doing. That way, you’ll focus only on what works for your specific skin, and you’ll be able to transform your skin to the best it’s ever looked.
The Five Different Skincare Types
1. Normal Skin Type
If your skin has minimal or zero imperfections, congratulations - you may have normal skin! This skincare type is not too dry or too oily. It’s not sensitive, red or textured. Your pores are barely visible and your complexion is typically clear and radiant.
As you may have concluded, this is a great skincare type to have! It’s unlikely that you’ll experience any skin issues, as long as you are using the right products and avoiding some common mistakes - we’ll come onto this later!
2. Dry Skin Type
Dry skin tends to be flaky, rough, or dull. Your skin is less elastic so you’re missing the bouncy, plump component that other skincare types may have. The good news is that individuals with dry skin often have almost invisible pores, because the lack of oil in the pores keeps them tight and seemingly closed.
The downside of this skincare type is that your skin can crack, peel, and become easily inflamed. You may notice scales, particularly in less noticeable areas around the body like the legs.
It’s important to understand the difference between dry and dehydrated skin. Dry skin is hereditary; it lacks oil. Whereas dehydrated skin lacks water, which is usually temporary and can easily be remedied with the right products and lifestyle adjustments.
What skincare products should you avoid for dry skin?
- Surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate
- Soaps like sodium tallowate
- Salicylic acid
- AHA acids
3. Oily Skin Type
Oily skin comes along with enlarged pores, blackheads, pimples, blemishes and is generally very shiny. The benefit of having an oily skin type is you’ll likely have well-hydrated skin with a dewy, youthful complexion. This can reduce the amount of fine lines and wrinkles in the skin.
A common complaint of this skin type has an increased risk of acne, due to the excess sebum production. However, with the right skincare routine, you can control excess oil production and reduce your risk of acne.
What skincare products should you avoid for oily skin?
- Mineral oils like coconut oil
- Occlusives like petroleum jelly
- Alcohol-based products
- Physical scrubs
- Silicones like dimethicone
- Artificial dyes
4. Combination Skin Type
Combination skin is the most common skincare type. It’s a combination of dry skin, oily skin, and normal skin. You may notice that your skin can change depending on the seasons, the climate, what skincare products you use, and your general lifestyle and routine. For example, you might notice that you have an oily T-zone but dry cheeks.
Based on the combination of skin types, you need a highly personalized skincare routine to ensure you are able to target each different area of your skin accordingly. Oftentimes, people with this skincare only focus on the ‘problem’ area, negating the skincare needs of the other areas of the face. For example, skincare products that target can be used to combat an oily T-zone but shouldn’t be used around the entire face otherwise it might dry out the skin!
What skincare products should you avoid for combination skin?
- Harsh cleansers and exfoliants
- Acne products
- Heavy oils or thick creams
- When it comes to skincare recommendations for combination skin - less is more! A simple skincare routine works best for this skin type.
How to know if you have combination skin, oily skin, or dry skin.
Try this test to see if you have combination skin, oily skin, or dry skin:
- Wash your face in the morning with a gentle cleanser and water.
- Dry your face gently with a towel and do not put any more products on your skin.
- Leave your skin for one hour.
- After an hour, blot a piece of tissue paper on your face.
- If there’s oil on your T-zone which comes out onto the paper, but your cheeks are dry - you have combination skin!
- If your skin feels tight after the hour and no oil blots onto the paper, you have dry skin.
- If your skin looks visibly oily and oil seeps into the paper, you have oily skin!
5. Sensitive Skin Type
Sensitive skin is prone to irritation, particularly when you try new skincare products, switch up your routine, or use products with harsh ingredients. Sensitive skin can present with redness, itching, burning, dryness, blemishes, or acne. But it’s vital that you recognize your skin as being sensitive rather than oily or dry, so that you don’t over-treat it and make the sensitivity worse.
Once you find out your skin’s triggers that ramp up the sensitivity, you will likely be left with healthy and clear skin. That’s the benefit of this skin type! But without trial, error, and some good research, you may find this part the most difficult.
How to know if you have sensitive skin
Do you notice your skin reacts to changes in your diet, skincare and makeup? If so, you likely have sensitive skin. Non-sensitive skin takes a while to adjust to new products, but rarely has a bad reaction within the first couple of days. Sensitive skin reacts quickly and visibly, and adjusting to new skincare products can take months.
If you want to start using a new skincare product on sensitive skin, try a patch test:
- Choose an area on your arm or leg.
- Apply the skincare product to this area and wait for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, assess whether the area has reacted.
- If there’s no reaction, try the product on a small hidden area on your face like the underside of your jaw. Again, wait 24 hours before making a decision!
What skincare products should you avoid for sensitive skin?
- Essential oils
- Chemical sunscreens
- Harsh exfoliants
- Sodium lauryl sulfates
This isn’t the only way to classify your skin type. Dermatologists use the Fitzpatrick skin scale to assess someone’s skin type. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Fitzpatrick Skin Scale?
The Fitzpatrick skin type is a scientific skin type classification that is used to classify different skin types according to the amount of pigment - known as melanin - in your skin. It’s based on your genetics and the amount of sun exposure you get based on the climate and environment that you live in. Understanding this can give you useful information about how to care for your skin, and predict your risk for certain skin conditions like skin cancer.
Many dermatologists use the Fitzpatrick skin type scale to assess how a patient’s skin will respond to sun exposure, to ensure they are adequately protecting their skin from the sun's harmful UV rays.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type Chart
Fitzpatrick Skin Type Quiz
So what is your Fitzpatrick skin type? Take our Fitzpatrick Skin Type quiz to get your answer!
How to Use the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale
So now you have your Fitzpatrick skin type, what can you do with that information? The Fitzpatrick skin type scale is more focused on your skin’s response to the sun. This will help inform the right amount of sun protection you need to prevent skin cancer. However, the Fitzpatrick skin type scale can also inform the type of products and treatments you get.
Types 1 and 2
- Always wear SPF 50 every day, even if you’re not spending time outside!
- When you are in the sun, limit your exposure and wear a sunhat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- For types 1 and 2 with existing sun damage, treatments like Sculptra and dermal filler can help to restore collagen loss caused by the UV exposure.
- Wear a thicker moisturizer, because your skin tends to be drier and prone to redness, due to the weakening of the skin barrier and inflammation.
- Opt for skincare ingredients like peptides which stimulate cellular mechanisms for skin health.
- Exfoliating with acids like AHA (Alpha Hydroxyl Acid) weekly can help to reduce signs of aging like thinning of the skin.
- Use retinols (vitamin A derivatives) - vitamin E is the primary antioxidant of the skin barrier and can help to thicken the skin.
- Wear SPF 30 daily.
- This skin type is susceptible to basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma so ensuring sun protection - even if you tan well! - is key.
- This skin type is prone to hyperpigmentation, so look for brightening ingredients like vitamin C. Treatments like Profhilo can help to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
- Over-the-counter products like glycolic peels and topicals like benzoyl peroxide should be avoided by this skin type as they increase sun sensitivity.
- SPF 15 can be used when out in the sun, but burning is very rare.
- These skin types are prone to acne, specifically inflammatory acne including papules and pustules.
- High risk of keloid scarring, specifically on their chest and back.
- Hyperpigmentation and scarring can occur as a result of acne, so using products like retinol, niacinamide, azelaic acid, and salicylic acid work well.
- Avoid skincare ingredients that clog pores like potassium chloride, sodium lauryl sulfate, lanolin, coconut oil, palm oil, and carrageenan.
- Avoid picking at the skin, due to the increased risk of scarring.
- These skin types respond well to benzoyl peroxide and retinol.
- Using vitamin C daily can help to brighten the complexion.
What Are the Best Treatments for Your Skin Type
Here at Sisu Clinic, we offer a variety of treatments that can help transform your skin. Not all treatments are suitable for everyone - that’s why we offer a free consultation with an aesthetic doctor or nurse who will establish your suitability, skin type, and make recommendations that are customized for you.
Anti-Wrinkle & Other Uses
Anti-Wrinkle Treatment is a neuromodulator. When injected into the skin, it temporarily paralyzes muscle contractions. The result is smoother, wrinkle-free skin. This is a great option for people with dry or combination skin, who experience more lines and wrinkles than individuals with oily skin types.
Studies have also found that Anti-Wrinkle treatment can prevent and treat acne, by way of reducing sebum production. A study published in 2021 in the journal Toxins concluded that it can “inhibit several pathogenetic components of acne development, suggesting that botulinum neurotoxins can be used as a safe and effective treatment modality for acne and other skin disorders related to overactivity of sebaceous glands.”
For this reason, Anti-Wrinkle Treatment can work well for people with oily skin, or for Fitzpatrick skin types three to six - who may be prone to acne development.
Profhilo is an injectable skin remodeling treatment. It immediately hydrates and tightens the skin, making it an ideal choice for people with dry or combination skin. It’s also a great choice for people with oily skin by delivering deep hydration deep into the skin to prevent excess oil production.
Profhilo is currently only being offered in Ireland
Sculptra is an injectable poly-L-lactic acid. It is a great choice for aging skin or those who have experienced volume and collagen loss. Collagen loss is particularly common among types one to three on the Fitzpatrick skin type scale. This is because collagen loss is accelerated when skin with minimal pigment is exposed to the sun.
Dermal fillers are hyaluronic acid based, which is a compound that adds hydration and volume into the skin. It also works by stimulating collagen production for long-lasting results over time. Fillers are suitable for all skin types!
Click here to learn about other treatments. If you are interested in any treatment, schedule a free consultation at a Sisu Clinic near you to discuss what treatment is recommended for your skin concerns.
- There isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to skincare.
- Once you figure out your skin type, you can choose products and treatments that work best for your skin needs and concerns.
- You can assess your skincare type by looking at or testing your skin, or by doing a Fitzpatrick skin type quiz.
You deserve to have the skin of your dreams, and it starts now! Sisu Clinic doctors are here to help you. It’s time to take the first step. Click here.
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