Understanding and Identifying Your Skin Type for Optimal Skincare

Skin Types

Dermatologists identify five different skin types and by understanding which skin type you have, you can undertake a more precise, targeted and effective skincare regime. 



It is important that everyone, including men, to identify and understand their skin type because for many dermatologists, your skin type is the most important factor in determining what skincare products will work best for you. The five main skin types are: 

  • Sensitive skin can be a characteristic associated with any skin type (dry and sensitive skin, oily and sensitive skin, normal and sensitive skin). Sensitive skin may sting or burn or be itchy or dry as a result of elements from the environment as well as certain product ingredients. People suffering from sensitive skin may be able to identify the factors causing irritation and minimize their exposure to these in order to better safeguard their skin. For sensitive skin, avoid products containing alcohol and select products with hydrating and skin strengthen properties.
  • Normal skin is clear, balanced and not sensitive. It feels neither oily nor dry and is not prone to breakouts or feeling tight or flaky.
  • Dry skin is flaky, itchy, rough or scaly and may feel tight or less elastic/flexible a lot of the time. Due to these characteristics, dry skin is more prone to becoming itchy and irritated and more likely to show visible lines. For dry skin, select products that are formulated to hydrate and as well as containing ingredients that will strengthen your skin’s ability to lock in moisture.
  • Oily skin is shiny and greasy and produces excess sebum. This may be particularly pronounced around the forehead, nose and chin and is often referred to as the T-Zone region of the face. People with oily skin are more prone to enlarged skin pores, acne breakouts and acne blemishes. For oily skin, focus on products that remove impurities and do not clog up your skin
  • Combination skin is skin that has areas that are dry and areas that are oily. For example, the T-zone could be a region for being oily and the cheeks could be dry or normal.

Understanding your skin type will help you learn how to take care of your skin and select skincare products that are right for you. 


Simple Tests to Identify Your Skin Type 



If the above descriptions of the different skin types did not help you in identifying your skin type, there are tests you can perform at home to help you determine what type of skin you have.

  1. Wash, Wait, Watch Test

Wash your face with a gentle, non-abrasive and alcohol-free cleanser and gently pat dry. After 30 minutes if you skin appears: 

  • Shiny throughout: You likely have oily skin.
  • Flaky and feels tight: You likely have dry skin.
  • Shiny in the T-Zone region only: You likely have combination skin.
  • ‘Normal’, not oily and feels hydrated and comfortable: You likely have normal skin. 
  1. Blotting Sheets Test

Blotting sheets absorb oil when pressed against the skin and can be used to gain a general understanding of your skin type. Wash your face with a gentle, non-abrasive and alcohol-free cleanser and gently pat dry. After 30 minutes, gentle press blotting sheets to various areas of your face. Then hold the sheets up to the light to view the oil markings. If the sheets reveal: 

  • Heavy markings of oil in all areas of your face: You likely have oily skin.
  • Little or no oil: You likely have dry skin.
  • Only a small amount of oil from your T-Zone region: You likely have combination skin.
  • Minimal oil from all areas of your face: You likely have normal skin.