What is a Skin Type

The first sort of skin typing emerged in the 1970’s, from beauty guru Helena Rubenstein. The following categories were used to describe the differences in skin.

  • Normal
  • Oily
  • Dry (Allipoid)
  • Combination
  • Sensitive
  • Acneic

Dermalogica Face MappingTo put it simply a skin type is a description of how and why your skin looks, and behaves the way it does.

The problem is – these categories are all very neat and tidy! but your skin is a little bit more complex, and your skin condition is never static, and over time your skin type can change.

The variations of what is happening on your skin can not only change season to season, but month to month, even on a weekly or daily basis. Your skin type is the the most important factor that influences the decisions you make about your skin.

Skin Type vs Skin Condition

A common mistake made by both client and therapists is not knowing the difference between skin type and skin condition. These are two different things and will play a big part in which skin-care products you choose. Generally your skin type is genetic, and skin conditions are effected by internal and external influences.

Skin Conditions

  • Dehydrated
  • Sensitised
  • Ageing/Prematurely
  • Pigmentation
  • Congestion/breakouts

As you can see, this can lead to confusion and an elusive search for the right products! The typical categories of normal, dry etc are a good start point, but they will not address every change and fluctuation of your skin. You definitely need to tweak your skin care regimen, with the ever changing needs of your skin.

You need to recognise all the changes that happen to your skin, and really get to know your skin and how it reacts to different seasons, stress, hormonal changes.

This is important, as different skin types require different product formulations. Even though we all require some of the same active ingredients such as, Sunscreens, antioxidants, peptides and vitamins, it depends on the base they are in (lotion, gel, serum, cream etc).

So be careful before you put yourself in a skin type category, as sometimes the very products you thought would help, can make your skin worse!

Internal Influences

  • Hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause, menstrual cycle)
  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Smoking
  • Medications
  • Diet
  • Poor health

External influences

  • Climate/weather (humidity, hot, cold etc)
  • Your skin regimen, (over exfoliating, using pore-clogging ingredients or irritating products)
  • The sun and external pollutants

The Skin Type Solution – by Dr Baummen, is a brilliant book, and has a questionnaire that really points you in the right direction.


This is such a huge subject, and I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, remember that your born with a genetic skin type, your skin condition can change frequently. So I would definitely advise you to use products that don’t create of reinforce your skin problems. Among the offending products are bars of soaps (too alkaline, and barrier stripping, can artificially make your skin dry and irritated), occlusive moisturisers can clog pores and make breakouts worse. Avoid irritating ingredients, and astringents, that can strip your skin’s barrier, and make your skin sensitised.

And remember skin-care varies from person to person, what your best friend likes may wreak havoc on your skin! Pay attention to what is taking place on your skin, and tweak your products accordingly. Don’t get swept away with misleading advertising, and unrealistic claims!

For better skin – see an experienced skin professional!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.