How Well Do You Know Your Skin Type

Skin type is the description and interpretation of how and why your skin looks, feels, and behaves as it does. It is the single most important factor influencing the decisions we make about the kind of skin-care routines and the products we buy.

Hardly anyone has just one skin type. This is because of the fact that the skin is susceptible to outside factors such as weather, diet, whether you smoke or don’t smoke, whether you live in an arid, humid or highly polluted climate. Medications you are currently taking will also affect the way your skin behaves. Genetic predisposition also affects your skin type. Your skin also changes with your period, if you are pregnant or when you are stressed.

A woman with oily skin may also have sensitive skin or someone with dry skin may also have acne-prone skin. Therefore, diagnosing yourself as one skin type is not an effective way of approaching skin care. It’s important really look at the way your skin behaves.

The important thing to remember here is that your skin type will not remain static so you need to be aware of the changes going on so the products you are currently using do not aggravate the situation.

There are four basic skin types:

  • Oily Skin
  • Combination Skin
  • Normal Skin
  • Dry Skin

You have oily skin if:-.

  • You are prone to breakouts, clogged pores and blemishes.
  • You have large pores.
  • Your face looks shiny when you wake up, especially in the T zone.
  • Your foundation wears off after a couple of hours.

Oily skin tends to overproduce sebum(produced by the sebaceous glands) thus making it feel and appear oily.
Sometimes a greasy or sticky feel remains for several hours after cleansing. Oily skin is always well moisturized since the large amount of oil on the skin surface helps the upper layers retain water and protect the skin from environmental causes of dryness.

People with oily skin therefore tend to have fewer wrinkles as they age. Oily skin is prone to breakouts because sebum has the tendency to mix with dead skin cells in your pores. This clogs them and produces pimples.

Even though oily skin has some protection from dryness, using an oil-free cleanser and moisturizer is still essential.

Never use regular soap on your face because it really strips the skin of its natural oils, causing the oil glands to panic and overproduce sebum – ultimately leading to breakouts.
A gel cleanser is good for oily skin as it will cleanse and limit oil without stripping the skin. It will deep clean pore openings of impurities and oily build up.
A foaming cleanser is also good as it will cleanse without dehydrating.

If you still feel greasy or sticky after cleansing, clear out you pores further by steaming your face.


  • Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
  • Pour into a bowl
  • Add 5 drops of your favorite essential oil(concentrated extracts of plants that come in a variety of scents) – optional
  • Drape a towel over your head and the bowl.
  • Let the steam envelope you for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Rinse your face with cool water.

Oil-Free Moisturizer
As a general rule you should never let your skin get too dry. Dry skin tends to make you look tired, dull and older. An oil-free moisturizer will keep the skin well hydrated without causing greasiness or clogged pores. It helps control surface oiliness, leaving the skin feeling smooth and radiant.

It’s important to note that the skin on your face is delicate. So the way you apply your body lotion does not apply for your face.

How to apply moisturizer:

  • After you cleanse pat your face dry.
  • Apply moisturizer while your face is still damp from cleansing(this will prevent the water from evaporating)
  • Dab it on with the pads of your fingers
  • Gently massage in the moisturizer with upward outward strokes.
  • Don’t rub, tug or pull your skin.

Note: If you have acne but your skin is dry or normal, oil-absorbing acne products will irritate your skin.
Also if your skin is extremely oily, you can skip a moisturizer.

You have combination skin if:-

  • Your cheeks are dry, but your T-zone is oily or pimple prone
  • You are oily or pimple-prone along the perimeter of your face but dry every place else.
  • Products that help one part of your face hurt another.

Combination skin is healthy looking skin with a smooth texture and some oiliness in the T-zone area. Your T-zone consists of your forehead, nose and chin. These are common places for excess oil, acne and blackheads since oil glands are usually concentrated here. Using the wrong products can result in skin that’s drier.

Taking Care of Your Oily T-Zone
Cleanser. If you’re dealing with excess oil, you’ll need to use a cleanser meant specifically for oily skin in that area. A gel based cleanser works best to eliminate oil and clean out your pores.

Toner . But only if your skin is very oily. Toners eliminate excess oil, but if your skin isn’t extremely oily, you may be left feeling dry and tight.

Facial Mask. Use a facial mask once a week that is formulated for acne or oily skin. A mask that has a clay-based formula is a good start. Apply only to your t-zone to ensure you don’t dry out the rest of your face.

Oil Blotting Sheets. They are an easy way to instantly get rid of excess shine. These discreet tissues are perfect to stick in your handbag or purse to refresh your face and makeup.

You have normal skin if:-

  • Your skin always feel and look supple, with or without moisturizer
  • You have few or no breakouts
  • You can use almost any product without irritation
  • Your skin tone is even, without any darker or lighter areas

Normal skin is healthy looking with a smooth texture and contains a balance of oil and moisture.

A person with this skin type should use products that maintain the moisture balance for a healthy, radiant glow. Your cleanser should leave your skin feeling supple and not tight. Your moisturizer should be lightweight with at least an SPF 15.

You have dry skin if:

  • Your skin feels itchy or tight especially after cleansing
  • You have rough, flaky patches.
  • You made it through adolescence without acne.
  • You are sensitive to sun, wind and cold.
  • Your complexion looks dull.
  • Is your skin characterized by small pores

Dryness occurs when your skin does not produce enough moisture and sebum. This can happen if you live in an arid climate because the dry air saps the moisture from the skin. You can experience dryness also because of artificial heaters, sun exposure or chlorine from swimming pools. Dry skin is common in women over 50 and among women who do not protect their skin.


  • Use a rich cream-based cleanser containing emollients that gently cleanses without overstripping.
  • The moisturizer should soften, lubricate and restore needed moisture.
  • If you have dry skin, it is a good idea to skip a toner. Use one only if you wear a lot of makeup. Be sure to choose one that is alcohol-free. Basically if your skin feels tight and dry after washing, forget about toning.

In a nutshell, skin care products and cosmetics will help the skin look and feel good but will not cure skin disorders. If someone has severe acne or some other skin disorder, seek the help of a dermatologist. Skin care products might only make your condition worse.

Let us know in the comments what your skin type is and what you do to take care of it.

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Prisca Mwangi is a Beauty Consultant at The Color Palette Company. She can be reached at