Your Guide to Skin Types + Conditions
Sometimes it's a good idea to get back to basics and in this blog post, I will be talking about skin types and conditions. When you are caring for your skin it's important to truly understand your genetic skin type and how to treat chronic and temporary skin conditions.
I have to say, in all my years doing facials a good majority of people misread their skin type. I personally think this comes from the massive variety products on the market. People become overwhelmed and pick inappropriate products for their skin type. It can result in skin issues like redness, sensitivity, premature aging and even acne which can leave pigmentation or scars behind. This leads people to misread temporary skin conditions as their skin type and the vicious cycle continues.
You get your genetic skin type from mom and dad plus, there are some skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, acne or freckles that can also be passed down (more about that in a moment.)
Keep in mind the most misread skin types are oily and combination. Many people think they have oily skin because they see a little bit of shine, when in fact they have combination skin. This leads to purchasing products designed for oily that can cause issues like dehydrating and drying out the skin, redness, acne and even more production of oil resulting in blackheads and clogged pores.
One of the ways dermatologists and estheticians determine your skin type by the size and location of your pores. Regardless of how dry or oily your skin may look or feel at the moment take a good look at your skin and check out the areas where you have enlarged pores. See skin type characteristics below and diagrams below.
Normal skin has the ideal balance of hydration and oil levels. This skin type may have a few enlarged pores but overall smaller pores, even tone and smooth to the touch.
Oily skin tends to have larger pores throughout the entire face including the cheek area. This skin type can look coarse or "thick" and tends to become easily congested and have excess oil or “shine.” It can look to have an "orange peel" effect. Blackheads and/or some acne are also common with oily skin. The in pink areas below are the places that will have larger pores and tend to be more oily.
Combination skin will have areas of both dryness and oiliness. The pores will generally be enlarged on only certain areas of the face. This will include the chin, nose, between the eyebrows and cheek area right next to the nose. This is commonly known as the “t-zone” area. The cheeks and side of the face have smaller pores and will usually be a bit dry. I have found that combination skin is the most common skin type and can range from combination and slightly dry to combination and slightly oily. The pink areas below are the spots on the face that will have enlarged pores and produce more oil than the rest of the face.
Dry skin will have small to tiny pores all over the entire face and lacks the production of oil which in turn moisturizes the skin. Characteristics of dry skin can matte or dull looking, flakey, itchy, scaly and could become irritated from dryness. The pink areas below indicate the tiny areas where you may have a few larger pores/clogged pores or a little shine by the end of the day.
Sensitive skin is not to be confused with sensitized skin and I will explain the differences later in this blog post. True sensitive skin is caused from a genetic predisposition, so chances are if your parents have sensitive skin then you may as well. Characteristics of sensitive skin is redness, dry patches, chapped skin, tendency to sunburn and easily irritated by laundry detergents/perfumes. Someone born with sensitive skin may also be prone to allergies, asthma and facial blushing. This skin type is considered to be more delicate in general, often lower in pigment (think fair skin/Fitzpatrick scale type I or II. ) but also a thinner epidermis which means the blood vessels are closer to the surface of the skin, hence the appearance of redness. The main reason why adverse skin reactions occur is a defect in the skin's protective outer layer called the epidermal lipid barrier. This barrier isn't as protective as it should be allowing irritants, bacteria, and allergens to penetrate the skin a lot easier. This barrier is also important when it comes to inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema. The face diagram below indicates areas of sensitivity on a person with true sensitive skin. This includes the entire face, neck and body.
Now skin conditions are a whole different ball game, while there are many, these are the most common that I deal with as an esthetician. Some can be more advanced like the different types of eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis and require medical help. You can have several of these skin conditions going on and can be chronic or temporary. The real difference between skin type and conditions is that any skin type can have any of these skin conditions. Ya follow?
Factors that cause these conditions are things like the amount of sun you get, stress, hormones, weather, environment and lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking and diet.
Aging is something we all go through and varies how we will age by genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors. It is essentially the loss and breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers. The first visible signs of aging include fine lines around eyes and mouth, loss of firmness, uneven pigmentation and enlarged pores.
Remember acne is a skin condition that any skin type can have. Acne is a very individual skin condition and the causes can vary from one person to the next. Typically acne is caused by an excess production of oil and keratin plus many internal factors like hormones, diet, and stress. All of us will experience a pimple or two in our lifetime. However, someone with acne will tend to have blackheads, whiteheads or cysts on a regular basis.
Sensitized skin is different than sensitive skin and often viewed as the same unless you realize the difference. As you read above, sensitive skin is a skin type that is genetic. While sensitized skin is a temporary skin condition that is caused by extreme weather, using products that are too aggressive or not suited for your skin type. It is characterized by a rashy appearance to the skin, acne that is uncharacteristic for you, tightness after washing your face, tightness and dehydrations. I wrote a blog post on the differences between sensitive skin and sensitized skin if you would like more information.
Hyperpigmentation - Sun Damage, Freckles + Melasma
Hyperpigmentation is when the skin produces too much melanin and it distributes unevenly. Melanin is what gives our skin, hair and eye color. This includes post inflammatory pigmentation from acne, uneven splotches of pigmentation, "age spots" and freckles from the sun or hormones. Melasma or commonly called pregnancy mask is partly from the sun but most often from birth control pills, hormone shifts or pregnancy. I will note that the tendency to get freckles is genetic as no one is born with freckles but the sun really exacerbates them.
Dehydrated skin should not be confused with dry skin. Dry skin is a skin type that is lacking oil and dehydrated skin is a skin condition that is lacking water. Keep in mind, ANY skin type can be dehydrated, even the oiliest. Dehydrated skin is most characterized by tightness, but also may be itchy or reactive. If you have ever felt greasy yet tight there is a good chance you are dehydrated. I wrote an entire blog post on the difference between dry and dehydrated skin if you care for more information.
Rosacea is a skin condition that causes red flare-ups on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead. Swollen bumps, pimples, and visible blood vessels are common. The cause is unknown and unfortunately, there is no cure as of yet. However, there are ways to keeps symptoms at bay with topical products both over the counter and prescriptions, avoiding certain foods and lifestyle habits.
Broken capillaries are those tiny blood vessels that often pop up around the nose or cheek areas. They are an extensive vein network that carries the blood supply of the face. They can be misread as rosacea which as we know is different and are usually caused by sunburn, constant pressure on the nose from wearing glasses, smoking, high alcohol consumption, windburn, blood thinning medications and squeezing pimples on the nose or pore strips/peel off masks.
This is what I call "seasonal skin" and can be characterized by the skin becoming extra dry, dehydrated, red, flakey or even oily and breaking out when the seasons change. This is temporary but making some changes can help alleviate any skin issues. I wrote a blog post on Skin Care Tips For Cold Weather if you care for more information.
Start with your “base skin type” and then address any skin conditions while taking into consideration where you live. Low humidity areas like Arizona, Nevada etc. will really dehydrate even the oiliest skin types while humid areas like Florida can make dry skin feel greasy. This is the best way to decide what types of products and makeup to choose to give your skin the best health and glow!
Stay tuned, I plan on writing blog posts on skin care routines, tips, and tricks for each skin type!
One more thing! I started a Facebook group called Babe + Beauties to chat about skin care, products, clean beauty and to ask me or any of my esthetician friends questions! If you would like me to tell me your skin type post a photo in the group! (or message me!) Come stop by and say hi!