Skin is the largest human organ of the human body. It is living tissue, just like your heart, lungs, and kidneys. However, skin does a lot of different jobs all at once and does them in such a way as to protect the body in the process.
That said, the skin is very unique. There are several different skin types too. Each type has its own problems and its own benefits.
You may have noticed how different your own skin is from that of a close friend’s or a cousin’s.
Different causes create the skin you have, and each unique skin type must be cared for differently.
Everything you ever wanted to know about skin types and how to decipher and care for your own skin follows.
Oily skin is exactly how it sounds. It is oily, leaves a greasy residue on everything it touches and often breaks out with acne at the drop of a hat.
Oily skin requires daily cleansing to maintain a less oily appearance, but you should never scrub it several times a day or scrub it relentlessly.
The odd thing about oily skin is that scrubbing it too much actually causes it to be oilier. This stems from the fact that the oil-producing glands in your skin sense that the skin is lacking in the oil that naturally keeps skin soft.
It retaliates by overproduction of oil, making your oily skin look much greasier and look much worse.
The acne associated with oily skin is a result of not washing your face and an accumulation of dirt and oil plugs the pores.
Oil attracts dirt, which adheres in a thin layer to your oily skin. If not washed off daily, the layers of oil and dirt accumulate, eventually blocking open pores.
The blocked pores become whiteheads (zits), blackheads and pimples. That is why you need to keep your skin clean, but not so clean that your skin responds by making excess oil.
The causes of oily skin are numerous. They can be genetic, or any one of the following:
Extra-large pores with a lot of oil-producing glands connected to the large pores
Dry skin disguised as oily skin, the result of the body’s need to regulate a dry skin condition by overproducing oil to resolve the dryness
You should know that there are several false causes of oily skin too. A lot of people believe that chocolate or too much exercise causes oily skin. Neither of these cause oily skin, nor do most other causes often attributed to this type of skin.
You might think that the opposite of oily skin is dry skin. It’s close, but not a true opposite in terms of the skin type differences.
Dry skin isn’t lacking completely in oil. It suffers from flaky, scaly, patchy, irritated, itchy, or rough skin. The oil glands in this skin type are still functioning, which means that it isn’t truly the opposite of oily skin.
Dry skin is dry, not due to a lack of oil, but a lack of moisture. Oils keep the skin soft, this is true, but it’s the moisture level in skin that determines if it is dry or not.
There is a fair, adequate, and equal distribution of oil glands in a dry person’s skin, but the person simply doesn’t have enough water in their bodies to prevent the dry skin condition.
The causes of dry skin are a mixed bag. Just to give you an idea, the dry skin causes include:
- Dehydration from lack of water in the body
- Too much sun
- Wearing rough textiles
- Towel-drying off too roughly
- Not drinking enough fluids every day
- Bed linens that cause you to sweat and the linens then absorb all of it before rubbing on your skin.
- Working with materials or in a workspace where things are too dry (e.g., a ceramicist’s shop, a very dry office building in winter, etc.)
- Outdoor pollution
- Exposure to intense winds and/or extreme cold with dry winds
- Hyperhidrosis disorder, which prevents the sufferer from sweating and creates the perfect storm of very dry skin
- Extremely hot water or hot showers
- Genetics (one or both parents have dry skin too)
Other skin disorders exist that cause dry skin, but these are rarer. If you have a rare skin disorder, then there’s a good chance you already know it and know why your skin is always dry.
Treatment for dry skin varies, but usually drinking more water, lotioning up after a shower, preventing sunburn, wearing softer fabrics, and not drying of with a towel quite so roughly helps.
If you see a dermatologist for a rare skin disorder that causes dry skin, such as eczema or psoriasis, then you probably have some medicated ointments or pills to take to help with your condition.
If you have combination skin, you typically suffer the worst and best of both oily and dry skin.
Sometimes people with combination skin are lucky and only have the occasional bit of acne or a rough spot. Others may be peppered with acne at a particular time of the month, and not at all the rest of the month. Hormonal swings can shift the condition of your skin type differences rapidly.
The most common pattern of combination skin is the “T-zone” pattern. It’s named that because the forehead, nose, and chin are the oiliest and form a “T”, while the cheeks and eye areas are dry.
Of course, if you have combination skin, you might experience a variety of odd dry and oily skin patches all over.
Causes of combination skin are few. This is good news, given the number of causes for other types of skin. Like any skin condition, genetics plays a part, but your skin can also be affected by stress, the environment (including weather and pollution), cosmetics (which impact the dryness and oiliness of your skin), and lack of sunlight, which affects the overall health of the combination skin you have.
Caring for combination skin is rather simple. You want to wash the oily parts every other day, and wash the dry areas once or twice a week. Very light water-based moisturizers are suggested in place of heavy oil-based moisturizers.
Very hot environments and hot showers should also be avoided. Exercise can do wonders for combination skin, so don’t skip your daily walk or run. Drink lots of water or plenty of fluids to help balance the imbalance of your combination skin.
Yes, you read that correctly; normal skin. There is such a thing as normal skin, but not everyone is so lucky to get it. Genetics definitely plays a part in those who have normal skin.
Normal skin means that you have no oily areas, no dry areas, virtually no acne ever, and not combination skin where some patches are oily and others are dry.
Your skin is perfectly well-balanced and practically flawless. It is usually celebrities and supermodels that are lucky enough to have normal skin because someone notices their flawless skin from afar and signs them to a contract.
This type of skin is unaffected by the environment, although it may get a sunburn if not protected.
It is very rare to have normal skin suddenly turn into another type of skin, but it can happen with a disease or if the skin was damaged in some way (e.g., fire, extreme cold causing frostbite, etc.). If you are really good about caring for your normal skin, it will remain perfectly normal and perfectly balanced all your life.
In general, caring for normal skin means washing it with warm water, and soap made especially for normal skin.
Other soaps and cleansers may be too drying or too greasy for your type of skin. Normal skin is so balanced that you will rarely if ever, need a moisturizer to keep it soft, smooth, and supple. It is also important to avoid applying chemicals or cheap cosmetics to your normal skin as these can have an adverse effect.
If you have sensitive skin, it can be in conjunction with any one of the aforementioned types.
Labeling it “sensitive” means that razors give you razor burn, you break out in hives if your skin doesn’t like anything that touches it, and/or it burns easily when you are in the sun. Sensitive skin also feels things other types can’t.
You know you have sensitive skin when you place your hand close to, but not actually on, your cheek and you can still feel the individual fingers as though the hand is on your cheek.
Others with sensitive skin report feeling changes in temperature, no matter how slight, and changes in humidity when other people can’t feel it at all.
People who blush easily are more likely to have sensitive skin as well because the tiny blood vessels and nerves are so close to the surface of the skin.
Causes of sensitive skin are primarily genetic. Usually, people with really fair skin have the greatest sensitivity, but people of color with any European ancestors may experience sensitive skin as well. Other causes of sensitive skin include:
Internal reactions to allergens
Disorders that produce excess nerve bundles close to the surface of the skin
Thankfully, most of these causes can be avoided when you take precautions. Diagnosing any of these issues earlier in life helps you protect your sensitive skin.
Unfortunately, you may also have oily skin, combination skin, dry skin, or normal skin in conjunction with sensitive skin. When this happens, you have no choice but to care for your skin using sensitive skincare products instead of the recommended products for other types of skin. Different skin types of skincare routines are available for all types of skin, but when it comes right down to it, the sensitive skin person has to bow to the sensitivity of the skin first and the other type of skin second.
Different Skin Types Skin Care Routine
Every type of skin has a different routine. You should follow the skincare routine, targeted products, and regimen to keep your skin healthy and in its best condition.
The only time a skincare line or regimen is trumped is when you have sensitive skin and need to pay heed to the sensitive nature of your skin.
If you have figured out what skin type you have, you might be wondering what products to use. You can ask a general practitioner (clinic doctor), but the best approach is to ask a dermatologist.
A dermatologist has the necessary experience and expertise with the skin to help you find and purchase the right products to care for your type of skin.
Listen to what the dermatologist tells you, too. If anything out of the ordinary happens to your skin, consult the dermatologist again to find out why your skin had a reaction to your routine, products, or regimen.
The dermatologist may prescribe something else or something better in place of what you were using before.