What Skin Type Are You?
The skin is a complex structure. It can repair itself, it responds positively to certain treatments or products and negatively to others, and it is affected by genetics, surroundings, age and of course the amount of care it receives. Facial skin should be firm, yet supple and pliant, and to achieve this, a certain understanding of the different skin types is necessary.
The Importance of Determining the Correct Skin Type
To ascertain skin type, cleanse face meticulously. Do not use a toner or moisturiser, and allow the skin to rest for 2-3 hours. Scrutinize very closely under natural light. The difference between the various types of facial skin can become somewhat indistinct, considering the vast array of products we inundate our skin with – cleansers, toners, moisturisers, masks, scrubs, washes and gels to name but a few.
Whatever your skin type, the reality is that it cannot be changed, irrespective of treatments or products – essential skin composition is the same in everyone, although darker skins are more prone to oiliness. There are however, ways of controlling an oily skin, as there are for treating a dry skin.
The reason for this is simple – the main factor responsible for varying skin types lie with the sebaceous glands, or oil producing glands, some produce more sebum (oil) than others. This makes for an oily skin type, and by the same token, certain skins retain less moisture, which would mean a dry skin type.
A good indication of a skin which tends towards dryness is the tight, pulling sensation experienced, especially after contact with water, such as washing the face with a soap bar, a no-no for dry skin types, and the skin often looks taut, as if stretched. Blemishes are less likely to develop on dry skin, but the drawback is that dry skin is more prone to wrinkles and early signs of ageing.
The mildest of products should be used on dry skin, milk or cream based cleansers, not gels, soaps or washes, and toners must be alcohol free. A superior quality, moisture-rich day and night moisturiser is essential and make-up should also have high moisture content. Do not neglect the throat area, often overlooked as not ‘facial’, and pay special attention to the area around the eyes and mouth.
Combination or Balanced Skin
Of all skin types, this is the most widespread. Essentially, combination skin has an oily T-Zone, which is the forehead, down the nose, and ending on the chin. The area around the eyes and cheeks is ‘normal’, or tending towards dry, as is the throat. Use a mild, milky cleanser, or mild wash if preferred.
Bear in mind that cheeks need less, if any, toner, and more moisturiser than other areas of the face, while the more oily areas do benefit from the use of a toner. Usually, when blemishes occur, the reason is hormonal and the problem soon clears up. As with dry skin, an alcohol-free toner is best.
While oily skin may not seem to have any advantages, especially during puberty, there is in fact some compensation. The excess sebum, or oil, produced by the skin, helps to prevent dehydration of the skin, keeping it smooth and supple for longer. One of the drawbacks is the larger pore size experienced by oily skin types, although a good cleansing routine and toner should combat this.
The skin must be kept clean, and a soap-free bar or face wash is best for cleansing, although excessive washing is to be avoided – too thorough a scrubbing will cause the skin to dry out, which in turn will make the sebaceous glands work even harder at producing sebum. A very light touch of moisturiser on the cheeks and throat, and possibly the forehead, is all that is needed after toning.
While there are many factors determining ‘skin health’, the most important thing to remember is a regular, thorough, cleansing routine. While hormones, age and environment all play a part, a well cared for skin is a healthy skin. Ageing happens, and though it is gradual, it’s onset and indeed advancement, can be postponed by cleansing and moisturising daily, not smoking, avoiding excessive exposure to the sun without a sunscreen or sun block, and the occasional indulgence such as a facial, peel or even a simple, home-made face mask. In fact, many good skin care regimes start and end with natural, readily available ingredients.