Ask Dr. Parks, Skin Care

How to Determine Your Skin Type

Avene Hydrance Aqua Gel, Obagi Foaming Gel and Toner, SkinMedica HA5, SkinMedica Ultra Sheer Moisturizer, SkinMedica Essential Defense

Finding a skin care routine that works well for you is very important, but can also be a bit difficult. There are so many factors that go into choosing not only the right products, but products that work well together and also work well for you. At DermWarehouse, we want to make sure each of our customers can find either that one magical, life-changing product or a whole regimen to make you feel and look like the best version of yourself. Before even starting to think about products, however, you need to determine what type of skin you have and what skin concerns you have so that you can find the best products to complement and heal your skin.

Regardless of your skin type, there are products available for everyone, so don’t fret if you feel like your skin type varies. Determining your skin type isn’t just a one-time thing; It can change with age, genetics or with a location change. For example, if you move from Minnesota to Florida, the climate change can have a big impact on your skin when it is exposed to a new environment.

Your skin may be one of five types: Normal, Oily, Dry, Acne-Prone or Combination. Don’t panic if you don’t know your skin type, or you feel like your skin may fall into multiple different categories or concerns. There are products out there that work for a variety of skin types, and it’s all about just creating the right mix for your skin.

Normal Skin:

Normal Skin won’t be overly oily or dry. If you have normal skin, you’re right in the middle of it all. Maybe sometimes (especially in the hot weather) your skin feels a little bit oily, but generally you won’t have any problems with flakes. If you have normal skin, you’re in luck, as you won’t need a very complicated beauty routine. Make sure to keep your skin clean and moisturized by using a mild face wash and moisturizing lotion daily. The iS CLINICAL Cleansing Complex is a great lightweight gel cleanser for all skin types. It deeply cleanses the pores without causing dryness or irritation. Use a gentle moisturizer daily, and adjust to heavier creams if you need them throughout the year. A basic moisturizer like the Obagi Hydrate Facial Moisturizer is a great option for normal skin, followed by an SPF like the Elta MD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40.

Oily Skin:

If you have Oily Skin, you most likely already know it, because you’ve probably noticed that your face often looks shiny throughout the day. Your pores are what produce oil, and sometimes they go into overdrive and produce excess oil, so if yours look large, this may be the reason for your skin type. Excess oil in the skin can also be caused by certain products you may be using, which you’ll want to avoid. You’ll still need to moisturize your skin but look for water-based or oil-free moisturizers like the SkinMedica Ultra Sheer Moisturizer and stay away from creams and heavy moisturizers. With oily skin, wash your face twice daily and use a toner on the oily areas of your face, such as your nose and forehead. I recommend the Obagi Nu-Derm Foaming Gel and Obagi Nu-Derm Toner. With oily skin, it’s still important to wear a sunscreen, but look for one that’s oil-free or made for oily skin, like the Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46.

Dry Skin:

Dry Skin will be flaky and feel very tight, especially in the winter. Small pores are usually a good indicator of whether you can expect your skin to be dry, but this isn’t always the case. You might feel like your skin is dehydrated and needs a shot of water. The best way to handle dry skin is to moisturize right after showering or washing your face with a heavier moisturizer like the Jan Marini Age Intervention Face Cream. Keep your skin hydrated with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Instead of using lotions, use a heavier cream to lock in moisture for longer. Make sure to also use very gentle skin care products for sensitive skin and stick to products that are unscented. Add in a hyaluronic acid serum like the SkinMedica HA5, and a hydrating sunscreen like the Elta MD UV Replenish.

Combination Skin:

Combination Skin is just what it sounds like. A combination of oily and dry. Your skin may be oily around your T-zone but dry elsewhere (around your temples, eyes, and cheeks). If your skin changes from season to season (really oily in the summer and dry in the winter), then that’s another sign that you have combination skin. If you have combination skin, it’s best to use a gentle cleanser such as the GlyDerm Gentle Cleanser rather than soap to clean your skin.  Gel-based moisturizers also work well for combination skin. A great recommendation is the Avene Hydrance Optimale Aqua Cream-in-Gel. The Jan Marini Antioxidant Daily Face Protectant SPF 33 is a great SPF option for combination skin (which still needs a daily SPF!)

Sensitive/Acne-Prone Skin:

Now that you’ve determined your skin type, you should think about whether you have sensitive skin, which may react easily (with rash, itchiness, redness, etc.) to many skin products and/or acne-prone skin, which means that you tend to get pimples/acne, even if you’re long past your teenage years. If your skin is sensitive, be gentle and don’t over-cleanse. Also make sure to wear sunscreen on a daily basis (though we recommend this no matter what your skin type is). A soothing serum like the Elta MD Barrier Renewal Complex or mask like the ClarityRx Cold Compress Soothing Cucumber Mask can help soothe and soften sensitive skin. If your skin is acne-prone, you can follow the same steps as you would for oily skin.  Wash your face twice daily but also make sure to stay moisturized so your skin doesn’t dry out. Also, be sure to avoid picking at any blemishes on your face, as this may lead to scarring. The Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Sleeping Facial is a non-irritating, non-drying acne treatment that gently clears and prevents breakouts without exacerbating irritated skin. 

With this new-found information, you’ll be able to pick products that work best for your skin type and your needs. Before you know it, you’ll be looking good, feeling good, and making the most out of your skin care regimen.

About Dr. Alan J. Parks

Dr. Alan Parks is a board certified dermatologist. Dr. Parks founded his practice, Eastside Dermatology, in 1986 and has been practicing there ever since. In 2016 Dr. Parks launched DermWarehouse, an eCommerce website selling professional strength skin care products to customers across the United States.

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