Skin Types

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It is your first line of defense in protecting you from harm and is on display 24/7 so it makes sense to take care of it properly.

In order for you to be able to do that successfully you need a basic understanding of how skin differs from person to person. There are four basic skin types – normal, oily, dry and combination. What skin type you have depends on a lot of factors such as weather, diet, exercise, stress levels, environment and age. Because these factors can change so can your skin – so people rarely have the same skin type their whole life.

Recognising what skin type you are can be a little tricky for some people. But there are some simple identifiers to help you decide.

Normal skin will look smooth, with no obvious open pores; never experience spots, greasy areas or tight/flaky dry area. This skin type is the rarest of all.

Oily skin often has a shiny sheen and if you stroke your clean skin with your clean finger you will be able to feel the oil on your fingertips. You will be able to see tiny openings which are open pores. These may be discoloured as they become filled with debris from your daily living and take on a brownish appearance. This ‘plug’ of debris then oxidises and turns black – now known as a blackhead or comedone.

In addition ‘spots’ will be present on the skin. There are two types you may see – the first often referred to whiteheads are raised bumps on your skin that are sore and have a small white/creamy ball shaped head on them. The correct term for these is pustules. It is essential that you do not pick/squeeze or try to remove these unless how you know how to do so correctly (watch out for this on future blogs). The other type of ‘spot’ you might see if you have very oily skin is what is known as a papule – a round, raised, red sore area with no clear opening.

Dry skin may look dull in appearance and often feels tight even after moisturising. You will not be able to see any open pores (tiny holes) on your skin but it may feel slightly rough to the touch when you stroke it with your fingertips. You may experience flaking of your skin – especially in the eyebrow area. Dry skin very rarely has outbreaks of spots but when this does happen it is usually associated with hormonal changes and is temporary. Dry skin is more prone to wrinkles.

Combination skin is a mixture of any two or all three of the above. The most common pattern is an oily T-Zone (across the forehead, down the nose and chin) but it can present in any pattern.

Next week we will build on this knowledge with other characteristics you may see on your skin that are in addition to and can accompany any skin type.