"Why Skin-Type Matters"

I'm sure you know that 'skin-type' is the measure of how much natural oil your skin produces. And you know that skincare products and procedures are often broken down by skin-type because it's the most fundamental skin classification. Take the skin-type test below and I'll tell you why misdiagnosing your skin-type can have serious consequences.

The Test

  • Cleanse your skin with a gentle soap-free cleanser that rinses away completely
  • Don't use bar soap because it is generally very alkaline (base) and will upset the pH of your skin
  • Don't use a cleanser with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES - more on this later)
  • Be sure that you remove all traces of makeup
  • Don't apply toner as this may affect your skin texture and the appearance of your pores
  • Leave your skin for 30 minutes to allow your pH levels to normalize
  • Try to avoid any urge to touch your face, this might also affect the results
  • Inspect your skin in a mirror. Look for the visibility or absence of pore openings, this will generally signify your skin-type
  • Does your skin feel tight and dry due to the lack of moisturizer applied after cleansing?
  • Is your skin visibly oily, or oily to the touch?

Dry Skin

Dry skin will exhibit small or invisible pores. Dry skin may be tight, sensitive, itchy, matte, rough or even flaky and may display uneven redness because you didn't apply moisturizer immediately after cleansing. Dry skin will not exhibit any surface oil at this point.

Oily Skin

Oily skin will exhibit larger pores. It will also show signs of fresh oil (aka sebum) reaching the surface of your skin and may be shiny or even oily to the touch. Very oily skin will leave oil on your fingertips after contact.

Normal Skin

Normal skin is skin which is neither particularly oily nor dry. It is very tolerant, needs little care and displays average sized, evenly distributed pores with few blemishes. This is actually the most uncommon skin-type. If you believe you have normal skin you are very fortunate! When young, your only real concern may be gentle cleansing, occasional use of moisturizer and daily use of sunscreen. Note that as your normal skin ages, it may become slightly dry, requiring you to review your skincare regimen. This often happens during your 30s.

Combination Skin

Combination skin commonly displays what is referred to as a T-zone of larger pores across the forehead and down the nose and chin. This may or may not be accompanied by zones of larger pores spreading out across the cheeks. Extreme combination skin may exhibit issues of both very dry and very oily skin, so may require a different regimen for each area. If you do need a split regimen it will require extra effort, but it will repay you with balanced, tolerant skin and will be worth it in the long term.

It's worth noting that while dry skin may be thinner, have a fragile barrier and be more prone to fine lines earlier in life, oily skin is more prone to breakouts and uneven texture. Each extreme has it's disadvantages, but we all have something we'd like to get more control of in our skin.


We talk about 'balance' in skincare a lot, here's why.

Your skin-type is inherited and cannot be changed, but it is possible for unbalanced skin to temporarily over-react. It is common for those with oily skin to attempt to reduce unwanted oil by using strong cleansers (like the SLS and SLES we mentioned above). Often this has exactly the opposite effect. As it tries to quickly restore its natural barrier, over-cleansed skin often produces more sebum, making your skin even more oily. Conversely over-applying really heavy moisturizers to dry skin can have your skin thinking it needs to cut down natural oil production, exacerbating your dryness.

When it is knocked off-balance your skin scrambles to re-adjust.

What's The Worst That Could Happen?

Knocking your skin off-balance sounds relatively harmless, but remember that it's always the little habits that we don't kick that damage our skin in the long-term. If you maintain a regimen that routinely unbalances your skin, twice a day, every day, consequences can start to develop. The repetitive cycles of stress this puts your skin through can result in inflammation and irritation, locking your skin in a vicious circle. Doing this to your skin for years can result in chronic (long-term) inflammation, which may have long-term consequences like robbing your skin of it's tolerance and texture, and even prematurely aging it.

The Takeaway

We always recommend you experiment with your regimen; while it's not good to 'under-treat' skin, it can be just as bad to 'over-treat' it. 'Listen' to your skin, think of it like an eco-system that needs to be balanced and learn to understand what it needs. If you help it to be healthy, your skin will reward you for years!

Our Gentle Cleansers

THE SIREN - Hydrating Cleansing Gel - for slightly dry to oily skin
THE TEMPTRESS - Vitamin Cleansing Lotion - for dry to slightly oily skin

Looking for More Advice?

"About Us"
"Our Formulation Philosophy"
"Our Ingredient Glossary"

"What Do Antioxidants Do?"
"How is Inflammation Related to Aging?"

"How to Assess your Skin-Type?"
"How Products Combine in a Regimen"
"How to Compile a Dry Skin Regimen"
"How to Compile an Oily Skin Regimen"

Our Skincare Blog: "Pilgrim & Pony"

Thanks for reading!

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Photo Credit: Billy Kidd; Maggie Laine

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