How to Assess Your Skin-Type

“Skin-Type” refers to the inherited characteristics of your skin. The main classification is based on your skin’s level of natural, protective oils (collectively referred to as “lipids”). Despite what you might have heard, your inherited level of oiliness cannot generally be changed by skincare products.

Assessing your skin-type is the first step toward understanding your skin and how to treat it. This is because treating, for example, dry skin with skincare products designed for oily skin will not yield positive results - no matter how well that product is formulated or how many powerful ingredients it contains.

The second step toward understanding skin is to assess Skin Condition. Skin condition refers to the current state of your skin and, unlike skin-type can be treated and changed with appropriate skincare.


Skin-type can largely be assessed by visual reference to the size of your pores (hair follicles). Oilier skin-types generally exhibit larger pores. Larger pores are a sign of the increased production of sebum (by the sebaceous gland at the root of each hair follicle) and the passage of that sebum onto the surface of your skin. Very dry skin may not exhibit any pores at all; the pores do exist, but they are not dilated.

Because sebum results in large pores, shiny skin, and may result in acne, oily skin may seem highly undesirable, but sebum exists to protect your skin from infection, irritation and dehydration by creating a protective “acid mantle”. Oily skin is usually thicker, more tolerant, less sensitive and usually ages more slowly. In truth each skin-type has its own cross to bear.


  • Cleanse your skin with a gentle soap-free cleanser that rinses away completely. Be sure to remove any traces of makeup. Do not tone your skin as this may affect the appearance of the pore openings and skin texture
  • Leave your skin for an hour to allow your pH levels to normalize. Avoid any urge to touch your face, as this may also affect the results
  • Inspect your skin in a mirror. Look for the visibility or absence of pore openings, as this will generally signify your skin-type
  • Does it feel tight and dry due to the lack of any moisturizer being applied after cleansing?
  • Is your skin visibly oily and / or oily to the touch?


Dry skin will exhibit small or invisible pores. It may be tight, sensitive, itchy, rough or flaky and may even display uneven redness due to the lack of moisturizer after cleansing. There will be no surface oil, at this point, on dry skin. For advice, read How To Compile A Dry Skin Regimen.


Oily skin will exhibit larger pores. It will also show signs of fresh sebum reaching the surface of your skin and may even be oily to the touch, with oil visible on your fingertips after contact. For more advice, read How To Compile An Oily Skin Regimen.


“Normal” skin is skin which is neither oily nor dry. It is very tolerant, needs little care and displays average size, evenly distributed pores, with few blemishes. This is the most uncommon skin-type. If you believe you have normal skin you are very fortunate! When young, your only real concern may be regular cleansing, application of moisturizer and daily use of sunscreen. Note that normal skin will age, just like any other skin-type, so you will not be able to get away with such a light-weight regimen forever.


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 have exhibited issues of both dry and oily skin at different times, and may not be possible to treat with one regimen across your entire face. If you do need to differentiate skincare between zones on your face, the extra effort should repay you with balanced, tolerant skin and will be worth it in the long term. You will probably have to refer to our advice for both Dry Skin and Oily Skin regimens.

It is quite common for people to misdiagnose their own skin-type, and we recommend revisiting your initial assessment based on the success of your skincare regimen. If things are not working, you may have started on the wrong path. Additionally you may be confused by the temporary Condition of your skin which may be responding to new stimuli.

Products for Normal to Dry Skin

THE TEMPTRESS - Vitamin Lotion Cleanser
THE ALCHEMIST - Pomegranate Enzyme Exfoliator
THE TEMPEST - Antioxidant Toner / Mist
THE SHEPHERD - Balancing Moisturizer

Products for Normal to Oily Skin

THE SIREN - Hydrating Cleansing Gel
THE RASCAL - Refining Foaming Exfoliator
THE LUMINARY - Vitamin Clay Masque
THE PACIFIST - Soothing Moisturizing Lotion

Looking for More Advice?

About Us
Our Formulation Philosophy
Our Ingredient Glossary

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

How Products Combine in a Regimen
How to Compile a Dry Skin Regimen
How to Compile an Oily Skin Regimen

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