STYLE

If You Do One 'Beauty' Thing Today, Find Out Your Skin Type

Normal, dry, combination, oily, sensitive, oh my!

27/05/2016 7:13 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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A duckface-free zone.

The journey to happy, healthy skin can be a confusing and emotional one.

Sure, you probably have the money to actually pay for facials now (unlike your teen, pimply self) but that doesn't mean you're safe from the perils of adult acne, pigmentation and, dare we mention it, deteriorating collagen.

But before you jump into the rabbit hole of serums, oils, moisturisers and other fancy products, understanding first your skin type will save you a lot of time, resentment and money.

"Understanding whether your skin type is normal, sensitive, dry, oily or combination plus any conditions it is experiencing (dehydration, sensitivity, discoloration) helps you to navigate, choose and use the most beneficial skin care products to achieve the best results," Emma Hobson, education manager for the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica told The Huffington Post Australia.

A skin type is determined genetically by our parents and can be directly measured by the amount of oil secretion in the skin.

It's also important to understand the difference between a skin condition and a skin type, the latter being something you generally cannot change or influence.

"A skin type is determined genetically by our parents and can be directly measured by the amount of oil secretion in the skin. Over-active sebaceous activity will produce an oily skin and under-active sebaceous glands will produce a dry skin," Hobson said.

Whereas skin conditions include increased dehydration, increased sensitivity, acne-prone skin and hyper-pigmentation and are caused by external or environmental factors.

Other factors that influence a skin condition can be surgery, medication, stress and illness.

"These conditions affect all skin types and will regularly change, possibly from day-to-day and can certainly be changed by treating them effectively," Hobson said.

Hobson said men and women can have the same skin types, though younger men tend to have oilier skin (with a denser, thicker structure dermis) than women.

Graham Denholm via Getty Images

Normal

"Theoretically this is a rare find. A normal skin is one that is perfectly balanced -- not too much oil secretion -- and not too little. No visible open pores, congestion, blackheads, redness, pigmentation including freckles -- basically flawless," Hobson said.

Dry

"This is when the skin does not produce enough oil. It's not to be confused with the skin condition of dehydration, when the skin is lacking in moisture (not oil). It's uncommon for young people generally to have dry skin and tends for the majority of people to occur with age as the sebaceous glands start to slow down and produce less oil," Hobson said.

Combination

"This is probably the most common of all categories. This is where the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) is more oily than the rest of the face and you experience an oily shine down the centre. In the T-zone you may find some blackheads and congestion and occasionally, the odd breakout. The skin on the rest of the face is fairly well balanced," Hobson said.

Oily

"This is when the skin on the entire face is generally oily. You can be congested and experience the odd breakout anywhere on the face. Oily skin is most common when one is in one's teens or in adulthood, when you have a genetic background whereby you have an olive skin tone," Hobson said.

Sensitive

"This skin type is nowhere as near as common as the sensitised skin condition -- which is triggered mostly by the environment -- a very common condition that many people have. A genetically sensitive skin type is when someone has very fair and fine skin (their genetic background would stem from Northern Europe, especially Scotland). It burns very easily in sunlight, is sensitive to many skin care products, and perhaps reacts to certain foods you eat. It is prone to freckles, flushes very easily and is often red in appearance," Hobson said.

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