What are skin types and why are they important?

Here's a look at different skin types and how to find out which one you are.

Written by
Kate Iselin
Medically reviewed by
min read
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We’ve all seen skincare products that are made for people with certain skin types.

“Dry skin”, “oily skin”, “sensitive skin”... not to mention vague terms like “combination" and "normal”.

‍Figuring out your skin type has long been considered the key to figuring out exactly what treatments your skin needs, so it’s no wonder so many of us are keen to find out exactly which category we fit into.

Below, we’re going to discuss each different skin type and tell you how to find out which one you are. We’ll also talk about some really common skin conditions that are frequently mistaken for skin types, and then we’ll explain how to choose the best products for your skin type.

What skin types are there?

‍Some dermatologists and skincare brands put forward that there can be up to 10 skin types.

However, we believe there are 4 main ones: dry, oily, normal, and combination. To find out what yours is, we recommend taking a shower and waiting an hour or so before putting any skin treatments on your face.

This will allow your skin to exist in its most natural, unaltered state for a little while, and you can take note of how your skin looks and feels.

Now, for the 4 main skin types:

Dry skin

Dry skin is skin that feels, well, dry. If you have dry skin, you might find that your face feels ‘tight’ and even itchy sometimes if you don’t put any moisturiser on it.

You might get rough or scaly patches, and you’ll find that your skin doesn’t naturally produce a lot of oil.‍

Oily skin

If you have oily skin, you’ll notice that your skin produces a lot of excess oil from its pores. Your skin might feel slick even if you don’t use any treatments on it, and you might find that you have a bit of an oily shine on some parts of your face.

You may also notice you have enlarged pores, as well as blackheads, whiteheads and other types of blemishes [1].

You might need to wipe or blot your face a lot, especially if you’re wearing cosmetics or sunscreen.‍

Normal skin

We don’t believe that anyone’s skin is ‘abnormal’, but when talking about skin types normal skin is any skin that isn’t overly dry or oily.

If you don’t use any products on your face for a little while and your skin feels basically fine, then you're most likely a normal skin type.

Combination skin

Combination skin feels oily in some places but dry in others.

There’s no hard and fast rule about which parts of your skin can be oily and which can be dry, but it’s common to notice extra oiliness around your forehead, nose and chin — a.k.a. your T-zone — while your cheeks remain dry.

People with combination skin can sometimes have trouble finding the right skin treatments to use because while a thick, creamy moisturiser might work well on the drier parts of the face, it may not feel good on the oily parts.

What about sensitive skin?

You may see sensitive skin referred to as a skin type, but keep in mind that your skin can be oily, dry, normal or combination and sensitive.

Sensitive skin types are more prone to irritation, redness, and inflammation, and they may have very dry skin, as well as skin bumps and erosion.

How to choose the right products for your skin type

It’s really useful to know your skin type, but it doesn’t tell you everything about your skin and it doesn’t take into account any conditions that we might have.

Skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, and Malassezia — just to name a few! — can occur on any skin type, whether it’s dry, oily, combination, or normal. And on top of that, your skin can also be sensitive (as mentioned above) or ageing (or both).

Understanding your skin type helps a lot when treating skin conditions.

Not because some treatments don’t work on certain skin types, but because you want to make sure that the active ingredients in your skin treatments are being applied to your face in a product that’s right for your skin.

When looking for a new skin treatment, choose the ingredients based on the skin concerns and conditions that you want to treat, and the texture of the product based on your skin type.

So here are the best products for you to use, based on your skin type:

Products for dry skin

If you have dry skin, you can still use cleansers and washes with drying ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, but you should take care to use products that have thick and creamy textures rather than light or watery.

Software's Ceramide Repair Balm is perfect for those with dry skin as it treats dullness, and damaged and dehydrated skin with an injection of moisture-retaining and nourishing ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid and squalane.‍

Products for oily skin

Those with an oily skin type can — and should — still look for ingredients that hydrate the skin, like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.

However, it's better to use lighter serums and lotions rather than rich, thick products.

Software's Hyaluronic Complex Serum is lightweight but heavy in hydration and it is suitable for oily skin. Not only does it smooth fine lines and wrinkles, but it also helps the skin retain moisture (which is still important even for oily skins) and supports the skin's protective barrier.

Products for normal skin

If you have normal skin, you should aim to find a balance in the kind of products you use. Make sure that some of your products are rich and creamy while others are lighter serums and gels.‍

Products for combination skin

People with combination skin might find it best to use lighter products on the oily parts of their face, and thicker products on the dry parts of their face. A light gel moisturiser would work well on oily areas, while a thicker cream moisturiser would be a good idea for dry areas.

No matter what, it’s important to understand that no type of skin is better or worse than another.

If you find that your skin is giving you grief — it’s too dry, too oily, or you have acne that you’d like help with — we really recommend speaking with a doctor or dermatologist.

They can give you advice on the best treatments to use for your skin and even recommend a skincare routine that works for you.

Take the guesswork out of your skincare by trying Software’s custom treatment. We’ll pair you with one of our expert practitioners who will consider your current skin state, past history, and skin goals to create your perfect personalised treatment.

Using a combination of powerful ingredients, Software’s treatment can help you get clear, bright, healthy skin.

Better skin starts here
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