You may have the best intentions in the world when it comes to your skin care routines. However, in many cases they may not work due to the fact your following a routine or using a product that is not suitable for your skin type. Your skin is unique to you and your body, but it is likely to fall under one of five main categories; normal, oily, dry, combination and/or sensitive. For the time being we are going to look at the first four categories, what it means to have that type of skin, and moving forward with what is the best way for you to get optimum results from your personal skin care routine.
Let’s have a look at normal skin. What is it about normal skin that makes it ‘normal’? Firstly, to look at. Normal skin is usually free of blotchiness and redness, the complexion is pretty much even across the whole face and the pores are almost impossible to see. To the touch it has little to no bumps and is quite smooth. You can say the texture of the skin is quite regular and shows no obvious signs of imperfections. It is neither too oily nor too dry but very much like the other skin types needs daily maintenance to keep it hydrated. It is possible that at one time or another we have all been a member of the normal skin type group, but as life goes on and our diets, daily routines and let’s be honest stresses change so does our skin type. So it is rare to be a part of and remain a member of the normal skin group for long periods of time.
If you are lucky enough to be a part of this group, then I am sure you are aware it can be quite difficult to get advice on how to look after your normal skin. This is because most blogs, articles and solution columns look at exactly that. Solutions for already existing problems. When in this case we don’t actually have a problem to fix, we have something to maintain. With normal skin it is okay to follow basic skincare routines of finding a cleanser or toner free of harsh ingredients and then to find a moisturiser with SPF to protect throughout the day.
Are you one of those people who feels like they constantly have to wipe their face with tissue because you feel ‘shiny’? It’s likely this is because you fall into the oily skin category. Although oily skin in itself is nothing to worry about, there are some aspects of your day to day life that can be making it worse. A poor diet will contribute to the build up of oil in your skin. Eating greasy/fatty foods, food high in sugar and carbohydrates and dairy products have all been researched and found to trigger your sebaceous glands resulting in an over production of oil. Reducing the amount of stress you are under can also help to prevent the production of the hormone cortisol which has a knock on effect in regards to your skin eventually resulting in a build up of oil. It is easy to confuse oily skin for combination skin, but one of the main characteristics of oily skin is that all of the skin on your face is effected and uniformly appears to have quite a thick layer of a greasy substance. The pores are also much larger than normal, making it easier for dirt, bacteria and foreign bodies to get inside and cause break outs.
So what is the best way to fight your oily skin? First things first, if you have an oily skin type it is very tempting to wash your face every couple of hours when the oil replenishes, but this is actually the worst thing you could do. The more you wash your face the more oils that are removed. If you remove too much your body’s natural response to the lack of oil is to overcompensate as it thinks your skin is drying out and so produces even more than normal. Meaning you will be left with incredibly greasy, uncomfortable skin. You should try to look for a cleanser that is specifically designed for oiliness, these tend to be in the form of dissolving cleansers that work to remove dirt, remove oiliness, and remove anything stuck in your pores all while being gentle to the skin. The next stage is another one that could cause your sebaceous glands to go into over drive, and that is toning. Many toners remove the majority of the natural oils your body produces. Finding one that is gentle without any harmful products that will strip your skin from the necessary oils is important. The last step is finding a light hydrating moisturiser. One that won’t clog the pores with what you just spent time to get rid of.
Having dry skin is arguably one of the most uncomfortable skin types to have. As a result of an underproduction of sebum from your sebaceous glands, dry skin – as it is implied in the name – has an inability to keep the skin moisturised. This tends to be characterised by the skin being dry to the touch, it could be quite irritated/itchy, scaly and also more red than usual because the skin has been irritated. Like most things there are best and worst case scenarios. The best here being that it can be fixed just by using the correct facial moisturiser, but other scenarios like psoriasis and eczema are conditions that can only be managed and not fixed and can result in the skin being so dry it cracks and bleeds.
The steps to controlling dry skin are simple. The first is to try to avoid spending long periods of time in the bath or shower and definitely try to avoid using hot water at any time to wash your face. Although you may think it’s helping, hot water actually damages the top layer of skin which leaves the skin underneath exposed and very much vulnerable to loosing moisture. The second step is to use a cream/gel facial cleanser that does not foam to wash your face. Here it is crucial to take your time to look into the products that the cleanser contains so you are 100% sure that the ingredients are not too strong as to dry the skin out further. Finally, you want to apply a richer moisturiser to the skin that is specifically designed for dry skin that can help your body maintain a moisture level that works for you.
Combination skin is the most common. Excessive oiling in the T-Zone which consists of the nose and forehead but nowhere else is the tell tell sign that you have a combination skin type. Although it is called combination this does not necessarily mean that it is a mixture of oily and dry per se. It really can be a mixture of oily and dry, and oily and normal but it does tend to favour the oily and dry combo. Some of the other symptoms of combination skin are clogged pores, an uneven skin tone, and wrinkles.
Now, when it comes to the best facial care routine for your combination skin type we run into a bit of an obstacle. Most facial cleansers, toners and moisturisers are made for those with either oily or dry skin. But, here you literally have both. The first two steps in the routine are pretty normal you need to use a natural based facial cleanser and not a chemical one, and the same goes for your toner. Look for a natural hydrating toner that does not contain any harsh chemicals and will aid in balancing the pH of your skin. The final step is to invest in moisturiser that helps to balance your skin. In some cases you may find that the moisturiser alone won’t do the job on its own. If this is the case then you may also have to add a serum to your regime. The serum can be one that will tackle the T-zone while the moisturizer is applied after to lock in all the goodness for your skin.
Our skin as a whole is precious. In many cases when it changes it is trying to tell us something about our daily routines that probably need changing. Your face being what you see in the mirror first, tells us the most about what is going on under the skin. No two people are the same, what works for you may not work for your friends or family so listen to what your skin is telling you and work with it to help it get better.
- Cultura RM Exclusive/Liam Norris/Getty