What Is My Skin Type: How to Find The Best Products for Yours

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What Is My Skin Type: How to Find The Best Products for Yours
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Photo: STYLECASTER

Fun fact: There are approximately eight trillion beauty products on the market today, which can be bewildering to even the most seasoned skin-care hobbyist. The options are so overwhelming that it can feel like the only two options you have are either slathering the entire CVS skin-care aisle on your face at once (don’t do it), or shunning products entirely and living your life in a cave somewhere, a greasy, flaky, and carefree mess (maybe do it).

MORE: Surprise: Makeup Wipes Are Actually Really Bad For Your Skin

But skin-care really doesn’t have to be that hard, as long as you know your skin type. Because once you figure out whether your face is dry, oily, combination, or “normal,” you can zero in on the exact product types, formulations, and ingredients that are specifically designed to make your skin look calmer, glowier, and all around happier. Seems like a good deal, right? And all it takes is the world’s laziest test:

perfect skin1 What Is My Skin Type: How to Find The Best Products for Yours

Photo: ImaxTree

THE SKIN TYPE TEST

Try this the next time you have two hours where you don’t need to leave the house: Wash your face with your usual cleanser, pat it dry, and then don’t touch it at all for two full hours—don’t apply any makeup, moisturizers, sunscreen, nada. At the end of those two hours, check how your skin is feeling.

  • If it’s…tight, flaky, or uncomfortable, you likely have DRY skin
  • If it’s…oily or shiny all over, you likely have OILY skin
  • If it’s…oily in some places, tight in others, you likely have COMBINATION skin
  • If it’s…pretty comfortable and not greasy, you likely have NORMAL skin
  • If it’s…oily, dry, or combo, but covered in acne, you also have ACNE-PRONE skin

Congrats! You’ve figured out your skin type. Now what? Welp, here’s the fun part: Building a routine for your specific skin type, and yes, it’s way easier than it sounds. So click through to find your customized products, and get slathering!

MORE: Meet Retinol Oil: The Coolest Anti-Aging Product That Actually Works

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DRY SKIN RULES
DRY SKIN RULES

Welcome, dry-skinned sisters and brothers. Like mine, your skin under-produces natural oil (a.k.a. sebum), which is the crucial stuff that keeps skin lubricated and supple. Without enough oil or hydration, your skin can get flaky, tight, and uncomfortable, and you might notice an increase in fine lines, irritation, and, eventually, wrinkles. All of which means your routine should focus on trapping the oil you do have, and adding in the oils and moisture that your skin needs. So be sure to avoid (and include!) products like…

Photo: STYLECASTER
DRY SKIN DON'TS
DRY SKIN DON'TS

Dry skin needs to be coddled and moisturized, which means avoiding:

1. Foaming cleansers (if it foams or lathers even a tiny bit, it’s too harsh for your skin)

2. Clay or charcoal masks (they’ll strip your skin’s natural oils)

3. Products high in alcohol (if the ingredients list says “SD alcohol” or “alcohol denat,” toss it)

Photo: STYLECASTER
DRY SKIN DOS
DRY SKIN DOS

Instead, use hydrating, skin-protecting products, like:

1. Gentle cream cleansers, such as Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser or CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

2. Lactic acid, which gently “unglues” dead skin cells over time for brighter, smoother, more-hydrated skin (try Garden of Wisdom Lactic Acid 8% Pads or Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner; apply them to dry skin, wait five minutes, then apply your moisturizer)

3. Thick, moisturizing creams, like Cetaphil Cream or SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore

4. Rich facial oils, like Russell Organics Camellia Oil or Josie Maran Argain Oil, massaged over your moisturizer at night

Photo: STYLECASTER
OILY SKIN RULES
OILY SKIN RULES

Oily skin overproduces sebum, and while that has its advantages (hello, fewer forehead wrinkles), it also has major drawbacks—namely looking and feeling oily. And as annoying as that can be for makeup, which tends to slip and slide on oily skin, it can also contribute to more acne and clogged pores, which means your routine should focus on regulating your sebum with light, water-based products, mattifying powders, and, if necessary, anti-acne treatments, all of which means…

Photo: STYLECASTER
OILY SKIN DON'TS
OILY SKIN DON'TS

Since your oily skin is already producing too much of the good stuff, make sure to skip:

1. Heavy facial oils

2. Thick, oil-based creams

3. Harsh scrubs or super-drying formulas, like charcoal masks and benzoyl peroxide (they’ll strip your skin, causing it to produce even more oil to compensate)

Photo: STYLECASTER
OILY SKIN DOS
OILY SKIN DOS

Instead, use lightweight, oil-absorbing products, like:

1. Water-based serums, like the cult-favorites Benton Snail Bee Essence or Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Lotion (apply them to dry skin, before moisturizing)

2. Lightweight gel moisturizers, such as Garnier SkinActive Moisture Rescue Gel Cream or Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel

3. Salicylic acid products (spot treat zits with Philosophy Clear Days Ahead Spot Treatment, or use Paula’s Choice Clear Exfoliating Solution as an all-over acne treatment before your moisturizer)

4. Mattifying powders, like Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder, and oil-blotting sheets, like Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets

Photo: STYLECASTER
COMBINATION SKIN RULES
COMBINATION SKIN RULES

Combination skin overproduces oil in some places and under-produces oil in others, giving you the most-frustrating sides of both worlds. But—and I’m about to blow your mind, here—you don’t have to use the same skin-care product over your entire face. WHAAAT. Yup! You can build a routine that utilizes oils and creams on your cheeks and jaw, for example, with lightweight serums and acne-treatments on just your forehead and nose, targeting each “problem area” with the correct products, like…

Photo: STYLECASTER
COMBINATION SKIN DON'TS
COMBINATION SKIN DON'TS

Because your face is basically a jigsaw puzzle of skin types, make sure to avoid:

1. Harsh, foaming cleansers (they’ll irritate your dehydrated bits)

2. Rich, heavy moisturizers (they’ll clog your T-zone)

3. Clay masks or oil-sucking formulas (they’ll destroy your dry patches)

Photo: STYLECASTER
COMBINATION SKIN DOS
COMBINATION SKIN DOS

Instead, stick with neutral, gentle formulas, then spot-treat your dry and oily patches with concern-specific products. Try:

1. Gentle cleansers, like Lagom Cellup Gel-to-Water Cleanser or Cetaphil Daily Face Cleanser

2. Lightweight lotions for all-over hydration, like Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer or Neutrogena Naturals Brightening Daily Moisturizer

3. Thick, rich moisturizers, like Cetaphil Cream or SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore, to layer on dry spots

 

Photo: STYLECASTER
NORMAL SKIN RULES
NORMAL SKIN RULES

Welp, your skin produces just the right amount of sebum all over your face. Congratulations; you can now have a party with the eight other people in the world who also have normal skin. I’m sure you’ll all be very happy together. No, I’m not bitter. Since your skin can handle both dry- and oily-type products, you should instead build your routine around specific skin concerns you have, like aging, redness, or dullness. Which brings us to…

Photo: STYLECASTER
NORMAL SKIN DON'TS
NORMAL SKIN DON'TS

Even if your skin isn’t technically temperamental, you should try to avoid:

1. Harsh cleansers and scrubs (they’ll still damage your skin barrier, no matter how perfectly and pleasantly "normal" your skin is)

2. Excessively drying products, like at-home chemical peels or high-percentage acne treatments (see above)

Photo: STYLECASTER
NORMAL SKIN DOS
NORMAL SKIN DOS

Instead, pick products specifically targeted toward your skin issues, like:

1. Retinoids for fine lines and wrinkles, like RoC Retinol Correxion Moisturizer or Shani Darden Resurface Retinol Reform

2. Glycolic acid for dark spots and dullness, such as Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Pads or Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

3. Skin-calmers for red, blotchy complexions, like Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Sleeping Mask or PCA Skin Dual Action Redness Relie

Photo: STYLECASTER
ACNE-PRONE SKIN RULES
ACNE-PRONE SKIN RULES

OK, so technically “acne-prone” isn’t a true skin type, since really any complexion can be acne-prone (though those with oily skin are more likely to struggle with consistent zits). So instead of building an entire routine around your breakouts, make sure to stick with your type-specific routine, then add in some acne-fighting products to pull your skin back from the brink of mutiny, like…

Photo: STYLECASTER
ACNE-PRONE SKIN DON'TS
ACNE-PRONE SKIN DON'TS

Clogged pores and pimples may put on a tough show, but they actually need to be coddled to keep them from getting worse, which means no:

1. Physical exfoliation of any kind, like scrubs, washcloths, and electric facial brushes (they’ll all irritate your skin barrier, which will cause more acne)

2. Picking or squeezing your skin (I know; it’s so hard to resist, but it’ll spread bacteria and inflammation, making breakouts so much worse)

3. Using too many acne treatments at once (treat your skin gently so it can heal itself)

Photo: STYLECASTER
ACNE-PRONE SKIN DOS
ACNE-PRONE SKIN DOS

Instead, use a combination of gentle, yet effective, acne treatments, like:

1. Salicylic acid toners (try Paula’s Choice Clear Extra Strength BHA or tk as an all-over acne treatment before your moisturizer)

2. Spot treatments, like benzoyl peroxide (try Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment), zinc oxide (like Indie Lee Blemish Lotion), or sulfur (try Mario Badescu Drying Lotion)

3. Hydrocolloid bandages, like Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patches (stick them on top of clean popped pimples before bed to suck out pus and fluids)

Photo: STYLECASTER
Congrats! You officially know how to get perfect skin.
Congrats! You officially know how to get perfect skin.
Photo: STYLECASTER

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  • DRY SKIN RULES
  • DRY SKIN DON'TS
  • DRY SKIN DOS
  • OILY SKIN RULES
  • OILY SKIN DON'TS
  • OILY SKIN DOS
  • COMBINATION SKIN RULES
  • COMBINATION SKIN DON'TS
  • COMBINATION SKIN DOS
  • NORMAL SKIN RULES
  • NORMAL SKIN DON'TS
  • NORMAL SKIN DOS
  • ACNE-PRONE SKIN RULES
  • ACNE-PRONE SKIN DON'TS
  • ACNE-PRONE SKIN DOS
  • Congrats! You officially know how to get perfect skin.

Promoted Stories

Take Our Easy Skin Type Test — Plus, get expert product recommendations to include in your beauty routine as well as products to avoid. Types include: Normal Skin, Oily Skin, Dry Skin, Combination Skin, & Acne-Prone Skin—which one are you? | @stylecaster
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