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Oily Skin vs. Dry Skin: How To Know What Skin Type You Have

Identifying your skin type is key for properly taking care of your complexion. When you know your skin type, you are better equipped to choose the right products and put together an effective skincare routine. Below, we’re diving into everything you need to know about identifying and caring for your skin type. 

What Are The Five Different Skin Types?

There are five main skin types: oily, dry, combination, sensitive, and normal. 

With oily skin, the complexion will produce higher than average amounts of sebum, which is the skin’s natural oil. While this skin type is prone to an overproduction of sebum all over the face, the T-zone (the forehead, nose, and chin) is often most affected. Due to the extra oil creating a higher risk of clogged pores, those with oily skin are also often more likely to deal with blemishes. 

Dry skin, on the other hand, produces far less sebum. Since the skin doesn’t have much natural oil, it can feel uncomfortable and parched, and can be particularly prone to flakiness and rough texture. 

Combination skin sits between oily and dry skin types. With this skin type, the T-zone produces an excess of oil, just like with oily skin. However, other areas of the face are more prone to dryness. Those with combination skin may also be prone to breakouts, especially in the T-zone area. 

There is also sensitive skin, which refers to complexions that are particularly prone to signs of aggravation, including redness and irritation. Someone with sensitive skin may find that their skin reacts to products made with sulfates, fragrances, essential oils, and other potential irritants. They may also need to avoid products made with high concentrations of powerful active ingredients, such as chemical exfoliants and retinoids. 

It’s important to note that you can have sensitive skin that also meets the characteristics of the other skin types mentioned. For example, you may have oily skin that is also sensitive, or a dry complexion that is easily aggravated. 

Last but not least is what is referred to as a “normal” skin type. Put simply, normal skin is well-balanced. It produces the right amount of sebum to ensure the skin stays supple and comfortable without feeling too greasy or overly parched. 

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How To Determine Your Skin Type

There are two different methods you can use to easily determine what skin type you have at home: the bare-faced method and the blotting sheet method. 

Bare-Face Method

You can try the bare-face method either at the start or end of your day. Cleanse your face with a gentle face wash. Once it is clean, you’ll want to leave your skin as is for half an hour. Don’t apply serums, a moisturizer, sunscreen, or any makeup products. 

After half an hour, take a moment to analyze your skin. If your skin feels tight and parched, you likely have dry skin. On the other end of the spectrum, if some oil is coming through on your face, you probably have oily skin. If you only notice oil in the T-zone, there’s a good chance you have combination skin. 

Blotting Sheet Method

Another way to determine your skin type is by using blotting sheets. For the best results, you’ll want to do this in the middle or at the end of the day, rather than immediately after washing your face in the morning. 

Take a few sheets, and use them to blot different areas of the face: one for the cheeks, one for the nose and chin, and one for the forehead. If all of your sheets have absorbed oil, you have oily skin. On the other hand, if the sheets from your cheeks have little to no oil but your T-zone sheets are oily, you likely have combination skin. If the sheets picked up very little or no oil, you have dry skin. 

Seasonal Considerations for Dry Skin vs Oily Skin

Our skin fluctuates with the seasons. With this in mind, it’s a smart idea to assess the products you use as the weather changes throughout the year to ensure your skin is getting the support that it needs. 

For dry skin, the biggest changes you’ll notice in your complexion will come in the winter. The dry, chilly climate can zap moisture from the skin, leaving it prone to dry patches and irritation. In order to counteract these effects, consider layering an oil on top of your moisturizer to really seal everything in and keep your skin plump with moisture. 

You may even consider swapping out your moisturizer for a more decadent formula. This can be especially beneficial if you feel you aren’t getting what you need from the moisturizer you used in the summer and fall. 

Once we move into spring and summer, you may not need all of that extra moisture support – especially if you live in a humid climate. You may find you can skip a facial oil during this time (or may choose to go with a more lightweight formula), and can also switch back to a more lightweight (yet still deeply moisturizing) moisturizer. 

Those with oily skin may be surprised to learn that their skin can be affected by the drying winter weather, as well. The dry climate can actually trigger the skin to produce even more sebum in response, leading to a shinier complexion. Alightweight hydrating serum can help bring your skin into balance without weighing it down.  

For oily skin, the summertime should be all about giving your skin the hydration and moisture it needs without having to rely on heavy formulas that can feel uncomfortable in the summer heat. Reach for a gel-based moisturizer to keep your skin balanced and healthy. 

Taking Care Of Your Skin Type

Once you’ve determined your skin type, you can start to develop a targeted routine that keeps your skin balanced and effectively tackles any concerns you may have. Here’s a quick look at what each skin type should look for in their skincare products:

  • Oily Skin: If you have oily skin, use a gentle foaming cleanser twice daily to wash away excess oil and other impurities without stripping the skin of its natural moisture (as this can trigger the skin to produce even more oil in response). A gel-based moisturizer will also keep your skin supple and healthy without feeling greasy on the skin. Lightweight serums can also help target specific concerns. For example, you might try the  CoQ10 Boost Serum for antioxidant protection and anti-aging benefits.  

  • Dry Skin: With dry skin, it’s important to look for creamy cleansers and moisturizers infused with rich ingredients that add moisture back to the skin to keep it comfortable and balanced. Hydrating serums – such as the  Hyaluronic Pure Boost Serum – will also ensure your skin is getting the extra hydration support that it needs, while oils can help seal moisture into the skin.  

  • Combination Skin: Combination skin benefits from gentle cleansers made with hydrating ingredients, as well as lightweight gel-based moisturizers that infuse the skin with moisture without adding too much extra oiliness to the T-zone. A  hydrating serum can also help support the skin’s hydration levels for a more balanced complexion. 

  • Sensitive Skin: With sensitive skin, it’s important to identify what ingredients trigger reactions in your skin so that you can avoid them. In general, it’s best to stick with gentle products deemed safe for sensitive skin to prevent any adverse reactions. You can still use serums, but it’s important to choose formulas made without common irritants, such as fragrances (note: all  Small Batch Serums formulas are made without fragrances!).

  • Normal Skin: In addition to using a moisturizer and cleanser daily, if you have normal skin, you can greatly benefit from adding serums to help tackle any concerns you may have. We especially recommend a  vitamin C serum for normal skin (and all skin types!), as it will help defend against free radical damage while brightening and providing anti-aging benefits.  
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