Before you embark on your skin care journey, try a new regime or perhaps test out new products, it is extremely important that you understand your skin type and what it needs. There are 5 skin type categories: normal, dry, oily, combination and sensitive. Skin types are determined by your genetic factors meaning you are born with it and it does not change. This should not be confused with ‘skin concerns’ which are caused by external factors such as the climate or environment.
Every person’s skin is unique and discovering your skin type is the best way to take the first step in caring for your skin.
There are two easy ways to identify your skin type:
The Bare-Face Method
First, cleanse your face thoroughly and dry it with a clean towel. Do not apply any skincare products, and leave your skin that way for about 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes is up, observe your complexion and how your skin feels when you smile or move your facial muscles.
- If there is no noticeable difference in your complexion or the way your skin feels, you have NORMAL skin.
- If you see flaky, dry patches or feel tightness when you move your facial muscles, you have DRY skin type.
- If you notice shiny areas over your face, you have OILY skin type
- If you notice a mix of both oily and dry areas, you have COMBINATION skin type
- If you see visible red areas, feel tightness and discomfort on your skin, you have SENSITIVE skin
The Blotting Sheet Method
For this method, you will need to use an oil-blotting paper. Carefully dab different areas of your face with a blotting paper and put it against light to see how much oil has been absorbed.
- If the blotting sheet absorbed some oil, you have NORMAL skin
- If the blotting sheet absorbed minimal or no oil, you have DRY skin
- If the blotting sheet absorbed oil from your forehead, nose and T-zone, you have COMBINATION skin
- If the blotting sheet absorbed a larger amount or is saturated with oil, you have OILY skin
What is normal skin?
Normal skin, is also referred as well-balanced skin. It means the skin is neither too dry nor too oily. Individuals with normal skin usually have clear, smooth and healthy complexion with barely visible pores and no severe sensitivity. They rarely experience skin issues or blemishes such as acne and breakouts. However, skin types can be changed over time with hormones and environmental change. That is why maintaining your normal skin with the right skin care is very important.
How do I care for my normal skin?
While normal skin may require less maintenance than other skin types, it is important to regularly cleanse, moisturize and treat it to keep your skin looking continuously youthful, radiant and healthy.
Some brands that we recommend for normal skin are AROMATICA, BELIF, LANEIGE, MIZON and THE FACE SHOP Seed. Avoid products that can cause your skin with excessive oil or dryness and use those with gentle formula, just like some of our best picks here for your normal skin type.
What causes dry skin?
If you are experiencing tightness, flaky skin or dry patches, then my friend, you probably have a dry skin type. Dry skin means your skin lacks natural moisturizing factors, sebum and natural oil that help retain moisture within skin and build skin barrier to protect skin against environmental factors. Dryness and tightness can easily cause wrinkles and fine lines, which are more apparent with dry skin.
How do I care for my dry skin?
If keeping your skin well hydrated with moisture is the main solution for those who have dry skin in order to maintain a healthy and supple skin.
Hyaluronic Acid is your new best friend – look for skin care that contains moisture-attracting ingredients, such as Hyaluronic Acid, Ceramide, Centella Asiatica, and beta glucans that help retain and boost your skin’s moisture level while strengthening your skin barrier to prevent water loss. Exfoliation is necessary for dry skin too, as it helps slough away dead skin cells, unclog pores and promote skin cell regeneration.
Also, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking water, avoid taking hot and long showers and central heating.
What is oily skin?
Opposite to dry skin type, oily skin is caused by producing too much sebum. Individuals with oily skin usually have enlarged pores, shiny complexion, redness and are more prone to certain skin blemishes and issues such as acne. Individuals with oily skin usually struggle with skin blemishes, especially acne, blackheads and whiteheads due to clog pores.
How do I care for my oily skin?
When it comes to oily skin, many individuals just go straight for products that promise to keep skin dry which might contains harsh ingredients, resulting in oilier and more sensitive skin with irritations. If you have oily, acne-prone skin, we recommend using brands such as COSRX or SOME BY MI that help clarify the skin, prevent breakouts and speed up the skin's healing process. Or if you have oily, sensitive, troubled skin, you can opt for MAKE P:REM Solution Me line which has a milder formula.
>> Read about ACNE 101: Causes, Solutions and Tips >>
It is important to exfoliate regularly to cleanse out the dead skin cells trapped within pores that can lead to blemishes. Use products formulated with Salicylic acid, Willow Bark extract and other natural exfoliants can help effectively remove dead skin cells and prevent clogged pores and breakouts. Physical exfoliators such as peeling gels and scrubs can help remove blackheads, but it is not recommended to use when your skin is experiencing irritation and redness.
Those with oily skin need to avoid using products that strip away all your skin's naturally occurring oils, and opt for those that help control sebum production while keeping your skin hydrated without feeling greasy, like some of our favourites for oily skin type here.
What is combination skin?
As how it is named, combination skin is the skin type that has the mixture of both dry and oily skin in different areas of the face. Most people have dry to regular skin in cheeks, mouth and eyes area with oily skin in the T-zone area (nose, forehead and chin).
How do I care for my combination skin?
Caring for combination skin may seem a little confusing at first because your skin has both dry and oily areas. The best way is to opt for lightweight and hydrating products that are not overly greasy nor too lightweight, as this will maintain the skin’s optimal oil-water balance. Avoid harsh products that strip away the skin’s natural oils as these will leave your skin feeling dry and tight. It is also important to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize your skin regularly to remove dead skin cells that are clogging your pores, and allow skin care products to be effectively absorbed into the skin.
Brands such as SOME BY MI, KLAIRS, I'M FROM Mugwort, BY WISHTREND, LANEIGE and BELIF are suitable for combination skin as they are provide lightweight hydration and moisture to the skin, without being too rich or oily. Try one of our skin care collections for combination skin, which help well maintain your skin's natural moisture balance.
What is sensitive skin?
Sensitive skin type is where the skin experiences redness, irritation, inflammation, feeling of tightness and discomfort, while exhibiting characteristics of dry, oily or combination skin. The main causes of sensitive skin include weak skin barrier, skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema or allergies to certain ingredients.
How do I care for my sensitive skin?
If you have sensitive skin, try to find out what is trigger and causing you the reactions so you can avoid them. Managing sensitive skin takes more effort and time especially in choosing the right products for your skin. Before introducing new products to your skincare routine, it is recommended to do a patch test where a small amount of product is applied on your forearm or behind your ear to determine its suitability before applying it to your face.
Say no to products with fragrance, because scented products are one of the common triggers for those with sensitive skin. Look for products that are free from fragrances, colourants, parabens, sulfates, phthalates and mineral oils as these can cause inflammation and redness. Instead, opt for dermatologically-tested, hypoallergenic and products with minimal ingredients.
We recommend dermatologically-tested brands like DR. JART+, MAKE P:REM, PYUNKANG YUL and THE FACE SHOP Dr. Belmeur that are formulated with skin-friendly, non-irritating and safe ingredients
Read more about our recommendations for sensitive and easily irritated skin here, or try out one of our dermatologist-tested picks that promise to take a good care of your sensitive skin.
What is mature skin?
Mature skin is when the skin starts to show aging signs such as fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness and pigmentation spots. This process occurs naturally regardless of skin type as we age, because of decreases in cellular functions that eventually cause a reduction in collagen, elastin and the overall moisture of our skin. Nevertheless, the skin's aging process can be moderated with proper treatment and care to maintain plump, fresh and youthful-looking complexion.
How do I care for my mature skin?
The best way to care for mature skin is by providing it with extra nourishment, moisture and targeted treatments. Look for ingredients such as collagen, ginseng, snail mucin and ferments. These help strengthen skin barrier, stimulate skin cell turnover and illuminate the skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots. Mature skin can be divided into 3 different categories to determine which skincare products and brands will be the best option.
This group generally comprises of those in their late 20s to early 30s. Anti-aging care should ideally start with skincare that provide good amounts of hydration and moisture without being overly dense.
We recommend brands and product lines such as:
- THE FACE SHOP The Therapy
- THE FACE SHOP Yehwadam Revitalizing
- LANEIGE Water Bank
- MIZON Snail
- MIZON Collagen
- KLAVUU Blue Pearlsation
- KLAVUU White Pearlsation
- SULWHASOO Bloomstay
- SU:M37 Water-Full
This group generally comprises of those in their late 30s to 40s. Skincare products that help with firming, lifting and provide targeted treatment like wrinkle care, diminishing age spots should be incorporated.
These can be found in brands and product lines such as:
- LANEIGE Time Freeze
- LANEIGE White Dew
- THE FACE SHOP Yehwadam Heaven Grade Ginseng
- THE FACE SHOP Yehwadam Pure Brightening
- SULWHASOO Essential
- SU:M37 Time Energy
- SU:M37 White Award
- THE HISTORY OF WHOO Gongjinhyang
This group generally comprises of those in their 50s and beyond. For this group, skincare products should provide benefits like improving overall skin health, restoration and damage prevention.
Skincare product lines that are ideal in providing the needs of late mature skin include those from the following brands:
- THE FACE SHOP Yehwadam Hwansaenggo
- THE HISTORY OF WHOO Jinyulhyang Jinyul
- SU:M37 LosecSumma
- SULWHASOO Time Treasure
If you would like to get more information and what products suit your skin the best - visit one of our stores and have a beauty consultation with our beauty advisors, or contact your dermatologist for more in-depth analysis.