Acne Education #3 - Your Skin Type

15.1.14

What Is Your Skin Type?

Today we are going to ascertain what your skin type is. For some, it is an area of complete and utter confusion, and difficult to figure out which description fits best. If this is the case, it is likely that you have a combination of different skin types, also known as combination skin.

The information in this post is coming from Deborah Chase's 1989 The New Medically Based No-Nonsense Beauty Book. It may be a little old but I feel that it is a trustworthy source which provides good descriptions of each skin type. She identifies the four main skin types as normal, simple dry, oily and mature. I am going to focus on the first three.

Normal Skin
Normal skin is categorised as having the perfect balance of oil, water retention, and the growth and death of skin cells, which makes the skin look supple and attractive with a light sheen. It is actually a rather common skin type but when a woman's skin feels a little dry or oily or she gets a few spots, she believes she does not have normal skin. Yet such skin problems are associated with a misdiagnosis of the skin in the first place and an attempt to fix a problem that isn't even there. Normal skin is rosy, which indicates that the blood flow through the skin is good and the skin is thin enough to let the colour come through.

Simple Dry Skin
Simple dry skin is rare in women under the age of 25 and many cases of dry skin in 20 to 30 year olds reflect normal skin that has not properly been taken care of. Dry skin is categorised as loss of water from the skin, rather than a lack of oil, resulting in flaky skin. The (de)hydration of skin can be influenced by three factors: outside atmosphere, natural moisturising factors (NMFs), and hormone balance. Outside atmosphere basically relates to the weather. If the weather is dry, cold or windy, water will evaporate quickly from the skin. But if it is rainy or misty, dry skin will benefit from the moisture in the air. NMFs are located in the skin and encourage the skin to retain water. The number of these in an individual's skin will determine how dry it will become. As we've begun to establish, hormones control EVERYTHING! This includes how much moisture the skin will hang on to. A clue to how well your hormones retain water is how bloated you are during menstruation. Dry skin does not cause ageing skin but it does put the skin at risk for early ageing because it is often thin, fine and sensitive to sun damage.

Oily Skin
Oily skin is skin that always looks shiny. This skin type may also be categorised by greasy hair and dandruff. The sebaceous (oil) glands react to hormones, the environment and genetics as well as certain foods (but if you've read my other posts on acne, you'll know that I'm not convinced by that one). The androgen and estrogen hormones maintain a certain ratio for those with normal skin. When this ratio is even slightly disturbed, more sebum is produced. It is also thought that hot and humid environments, and heavily polluted air can also increase oil production.

I really hope that this post has cleared a few things up for you. I know that writing it has certainly made me (finally) realise my skin type. When my mild teenage acne began, I believe I had normal/oily skin. I wasn't dripping with oil but my T-zone was definitely shiny. Now I have consistently normal/dry skin (thanks to the OCP) which is also slightly sensitive.

What is your skin type?

Part 1 - My Acne Journey
Part 2 - What Is Acne and Why Do We Get It?

NB: I am not a dermatologist or skin specialist. I do not claim to know everything about acne. This information is derived from websites, books and my own knowledge/experience with acne.