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How To Determine Your Skin Type

If you don’t already know and understand your skin type, chances are, you aren’t doing everything you can to take care of your skin effectively. While all skin types benefit from using products like cleansers and moisturizers, which ones you use will depend on what type of skin you have. Although everyone’s skincare type is unique, there are five primary categories: oily, normal, combination, dry, and sensitive. This is important because understanding your skin type may help you find the right solutions to achieve your skincare goals.

If you’re unsure how to determine your skin type, we have a few tips for figuring it out at home. Ahead, learn how to determine your skin type and put this question to bed: What type of skin do I have?

Kiehl’s Ultimate Guide To The 5 Skin Types


Like we mentioned, there are five main skincare types you should know. To explain a bit more about each, we broke it down below.

1. Oily skin.Those that have an oily complexion most commonly have excess oil throughout the T-zone of the face (forehead, nose, and chin). Oily skin tends to look shiny, feel greasy, and is often subject to blemishes and breakouts, which is why it’s sometimes called acne-prone skin.

2. Normal skin.If you have normal skin, consider yourself lucky. This skin type is well-balanced—not too dry or too oily. Those with normal skin are not typically prone to breakouts or flakiness and tend to have a balanced T-zone.

3. Combination skin.Those that have areas on their face that are both dry and oily have combination skin. An example of this would be a complexion that’s typically shiny on the forehead, nose, and chin while appearing dry or normal on the cheeks. Combination skin is generally considered the most common type, as you’re more likely to experience a mixture of skincare concerns than all or nothing.

4. Dry Skin.Generally, this skin type is rough, scaly, flaky, itchy, or irritated with an overall dehydrated look and feel.

5. Sensitive Skin.This skin type varies widely from person to person but is often characterized by visible redness and dryness. Sensitive skin may not always show visible signs and may simply have feelings of discomfort, like burning after using certain ingredients.

Figuring out how to know your skin type can seem confusing, but we’re here to help! Read on to learn three methods that will help you determine your skin type at home.


How to Know Your Skin Type


There are three simple skin tests you can do at home to help figure out your skin type. These tests are meant to validate your skin type and determine its level of hydration.

1. The Bare-Face Method

An easy way to determine your skin type is to carefully study your bare skin. You can start by washing your face with a mild foaming cleanser, like Ultra Facial Cleanser, which doesn’t strip the skin. Then, gently pat dry with a soft towel, and refrain from applying any skincare products. After 25 to 30 minutes, observe your skin. What does it look like? Does it appear shiny on your cheeks and T-zone? You might have oily skin. Or, does your skin feel tight and have flaky areas? Your skin is likely dry. If you see an unbalanced mix of oiliness and dryness, you most likely have combination skin.

2. The Blotting Sheet Method

Another way to determine your skin type at home is to press a clean blotting sheet (or a plain piece of paper) onto various spots of your face. Then, hold the sheet up to a light to see how much oil was absorbed. Your skin type will generally be dependent on how much oil is visible, meaning the more oil on the paper, the more likely it is that you have oily skin. If there is little to no oil visible, you most likely have dry skin. If the blotting sheet reveals minimal oil from your forehead and nose, your skin type is probably normal or combination.

3. The Index Finger Method

A third way to measure your skin’s hydration levels and help narrow down your skin type is to press your index finger under your cheekbone. Gently press the skin upward and use a mirror to examine the raised skin on your cheek (not your under-eye area). If the skin is smooth, it’s well hydrated. If it’s cross-hatched (this means it will resemble a hashtag symbol), it’s likely dehydrated. Well-hydrated skin is typically normal, oily, or combination, whereas dehydrated skin can be dry or combination.

Get Help From Experts


If you’re still unsure of your skin type or want to double-check, it never hurts to check with the professionals. Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist for any skin concerns. You can also visit your local Kiehl’s store and speak with a Kiehl’s customer representative (they’re the ones responsible for our KCR tips!) to determine your skin type.

How To Care For Your Skin Type


Kiehl’s skincare is scientifically formulated to restore and strengthen the skin barrier for healthier, younger-looking skin. As skincare experts, we believe in tailoring your routine around your skin type and the skincare concerns you have. Our targeted treatments are powerful yet safe preparations inspired by nature and science, which act to correct and treat your specific skin needs and concerns.

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How to Care for Dry Skin

Since dry skin produces less sebum than normal or oily skin, the key to caring for it is to keep the skin barrier properly hydrated. The more moisture the skin holds, the healthier the skin’s appearance is. Without sufficient moisture, skin can be vulnerable to a weakened skin barrier, resulting in dry areas and ultimately speeding up the skin aging process.

Those with dry skin should look for formulas that hydrate, nurture, and moisturize and are free of alcohol, fragrances, dyes, or chemicals. Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner checks all of the above boxes while balancing and toning your skin with its mild astringent effect. Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate is also a great option for dry skin. The formula provides intense hydration to help plump skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Of course, you’ll need to use more than a toner and serum to care for your skin. For a full routine, here’s your ultimate skincare routine for dry skin.

KCR Tip:Look for products formulated with squalane, a signature Kiehl’s ingredient. Squalane is a highly-refined botanical lipid known to help stabilize skin’s barrier and maintain moisture. Using products formulated with squalane can help replenish dry skin for a soft, smooth, and healthy appearance.

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How to Care for Oily Skin

Oily skin occurs when the skin barrier produces an excess of sebum, or oil, which can lead to clogged pores and blemishes. Those with oily skin should look for products that help balance excess oil and are non-comedogenic (i.e., won’t clog pores). We recommend exfoliating two to three times a week to help remove dead skin cells from skin’s surface and washing your face twice a day.

Be sure to find a gentle foaming face wash, like Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash, because using a daily face wash that is too harsh can irritate your skin and even increase oil production. You should also use a lightweight moisturizer for soothing, fresh hydration, like Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream, which is formulated with our Calendula serum to visibly even skin tone and boost radiance. To help detoxify skin and minimize the look of pores, try using Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask, which is formulated with Amazonian white clay sourced from the mouth of the Amazon River and draws out dirt and toxins that can cause clogged pores. Take note of the above and check out our complete skincare routine for oily skin for a step-by-step tutorial.

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How to Care for Combination Skin

Combination skin can be a little more challenging to care for since it is made up of multiple skin types. The simplest way to care for combination skin is to look for products formulated for all skin types. Typically, formulas for all skin types help balance skin without over-drying or causing excess oil. Try Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner, a soothing alcohol-free toner that gently soothes and refreshes skin and can be used to improve problem areas. We also recommend adding Powerful-Strength Vitamin C Serum, a potent vitamin C serum that smoothes skin’s texture and instantly boosts radiance, to your routine. Keeping your skin balanced is key for those with combination skin. For a full routine, here’s an expert skincare routine for combination skin.

KCR Tip:Target multiple skin concerns at once by multi-masking two to three times a week. For combination skin, we recommend applying a clay face mask on the T-zone and adding a soothing face mask that offers a burst of cooling hydration to your cheeks.

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How to Care for Normal Skin

Luckily, skin concerns for normal skin types are generally minimal, so your routine can be simpler. To help maintain balanced, healthy-looking skin, it is still essential to prep your skin with the basics. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser, hydrate with a daily moisturizer, and protect with broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day. It’s key for normal skin types to maintain and balance hydration levels, so make sure to use a daily facial cream , like our best-selling Ultra Facial Cream, as part of your routine.

You can also help tackle signs of aging and boost radiance with a serum, such as Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum. This hyaluronic acid serum protects against stressors, including sun exposure, pollution, stress, lack of sleep, diet, and temperature, which can lead to early signs of aging. Learn more about how to care for normal skin with our full skincare routine for normal skin.

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How to Care for Sensitive Skin

Visible signs of redness and the feeling of tight and uncomfortable skin often characterize a sensitive complexion. All of these are indicators of a weakened and compromised skin barrier. To care for sensitive skin, choose gentle formulas to help strengthen the skin barrier and look for treatments to help manage visible redness and skin discomfort. We recommend using Ultra Facial Toner, an alcohol-free facial toner that hydrates, comforts, and tones skin. After toning, apply Centella Sensitive Cica-Cream, which is specifically formulated for sensitive skin types. The formula is fragrance-free, alcohol-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic. Use it to repair and protect skin’s barrier in addition to providing your complexion with intense moisture. For a step-by-step tutorial to follow, try our skincare routine for sensitive skin.

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Next up: Speaking of skin types, Discover Kiehl’s Best Sunscreen for Your Skin Type.

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