Understanding your skin type is an important first step in discovering the most effective way to take care of your skin. 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 skin is unique, there are five primary skin types: Oily, Normal, Combination, Dry, and Sensitive. Understanding your skin type may help you find the right solutions to help achieve your skincare goals. If you’re unsure how to determine your skin type, our Kiehl’s representatives are experts at identifying each type and can help you craft a routine based on your skin type’s needs.
Kiehl’s Guide To Skin Types
- Oily skin refers to skin that has excess oil, most commonly throughout the t-zone of the face (forehead, nose, and chin.) Oily skin tends to look shiny, feel greasy, and is often prone to blemishes and breakouts.
- Normal skin 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.
- Combination skin has areas that are both dry and oily. For example, skin is typically shiny on the forehead, nose and chin, while appearing dry or normal on the cheeks.
- Dry skin is generally rough, scaly, flaky, itchy or irritated with an overall dehydrated look and feel.
- Sensitive skin 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.
Trying to identify which one you are can seem confusing, but we’re here to help! Read on to learn two ways to help you determine your skin type at home.
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 our mild foaming cleanser. Then, gently pat dry with a soft towel and refrain from applying any skincare products. After 25-30 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 on 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 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 is probably normal or combination.
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. Inspired by nature and science, our targeted treatments are powerful yet safe preparations, which act to correct and treat your specific skin needs and concerns.
Skin Type: Dry
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 from alcohol, fragrances, dyes, or chemicals.
Kiehl's Tip for Dry Skin: 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 Squalene for dry skin can help replenish skin for a soft, smooth, and healthy appearance.
Skin Type: Oily
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 2-3 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 because using a daily face wash that is too harsh can irritate your skin and even increase oil production.
Skin Type: Combination
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. Keeping your skin balanced is key for those with combination skin!
Kiehl's Tip for Combination Skin: Target multiple skin concerns at once by multi-masking two - three times a week. For combination skin, we recommend applying a clay face mask along the T-zone and adding a soothing face mask with a burst of cooling hydration to cheeks!
Skin Type: Normal
Luckily, skin concerns for normal skin types are generally minimal, so routines may be simpler. To help maintain balanced, healthy-looking skin, it is still essential to prep your skin with a gentle cleanser, hydrate with a daily moisturizer, and protect with broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day. You should also help replenish skin at night with a hydrating face oil.
Kiehl's Tip for Normal Skin: It’s key for normal skin types to maintain and balance hydration levels, so make sure a daily facial cream is part of your routine.
Skin Type: Sensitive
Visible signs of redness and the feel of tight and uncomfortable skin — all of which are indicators of a weakened and compromised skin barrier — often characterize sensitive skin. Care for sensitive skin by choosing gentle formulas that can help strengthen the skin barrier and look for treatments that are formulated to help treat visible redness and skin discomfort.
Kiehl's Tip For Sensitive Skin: Help with skin discomfort by boosting your skincare routine with a calmative, non-comedogenic face oil.