Are you sure you know your skin type?

Are you sure you know your skin type? Or the know the difference between a dry skin and a dehydrated skin? Or what moisturising products your skin needs?

Two factors will determine what kind of hydration and moisturiser your skin requires. This includes your skin type (this is genetic and what you are born with) and your skin condition (this is effected by your products, diet and lifestyle). Lets explore these.

Your skin type is determined by the level of activity and oil production from our sebocytes which can be broken down into three categories. Dry skin, balanced skin (typically referred to as combination, and in some cases normal) and an oily skin. Actually defining your skin type isn't as simple as picking categories 1, 2 or 3...  BUT instead resembles more of a scale. You and your mum can both have a balanced skin, yet you can still be oilier than your mum. Therefore even though the two of you may be categorised under 'balanced' (typically combination or normal), the products your skin requires may be vastly different.

So what do these skin types look like? A dry skin will experience little to no oil production across the entire face, with the possibility of flaky patches of skin. They usually have very fine pores along the t-zone. The balanced (or combination) skin type accounts for MOST of the worlds population. Some can produce more or less oil than others, but will typically experience some oil flow through the t-zone (and possibly on to the cheeks) with some visible pores.

A true oily skin is VERY RARE! This skin type wakes up oily, has very visible pores AND experiences an oily feel on their chest and back as well as across the entirety of the face. If you think you are an oily skin... chances are you are actually a balanced skin, but are further along that scale in terms of oil production.

There are two skin conditions that are commonly mistaken for, or associated with skin types. The first is dehydration, this is NOT a skin type and is often confused with a dry skin. Dehydration occurs when there is a lack of water within in the skin (lipid dry = lack of oil and dehydration = lack of water). What does dehydration look like on the skin?

  • Fine lines (dehydration lines which can be corrected with hydration)
  • Dullness
  • Dark circles
  • May experience itchiness or sensitivity

Dehydration can be caused by:

  • Lack of water consumption
  • Impaired barrier (inability to maintain or 'trap' water within the skin)
  • Change in seasons or the environment where humidity is low and water evaporates from the skin
  • Medications
  • The WRONG products

*Did you know a balanced skin AND an oily skin can also experience dehydration? This can occur due to all of the above reasons, but is often because a balanced skin has mistaken themselves for an oily skin and isn't moisturising OR is stripping the 'excess' oil from their skin. This will lead to an impaired barrier... and we already know what that will do (re above).

The second skin condition is acne, which is commonly associated with an oily skin, but this isn't always the case. Just because you have acne, does't mean you have oily skin. The sole CAUSE of acne is not just an over-production of oil! Acne can present in a dry and balanced skin as well due to a number of things:

  • An impaired barrier will negatively effect the skins immunity and microbiome (in other words it's ability to fight off bacteria and inflammation). This is mainly caused by skin care with the wrong pH that changes our acid mantle, poor quality ingredients or using the wrong products for your skin type
  • Imbalanced hormones communicating with sebocytes
  • Sebocytes not producing enough oil (this can also lead to an impaired barrier) or producing poor quality oil which can lead to microcomedones transitioning into comedones or acne lesions
  • Inflammation caused by diet
  • Comedogenic and clogging makeup

So what moisturiser is best suited to my skin type? 

The best way to accurately determine your skin type and condition is to have a consultation with a skin specialist. This way you can be prescribed a skin care regime that is tailored to your TRUE skin type. But here are some tips for choosing products for yourself.

There are three different types of ingredients to look for when choosing your moisturisers and hydrating products:

  1. Humectants
  2. Emollients
  3. Occlusives

Humectants pull water into the skins intracellular (inside the cell wall) and extracellular (between skin cells) fluids to plump, hydrate and aid cellular communication. Ingredients classified as humectants are hyaluronic acid, glycerin, panthenol, sodium PCA, beta-glucan or beta-frucan and AHAs (latic acid). ALL SKIN TYPES will benefit from humectants, but will be especially beneficial for oilier skin types by providing hydration WITHOUT congesting. Niacinamide based products can also be beneficial in a similar way by reducing trans-epidermal water loss from the skin. My favourite serums include Aspect Hydrating Serum, Cosmedix Surge, Cosmedix RebootAspect Extreme B, Cosmedix B Complex and Societe Vitamin D Complex. The best humectant-based moisturisers for oilier skin include Cosmedix Shineless, Aspect Sheer Hydration and PCA Clearskin.

If you are experiencing dehydration, regardless of your skin type you absolutely should include a humectant based product.

*TIP: apply your humectant-based products to damp skin!  This way they will pull the moisture from the water into your skin and avoid the product having the opposite effect that we are trying to achieve.

Many balanced and lipid dry skins will benefit from emollients which are hydrating, oil-based ingredients with molecules that are small enough to penetrate past the barrier and bind with the skin cells. Common emollient ingredients include squalene, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, seabuckthron oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, olive fruit oil... I think you get the drift. My favourite emollient products are Cosmedix Remedy Oil, Aspect Phytostat 9 and Cosmedix Emulsion (I would classify this as a slightly occlusive emollient product).

Have you ever applied a thick cream at night and still woken up dry? That's because they are 'FAKE' moisturisers that do not hydrate the skin. These products contain mostly occlusive ingredients with molecules that are too large to penetrate into the skin and instead act is 'cling wrap' on the surface. They may feel thick and hydrating... but its only creating a barrier at the surface, NOT hydrating. HOWEVER, products containing some occlusives can be beneficial for very lipid dry skins when applied AFTER humectants and emollients to lock in the moisture. Common occlusives found in skin care include shea butter, petroleum/vaseline, dimethicones and beeswax. My favorite emollient and occlusive-based products for dry skin include Aspect Super Moisturiser and Cosmedix Humidify

To summarise:

  • Dry skin will benefit from humectants, emollients and some occlusives.
  • Balanced skin will benefit from humectants and emollients.
  • A true oily skin will benefit from humectants.

So, did you really know your skin type and which moisturisers are best suited to you?

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