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Skin types: how many are there and what are they? Read the guide to discover the characteristics of each type and how to recognise and care for them.

Skin is our calling card, a barrier that protects us from external aggression and reflects our internal and external health.

Many of the major imperfections that afflict men and women alike concern their skin appearance.

For aesthetic doctors, understanding a patient’s skin type is crucial to identifying the most appropriate treatment. For each of us, knowing our own skin type can guide us when we choose cosmetics, hydration and best daily habits.

In this article, we will explore the different skin types, and we will describe each one with the main characteristics that allow it to be identified. We will also offer tips and suggestions for a targeted and customised skin care routine.

In particular, we will review the following:

What are the main skin types?

Before going into the different skin types, we should make a few clarifications.

The classification depends on certain variables, such as the level of hydration, sebum production and skin sensitivity.

These variables, although linked to genetic factors, may change due to age, or as influenced by external factors. Think, for example, of pollution, stress, smoking or an unbalanced diet. All factors that heavily influence the condition of our skin.

Moreover, before even knowing how to recognise own skin type, we should know the structure and functions of the skin, so as to understand what it really needs.

With this in mind, let us explore the different skin types in detail, highlighting their distinctive characteristics and best practices for caring for them.

The main types of skin

1. Normal skin

Among all skin types, normal skin represents the ideal situation. When we speak of ‘normal skin’, we are referring to a skin type in a perfectly balanced state.

It has an adequate level of moisture and sebum. It looks fresh and radiant (being neither dry nor oily). The pores appear fine and the surface smooth and even. The complexion of normal skin is fresh and rosy. It is also generally resistant to skin irritations and reactions caused by environmental factors.

Skin types: the complete guide to recognise them

Keeping normal skin healthy requires a beauty routine that preserves its natural balance, which includes, for example:

  • Daily facial cleansing with a mild cleanser;
  • Use of exfoliating products once a week;
  • Daily use of moisturising creams and sunscreen.

As we have said, skin types can change throughout our life. For example, skin ageing can cause normal skin to become drier.

2. Sensitive skin

Among different types, sensitive skin may be the most difficult to manage.

However, it is necessary to know that each skin type can be or become sensitive. We may have, for example, oily and sensitive skin or dry and sensitive skin at the same time.

This skin type reacts more easily to external and internal stimuli than the others. In addition, it is characterised by: irritability (adverse reactions such as redness, itching or burning); dryness (and desquamation); increased thinness and sensitivity.

Skin types: sensitive skin

Individuals with sensitive skin types must pay special attention when choosing skin care products. It is best to opt for gentle formulations without aggressive ingredients or fragrances.

Formulations based on hyaluronic acid, as a molecule naturally present in the body, may also be recommended for those with skin hypersensitivity problems.

3. Oily skin

Oily skin is characterised by an excessive production of sebum (an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands).

Hence its unpleasant greasy, shiny appearance and dull complexion. It appears oily and rough to the touch, especially in the facial T-area (forehead, nose and chin).

However, to distinguish it from combination skin, it is good to know that oily skin affects the entire face and not just specific areas.

Skin pores are often dilated and visible, due to excessive sebum production. This skin types is also more susceptible to the development of acne, blackheads and pimples, and may be more prone to irritation and redness.

Skin types: the complete guide to recognise them

Oily skin is often due to genetic factors, but can also be influenced by other factors such as age, diet and personal hygiene. Proper daily skin care should include specific products for sebum control. Furthermore, it is important to avoid products that are too aggressive.

4. Dry skin

Dry skin, as opposed to oily skin, is characterised by a lack of moisture and low sebum content.

This condition can make the skin less elastic, more prone to cracking and the appearance of deep face wrinkles.

This type of skin can appear dull, dehydrated and lacking in radiance, as well as rough to the touch. Dry skin may also be more sensitive and reactive to external agents (cold, wind or even skin care products).

Skin types: the complete guide to recognise them

The causes of dry skin are varied and include factors such as age, excessive sun exposure, use of aggressive cleansers and extreme weather conditions.

Dry skin care should focus on restoring adequate hydration and should include:

  1. Application of rich, non-comedogenic moisturising and nourishing creams;
  2. Use of mild alcohol-free detergents;
  3. Use of lukewarm (not too hot) water when washing.

Lastly – although this rule applies to all skin types – you should drink enough water during the day.

5. Combination skin

As the term itself suggests, combination skin is a skin type with a combination of different characteristics.

The ‘T-area’ is often subject to excessive sebum production and can appear shiny and have enlarged pores. In contrast, cheeks, eye and lip contour tend to appear dry. The skin in these areas is thinner and lacks shine.

This skin type has a tendency to manifest localised imperfections such as pimples and blackheads.

Skin types: combination skin

The treatment of combination skin must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Indeed, the key to its care lies in finding a balance between moisturising the dry areas and controlling sebum in the shinier areas.

How to understand what type of skin you have

To understand what kind of skin you have, consulting a specialist in dermatology is undoubtedly the best way forward. Especially to know how to care for your skin properly.

However, from these descriptions, it should be fairly easy to see which skin type matches your own. If you still have any doubts (and if you do not have any particular issues), however, you can perform some simple tests.

Like the paper handkerchief test. Take a paper handkerchief, gently dab it on the different areas of your face when you wake up in the morning, and notice if the tissue:

  • Remains dry in every area of the face, then you have normal skin.
  • Remains dry, but your skin is tight: you have dry skin.
  • Shows traces of grease in every area of the face: your skin is oily.
  • Only shows traces of grease when dabbed on the T-area: you have a combination skin type.

If you want to improve the appearance of your skin immediately and permanently, the benefits of hyaluronic acid fillers make this treatment extremely popular and effective.

However, you need to consult an experienced aesthetic doctor to know which treatment is best for your specific case.

Skin types: the complete guide to recognise them

Foliage is the result of 20 years' experience of Phitogen Beauty Labs - a leading group in the production of hyaluronic acid-based injectables. Foliage distributes a complete range of high-performing intradermal products.

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Skin types: the complete guide to recognise them