Updated 11/24/20 If you’re a regular reader of my blog or have used my skincare line, you know I believe there’s A LOT more to the skin than just dry, normal, or oily. Working hands-on as an esthetician quickly taught me that most people have complex skin and are dealing with multiple concerns. For example, you might have both breakouts and fine lines, or sun damage and sensitivity. Unfortunately, most product lines will only address one skin condition—often to the detriment of the other. To solve this problem, I created my nine skin types.
While you can take an easy skin type quiz to determine which of the nine skin types you are, people sometimes answer the questions incorrectly. This can lead to the wrong result. Here are three common mistakes people make when determining their skin type and how to avoid them!
Three Common Mistakes People Make When Determining Their Skin Type
Mistake #1: Only focusing on one or two of your skin’s needs instead of looking at the big picture.
It’s easy to get hyper-focused on just one or two things going on with your skin instead of focusing on ALL of your skin’s needs. This is totally normal since certain things tend to bug us more than others, but it can be a problem when determining your skin type.
Here’s an example: a thirty-five-year-old woman might start to get occasional hormonal breakouts that seem to appear out of nowhere, and now she thinks she has an acne-prone skin type (understandably so). She will then purchase acne products for her “problem skin.” The problem here is that acne products are often drying and harsh, which will likely leave her skin irritated and flaky. Not only that, these products now aren’t addressing her other skin concerns, such as preventing discoloration and the signs of aging like fine lines. To top it all off, traditional acne products don’t typically work for hormonal acne. So, not only is she not getting results, but she’s compromising the health and integrity of her skin.
When people have breakouts, it’s often the only thing they see. Many of the nine skin types do address breakouts, but they balance this with other needs you might have. And even my acne-focused products, like Rapid Response Detox Masque and Anti Bump Solution, never dry out the skin—a common issue when treating adult acne. It’s important to take into consideration how often you’re breaking out and whether this really is your top (or only) concern.
Mistake #2: Not understanding the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin.
This one is tricky. Dry skin means someone’s skin naturally produces little to no oil, which can leave skin looking rough and flaky. To remedy this, oil-based products are needed to replenish the skin’s moisture levels. This will leave it soft, smooth, and supple. Dry skin is fairly straightforward this way.
Dehydrated skin, on the other hand, can be harder to understand. When the skin is dehydrated, it means there isn’t enough water (as opposed to oil). You can be someone whose skin produces oil and still have a tight feeling, which indicated dehydration. The problem is that people will associate this tightness with being a dry skin type and start using products that are too heavy for their skin. This is particularly problematic for those who get breakouts. These people often over-dry their skin with acne products and try to compensate by using oil-based products. This could lead to clogged pores and more breakouts. For dehydrated skin, you want to use light, water-based products with humectants like hyaluronic acid, trehalose, sodium PCA and glycerin to restore the water content within the skin’s cells. Keep in mind that all skin types need water, so someone with dry skin can be dehydrated, too.
The video below is of one of my clients who is a Skin Type 2. Her skin became severely dehydrated from using too many exfoliants.
Mistake #3: Misunderstanding the true meaning of sensitive skin.
Most people, when asked if they have sensitive skin, will say yes. However, sensitive skin has different meanings to different people.
People may think their skin is sensitive because:
- They get blemishes when they use a heavy moisturizer. (Instead, try something like Skin Recovery Lotion. This hydrates without clogging pores.)
- Their skin can get red and irritated when they use harsh or drying products. (Of course, you’ll experience sensitivity if you use something too strong!)
The truth is, these things can happen to any skin type or cause anyone’s skin to act sensitive. This doesn’t mean you have a sensitive skin type.
True indicators of sensitive skin:
- Your skin gets red, hot, and flushed from showers, exercise and even from skincare products.
- Your skin can get a rash or irritation, even when gentle products are used.
- You have been diagnosed with a condition called rosacea.
- You have been diagnosed with a condition called perioral dermatitis.
- You have been diagnosed with eczema or dermatitis.
If you have one or more of these, you may be a true sensitive skin type (did you know there are four types of skin sensitivity?). Skin Type 5 and Skin Type 9 both address sensitivity really well. A product like Phytolipid Comfort Creme can quickly help repair the skin’s barrier to make it act less sensitive.
When it comes to skincare products causing a tingling sensation, that gets a bit more complicated. Read what it really means when your skincare products are stinging.
So, What’s the Solution for Determining Your Skin Type?
Start by taking this short skin type quiz. If you’re not sure about the results or don’t think a skin type sounds like you, you can check out my nine skin types videos where I give an in-depth explanation of each skin type.
If you’re still not sure and would like some guidance, you can also schedule a virtual consultation with one of our estheticians to get one-on-one skin coaching and product recommendations.
The important thing here is, if you’re confused about your skin, you don’t want to go it alone. Put your skin in the hands of a trusted skincare professional who can help you determine your true skin type and suggest a skincare program that’s that perfect fit for ALL of your skin’s unique needs.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”