There are two groups of people who are interested in skincare. The first group is made up of skincare professionals—dermatologists and estheticians (like me!) who study and research skin. They’re familiar with all of its functions and behaviors, and they know how to categorize it with a skin typing system. The second group is made up of skincare enthusiasts and consumers. While this group is also aware of skin types, they generally don’t have the technical training or experience to accurately identify them.
To make matters more complicated for the second group, the traditional skin types—normal, dry, and oily—simply aren’t accurate on their own anymore. They just don’t provide enough information or guidance to tell people how best to care for their skin. That’s why, early on in my career, I developed my signature 9 Skin Types. These are super-specific skin types that cover a combination of behaviors and concerns, so you can give your skin exactly what it needs to look and feel its very best.
I also developed an easy Skin Type Quiz to help people determine which one they belong to. It takes five minutes or less and gives you personalized product recommendations to take out the guesswork. In this post, I’ll walk through the 9 Skin Types and explain why it’s so important to know your true skin type!
What’s Wrong With The Standard Normal, Oily, and Dry Skin Types?
When I went to school to become an esthetician, we learned the standard skin types—dry, oily, and normal. When I became a practicing esthetician, and I was in the treatment room working hands-on with clients’ skin, I realized that skin is more complicated than that. I noticed there were a lot of other skin concerns that were far greater for people than just finding out “how dry is my skin?”
While the traditional skin types can offer some guidance, they don’t offer enough of it. Knowing whether you have normal, dry, or oily skin can help you understand how much oil your skin produces, but it doesn’t tell you much more than that. There are so many different factors and concerns to consider.
Take acne, for instance. Even that falls into different buckets. There’s teen acne and adult acne. There are frequent breakouts and occasional breakouts. There are different types of breakouts. Some people break out only in one area. Others experience widespread breakouts. Some people may experience acne in conjunction with other conditions like rosacea, so they can’t use traditional acne products that will dry them out and irritate their skin. What about someone who is concerned with both acne AND aging? You don’t want to bombard the skin with drying ingredients that could exacerbate fine lines and aging concerns. And where do concerns like discoloration from the sun or from post-breakout marks fit in?
I started Renée Rouleau Skin Care in 1996. As I was working with my clients’ skin, I kept track of all the different combinations I was seeing. Eventually, I determined that there were 9 Skin Types, all with very specific signs and symptoms and that it was impossible to fit everyone into the traditional, generic skin types.
What Are The 9 Renée Rouleau Skin Types?
The 9 Skin Types are specific. They cover a variety of skin conditions and concerns.
Skin Type 1
This skin type is characterized by oiliness, clogged pores, and severe breakouts all over. It requires a careful combination of acid exfoliators as well as pore-clearing botanicals like tea tree and witch hazel to reduce breakouts.
Skin Type 2
If you have oily and/or combination skin with occasional breakouts, and you’re concerned about aging, you might be a Skin Type 2. This skin type requires a careful blend of non-drying exfoliants with hydrating antioxidants and skin-brightening botanicals.
Skin Type 3
Skin Type 3 is characterized by oily and/or combination skin that experiences consistent breakouts with sensitivity. It requires a careful blend of BHAs to deliver maximum blemish-clearing benefits without leaving the skin feeling tight, dry, or irritated.
Skin Type 4
Redness, sensitivity, and occasional breakouts characterize this skin type. It requires a careful blend of pore-cleaning ingredients, along with soothing ingredients to calm irritation.
Skin Type 5
If you experience more consistent redness (or rosacea), you might be a Skin Type 5. This type experiences redness, sensitivity, and dehydration and shows signs of aging. It requires gentle, soothing ingredients to look and feel its best.
Skin Type 6
Skin Type 6 is characterized by normal, dehydrated skin that shows signs of aging. It requires high concentrations of AHAs to boost cellular turnover and potent antioxidants to brighten the complexion and prevent environmental damage.
Skin Type 7
This skin type is characterized by a dry, tired look, and is often accompanied by signs of sun damage. It requires firming and energizing ingredients.
Skin Type 8
Those who belong to Skin Type 8 often experience a dry, tight feeling in their skin with loss of tone and signs of sun damage. It requires high concentrations of AHAs to boost cellular turnover, peptides to encourage a firm look, and lipid-rich oils to provide much-needed moisture.
Skin Type 9
Finally, there’s Skin Type 9, which is characterized by dryness, redness, sensitivity, and visible lines and wrinkles. It requires a high concentration of lipid-rich oils and comforting botanicals to soothe and strengthen the skin from the inside out.
Watch: Head to YouTube to see videos with detailed explanations of each skin type.
How Can I Find My Skin Type?
Finding your skin type is easy. All you have to do is take the Skin Type Quiz. It’s a short quiz that asks a few targeted questions to determine the exact type you belong to. It also gives you product recommendations so you know which products will give you the best results.
The quiz has gone through several versions throughout the years. When I see a new client, I perform a skin consultation before giving them a skin treatment. I’ve performed literally thousands of skin consultations throughout the years. Because I only have a small window of time to work with clients, and I can’t sit and talk with them about their skin for hours, I need to make sure I get the most accurate information in the shortest amount of time possible. Through the years, I came up with really targeted questions that allow me to quickly get the information I need so I can give them a tailored treatment and recommend products. That was the framework for the Skin Type Quiz.
Every time I work with a client and put them into one of the skin types, it’s an “aha!” moment for them, because it’s so accurate and touches on all the concerns they have. It really resonates with people and after all these years, it’s very rare that I find someone that doesn’t fit right into one of the 9 Skin Types.
How Do I Know The Results From The Skin Type Quiz Will Be Accurate?
I designed the Skin Type Quiz to give an accurate result. However, there are some mistakes people can make when they take the quiz that can skew results (check out all five mistakes). Keep these in mind while taking the quiz to make sure you’re not affecting the end result.
If you’re not sure how to answer one of the questions or you want more guidance, you can always email us at email@example.com.
How Do I Know Which Products to Use Based on My Skin Type?
The whole point of the 9 Skin Types and the Skin Type Quiz is to help people choose the very best products for their skin. After all, when it comes down to it, people want to see positive change in their skin! The fastest way to accomplish this is to use products that give your skin exactly what it needs.
At the end of the Skin Type Quiz, you’ll get personalized product recommendations. This is important because when you use a curated routine, you can target multiple skin concerns at once. It’s not like each product targets every skin concern at once—instead, it’s the totality of the routine that does it. Your cleanser might target one concern, while the toner targets another… The effects of all the products come together to give synergistic results.
There you have it! I hope this post explained why the traditional skin types aren’t effective and how my signature 9 Skin Types (and Skin Type Quiz) came to be!
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.”