Sunday, July 14, 2024

Skin Type Quiz: What Is Your Skin Type?

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In a perfect world, there would be a beauty equivalent to Spotify engineers calibrating those “made for you” playlists, only instead of songs, you’d get skin-care suggestions based on your individual skin type. They would collect all the necessary metrics — what’s your oil level by bedtime, on a scale from 1 to 5? Do you get dry and flaky year-round, or just in winter? — and spit out skin-care products tailored just for you based on the data.

Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?) we’re living in the real world, which means figuring out whether you have oily, dry, combination, acne-prone, normal, or sensitive skin can be a dance of trial and error, especially if you don’t have the help of an expert. That’s why we’ve created this easy skin type quiz with the help of the pros: to make pinning down your perfect skin-care routine easier than ever.

We consulted with a handful of professionals — from board-certified dermatologists to top aestheticians — to find out telltale signs of all of the skin types, as well as the best routines and ingredients for each, so you can feel more informed when you shop for your next cleanser, serum, face moisturizer, and more. All you have to do is answer a few simple questions below, and we’ll direct you to your most likely skin type, plus a few skin-care steps (and specific ingredients) to consider accordingly, just because.

What’s that? Ah, yes: music to your ears.

Experts Featured in This Article

Shani Darden is a celebrity aesthetician based in Los Angeles.
Natalie Aguilar is a Los Angeles based aesthetician.
Marisa Garshick, MD is a New-York based dermatologist.

Skin Type Quiz

1. You just washed your face. How does your skin feel?

A) So tight I want to dive into a tub of Vaseline.

B) Wait. I’m supposed to feel something?

C) Like the oil I rinsed away is already creeping back . . .

D) Flushed and a little irritated.

E) A little tight on my cheeks, but nothing to fuss about.

F) Like I should probably apply my acne medication already.

2. How shiny does your skin get in a flash photo?

A) Not at all. The only shine I get comes from highlighter.

B) Hm, I haven’t noticed.

C) My skin shines bright as an ornament all over.

D) It looks a little more red than shiny.

E) Sometimes I’ll look shiny in my T-zone, but that’s it.

F) I notice more breakouts than shine.

3. It’s the end of the day. What does your skin need?

A) Another layer of moisturizer.

B) Nothing. A little alone time, thanks.

C) Some blotting paper, STAT.

D) A soothing spritz of face mist.

E) A little powder on my T-zone.

F) A concealer touch-up on a few breakouts.

4. Zits happen. Or do they?

A) Never.

B) Rarely, if ever.

C) I’m more concerned about my pores than acne.

D) Little bumps, yes, but it’s not always breakouts.

E) I’ll get a few here or there on my nose or forehead.

F) All. the. time.

5. Your dream moisturizer: tell me about her.

A) The richer, the better.

B) Anything that hydrates and gets the job done.

C) So lightweight you forget you’re wearing anything.

D) Soothing and simple.

E) Something that’s equal parts hydrating and lightweight.

F) Packed with exfoliators or acne-fighting ingredients.

6. What’s your #1 skin concern?

A) Patches of dry, flaky skin.

B) It depends on the season.

C) So. much. shine.

D) Constant flare-ups and redness.

E) Enlarged pores.

F) Cystic acne.


If You Got Mostly A’s: You Have Dry Skin
Dry skin is exactly as it sounds: dry. You might have it if you experience rough, flaky patches or that too-tight-to-smile feeling immediately after washing your face. The key for this skin type is to maintaining a healthy moisture barrier by choosing products that lock in hydration.

“Using a gentle cleanser that doesn’t strip the skin is essential for all skin types and is that much more important for dry skin types,” Shani Darden tells PS. Opt for a moisturizing face wash (like a cleansing oil or balm) instead of a gel, and make sure to look for hydrating ingredients (think: glycerin, amino and fatty acids, ceramides, lipids, and hyaluronic acid) when choosing a serum and moisturizer.

If You Got Mostly B’s: You Have Normal Skin
Congrats! Your skin type is “normal,” which essentially just means it’s not too oily and not too dry (although it most likely changes with the seasons). That means you can adjust your products according to your needs — richer, more emollient creams in winter; gel-light textures in summer — but make sure you don’t choose anything that will throw off your moisture barrier.

“Even normal skin can become sensitive,” says aesthetician Natalie Aguilar, so make sure you’re not using a cleanser that’s too harsh and will disrupt your skin’s healthy balance. Instead, look for a formula that will gently clear away dirt and grime without any potent acne-fighting ingredients, as they can cause irritation.

If You Got Mostly C’s: You Have Oily Skin
The biggest common denominator for oily skin types is shine. This is caused by sebaceous glands overproducing sebum, particularly around the T-zone, and often makes the skin more prone to breakouts (but not always). The key here to choose formulas that won’t clog pores. “Oily skin types should use products that are noncomedogenic,” says Darden.

When it comes to face wash, look for exfoliating ingredients like salicylic acid, AHAs, or benzoyl peroxide that will clear out pores, dissolve excess oil, and prevent new breakouts from popping up. Then, follow up with a gel serum and moisturizer. We repeat: just because you have oily skin does not mean you shouldn’t add extra moisture to your routine. That’s essential to maintaining a healthy skin barrier. Instead, “focus on hydrating the skin without the use of heavy oils by using a lightweight moisturizer,” says Darden.

If You Got Mostly D’s: You Have Sensitive Skin
If even looking at a new skin-care product makes your face itch, you probably have sensitive skin. This type is easily irritated and tends to flare up when the natural skin barrier has been compromised leaving symptoms such as redness, itchiness, and flaking. Sensitive skin can also be combined with other types — for example, you can have sensitive acne-prone skin or sensitive dry skin.

It can be difficult to introduce new products into your skin-care routine because the most simple of changes can cause an adverse reaction. That’s why you’ll want to stick to gentle, no-frills formulas that keep the skin moisturized with minimal irritation. Look for the good stuff that’s proven to be effective — think moisturizing ingredients like peptides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides — and skip everything else.

If You Got Mostly E’s: You Have Combination Skin
Get you a skin type that does both, are we right? That’s exactly what you’re likely to experience if you have combo skin: certain areas like your T-zone can get oily, while you may get a dry patch here and there on your cheeks.

“Combination skin types should focus on minimizing oil production to keep breakouts in check,” says Darden. That means you’ll want to find products that strike the perfect balance between lightweight and hydrating. Choose a face wash that contains exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to reduce excess sebum and unclog pores but that won’t strip the skin. Then, look for serums and moisturizers with hydrating ingredients like niacinamide to replenish it of its moisture.

If You Got Mostly F’s: You Have Acne-Prone Skin
There are multiple causes of acne, so it’s always your best bet to visit a dermatologist to pinpoint your specific type and the best course of treatment. Still, topical products can help manage and prevent breakouts by reducing inflammation and maintaining a healthy skin barrier.

“Retinoids are great for acne prevention by helping to regulate skin turnover to prevent pores from getting clogged, so it can be especially helpful for whiteheads and blackheads,” says dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD, says. If you can’t get to the doc’s office, try an over the counter option like Differin, and be sure to add moisture when you feel your skin needs it. Completely drying out your skin will not get rid of your acne any more effectively and will leave you with flaky patches.

“I always say to rely on gentle, oil-free (noncomedogenic) moisturizers when treating acne because although many people believe acne-prone skin doesn’t need moisturizer, it actually does, especially as some of the treatments for acne can be drying,” she says. “The key is using a moisturizer that is oil-free, so it doesn’t make the acne worse.”

Kelsey Castañon is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and content strategist with more than 13 years of experience in publishing. She is currently the senior content director at PS, where you can find her stockpiling (and reporting on) everything from skin care to wine.

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