Do you know your skin type?
This article is about your skin type and the cleanser you choose for your skin. I know it sounds a bit boring, but keep reading because we’re about to build the foundations for an impressive skincare routine.
You might think choosing your cleanser comes down to your personal preference, well yes, of course, like many things in life, you get to choose.
But, and this is important. Your cleanser is the foundation upon which all great skins are made.
The foaming cleanser you loved as a teen may not be working for you anymore, even if you love it, and I know you love it.
We all hate change, even the small stuff like our favourite cleanser, but if you want all your other skincare to perform optimally, then take an honest look at how you cleanse your skin.
What does your skincare professional think?
If you’ve ever had your skin analysed, one of the first things a skin therapist will determine is your skin type.
Your skin type indicates how much oil flows from the follicles of your skin.
You’ll usually fit into one of the following four basic categories. Normal, Dry, Oily or Combination with a spectrum of variations because you’re unique, and so is your skin.
Your skin type is primarily determined by genetics but can also be triggered by hormones, as is the case with oily skin in your teen years.
Lucky you!! Normal is the term used to describe balanced skin. It’s neither oily nor dry and is considered healthy and balanced.
Now, despite winning the skin lottery, a person with normal skin will rarely experience unwanted skin conditions until later in life, which can lull you into a false sense of complacency. And you may not take proper care of your skin until problems show up.
Sure, you’re not prone to sensitivity or other problem skin conditions such as acne, blemishes or congestion, but your skin can become drier with time and age.
A little attention during the happy years can prevent dysfunctional skin conditions as your skin ages.
What does your normal skin look like?
In appearance, normal skin has few visible pores, with good blood circulation and a soft, smooth texture with a healthy rosy glow.
Some will describe your skin as peaches and cream. Cute.
Cleansing a Normal Skin.
If cared for correctly, the normal skin type can avoid age-induced dryness and remain healthy throughout life. Your skin doesn’t have any noticeable oiliness, so it’s essential to keep the skin balanced. Starting with the right cleansing routine will reduce your reliance on the need for too many skincare products.
Choose lightweight cleansing lotions. If you’ve been wearing make-up and sunscreen, always double cleanse with your chosen cleansing lotion or start with a pre-cleansing oil to dissolve surface debris and then follow with your milky cleanser.
Okay, not so lucky. Dry skin produces less sebum and, as a result, will struggle to retain moisture or the ability to build a shield to protect from external influences and can become dehydrated.
So yes, it’s a challenge, but if you take extra care, you’ll only need to make minor tweaks to your skin during seasonal changes in the weather.
Dry skin is caused by a lack of natural moisturising factors (NMF’s), especially urea, amino acids, and lactic acid, that help bind water and prevent trans epidermal water loss (TEWL).
Epidermal lipids such as ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol may be insufficiently produced and contribute to a poorly formed lipid barrier.
Over time and without proper care, your dry skin type can lead to an impaired lipid barrier causing the skin to become dehydrated and sensitive or chronic dryness which will need lipid barrier replacement.
What does your dry skin look like?
Often a dry skin will look parched due to a loss of moisture associated with this skin type and with few visible pores. By the way, visible pores should not be mistaken for the enlarged pores often seen in ageing skin conditions where the follicle’s opening has lost its elasticity.
It can also appear sensitive and red as dry skin with an impaired lipid barrier leaves the deeper layers of the skin susceptible to toxins and environmental stress, upsetting and irritating the skin.
Cleansing your dry skin.
Avoid using a foaming cleanser, no matter how gentle it claims to be and steer well clear of any exfoliating scrubs. Double cleanse with a pre-cleansing oil, followed by a milk lotion cleanser to remove dirt and debris without upsetting your delicate lipid barrier. Once the skin has cleansed, the best cleansers for dry skin should leave a light film of cleanser behind.
If you’ve got oily skin, you’re probably not very pleased about it. Oily skin has a high flow of sebum coming up through the follicle’s opening, known as the pore. This overproduction of oil is known as seborrhea.
In summer, the skin can become even oilier as sebum that’s sitting in the follicle liquifies and flows more freely to the surface of your skin. Likewise, some of this oil can become solid in the follicle in winter and cause clogging and congestion.
Oily skin can be a troubling skin type as often associated with acne, blemishes and congestion.
Getting the balance of oil flow right is crucial to keeping the skin blemish-free.
What does your oily skin look like?
The skin has a shine that tends to increase throughout the day. Pores become open or enlarged to allow for the free flow of oil.
In teenage skins, the oiliness is associated with hormonal activity and increased acne, blemishes and congestion.
How to cleanse your oily skin.
Most people with oily skin want to strip it away because the skin feels unclean and greasy. Do you feel this way? It’s perfectly understandable.
However, if this is your skin type, take care not to cleanse away so much of your oil that you strip your natural lipids exacerbating your oil flow. Doing this will dehydrate the surface of your skin, sending a signal to oil glands to pump more oil. If your skin is dehydrated, you’ll find your dead cells will accumulate, blocking the opening of the follicle and with nowhere to go, and your oil will become trapped in the follicle leading to congestion and blackheads and eventually blemishes.
It sounds a bit depressing, and if this is your skin, it will be important to balance your oil correctly.
A low foam cleanser is a good option for your oily skin. If you wear make-up and sunscreen, then don’t be afraid to start your cleansing routine with pre-cleansing oil; this will not cause more oil. The opposite is true. If you keep your skin calm and balanced, your oil flow will eventually settle down, becoming a little more manageable.
Note: If you have acne or blemishes, then a low foaming cleanser with antibacterial properties is a good idea. It’s also important to keep in mind; oily acne skin can be complicated. Even though how you cleanse remains important, if there are other hormonal disruptions at play, you’ll need to do more to manage your acne, so get good advice from a skincare professional.
Your cleanser is the foundation upon which all great skins are made. Choose wisely.
Combination skin is a mix of skin types, from oily to dry. Often the centre t-zone will be oilier than the rest of the face, and the cheeks can appear drier.
What does your combination skin look like?
Combination skin can vary in the amount of oil flow down the t-zone and how dry the cheeks may be.
So while the nose may appear oily with a shine and open pores, the cheeks can appear tight and dry, fine in texture with the potential for sensitivity and redness.
Cleansing your combination skin.
I find the best option is to cleanse your combination skin as if it were slightly dry skin. If you’re wearing make-up and sunscreen during the day, start with a pre-cleansing oil, followed by a milk cleansing lotion.
Choosing gentle cleansing keeps the areas of your face most susceptible to dryness and dehydration and premature ageing in good condition. At the same time, a clay masque used down the t-zone 2 – 3 times a week will help keep oiliness and congestion minimised and balanced without stripping the centre t-panel.
Does the skin type ever change?
Over time, your skin type will evolve, and it’s essential to recognise these changes and adjust your cleanser accordingly.
If you were plagued with oily skin in your teens, as your hormones settle, so will your oil flow. Changing your cleanser to a more appropriate one will prevent you from developing dehydration caused by incorrect cleansing.
If your skin is normal now, it can become a drier skin type as age-induced dryness appears. A low foam gel may no longer be suitable for you; it’s time to change to a milk lotion that cleanses the skin without removing natural lipids.
Your skin type is determined by your genetics and can influence certain skin conditions, which can vary significantly during your life.
The environment and how much UV radiation your skin is exposed to, the climate and pollution, medication, stress, and the hereditary factors that influence sebum, sweat and natural moisturising factors, and of course, the skincare choices you make all play a role in your skin health.
Once your skin therapist has determined your skin type, they’ll then look for the visible signs of the five main skin conditions: premature ageing, dehydrated skin, hyperpigmentation, sensitivity, and acne and recommend the necessary skincare for the skin condition of most concern to you.
Just like your skin type, skin conditions can evolve. If left unchecked, they can become more problematic and concerning to you. Still, with the proper care with the right skincare and specialised treatments, the five main skin conditions can be minimised or entirely resolved.
And now you?
Are you using a cleanser for your skin type or one that might not suit your skin, but you like it anyway?
Or, is it just hit or miss at the supermarket or your BFF uses it, so you do too? Your skin is as unique as you are, and taking a little extra care in choosing a cleanser for your skin type will make a massive difference to your skin and how it responds to your specialised skincare routine.
If you’d like to know more about the correct way to cleanse your skin, you might like my two-part series.
See you next time.