Which of the five primary skin types do you have? When you know, you can customize your skincare routine to ensure that it suits your unique needs.

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5 Skin Types And How To Determine Yours

1/13/20238 min read

Before you can customize your skincare routine, you've got to know what type of skin you have. Fortunately, it's easy to figure out which of the five skin types best describes your skin. All you need is a keen eye and some patience!

First, let’s look at what skin types are. Then, we’ll explore the five main skin types and their characteristics. Finally, you’ll find two different strategies for determining what category your skin falls into.

Table Of Contents

What Are Skin Types?

Women with different skin types

While everyone's skin is unique, some commonalities exist that classify skin into specific types. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recognizes five distinct skin types:

  • Oily
  • Dry
  • Normal
  • Combination
  • Sensitive

Your genetics can determine your skin type, as well as factors like environment, climate, and lifestyle. In addition, your skin type can change over time due to hormonal shifts, environmental conditions, and the natural aging process.

Each type of skin has different needs. By learning about your skin type, you can identify potential problems and create a skincare routine that works for you.

The 5 Primary Skin Types

Now that you better understand skin types, let’s take a closer look at each one. You'll find characteristics to look for and tips for how to best care for your skin, no matter which type you have.

1) Oily Skin

People with oily skin produce more sebum (natural oil) than individuals with other skin types. As a result, their skin often looks shiny and feels sticky or greasy to the touch.

Signs You Have Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, you’ll likely notice:

  • Excess shine on your forehead, nose, and chin (the “T-zone”)
  • Enlarged pores
  • Easily clogged pores
  • Frequent acne breakouts

Caring For Oily Skin

To keep oily skin looking happy and healthy, it’s important to keep it clean, hydrated, and regulated. Here are a few tips for making sure your oily skin stays balanced:

  • Gently wash with a mild cleanser twice daily
  • Use oil-free moisturizers when necessary
  • Avoid heavy creams or lotions that could clog pores
  • Apply sunscreen every day to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays
  • Exfoliate regularly, but don’t scrub too hard

2) Dry Skin

Woman with dry skin

Dry skin is the opposite of oily skin; instead of making too much sebum, your body doesn't produce enough. This skin type is often characterized by tightness, lack of elasticity, and overall lack of moisture.

Signs You Have Dry Skin

Tell-tale signs of dry skin include:

  • An itchy or irritated feeling
  • Cracked, rough patches
  • Flaky or scaly texture
  • Redness or inflammation

Since many symptoms of dry skin are similar to those of eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions, it's always a good idea to consult your doctor if you're not sure what you’re dealing with.

Caring For Dry Skin

When caring for dry skin, the focus should be on restoring moisture. Here are a few simple tips:

  • Cleanse with a gentle, oil-based cleanser
  • Try using oil-based products to lock in moisture (like almond oil)
  • Avoid hot showers and soaking for too long
  • Apply thick, creamy moisturizers after washing
  • Run a humidifier in your home
  • Apply anti-itching creams if needed
  • Drink plenty of water

3) Normal Skin

Have you read the story of Goldilocks? If you have normal skin, you're in the same boat. Normal skin is neither too oily nor too dry; it's just right! People with normal skin have a well-balanced complexion, referred to as “eudermic” in the scientific community.

Signs You Have Normal Skin

Most people with normal skin will experience:

  • An even complexion without many blemishes
  • A soft and smooth texture
  • No redness or flaking
  • Fine pores that don't clog as easily compared to someone with oily skin

Caring For Normal Skin

Normal skin is generally easier to care for than other skin types. But don't get complacent.

Although you don't have to worry about the same issues as people with oily or dry skin, it's still vital to maintain a regular skincare routine. Otherwise, you may find yourself experiencing acne breakouts or other skin issues.

Here are a few tips for keeping normal skin looking and feeling healthy:

  • Wash twice daily with an oil-free cleanser
  • Select products from a healthcare company you trust (like Bodewell)
  • Exfoliate gently once or twice a week
  • Use sunscreen every day to protect from UV damage
  • Avoid harsh scrubbing and strong chemicals

4) Combination Skin

Woman with combination skin blotting oil from her T-zone

Combination skin is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of dry and oily skin. People with this skin type often experience an oily T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) while other areas are dry.

Signs You Have Combination Skin

The signs of combination skin can include:

  • Shiny appearance on your forehead, chin, and nose
  • Dryness in your cheeks and around your eyes
  • Enlarged pores in certain areas
  • Frequent breakouts, particularly in the T-zone area

Caring For Combination Skin

This type of skin can be tricky to care for. You want to avoid over-drying your dry spots but not add too much oil to your oily areas. While it sounds nearly impossible, try these tips to make it more manageable:

  • Cleanse twice daily with an oil-free cleanser
  • Gently exfoliate once or twice a week
  • Balance excess oils with astringent toners (make sure to use a formula that isn’t harsh)
  • Use oil-absorbing products throughout the day on your T-zone
  • Apply moisturizers to the dry areas only
  • Use a clay mask
  • Opt for a matte-finish makeup

5) Sensitive Skin

Does your skin seem to get irritated easily? If so, you may have sensitive skin. People with this skin type experience a variety of reactions to specific products and environmental factors.

Signs You Have Sensitive Skin

These symptoms may indicate that your skin is sensitive:

  • Redness, bumps, and hives
  • Inflamed, swollen skin
  • Burning or stinging sensations
  • Cracked skin that bleeds
  • Flushing after using certain products
  • Leathery patches on your body

Caring For Sensitive Skin

The key to caring for sensitive skin is finding the right balance. This means avoiding harsh ingredients and fragrances that can irritate your skin. Here are a few additional tips:

  • Choose products specifically designed for sensitive skin
  • Always check the labels and make sure you know what's in each product
  • Cleanse gently with lukewarm water and mild cleansers
  • Use moisturizers with beneficial ingredients like niacinamide to keep your skin hydrated
  • Avoid potential irritants
  • Avoid scrubbing your skin
  • Protect your skin from the sun with a broad-spectrum sunscreen

How Do You Know Your Skin Type?

Four women with different skin types

When reading through the five skin types above, did any of them stand out to you? If so, you may have already identified your skin type. But if not, there are two ways you can be sure: observation and the wash-and-wait test.


Simply observing your skin can usually help you determine your skin type. For example, if your skin is usually oily or shiny during the day, you likely have oily skin. However, if your skin feels tight and dry after cleansing and remains dry throughout the day, you may have dry skin.

Your pores can also provide clues, so pull out a mirror and give your skin a close-up examination. Your skin is likely dry or normal if you have delicate pores that are hardly noticeable. But if you have large ones, you may have oily skin.

Finally, you can observe what happens when you put blotting paper on your face. If the paper absorbs oil quickly, you have oily skin. If it doesn’t, you probably have dry or normal skin. And if your blotting paper gets oil in your t-zone but not along your jawline, you have combination skin.

The Wash-And-Wait Test

If you're looking for a bit more definitive guidance, try the wash-and-wait test. All you have to do is wash your face with a mild cleanser, then go about your day for half an hour without applying any skincare products.

When the time is up, look at yourself in a mirror. If your skin is primarily shiny, you're dealing with oily skin. If it feels dry and tight or you notice any flaking, you likely have dry skin.

With combination skin, you'll see an oil build-up in part of your face and dryness in another. And if it feels balanced, you probably have normal skin.

Of course, if you notice any redness or irritation, you could be sensitive to an ingredient in the cleanser you used, so take extra care when selecting products.

Your Skin Type Matters

Man washing his face

No matter which skin type you have, it's essential to take care of your skin. That means using the right products, eating a healthy diet, protecting your natural skin barrier, and seeing a dermatologist when needed.

With the right approach and a little help from the skincare team at Bodewell, you can enjoy beautiful, healthy-looking skin for years to come!


American Academy of Dermatology Association
Harvard Health
Skinworks School Of Advanced Skincare

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