Plenty of people think that their skin is “sensitive” (self included, TBH). Trying to categorize your complexion isn’t the easiest thing to do, but there are ways to help you figure it out. Namely: with a skin type test. When I tried the Monat Skin Routine Tester strips ($7) on my face, I was shocked to learn that, rather than my skin being dry (as I’d believed for-e-ver), I actually had more of a combination situation on my hands. Don. don. donnnn.
The strips work by detecting how much oil or sebum you have on your bare face. You hold one of these little strips of paper against your forehead, and the other against your cheek. Roughly five seconds later, you’ll be matched with your skin type depending on what the sebum pattern looks like on the strip (aka: how much is there).
“The different skin types are categorized by oiliness or dryness levels in the skin,” says Marlene Garcia, licensed medical esthetician and Monat skin care product educator, explaining that you can be oily, normal, dry, or combination. “More and more people are categorizing their skin as sensitive, though, which is actually a compromised barrier function that’s highly reactive and responsive.” But typically sensitive skin, which reacts wildly to almost everything, is very different than sensitized skin, which can result from overuse of harsh ingredients (or even gentle ones that you’re allergic to). For now, the test can’t tell you if you’re sensitive, but you can see a board certified dermatologist who can help you suss out whether your skin needs some sensitive TLC.
In actuality, she notes that the majority of people have combination skin, which is dry, normal, or oily on different parts of your face. “Ultimately, the best way to categorize most people’s skin type is combination,” says board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD. “This is sort of like the ‘it’s complicated’ status on social media, and is a far better reflection of what skin is. There are many, many conditions and issues that can happen to our delicate skin tissue—it’s complicated.” Anything from your lifestyle, environmental changes, your hormones, diet, and medications can all influence your skin on a given day, explains Garcia. “So it’s a good idea to periodically do a skin type test as your skin’s needs vary day-to-day,” she says.
My fellow editors at the Well+Good office tested their skin types too, and most were also surprised by the results. “I would have said my skin is dry, but apparently it’s a combination,” says Jamie Thilman, senior news editor. Editorial intern Francesca Krempa always thought she had very oily skin, but the strips told her she’s not the “greaseball” that she thought she was. It’s good to know regardless, as it helps you figure out if you should pile on the hyaluronic acid and heavy cream, or if you should instead opt for a lighter moisturizer. The more you know.
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