‘I’m a Dermatologist, and This Easy Trick Will Tell You Exactly What Your Skin Type Is’

Photo: Getty Images/ Justin Lambert
Knowing your skin type is important for deciding which products to use on your complexion. It determines everything from the ingredients to the formulations that you should be choosing for your skin-care routine. If you don't know what your skin type is, you run the risk of putting yourself through a daily routine that does more harm than good (read: you could create irritation in your skin). While there are plenty of Internet quizzes that will help you figure out your skin type, according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in NYC, all you really need to find out your skin type on your own is a sink, a foaming cleanser, and three hours of free time.

Experts In This Article
  • Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital

"First, wash your face with a foaming cleanser to fully remove oil from your skin," said Dr. Zeichner in a recent Instagram video. Foaming cleansers have a reputation for being drying, but in this case, they're your best bet because you actually want to clear away all of the oil from the surface of your skin. Wait three hours, which Dr. Zeichner explains is about how long it takes for your oil glands to rev up production, then check out your skin in the mirror. "If your full face looks shiny, you probably have oily skin. If you're only shiny in your T-zone—which is your forehead, nose, and chin—but dry in your cheeks, then you probably have combination skin. And if you don't see much oil at all, then you probably have dry skin."

Armed with this knowledge, you'll be able to suss out exactly which products are best for your complexion. A few easy things to remember? If you have oily skin, use a foaming cleanser, opt for treatments with pore-clearing ingredients like AHAs and retinoids, and choose light lotions over heavy creams. If you've got dry skin, use a cream cleanser, look for hydrators like hyaluronic acid and ceramides, and stick with thicker, barrier-repairing moisturizers as the final step in your routine. And if you've got combination skin, you can mix and match these products on different areas of your face to get the tailored results you need.

Figuring out your skin type only takes three hours, and you'll be reaping the benefits in your routine for years to come. From there, here is what to know about each skin type and the best way to help you care for it, straight from dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD:

Oily skin

Dry skin

Combination skin

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