Have you ever shelled out big bucks for a banging skin care routine and thought, “WHY isn’t this working?!” Well, there’s a chance you’re using the wrong products for your skin type.

Here’s how you can determine your skin type at home, plus expert tips on how to care for your unique skin sitch.

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Visiting a licensed aesthetician or dermatologist can help determine your skin type. But you can also DIY a skin type test at home. Here’s how.

Bare-face test

Start by washing your face with a mild cleanser. Gently pat it dry with a soft, clean towel. After 30 minutes, it’s time to inspect it for skin type clues 🔎.

  • Normal skin. You don’t notice any redness, dry patches, or oily spots.
  • Dry skin. Your skin feels tight and looks flaky or scaly.
  • Oily skin. Your face looks greasy and feels oily.
  • Combination skin. Your T-zone (the nose and forehead area) looks shiny, but the rest of your face is dry.
  • Sensitive skin. Your skin is red, itchy, or inflamed.

Blotting sheet test

This test is super simple, but isn’t helpful for identifying sensitive skin. Just press a blotting sheet onto different parts of your face. Then hold the sheet up to a light to see how much oil is absorbed.

  • Normal skin. There are tiny amounts of oil residue.
  • Dry skin. There’s little-to-no oil residue.
  • Oily skin. There’s a lot of oil residue.
  • Combination skin. There’s oil residue from your T-zone but little-to-no residue from the rest of your face.

Skin type pictures

Need a side-by-side comparison of these skin situations? Here’s a visual look to see what skin type you’re slaying.

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Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

Think you’ve got it figured out? Here’s a breakdown of each skin type.

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Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

Normal skin has the Goldilocks effect to it. It’s not too oily nor too dry, it’s just right.

Signs of normal skin include:

  • fine pores
  • a smooth and clear complexion
  • you’re not super sensitive to chemicals or skin allergens

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Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

Dry skin produces less sebum than other skin types. It can lead to flaky, scaling, cracked, or itchy skin.

Signs of dry skin include:

  • very tight pores
  • rough skin texture
  • dull or blotchy complexion
  • prone to irritation or infection
  • skin feels tight and lacks elasticity

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Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

You can prob blame oily skin on overactive sebaceous glands. For some folks it’s hereditary. But hormonal changes, skin care products, and diet can also be a factor.

Signs of oily skin include:

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Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

Combination skin is a mix of oily and dry skin. Some parts of the face produce too much sebum while other areas don’t produce enough.

Signs of combination skin include:

  • an oily T-zone
  • dry skin around your cheeks, eyes, and mouth
  • congested skin or large pores on your forehead, nose, or chin

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Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

A 2019 study reported up to 70 percent of women and 60 percent of men have some degree of sensitive skin. It can stem from super dry or injured skin that’s more prone to reactions. It can also be a symptom of skin disorders like rosacea, eczema, or allergic contact dermatitis.

Signs of sensitive skin include:

  • a red or ruddy complexion
  • you can only tolerate very mild skin care products
  • your skin itches, burns, and becomes flushed easily

Acne-prone skin

Acne-prone skin can attack at any age and pop up on any skin type. Breakouts can be triggered by:

  • Genes. Research shows acne can run in families.
  • Excess oil. Excess sebum is a common contributor to acne.
  • Diet. Studies show cutting down on dairy and sugar might improve acne symptoms.
  • Meds. Certain medications like corticosteroids or birth control pills can cause flare-ups.
  • Pollution. A 2017 study found that environmental pollution can cause inflammatory acne.
  • Hormones. Hormonal acne is common during puberty, PMS, pregnancy, and even perimenopause and menopause thanks to fluctuating hormones.

Dehydrated skin

Don’t get this confused with dry skin. Dehydrated skin has nothing to do with your skin type. It just means your skin is thirsty and needs more moisture.

Dehydrated skin can be caused by:

Not sure if your skin is dehydrated? Here are some symptoms to look out for: