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Understanding skin types

Understanding skin types

Happiest health tells you how to nurture your skin based on your skin type.
All skin types
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The consumer market is filled with different skincare products with people claiming to have found visible results. But it is important to understand that what works for one might not work for the other. This is because of the unique skin types that people possess.

According to Dr Jude Dileep, consultant dermatologist at Dr Jude’s Hair Transplant and Skin Clinic, Puducherry, some people can develop allergies to products that do not suit their skin types. This generally happens to people who are not able to decide upon their skincare regimen. He adds that people with visible blemishes like pimples, redness, pigmentation, and scars should consult a dermatologist.

The different skin types:

“We have four cosmetic skin types. Normal, dry, oily and combination,” says Dileep.

Dr Shoba Sudeep, consultant dermatologist and cosmetologist, Bengaluru helps us understand our skin types:

Normal skin: It is used to refer to a well-balanced skin. Overall, sebum (an oily and sticky substance produced by the sebaceous gland), and moisture are well balanced in normal skin with minimal pores, a radiant glow, good blood circulation, smooth texture and uniform transparency.

Dry skin: Dry skin produces less sebum than normal skin. Skin is flaky and dry due to the lack of lipids necessary for retaining moisture and also the lack of natural moisturising factors (NMFs). Dry skin has mild scaling or flakiness, a rough, blotchy appearance, more visible lines and is itchy.

Oily skin: There is excessive sebum production, known as seborrhoea in this skin type. Causes of the overproduction of sebum can be genetic, hormonal, due to some medications, stress and the use of comedogenic products.

Combination skin: Combination types have oily features in the T-zone of the face (forehead, nose and surrounding areas) and dry or normal features in other parts.

Skin type determination:

According to Sudeep, there is no single test to determine skin type. A simple questionnaire pattern, a hand-held lens by a dermatologist, and observation by the persons themselves can determine it.

Can skin type change?

According to Dileep, skin type can change with various factors:

  1. Age: Oily skin is more common in adolescents and young adults due to the influence of androgens. Children often have normal or dry skin.
  2. Weather: Dry skin is common in cold weather conditions and oily types are common in summer
  3. Bathing practices: Using harsh soaps and taking long, hot baths or showers can deplete the skin of its normal lipids and make it dry. The use of scrubs and loofas also tends to worse dryness.
  4. Medications/ ingredients: Certain medications such as AHA/ BHA and retinol can cause dry skin. The application of oils on the scalp for prolonged hours can aggravate oily skin and lead to pimples.
  5. Mental stress has been associated with oily skin and the breakout of pimples


Nurturing your skin

Normal skin

“Even normal skin types need a daily routine to take care of their skin,” says Dileep.  These include:

  1. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 at least. Apply and reapply adequate quantity every three hours if there is prolonged sun exposure
  2. Try to avoid direct sunlight, especially during peak hours (10:00 am to 2:00 pm), by using hats, umbrellas and sunglasses
  3. Keep yourself hydrated
  4. Avoid smoking and frequent alcohol consumption
  5. Wash face twice daily
  6. Apply moisturiser twice daily
  7. Never sleep with your make-up on
  8. Take a balanced diet. Cut down on dairy products, sugary foods, refined carbs, junk foods and chocolates


Sudeep added to this:

  1. Use mild, non-comedogenic products
  2. Avoid switching your regular products or experimenting with new regimes


Dry skin

Both Dileep and Sudeep have recommended the following for dry skin:

  1. Take shorter showers or baths with lukewarm water, not more than once daily
  2. Avoid extremes temperatures when taking a bath
  3. Use mild, soap-free cleansers. Avoid soaps or cleansers with added colours and fragrances
  4. Do not use scrubs/ loofas or exfoliators
  5. Apply moisturiser immediately after pat drying your skin
  6. Cream formulations may work better than lotions for dry skin but are often messier. Reapply as needed throughout the day
  7. Apply allergen-free moisturiser before you work/ sleep
  8. Wear gloves when using cleaning agents, solvents, or household detergents
  9. Bland moisturisers which contain petroleum jelly, soft paraffin or glycerine work well
  10. Use a cream-based sunscreen and hydrating make-up formulas

Oily skin

According to both Dileep and Sudeep, oily skin has a shiny complexion with enlarged pores and often has active black/ whiteheads and pimples, and thick and pale skin. Hence, they recommend the following:

  1. Wash the face with a gentle non-soap cleanser, preferably salicylic acid-based, twice a day as well as when you sweat.
  2. Avoid washing too frequently or using harsh soaps or scrubs in trying to remove the oiliness
  3. Use exfoliating face washes once or twice per week
  4. Do not pick or squeeze a pimple as it can lead to pigmentation and scarring
  5. Look for the following terms when considering a product for your skin: “non-comedogenic”, “oil-free”, and “does not clog pores.”
  6. Use water-based moisturisers only and gel-based sunscreen
  7. Use retinol preparation creams at night


Combination skin

“Care for combination skin is similar to that of dry skin except for the following,” says Dileep.

  1. Exfoliation may be appropriate once a week
  2. Lotion or gel-based moisturisers are better tolerated


Sudeep’s addition to this:

  1. Exfoliate with caution avoiding dry areas on face
  2. Use blotting paper on oily areas





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