Skincare 101 – Know Your Skin Type and How to Work With It

By: Hanna Haitham

Most of what we (think we) know on skin comes from generic Instagram posts and random Pinterest DIYs. We think that what works for one person, will definitely work for us, including creams, masks, and even makeup, which could be dangerous. In order to use the right products and know how to deal with your skin you must be able to answer the most basic question: what is your skin type? 

There are 5 skin types: Dry, Oily, Normal, Combination, and Sensitive.

  1. DRY:

Causes: Dry skin can be caused by using harsh products that are unsuitable for your skin and strip its oils, it can be caused by the environment, or if you suffer from certain skin conditions.

Characteristics: skin flaking, patchiness, ashy skin, itchiness.

  • How do i deal with dry skin? 
  • When looking for a cleanser you need to find one with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, chamomile, glycerin, etc. You should stay away from too many strong acids that strip the skin of its natural oils.
  • Stay away from toners with alcohol to avoid feeling a burning sensation. Try finding hydrating toners that include hyaluronic acid, green tea, aloe vera, etc. 
  • Serums are very important for dry skin because they penetrate the deepest. You should look for serums with all of the before mentioned ingredients.
  • Moisturizers are key for dry skin because they help lock in the moisture of the skin and act as a protective barrier. Your moisturizer should include: Hydrating agents like cocoa or shea butter, niacinamide, etc.
  • Oils are very helpful for people with dry skin, try to target non-fragrant plant oils which are rich and moisturizing but avoid using comedogenic (pore clogging) oils. 


Causes: Oily skin is when the skin glands overproduce sebum, sebum is the oily substance that protects and hydrates the skin,but the excess leads to clogged pores and acne.

Characteristics: shiny skin, large pores, black heads and clogged pores, pimples

NOTE: If you use too many drying products to try and control oil in your skin then your skin will be dehydrated on a deeper level while still being oily the surface. This will cause your skin to produce more sebum to compensate for the loss of the oils, so don’t do that. 

  • How do I deal with oily skin?
  • Your cleanser should include willow bark extract, salicylic acid, etc. Basically ingredients that help control oil production and reduce redness that is associated with oily skin.
  • Look for toners with antibacterial properties to balance oil and prevent breakouts. Also toners with aloe vera and gentle exfoliating toners will loosen the dead skin to prevent acne and also reduce redness. 
  • You should look for moisturizers with very lightweight ingredients that moisturize your skin without being too heavy. Like hyaluronic acid, this ingredient is great for all skin types because it hydrates without being too heavy. 
  • ALWAYS look for non-comedogenic (non-pore clogging) oils. Facial oils that include salicylic acid, rosehip oil, tea tree oil, etc. Basically all oils that have skin healing properties while still being lightweight


Normal skin is basically well-balanced skin, it’s not too dry or oily. People with this skin have very few flaws in their complexion. 

Characteristics: perfectly balanced and no large pores

  • How do I deal with normal skin?

If you’re blessed with this skin type then it’s normally easy to find cleansers and other products. You should look for gentle cleansers that maintain your natural moisture while also meaning your skin. Don’t use anything not meant for normal skin to risk your skin type from becoming dry or oily. 


Combination skin is having dry skin in some ares and oily skin in others.

Causes: It could be genetics or it could be the use of wrong skin care products. 

NOTE: If you’re using unsuitable products for your skin you could be causing some parts of your face to dry out while leaving others to overproduce oil. 

  • How do I deal with combination skin?
  • Golden Rule: different parts of your face will be treated separately. 
  • Oil absorbing products will be applied on oily areas (T-zone, nose, etc) while oils and other moisturizing products will be applied on dry areas.
  • Use lightweight products all over the face like gel or lotion formulas and apply extra-hydrating products over your dry areas. 


Causes: other skin disorders like eczema or rosacea, overly dry skin, constant exposure to harmful environments ex: sun 

Characteristics: really dry skin, blushes easily, skin may have bumps as reaction to certain products. 

NOTE: In this skin type less is more, so don’t use many products. Just keep it simple and to the point. 

  • How do I deal with sensitive skin?
  • avoid any harsh scrubs with beads in them or strong exfoliators 
  • always read ingredients on anything you buy and avoid parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and fragrance.
  • avoid products with menthol, an alcohol, because it can take away the skin’s natural oils
  • look for ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties

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