5 skin types and how to care of them

by Hannah de Gruchy February 08, 2023

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Each one of us has our own unique skin. However, there are five main skin types; normal, dry, oily, combination and sensitive.

As with anything, we don’t all fit neatly within one type since our skin is an organ and undergoes changes during our hormonal cycles, at different life stages, because of our lifestyle choices and as we age. But as a general rule, we tend to experience the characteristics of one skin type.

Moisturised skinKnowing and understanding our skin type is important so you can provide the correct care keeping it looking and feeling healthy.

The best way to discover your personal skin type is to thoroughly cleanse your face, pat it dry and refrain from applying any moisturisers or other skincare products. After half an hour, your skin type should reveal itself. You can then choose products and a skincare routine that respects your own unique needs, keeping it nourished and healthy.

Skin types: fast facts 

  1. There are five main skin types – normal, dry, oily, combination and sensitive.
  2. Our type of skin is largely determined by our genetics but other factors can also play a role and the type can change with time.
  3. Younger people are more likely to have a normal skin type than older people.
  4. Each skin type has its own unique characteristics and requires different care and attention.
  5. Knowing your skin type can help you look after your skin properly helping to keep it as healthy as possible.

The five main skin types

Each of the five main skin types is defined by a set of characteristics and depends on factors such as oil production, level of hydration and the size of the pores. 

  1. Normal skin is well balanced and is neither too oily or too dry. It doesn’t tend to be prone to spots, breakouts, blemishes, redness, sensitivities or enlarged pores and typically has a soft texture and clear appearance. This skin type does not need any special skincare routine.
  2. Dry skin feels dehydrated, rough, scaly, flaky or inflamed and is caused by a lack of sebum, the oily substance naturally secreted by the skin to keep it moisturised, supple and protected. It can appear less elastic with a dull complexion and visible fine lines but almost invisible pores and requires skincare that hydrates and moisturises.
  3. Oily skin feels greasy and looks shiny, especially by the end of the day, and is caused by an overproduction of sebum. This skin type tends to be more prone to visible, enlarged pores that can become blocked, spots and breakouts and requires skincare products that control sebum production and shine.
  4. Combination skin is oily on the ‘T zone’ (the forehead, nose and chin) and dry to normal on the rest of the face including the cheeks, temples and jawline. The oilier regions of the face tend to have more visible pores and can be more prone to spots and breakouts. Combination skin can require different skincare products for different areas of the face.
  5. Sensitive skin appears red and feels itchy and inflamed. It can also burn or tingle when certain skincare products are applied to the skin or it can become dry and flaky. Sensitive skin can have various triggers and this skin type requires skincare products that respects your specific needs.

How to identify your skin type

identify skin type

Knowing and understanding your skin type can help you make skincare choices that will nourish your skin, allowing it to look and feel healthy, without breaking out or becoming sensitised, oily or dry.

Identifying your skin type can be tricky, but using some tried and tested methods, your skin type can be revealed, allowing you to make the right skincare choices.

Discovering your skin type begins with thoroughly cleansing your face, removing all traces of makeup, using either a cream cleanser or a gentle foaming wash and patting your skin dry with a clean towel. Leave your skin bare by applying no products or makeup - how your skin behaves over the next half an hour will help you determine your skin type.

1. Identifying normal skin

normal skin type

Normal skin doesn’t go through many changes after cleansing and drying. It will appear clear, with no oiliness, dryness, tightness, redness or irritation and will have an even complexion and texture.

If your pores appear visible but not too wide or ‘open’, you tend not to develop blackheads or spots and your makeup stays fresh all day without siding or clumping, then you have normal skin.

2. Identifying dry skin

dry skin type

After cleansing and drying, dry skin will begin to feel tight, as if it’s in desperate need of moisturising treatments. It may also begin to feel rough, become flaky or look dull and lack lustre.

Dry skin is caused by a lack of sebum which means that the skin doesn’t have enough oil to maintain its protective barrier and therefore cannot retain enough moisture to keep it supple and smooth.

If your skin feels like it’s lacking moisture, always feel tight and your complexion is often dull, then you have dry skin.

3. Identifying oily skin

After cleansing and drying, oily skin will appear matte, just like normal skin, but it will begin to look shiny within half an hour to an hour and may develop a greasiness.

oily skin type

Another way to discover if you have oily skin is to separate a facial tissue so that you have one layer, or ply, of tissue. Then, gently press the tissue against your face, 30 minutes after cleansing. Oily skin will leave a visible residue behind on the tissue. 

Throughout the day, even with skincare products and makeup, oily skin causes enlarged, visible pores. Also, since oily skin is caused by an excess of sebum, the pores may become blocked by this excess oil, trapping dirt, bacteria, dead skin cells and pollutants. This can cause congested skin, leading to blackheads, spots and inflammation over time.

If you notice your skin has enlarged pores and is prone to breakouts, along with oil and shine after cleansing, you have oily skin.

4. Identifying combination skin

combination skin type

After cleansing and drying, combination skin will begin to appear oily and shiny in the T zone area (forehead, nose and chin) and either normal or dry across the cheeks, temples and jawline.

The facial tissue test can also tell you if you have combination skin. If the tissue appears greasy where it was pressed against your T zone, with no visible oil on the other areas, then it’s a good sign that you have combination skin.

If you have combination skin, you may also feel like your skincare products are working on some areas of your face, but not others. For example, your moisturiser might help if you have dry cheeks, but it feels too heavy for your nose and forehead.

5. Identifying sensitive skin

sensitive skin type

After cleansing and drying, sensitive skin can feel red, inflamed, irritated, itchy or dry, or a combination of any of these.

If after cleansing or using any kind of skincare or makeup product that uses natural ingredients, your skin feels like it’s reacting, then you have sensitive skin.

Looking after your skin type

All skin types require a good self-care routine to remain looking healthy.

Looking after your skin

Twice daily cleansing and moisturising using products designed for your skin type is key. Cleansing at night removes not only makeup, but the dirt, bacteria, cellular debris and environmental pollutants that can collect on the skin during the day. A light cleanse in the morning removes any dirt and sweat that has built up overnight.

Protecting your skin from sun damage, staying hydrated, eating a healthy varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables whilst avoiding smoking, excess alcohol and caffeine consumption are all also important steps in any skincare routine.

However, each skin type can also benefit from specific skin care and skincare products.

1. How to look after normal skin

Normal skin doesn’t require specialised products, but using high quality, natural, organic products can help to maintain the healthy nature of your skin.

The basics of any skincare routine include a cleanser, a day time moisturiser and a night time moisturiser, or a facial balm designed for use any time of day. We recommend the Love CBD balm which is rich in skin nourishing cannabidiol.

2. How to look after dry skin

Dry skin requires gentle skincare products that restore the natural moisture levels in the skin. Gentle cream cleansers are ideal, followed by a heavier moisturiser than someone with normal skin might use.

BioBloom CBD balms and cream
Organic CBD face cream Vitalize from BioBloom helps to soothe dry, irritated skin and is ideal for daily use. If you find you also have dry skin on your body, BioBloom also offer an SOS Rescue CBD balm that nourishes all over.

Dry skin will also benefit from extra protection against the elements as it can be made worse by extremes of heat and cold or wet and windy weather. Try to avoid exposing your skin to these conditions by wearing a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses in the sun and using hats and scarves to cover your face during the colder months.

Also, you should avoid long, hot baths and showers as they can also further dehydrate the skin. Avoiding products that contain alcohol and artificial fragrances can also be beneficial.

3. How to look after oily skin

OSI magnesium CBD cream

Oily skin can easily become congested so this skin type will benefit from ‘non comedogenic’ skincare products. This means non pore blocking, generally, these products are oil free to prevent overloading the skin with more oil.

When cleansing, use a gentle foaming cleanser to remove excess oil without stripping the skin. You should also avoid scrubbing at your skin to help prevent irritation and damage.

Oily skin still requires a daily moisturiser as un-moisturised skin will compensate by producing more oil, in turn making your skin oilier. Choose a balancing moisturiser in the evening such as the OSI magnesium CBD cream on your body if you notice that the skin becomes oily throughout the day.

You may also benefit from a weekly clay mask that helps to draw impurities and excess oil from the skin.

4. How to look after combination skin

Combination skin can be trickier to manage as you may need to use different products on different areas of your skin. For example, you may benefit from using products designed for oily skin on your T zone and those meant for dry or normal skin on your cheeks.

However, some products can help to nourish the needs of unbalanced skin, such as the Alteya Organics Rose Otto face cream and the BioBloom Organic CBD ointment Aua Power that can be used all over the face and body.

To help protect both the oily and any dry patches, avoid extremes of temperature where possible to help keep your skin balanced.

Alteya rose otto collection

5. How to look after sensitive skin

Sensitive skin can also be tricky to look after since it can react to new products and ingredients as well as those that you may have been using successfully for some time. Using natural, organic skincare products will help to reduce your risk of developing red, itchy or inflamed skin.

A gentle, cream-based cleanser that lifts dirt and makeup away will suit your skin best, followed by a nourishing but soothing moisturiser such as the Rose Otto regenerating concentrate from Alteya Organics. For sensitive skin on your body, try BioBloom's Aua Power CBD ointment to soothe and protect.

Each one of us has beautiful skin

Discovering your skin type will help ensure that you give your skin the support it needs. Getting the basics right by finding the right cleanser and moisturiser is the basis of any good skincare routine. Once you’ve found those, then you can add in the extras such as an eye cream, serum, exfoliator and mask.

Our skin is an ever-changing organ, but listen to it and respect it, and it’ll stay healthy and happy.

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Hannah de Gruchy
Hannah de Gruchy


Health and wellness author and biologist specialised in sustainability, nutrition and eco-living.

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