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How to Know Your Skin Type: Your Definitive Guide

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Here's the very first question you should ask yourself before ever making a beauty purchase or applying a product to your face? “What is my skin type?” After all, when you have a better grasp on your skin type, it allows you to make more informed purchases on products you know are going to serve you well. Plus, it ensures you’re sticking to a skincare routine that promotes beautiful, healthy-looking skin versus a complexion that’s irritated, inflamed, prone to breakouts, or flaky. Let’s help you learn how to know your skin type once and for all.

What Are the Five Basic Skin Types?

The five skin types are oily, dry, combination, sensitive, and normal. Within these categories are additional subcategories, such as blemish-prone skin and mature skin. Though these subcategories are often associated with a certain skin type (e.g., mature and dry often go together, and many people are both oily and blemish-prone), they can technically fall under any type.

Understanding the key differences between each is the first step in learning how to know what type of skin you have.

  • Dry Skin: Dry skin types can range from somewhat dry to extremely dry. For dry skin types, very little oil is produced, and skin can feel tight or rough and look flaky and dull. In extreme cases, you might experience redness, peeling, or sensitivity. Anyone can have dry skin, but the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) notes that it becomes more common as we age (especially after age 40).1
  • Oily Skin: People with oily skin tend to have a thin to heavy veil of oil across their entire face that can cause their face to look shiny or wet. They might also have larger-looking pores and be more likely to experience breakouts. In fact, one of the major contributors to pimples is excess oil production, notes the Mayo Clinic.2
  • Combination Skin: As you might have guessed, combination skin types deal with both patches of dry skin and oily skin. Typically, these oily sections occur on the t-zone, which consists of your forehead and nose while other areas are dry. If you often ask yourself “Is my skin oily or dry?” and you can’t figure out the answer, there’s a good chance you have combination skin.
  • Sensitive Skin: Those with sensitive skin types often experience mild to severe reactions from products and their environment. For instance, applying a new cream might cause redness, irritation, itchiness, or breakouts. (Good news: All IT Cosmetics products are designed to be suitable for sensitive skin!) The AAD says they might also have an ongoing skin condition that’s tricky to manage and requires more care, such as eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis.3 People with this skin type should be very selective about the products they apply and always do a “patch test.”
  • Normal Skin: The term “normal skin type” is a bit misleading because, if you ask us, there’s no true “normal” when it comes to skin. Balanced is perhaps a better way to describe this complexion category since the skin is neither excessively oily nor dry. Other characteristics of balanced skin include small or barely noticeable pores, little to no sensitivity, and a clear complexion.

At-Home Skin Type Tests

Still not sure which skin type you have based on looks alone? There are a couple of at-home skin type tests you can try that’ll help you figure it out. Though these aren’t definitive, they can certainly help point you in the right direction.

Tape Test

  1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and gently pat dry.
  2. Wait about 30 minutes to an hour. Do not apply any skincare products while you wait.
  3. Apply a piece of tape down the bridge of your nose and across your forehead (the t-zone) and let it sit for five minutes.
  4. Remove the tape and take a look at it.

Results: Normal and balanced skin types will easily stick and unstick. Dry skin types will look cloudy and might even have visible, tiny flakes stuck to the tape.

Oily skin types will likely not stick well and slide around easily while the tape is attached.

Blot Test

  1. Wash your face and gently pat dry.
  2. Wait about 30 minutes to an hour before applying any products.
  3. Press a blotting tissue against your forehead for about five seconds, then remove.
  4. Hold the tissue up to the light and observe.

Results: If the tissue looks the same, you likely have dry skin. You likely have normal or balanced skin if it's slightly see-through. The more see-through the tissue is, the oilier your skin type. You can repeat the test on different areas of your face to determine if you have combination skin.

How to Care For Your Skin Type

Now that you can more confidently answer the question, “What is my skin type?” you can establish a beauty routine that creates a gorgeous and glowing complexion.

How to Care for Dry Skin

Dry skin types require extra hydration to make up for the lack of oil.

How to Care for Oily Skin

Though your first instinct might be to strip away all the oil, a less aggressive approach suits oily skin types best.

  • Use a gentle cleanser such as Confidence in a Cleanser no more than twice per day and never scrub or tug as this can irritate your complexion.
  • Stick to oil-free hydrators such as Confidence in a Gel Lotion Moisturizer, which delivers 72 hours of hydration and helps skin feel rebalanced.
  • If you deal with breakouts, apply Bye Bye Breakout Salicylic Acid Acne Serum in the evenings after cleansing and before your moisturizer. It's clinically tested to visibly reduce acne in just 3 days* and reduce the look of post-acne marks in 8 weeks.**

How to Care for Combination Skin

Combination skin types can often follow an oily skincare routine, especially if they’re not experiencing any pronounced dryness.

How to Care for Sensitive Skin

Those with sensitive skin should be more diligent about the products they use on their skin, steering clear of ingredients known to flare irritation.

  • Cleanse once or twice daily with a gentle cleanser, such as Confidence in a Cleanser. Always use lukewarm water and gently pat/dab dry.
  • Combat the look of redness with a neutralizing, color-correcting product like Bye Bye Redness Neutralizing Color-Correcting Cream. It instantly camouflages red-toned discoloration caused by issues such as rosacea, blemishes, and skin irritations. Plus, the formula contains soothing ingredients such as aloe vera, avocado, and colloidal oatmeal.
  • Nourish skin and create an even-looking complexion with the best-selling*** CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 50+. This full-coverage foundation is a multitasking hero that serves as a hydrating anti-aging serum, broad-spectrum physical sunscreen, brightening color corrector, poreless-finish primer, dark spot concealer, and moisturizing day cream.

How to Care for Normal Skin

If your skin is balanced, focus on nourishing your skin and replenishing moisture as needed.

Can Skin Types Change Over Time?

Yes, our skin types are apt to change depending on our age, climate, and other variables such as hormonal shifts. For example, skin tends to become drier as we get older since sebum production slows down, and some people might experience a surge in oiliness throughout their menstrual cycle.

Also, humid climates can lead to slicker skin while hot and dry climates can leave skin feeling drier. Even environmental factors can impact our skin, such as city pollution and water supply. It’s important to check in on your skin often and reassess to ensure you’re giving it the right kind of TLC.

For more skincare tips, check out our guide on when to start using anti-aging products and then learn how to determine the best type of moisturizer for your skin.


  1. American Academy of Dermatologists. “Dry Skin: Who Gets and Causes.”
  2. Mayo Clinic. “Acne - Symptoms and Causes.”
  3. American Academy of Dermatologists. “10 Reasons Your Face Is Red.”

* Visible improvement began at Day 3 and improved throughout 8-week clinical study. **Based on an 8-week clinical study.

****Source: The NPD Group/U.S. Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, Makeup Product Sales, January-December 2021.

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