Why We Care More About Your 'Skin Condition' Than Your 'Skin Type'
By Michael Pollak
Often we think of our skin in one strict category. Labels are convenient, and we’ve been trained as customers to think ourselves as “Normal,” “Combination,” “Dry,” “Oily,” or “Sensitive” skin types. From our practice, we know that traditional “skin type” is only part of the picture and marketing lingo can lead us to reach for the wrong products. To complete the picture – and treat our skin with the TLC it wants – we focus on Skin Conditions, or what we see and feel when you lay down in our chair.
For starters, what’s the difference between a skin type and skin condition?
Your “skin type” is the genetic structure of your skin as determined by your pore size and unique pattern of oil production. There are five types: Normal, Oily, Dry, Combination, and Sensitive. It is genetic and does not technically change. (There are a few instances where it can, but we’ll leave that for another time.) We use our trained eyes and hands along with a device called a Wood’s Lamp, which uses ultraviolet light to highlight your oil-producing pores in a neon violet color to make the official skin type call. Is it an exact science? Not always, but that’s why we encourage you not to hang on skin type as the only thing when thinking about what your skin needs.
Your “skin condition” is what your skin looks/feels like in the present moment considering factors such as weather, lifestyle, travel, diet, stress, pollution, and response to skincare products. This is mainly how we determine the overall health/progress of your skin, by recording how your skin condition progresses and changes from one facial to the next. “The good thing about looking at a skin condition is that sometimes your skin will present a certain way, for example dry, but it’s not actually your skin type. It’s a reaction to your environment and imbalance in your skin.” our Skin Therapist Anush says.
Our job is to sleuth what’s going on between your skin type and skin conditions to figure out a game plan to keep your skin moving in a happy, healthy direction.
So what are some skin conditions that your Skin Therapists look for at Heyday?
Great question! Our Skin Therapist, Jenna, put a helpful together a helpful guide here.
Blackheads / Congestion
What it looks/feels like: Pores will appear dark and filled. These pores can often be seen by the naked eye but it can also result a bumpy texture due to excessive clogging. Over the past 12 months, 91.4% of our facials involved treating the presence of congestion, so it’s very common.
What causes it: A build-up in the pores made up of oil, pollution, makeup/product remnants. If the skin does not have a consistent hydration and exfoliation routine, blackheads may be impacted and require proper homecare to prep for successful extractions.
What it looks/feels like: Breakouts can take on a variety of forms. Those with bacteria present usually have a clearly-defined whitehead. At times, breakouts can be stimulated by hormonal activity in the body which form on a much deeper level of the skin triggering inflammation and pain. These are called cystic breakouts. Over the past 12 months, we treated for oily breakouts (those with bacteria present, mentioned earlier) in over 25% of our facials and treated for the dry, hormonal breakouts in just over 17% of our facials. You are definitely not alone in the wide world of breakout conditions.
What causes it: A clogged pore of oil, bacteria, and/or dead skin cells. Stress, diet, and monthly hormonal cycles can trigger breakout activity as well.
What it looks/feels like: Parched-feeling skin lacking a healthy glow, commonly accompanied by a rough texture and temporary “fine lines” from lack of hydration. Over the past 12 months, we saw dehydration present in 80.1% of our facials, and another 13.0% showing extreme dehydration.
What causes it: A lack of water content in the skin. Different than dryness, which is a lack of oil, dehydration is an extremely common skin condition. Skin may have trouble retaining water, especially with frequent travel and harsh environmental conditions. Even moving between outside air and conditioned air inside, in all seasons, can lead to dehydration.
What it looks/feels like: Thin lines develop in the thinnest, most delicate areas of skin first, such as around the eyes.
What causes it: Gradually, with age, the skin loses elasticity and facial muscle tone to reveal thin lines and the skin takes on a “crepe” texture, like the crepe paper streamers you probably had above your head as a kid at a birthday party. (Fine lines are sometimes referred to as ‘creping’)
Flaking / Dead Skin Buildup
What it looks/feels like: A dull, lackluster appearance to the skin, commonly with flakiness and dry patches. Over the past 12 months, 24.2% of our clients presented with this condition.
What causes it: Our cells are designed to turnover, as dead skin cells shed and are replaced by new cells. The process of cell turnover works quickly and efficiently in our younger years, however, it dramatically slows with age. It’s common to be left with a layer of dead skin cells at your skin’s surface, which can lead to improper product penetration.
What it looks/feels like: Darkened pigmented areas (large patches or small spots of freckling) which appear gradually over time. Your Skin Therapist can view the extent of your hyperpigmentation using a Wood’s Lamp, which uses ultraviolet light to examine the skin. Areas of hyperpigmentation which cannot be seen by the naked eye will be visible to your Skin Therapist through the lens in a purple-brown color. Over the past 12 months, 58.8% of our clients showed some form of hyperpigmentation. .
What causes it: An overproduction of melanin due to either external or internal causes, including sun damage, hormonal fluctuations, and breakout activity. It is common to see increased discoloration at the skin’s surface with age, as our pigment-producing melanocyte cell is easily activated in common inflammation-triggering events, such as sun exposure. Pigmentation often shows up years after the initial cause.
Sensitization / Irritation
What it looks/feels like: Red, angry skin, sometimes generating heat. Skin may have a rough texture, or alternatively feel very thin/delicate. Your Skin Therapist will monitor the reactivity of your skin during the facial to ensure your skin leaves happy.
What causes it: An impaired barrier function of our skin, meaning our skin lacks the ability to properly defend itself. Causes include improper product usage, over-exfoliation, rapid weather fluctuations, dehydration, allergies.
Loss of Elasticity
What it looks/feels like: Skin that no longer feels firm. During the skin analysis, your Skin Therapist will detect if the skin does not quickly bounce back after a gentle pinch.
What causes it: The decrease of our collagen and elastin supply over time results in skin that loses the ability to hold its lift and firmness.
Wrinkles / Expression Lines
What it looks/feels like: Wrinkles that form in areas of repetitive movements, such as the forehead, which remain visible even when the face is at rest.
What causes it: With the depletion of skin’s collagen and elastin, the skin loses the ability to properly recover after excessive facial movement. Wrinkle location will vary based on your tendencies to make certain expressions such as raising or furrowing the brows.
I definitely checked off more than one of these conditions, is that normal?
“Definitely!” Jenna says. “Most people experience a variety of skin conditions at any given time. For example, it’s completely normal to be breaking out, dehydrated, hyperpigmentation, and seeing fine lines.” Walking through an aisle of products labeled for Skin Type “Oily” or “Dry” would be terribly confusing to treat this multitude of conditions.
So these Skin Conditions, I have the power to change them?
Yes! Unlike Skin Type, we have the ability to change our skin conditions through a combination of professional treatment and the right at-home routine. It’s all about working with your skin, not against it. We use Skin Typing to understand the genetic blueprint of your skin, but we round out a complete story with Skin Conditions. It’s very much a cake and frosting type situation. Your Skin Therapist will help you identify which conditions are present in your skin and develop a fully customized plan to work with them and get your skin to a happy, healthy place.
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