Skin Type v. Skin Conditions: The Importance of Knowing Each

Routine 101

Skin Type v. Skin Conditions: The Importance of Knowing Each

By Hanna Yowell

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Before we can recommend the perfect routine or even give you a facial, we first need to figure out your type. No, not the type of person you typically date (that’s a convo better reserved for your friend group or, TBH, your therapist)—we’re talking about your skin type. Understanding your skin type helps you know which products, ingredients, and treatments are best suited for your specific skin, so you can reach your skin’s fullest potential.
Skin Type V. Condition, Explained

Genetics are largely responsible for our skin type: the structure of skin based on either pore size and unique oil production (for normal, oily, dry, and combination types), or heightened skin reactivity (for sensitive and acneic types). This is a lifelong phenomenon that can only be changed by a few factors such as chemotherapy, Accutane, and pregnancy.

On the other hand, your skin condition is the state of your skin in the present moment—taking into account factors like weather, diet, stress, pollution, and response to skincare products. Skin conditions include dehydration, inflammation, hyperpigmentation, blackheads, breakouts, fine lines, rough texture, and loss of elasticity.

However, the two are often conflated, which can cause you to over or under-treat what’s going on with your skin. For example, let’s say you’re breaking out. You may think, ‘oh I must be an acneic skin type.’ But in reality, you could just be experiencing breakouts as a temporary skin condition. If you treat your skin like it’s an acneic skin type (when it’s just a condition!), it’s likely you'll use way too many acne-fighting products in your routine, which can actually make matters worse.

“Distinguishing between the two helps you select the products you’re using,” says Heyday Skincare Educator Chrissy Carrano. “Your Core Four (cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer, SPF) should be geared toward treating your skin type, because that’s what you want to maintain. For targeting conditions, you’ll want to use one or two nutrient-rich products (toners, serums, facial oils, masks). This helps keep your skin balanced, or at homeostasis.”

We’ll dive into the Core Four in a moment, but first, the moment you’ve been waiting for—which skin type are you?

Understanding Your Skin Type

The first four skin types are characterized by pore size and oil production. Normal skin types have uniform small, yet visible pores throughout the face and may get an oily shine in the center of the face mid-day/end of day. Oily skin types have large pores that are visible throughout the face to the hairline. This thicker, more resilient skin typically develops an oily shine in the morning and/or shortly after cleansing. Dry skin types have very fine, nearly invisible pores with no oily shine to the complexion. This thin, delicate skin is more prone to flaking, rough texture, and fine lines than others. Combination skin types have either Oily/Normal or Normal/Dry characteristics. Their pore size may be visible through the T-zone and they may develop an oily shine through the center of the face.

The final two can’t be determined by pure observation and require further investigation before categorizing someone as either one. Sensitive skin types have been diagnosed with rosacea or have two or more conditions from the Atopic Triad (since childhood): asthma, eczema, and hayfever (seasonal allergies). Acneic skin types are characterized by identifying with at least two of the following three: breakouts run in your family, your breakout activity started at the onset of puberty, and you tend to experience breakouts on your back or chest.

The Skin Quiz

If you need some more help determining your skin type as well as product recommendations that are perfectly suited for you, take our new Skin Quiz. This first-of-its-kind tool will not only teach you more about your skin, but will build you a personalized skincare routine tailored to your personal needs and goals, curated by our very own skincare experts.

Skin type and skin conditions are often conflated, which can cause you to over or under-treat what’s happening with your skin.

The Core Four

To manage your skin type, focus on Core Four products that are specifically suited to it. These four products are the foundation of any good skincare routine and include a cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer, and SPF. While each skin type needs a Core Four, the products will differ from type-to-type due to varying needs.

For example, an oily skin type might love a cleanser that has mild exfoliating properties to help control shine. But, that same cleanser might be too stripping for a dry skin type, which could benefit from a cream cleanser that’s focused on restoring hydration.

Choosing The Right Product For Your Skin Type

Although each of your Core Four products should suit your particular skin type, it’s always helpful to have a starting place, right? Think of these following products as the #1 picks in your skincare starter kit based on each skin type’s top needs.

For Normal Skin Types

Maintain your skin’s natural balance with this daily moisturizer that’s done some extra credit. It gives normal skin types a daily dose of hydration, plus antioxidants for a brightening glow.

For Oily Skin Types

If you’ve got a surplus of sebum, this part-cleanser, part-exfoliator buffs away congestion while restoring hydration. Your skin’s oil levels are left healthy and balanced, not stripped.

For Dry Skin Types

Upgrade your hydration regimen with this power duo as your nightly moisturizer. Combine a few spritzes of this Eminence toner with a couple drops of the Maya Chia nourishing oil to restore the skin’s oil and water levels for ultimate rejuvenation.

For Combination Skin Types

Gentle enough for daily use, this active cleanser lightly resurfaces to reveal healthy layers of skin while protecting against environmental stress for an overall clear, smooth complexion.

For Sensitive Skin Types

This mineral sunscreen provides Broad Spectrum protection while minimizing the risk of irritation thanks to physical blockers like zinc oxide—crucial for sensitive skin types.

For Acne Skin Types

This stellar moisturizer/sunscreen combo won’t clog pores, but will restore hydration levels so skin can heal while helping prevent further hyperpigmentation

And About Those Conditions...

Now that you’ve figured out your skin type and which products to start with, maybe you’re still curious about skin conditions? Well don’t worry—we’d never leave you hanging! Check out our condition-specific guides at the “Guidance” navigation tab above. From blackheads to fine lines, we’ve got intel on why it’s happening, what you can do about it, and even tips from our experts.

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