Unless you know what kind of complexion you have, constructing an effective skincare regime for yourself is nearly impossible. Choosing the wrong products can have fairly catastrophic results: if you’re in possession of an oily t-zone, for example, you absolutely don’t want to be slathering on the thick, oil-laden moisturisers designed to treat very dry conditions. To help you to determine what kind of complexion you have, I’ve consulted with the experts and compiled this list of tips to identify your skin type.
Know the options
To begin with, you will need to know identify and understand the four broad categories into which most complexions fall. There are, of course, grey areas and instances of overlap, but generally speaking the majority of skins are either oily, combination, dry or sensitive.
Before you get on with conducting the actual test, think about how your skin looks and feels on a day to day basis. If it is prone to shininess, spots and enlarged pores, the chances are good you fall into the ‘oily’ category. If you struggle with break outs in very specific areas and dry patches in others, you are likely to have a ‘combination’ complexion. If your face often feels tight and is prone to flaking, you probably have a ‘dry’ skin type; and if your complexion is easily flushed and you struggle with broken capillaries, rashes and irritation, there’s a good chance you have a ‘sensitive’ skin.
Begin with a clean slate
Even at this early stage in the process, you probably have an idea of what kind of complexion you have. Keep this initial inkling in your head but do be prepared to change your mind if necessary. To begin with, you will need to wash your face thoroughly and pat it dry.
Once this is done set an alarm or kitchen timer to go off after around about an hour. This will give your skin a chance to rebalance and return to its ordinary state after you have cleansed; areas in which you struggle with shininess should be shiny and, likewise, patches of dryness should be dry.
Cut a sheet of rice paper into several, small pieces (use tissue if you don’t have anything else). One by one, firmly press squares of paper to your chin, your central forehead, the bridge of your nose, your cheek bones and your temples.
Lay your sheets of paper down on a flat surface and take care to make a note of which piece came from where on your face: it is a good idea to arrange them on the table so that the order resembles the order in which they went onto your skin. Place the forehead sheet at the top, for example, with the nose sheet underneath it and the cheek sheets on either side.
Now that you have all of your information laid out in front of you, it should be clearer to you what kind of skin type you have. If there is oil on every sheet, the chances are very good that your skin type is oily, while if there are small flakes of skin on the sheets, and no oil, you more than likely suffer from a dry complexion. If some sheets are oily (especially those taken from your ‘T zone’) and others show flakiness, you are probably dealing with a combination skin, and if the sheets have remained completely clean your skin is likely to be what is broadly termed ‘normal.’
Remember to consider these results in conjunction with your initial thoughts about your complexion. If you experience a lot of tightness, for example, but your sheets have remained completely clean, take this into consideration; your complexion is likely to be slightly on the dry side, but the dehydration is not severe enough to manifest in flakiness.