What Are Skin Types?

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Everyone has one of five skin types. Different things can affect your skin type. Knowing which type of skin you have can help you formulate a skincare regimen that leaves your skin looking and feeling healthy. 

Skincare Tips for Every Skin Type

Verywell / Jessica Olah

What Are the Different Skin Types?

There are five different skin types. Each has unique characteristics, and knowing them can help you take better care of your skin.


Normal skin is just that—normal. It’s easy to take care of and is a lot less problematic than other skin types. 


Dry skin frequently lacks moisture. You'll notice flaking and peeling. Your skin might also be easily irritated. 


If you have oily skin, it may leave you dealing with frequent breakouts or acne. Oily skin has a shiny appearance and feels greasy to the touch. People with oily skin have overactive sebaceous glands. They also tend to have larger pores. 


If you have sensitive skin, it’s likely easily irritated. You may experience hives or breakouts when using specific products. Some people with sensitive skin experience frequent allergic reactions. Others have excess redness and irritation. According to an article in Frontiers in Medicine, almost 70% of women and 60% of men report having sensitive skin.


Having combination skin means you have to deal with both dry and oily skin. Your t-zone (nose, forehead, and chin) may be oily while your cheeks are dry and flaky. 

Skin Changes

Your skin can change over time. As you go through hormonal changes in your youth, for example, you may experience bouts of oily, acne-prone skin that you didn’t have when you were a child. Your environment and the weather can also impact your skin type over time. 

What Causes Different Skin Types

Skin type can vary for a variety of reasons. While it’s heavily impacted by genetics, it’s also influenced by other factors, including age, hygiene, weather, and underlying conditions. 


As you get older, your skin thins and loses its elasticity. Older skin simply isn’t as plump and smooth as it used to be. These changes can impact your skin’s appearance and skin type. Skin can become more sensitive as you get older, and it’s also more prone to drying out.

Cleaning Routine 

Taking care of your skin is important, but did you know that the way you clean your skin can impact your skin type? One study suggests that towel drying after washing, for example, can affect your skin’s barrier function, which means it’ll be more likely to dry out.

Weather and Sun Exposure 

The weather can also impact your skin type. People’s skin tends to get oilier during the summer months and dryer in the winter, according to a 2005 study. Your environment can also play a part. Turning on the furnace in the winter, for instance, can translate to dryer skin. 

Sun exposure can also render a person’s skin more sensitive as the sun’s rays damage the skin and leave it thinner and more fragile than before. 

Underlying Conditions 

Some skin conditions, like rosacea, can increase skin sensitivity. Similarly, conditions like eczema and psoriasis can dry out the skin.

Lifestyle and Skin Type

Lifestyle factors that can influence skin health and appearance include smoking and unprotected sun exposure. These can cause hyperpigmentation, premature wrinkling, and other visible signs of aging. 

Determining Your Skin Type

How can you figure out your skin type? You might assume you have a particular skin type because you have a few zits here and there, but how can you know for sure?

Different skin types have varying characteristics. They have different water and oil content. They also have different degrees of sensitivity. Here’s how to determine your skin type:

  1. Wash your face using a gentle cleanser. 
  2. Wait patiently for an hour without touching your face. 
  3. When enough time has passed, grab a Kleenex and dab at your t-zone.

Here is how to interpret what you see: 

  • Normal: the tissue won’t be greasy, and your skin won’t flake or show signs of irritation and redness.
  • Oily: The tissue will be noticeably greasy, and your skin will appear shiny.
  • Dry: The tissue won’t be greasy, and your skin will be flaky and may have red patches. Your complexion may appear dull. 
  • Combination: Your t-zone will be oily, leaving oil behind on the tissue, but the rest of your face will be dry and flaky. 
  • Sensitive: Your skin is red, possibly dry, and easily irritated, often after applying certain types of products. 

A Dermatologist Can Help

Still not sure which type of skin you have? Make an appointment with a dermatologist who can help you formulate a skincare routine that’s right for your skin. 

Skin Care by Type

A skincare routine is important. But customizing your regimen according to your skin type is ideal.


Lucky you. You have skin that’s free of breakouts and isn’t easily irritated. That doesn’t mean you can skimp on skincare, though. Regardless of skin type, you should:


A lot of things can exacerbate dry skin. Here are a few tips to soothe your dry skin and prevent it from getting worse: 

  • Avoid taking ultra-hot showers or baths, and keep them short.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Do it right after you shower or bathe to help lock in moisture. 
  • Use a humidifier. 
  • Wash with a creamy, hydrating cleanser.


Taking care of oily skin requires you to pay careful attention to product ingredients. Stay away from stuff that will block your pores and opt for products labeled oil-free and non-comedogenic

Applying moisturizer sounds like it would be counterproductive, but it’s necessary even for oily skin. Have blotting papers handy to keep oil under control throughout the day.


Sensitive skin is easily irritated. It can take some trial and error to find products that work for your sensitive skin. Opt for gentle, soap-free cleansers that are non-comedogenic and fragrance-free to limit any risk of irritation.

Skin sensitivity varies from person to person. If you have very reactive skin, it may be a sign of an underlying condition like eczema or rosacea. Talk to a dermatologist to determine if there are treatment options available. 


The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a mild cleanser and medium-weight moisturizer for combination skin.

Word From Verywell

Knowing your skin type can help you take better care of your skin. But it’s not always easier to figure out. Your skin type can morph over time and with the seasons. If you’re having trouble with your skin and feel like nothing you do is helping, make an appointment with a dermatologist. They are the experts and can help you figure out a skincare routine that makes you feel fresh and confident. 

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Dermatology. Skin type.

  2. Farage MA. The prevalence of sensitive skinFront Med (Lausanne). 2019;6:98. doi:10.3389/fmed.2019.00098

  3. National Institute on Aging. Skin care and aging.

  4. Choi JM, Lew VK, Kimball AB. A single-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial evaluating the effect of face washing on acne vulgarisPediatr Dermatol. 2006;23(5):421-427. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1470.2006.00276.x.

  5. Youn SW, Na JI, Choi SY, Huh CH, Park KC. Regional and seasonal variations in facial sebum secretions: a proposal for the definition of combination skin typeSkin Res Technol. 2005;11(3):189-195. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0846.2005.00119.x.

  6. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Skin diseases.

  7. Asakura K, Nishiwaki Y, Milojevic A, et al. Lifestyle factors and visible skin aging in a population of japanese eldersJ Epidemiol. 2009;19(5):251-259. doi: 10.2188/jea.JE20090031

  8. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Determine your skin type.

  9. American Academy of Dermatology. Skin care tips dermatologists use.

  10. American Academy of Dermatology. Dry skin: Overview.

  11. American Academy of Dermatology. How to control oily skin.

  12. DermNet. Sensitive skin.

By Steph Coelho
Steph Coelho is a freelance health writer, web producer, and editor based in Montreal. She specializes in covering general wellness and chronic illness.