The Easy Guide to Determining Your Skin Type (and the Best Routine for Your Skin)

Caring for your skin begins with knowing your skin.  

Just as a medical check-up reveals what you should eat more of and what you should cut from your diet to maintain a healthy body, identifying your skin type will help you craft a skincare routine that works best for you. 

We’ve all seen products labeled “for dry skin” or “suitable for sensitive skin” but what do these phrases really mean?  

How do you know – for sure – which skin type you have? 

How to Figure Out Your Skin Type 

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. Leave skin bare – no serums, moisturizers, nothing. After 30 minutes, check for oil with a blotting sheet. Gently press the sheet all over your face and hold it up to the light to see how much oil is absorbed. You can also look in the mirror and give yourself a big smile to see how your skin feels. 

If your skin feels tight and the sheet picked up little to no oil, you most likely have dry skin. 

If there is shine on your skin and the sheet picked up lots of oil, you most likely have oily skin. 

If there is oil on your T-zone (nose, forehead, and chin) but not on other areas, you mostly likely have combination skin. 

If your skin feels comfy and the sheet picked up just a hint of oil, you most likely have normal skin. 


Dry Skin 

This is when your skin produces less oil than normal. 

You Might Experience:  

  • Tight, dull, and rough skin 
  • Noticeable flaking 
  • Irritation and itching 
  • Loss of elasticity – leading to more visible lines 

Your Nourishing Skincare Routine  

When you have dry skin, you want to make sure your skin is fed plenty of moisture with a heavier cream to seal everything in.  

In the AM 

Cleanse with So Fresh if needed  
If skin doesn’t feel oily when you wake up, simply rinse your face with water – no cleanser needed. 
 
Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars) if needed

Moisturize with Matte Hydrator  
The hyaluronic acid in it holds onto water and keeps skin hydrated. 

Double moisturize with Protective Moisturizer  
This strengthens your skin barrier and seals in moisture. 

Protect with your favorite non-comedogenic sunscreen  
Choose a sunscreen with SPF 35+ and a PA+++ rating.  

In the PM  

Remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser 

Cleanse with So Fresh 

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars) if needed   

Clear clogged pores with Clear Out if needed 

Moisturize with Matte Hydrator  
The hyaluronic acid in it holds onto water and keeps skin hydrated. 

Double moisturize with Protective Moisturizer  
This strengthens your skin barrier and seals in moisture.

Do you have dry or dehydrated skin?  
Yes, there’s a difference! Dry skin is when your skin has too little oil and dehydrated skin is when there’s a lack of water.  

This means you can have dehydrated skin even if you have oily skin. Quench thirsty skin by using a product with hyaluronic acid – such as the Matte Hydrator. 

Oily Skin   

This is when your skin produces more oil than you need, often leading to clogged pores and breakouts.

You Might Experience: 

  • Shiny, greasy skin – especially in the T-zone  
  • Enlarged pores 
  • Clogged pores – leading to acne 

Your Pore-purging Skincare Routine 

Excess oil on skin often causes clogged pores which lead to acne. You’ll want to be extra careful and choose non-comedogenic products that won’t block pores. You can also benefit from products that are tough on sebum – such as salicylic acid. 

In the AM 

Cleanse with Balancing Cleanser  
It’s formulated with both glycolic acid and salicylic acid to gently exfoliate skin. 

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars)   

Moisturize with Matte Hydrator  
This oil-free moisturizer nourishes skin without adding any shine. 

Protect with your favorite non-comedogenic sunscreen  
Choose a sunscreen with SPF 35+ and a PA+++ rating. 

In the PM  

Remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser 

Cleanse with Balancing Cleanser  
Once a week, leave the Balancing Cleanser on for 30 minutes for a gentle peel. 

Remove stubborn oil with Clarifying Toner  
If your skin feels extra oily, soak a soft cotton pad with the Clarifying Toner and swipe it gently across your face. The witch-hazel in the toner is a natural astringent that helps tighten pores and remove excess oil. 

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars)   

Clear clogged pores with Clear Out 

Moisturize with Matte Hydrator  
This oil-free moisturizer nourishes skin without adding any shine. 


Combination Skin 

As the name suggests, this is when you have a combo of oily and dry skin. 

You Might Experience: 

  • Dryness on the cheeks 
  • Oily and shiny skin in the T-zone  

Your Balancing Skincare Routine 

Look for products formulated for all skin types and where possible, use different products for the different areas of your face. For example, you can cleanse oily areas with the Balancing Cleanser and wash the dryer areas with So Fresh. Dryer areas may also benefit from an extra layer of the Protective Moisturizer after you apply the Matte Hydrator


Normal Skin 

This is when your skin is well-balanced, being not too dry and not too oily.  
 
You Might Experience: 

  • Minimal skin concerns and sensitivity 
  • Smooth texture 
  • Few or no blemishes and breakouts 
  • Barely visible pores 

Your Healthy Skincare Routine 

When you have normal skin, you might find you have very little skin concerns. Still, it’s important to be diligent with your routine to keep skin healthy and happy for the many years to come.  

In the AM 

Cleanse with So Fresh 

Moisturize with Protective Moisturizer  

Protect with your favorite non-comedogenic sunscreen  
Choose a sunscreen with SPF 35+ and a PA+++ rating.  

In the PM  

Remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser 

Cleanse with So Fresh 

Moisturize with Protective Moisturizer 


Sensitive Skin 

Unlike the previous skin types, sensitive skin cannot be determined by the wash and blot test. But you probably are aware of whether you have sensitive skin from how it reacts to certain products. While normal skin types might have no reaction, sensitive skin types often show a negative reaction to irritants. 

You Might Experience: 

  • Visible redness 
  • Dry and flaky skin 
  • Irritation and itching 
  • Stinging and burning 
  • Feelings of tightness and discomfort 

Your Gentle and Kind Skincare Routine  

With sensitive skin, you want to be careful when using any new product. Introduce one new formula at a time to identify which ingredients irritate your skin and always do a patch test (such as on your inner forearm and behind your ear) before applying anything on your face. You’ll also want to choose gentle products that are formulated without fragrance and harsh chemicals. Try this: 

In the AM 

Cleanse with So Fresh 

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars) if needed 

Moisturize with Protective Moisturizer  

Protect with your favorite non-comedogenic sunscreen  
Choose a sunscreen with SPF 35+ and a PA+++ rating. 

In the PM  

Remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser 

Cleanse with So Fresh 

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars) if needed 

Clear clogged pores with Clear Out if needed  
Slowly introduce your skin to Clear Out by applying it on alternate evenings. When skin feels ready and no irritation occurs, you can start applying it every evening. 

Moisturize with Protective Moisturizer 

Keep in mind that your skin type can change over time depending on the seasons, your hormones, your age, and more. Check in with your skin once in a while – just as you would with your body.  


Still unsure what your skin type is? We can help you figure it out and build a personalized skincare routine to help you reach your skin goals! 

Get in touch with us on Messenger chat or Instagram DM (@clearlybasics). 

Disclaimer: This article should not be interpreted as personal medical advice. For medical-related matters, please consult your dermatologist. 

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