How to Determine Your Skin Type to Create the Ideal Skincare Routine

Last Update: December 21, 2023

A good skincare routine is key to preventing breakouts, keeping wrinkles at bay, shielding yourself from harmful UV rays, and simply keeping your face smooth and hydrated. But all skincare products aren’t interchangeable — and they’re certainly not for everyone. That’s where your skin type comes in: understanding the type of skin you have helps you to understand your skin’s individual needs, and perhaps more importantly, helps you to avoid using products that may irritate your skin. 

We spoke to Eryssa Fisher, founder of Wydler Esthetics in Los Angeles and an esthetician with more than nine years of experience, about how to determine your skin type. “While your skin type is generally determined by genetics, there are specific ways to care for each type,” Fisher told us.

The Importance of Understanding Your Skin Type 

The skin is the body’s largest organ, and its primary purpose is to create a barrier that protects our bodies from the outside world. “Understanding which products help support the skin’s natural microbiome is important,” she explains. The skin’s microbiome is the layer of beneficial bacteria and diverse microorganisms that live on the skin’s surface. Because the microbiome is essential for both skin health and bodily heath, understanding which products help to support it is key. “It’s so important to understand your skin type so that you can use the correct products to support it and bring it back into a balanced state,”

Read on to learn the differences between oily, dry, combination, and mature skin, and learn how to use clean beauty products like those from f.a.e. by Thrive Market to build the perfect skincare routine for you.

Guide to Skin Types 

“Oily skin typically has larger or more visible pores as well as excess of sebum [the substance produced in the sebaceous glands] and oil production all over,” Fisher explains. While some oil is good for keeping skin looking hydrated and healthy, too much oil can clog pores, cause breakouts, and just look a bit greasier than you might prefer. 

Common signs of oily skin:

Breakouts, clogged pores, shiny areas on the face (particularly in the T-zone across the nose and forehead) 

Skincare routine for oily skin: 

You’ll want to focus on decreasing oil while treating your skin with nourishing ingredients, which means focusing on deep cleansing and light moisturizing. While many people think they should avoid oils if they have oily skin, this isn’t the case; lighter facial oils can be very beneficial as long as they’re not comedogenic, as this could clog your pores. 

  • Gentle gel cleanser. Gel cleansers are the best cleansers for oily skin, as they remove oil and shine without overdrying oily skin.
    Try: Andalou Naturals Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel 
  • Toner.  A clarifying toner removes any oil the cleanser leaves behind. 
    Try: Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Toner
  • Vitamin C or peptide serum. A serum targeting oily skin will help to brighten and prevent breakouts by controlling oil production.
    Try: Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum 
  • Lightweight moisturizer or facial oil. “People with oily skin can use oils, just make sure they are noncomedogenic,” Fisher says. You’ll likely also want to avoid heavy creams or oils, as these can be too much on oily skin.
    Try: f.a.e. by Thrive Market Organic Rosehip Oil 
  • SPF. Prevent UV damage by using a zinc oxide-based mineral sunscreen every morning and throughout the day.
    Try: f.a.e. by Thrive Market Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Clay mask. Clay masks detoxify the skin by drawing out oil and impurities. “Use this two times per week in the evening,” Fisher recommends.
    Try: f.a.e. By Thrive Market Bentonite Clay 

Dry skin types usually feel tight, without much shine from oil, and you might notice flaking or peeling during cold winter months. “Dry skin typically happens from a lack of oil production, or from the barrier of the skin being compromised,” Fisher explains. While many use dry and dehydrated interchangeably when describing skin, dry skin is a skin type that simply doesn’t produce as much oil as other types, while dehydrated skin is a temporary condition that happens because of this barrier damage (it can typically be reversed by simply upping your water intake and using hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides). 

Common signs of dry skin:

Tight, itchy feeling, infrequent breakouts, dull complexion

Skincare routine for dry skin: 

“Dry skin requires more hydrating products and milder exfoliation,” Fisher says. To care for dry skin, you’ll want to minimize the use of harsh products and hot water that will dry out the skin even more. You’ll also want to work to maintain your moisture barrier by limiting the use of harsh acids and exfoliants, as your moisture barrier is what helps to hold moisture inside the skin.

Combination skin is just that: a combination of dry and oily. You may notice oily patches along the T-zone, while the cheeks may feel tight and dry. You don’t need to treat each area differently, but rather find a more versatile skincare routine that can accommodate both types of skin. 

Common signs of combination skin:

A visible difference in different areas of the face (such as tightness and flaking in one area, while another area is oily and shiny)

Skincare routine for combination skin: 

You’ll want to look for universally beneficial ingredients that don’t stray too far toward mattifying or hydrating; think products that are gentle, minimal, and straightforward. If you notice certain areas becoming particularly dry or particularly oily, you may spot treat those areas with things like clay masks to absorb oil or hydrating creams on dry patches.

“Similar to dry skin, mature skin sometimes needs more hydration and sometimes more exfoliation,” Fisher explains. “This is because as we age, our cell turnover slows down.” While aging is a natural process, there are ways to minimize signs of damage and keep aging skin feeling nourished and healthy. 

Common signs of mature skin:

Fine lines and/or wrinkles, dullness, sun damage

Skincare routine for mature/aging skin: 

This article is related to:

Beauty, Skin Care

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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