Walking through an average cosmetic or health care aisle can be a wild adventure as well as an educational experience. The shelves are lined with mysterious concoctions, all claiming to be the miracle cure for your skin. These special brews come complete with fancy containers, shiny labels and seven syllable words to boggle your mind. Venture closer to these magic elixirs and notice the fine print:

Normal skin
Dry Skin
Oily Skin
Sensitive Skin
Combination

You feel your fingers moving up to your cheek as you wonder; what skin type am I? What if I have sensitive skin and just don’t know it? Does one dry patch mean I need dry skin care? Will products meant for oily skin completely ruin my face?

The list of questions can go on and on with no end in sight until you realize that you can come to this mysterious world armed with knowledge and ready to go to battle. Choose wisely and you will benefit greatly from your decision. Choose poorly and you will need to return and choose again.

Normal Skin

First of all remove “normal” and insert “average”. People with other skin types are not “abnormal” and should not feel as such. Millions of people have each skin type listed and there are products specially targeted for each type.

A product labeled “normal skin” is intended for use on healthy, hydrated, even toned skin with small pores and no history of irritation from skin care products. The skin retains good elasticity, good complexion and there are no blemishes.

Most “normal skin” targeted products can be used on all skin types but may not produced treatment effects for certain skin issues.

Oily Skin

Perhaps one of the more dreaded skin types to have because of the negative connotations associated with it and potential self consciousness it can create. The result of overactive sebaceous (oil-producing) glands, this skin type can appear quite shiny, feel slightly greasy to the touch and is prone to acne and enlarged pores.

Products targeted for this skin type typically contain ingredients meant to cleanse the pores, exfoliate the skin and remove the excess oil and grime build up. These products would not be very beneficial for people with dry skin.

Dry Skin

Dry skin can be the result of genetics, the environment, exposure to chemicals and a variety of other causes. Dry skin is trademarked by tiny pores, flaky or ashy texture, fine lines and wrinkles and/or cracked skin.

Products for dry skin focus on re-hydrating the skin cells and stimulating healthy skin cells to develop. Many products will contain fat-soluble ingredients that penetrate the skin’s outer layer to reach the interior layers to replenish moisture from within. Exfoliants are used to shed away dead skin cells build up and reduce flaky texture.

Combination

As the name suggests, this skin type is a combination of the three above. Meaning it is possible (and frequent) to have normal skin with an oily “t-zone” which is the bridge of the nose and forehead. Perhaps dry lips with normal skin or dry forehead but the rest of your face is normal.

This skin type generally uses spot specific treatments to correct problem areas and “normal skin” care products for the rest of the face. This could include blemish control for oily areas if needed, masques for application on the t-zone, special creams for the eyes or lips, etc. Consult with an esthetician or dermatologist if you need more help creating an effective skin care routine.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin is very typically dry and very reactive to heat, cold and any substances used on it. That can include all skin products, hair products and chemicals. Irritation may include rash, hives, itching, redness and swelling.

These skin care products are specially designed to omit using chemicals known to irritate sensitive skin but cannot be guaranteed. People with especially reactive skin should always consult with a doctor before beginning any new skin care treatment. Discontinue use of products at the first sign of negative reaction and take precaution by always wearing sun block to protect the sensitive tissue.

Final Thoughts

Have you figured out where you’re at yet and what to buy? Don’t be ashamed if you don’t have “normal skin” because the truth of the matter is, most people don’t. Focus on what problem areas you would like to focus on and choose a skin care routine that will be easy to maintain long term. The most important issue in skin care is persistence and maintenance. You must follow your individual plan every day and stick with it for your entire life. That is not meant to sound like a prison sentence, merely a reminder that skin care is not something you can do occasionally and expect to see real results.

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