Be You Own Skin Guru – Skin Types

So, I thought we would start with skin types, so that you may understand the skin you have a little better. Im sure many of us already know the skin type we have, but I like to start from the ground up, and basics of skin. People often get confused with skin types and skin conditions. Your “skin type” is the skin that you have through genetics etc, and is usually stays pretty consistent throughout life, and a “skin condition” is often temporary, and can be caused by many factors. I am going with the 4 main, basic types of skin. (You also have something called the Fitzpatrick skin types, which has 6 types of skin types and identifies skin a different way, but at this stage, we will keep it to the main 4).

The main skin types that we think of when we are asked ‘whats your skin type’ are Oily, Combination, Dry, Normal. These are a great starting point, but skin can be complicated, and changeable, with characteristics from all of the “main” skin types. Skin can also defy the assumptions we make if skin is thought to be a certain way. For example, its common to see someone with pustule acne, have incredibly sensitive and dry skin, not oily as you would assume. So, I will try to give you some explanation of the main skin types, and you may be able to identify your own. These are a guideline only and not all encompassing. As I said, skin is a complicated little bugger! x

(You can catch up with the first post in this series here if you missed it).

Oily Skin

An oily skin type is often thought of as a problematic skin type, and can be hard work finding products that perfectly suit it, but good news oily skin people, you wont age as quick! Whoop whoop! Oily skin is caused when the skins sebaceous glands produce more oil than is needed. It can be genetic, diet related, hormone related and even pollutants in the air can cause oiliness.

Identifying characteristics –

Skin can look shiny. You can have large, visible open pores. You struggle to keep some make up types in place. Your skin can be prone to breakouts, blackheads and clogged pores, and sometimes has a slight “orange peel’ look to areas. If you are needing to blot or powder your skin throughout the day, this is a good indicator that you could have an oily skin type.

Good things to avoid –

Using water that is too hot to wash your face. Hot water can dry the skin, so the skins reaction is to produce more oil.

Over exfoliating the skin, especially granular (grainy) exfoliation. This can make the skin produce more oil.

Cleansing products that are too harsh. People with oily skin are always tempted to “strip” the skin, but it can actually worsen the condition.

What could help –

Use oil. I know! Its seems strange, but oil cuts through oil, so its a great way to cleanse the skin and trick the skin into thinking no oil production is required. There are some amazing pre-cleanse oils on the market now so introducing one into your routine may help. Products that contain AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) or Salicylic Acid are also great to use on an oily skin as they also cut through oil, but also held prevent congestion. Products that build up collagen and firm skin will help keep pores tighter, so help reduce the production of oil.

be your own skincare guru

Combination Skin –

Its exactly what it says on the tin! Combination skin is skin that is made up of a few skin types. I have very typically combination skin. I have some oiliness to my forehead, nose and chin, yet can feel dry on my cheeks and dehydrated around my eyes. A combination skin can be tough to get the balance of moisturising and oil reducing in your products. This is the way many think of a combination skin, but in truth and by its very nature, a combination skin can be made up of various areas of difference.

Identifying characteristics –

Often an oily t-zone that can look shiny. The cheeks and eye area can look a little rougher and dry. A combination skin type can be prone to congestion in the oiler areas.

What to avoid –

Like an oily skin, over exfoliating or harsh cleansers can confuse the skin into oil production where you don’t need it. it can also sensitise the drier areas so suitable, gentle products should be sought.

What to look for –

Gentle cleansers and toners. Combination skins often react well to wash type cleansers. Products that contain AHA can also be useful in a combination skin. They help reduce congestion as they take away excess oil and dead skin, so help the skin stay clearer. Vitamin A is also brilliant at normalising skin, so a great ingredient to include.

my own skin - combination
my own skin – some congestion around the crease of the nose and chin

Dry Skin

Dry skin (not dehydrated, the two are often mixed up) can be of varying degrees, and can be quite problematic. Its also often the first skin that will show signs of ageing if not looked after. Sorry dry skin posse! A dry skin does not have enough of the lipids that are needed to retain oils. In severe cases, a dry skin can become flaky and look patchy. It can be red and sore if extreme.

Identifying characteristics –

Dry skin can look quite dull and patchy, with an uneven texture. It can feel tight after cleansing, and moisturiser struggles to have effect. The skin can looked lined, but often has fewer breakouts than other skin types.

What to avoid –

Strong cleansers, including foaming, wash type cleansers that can be a little too harsh. Hot water as this could further dry the skin. Over exfoliation with granular products. A dry skin will probably not enjoy products with AHA acids or Salicylic acid.

What to look for –

Moisturising serums, products that contain hyaluronic acid (these help the skin retain moisture), and cream based cleansers. Ceramides (molecules that help hold skin together) are also a great ingredient for a dry skin.

Normal Skin

Its quite unusual to see people with a 100% normal skin, but there are some! Even my own skin has days of being normal, even though Im a combination skin type. A normal skin has a balanced oil production and moisture levels.

Identifying characteristics –

Often pretty easy to look after, with the suitable products used feeling like they do their job. A normal skin can still have breakouts, it isn’t totally problem free. It often has a smooth texture, and the clarity of the skin is pretty clear. Lucky devils you!

What to avoid –

A normal skin will not enjoy anything to harsh being used on it. Strong, stripping cleansers and over exfoliating could cause temporary problems to raise their head. They can damage the skin and throw it into disorder. Not ideal!

What to use –

Often, a normal skin type will respond well to a cream based cleanser rather than a wash. Gentle products that do not over strip the skin should be used. Products containing Hyaluronic Acid (to retain moisture) and/or Glycolic Acid (gentle exfoliate)  can be useful in a normal skin.

be your own skincare guru

So, as I said earlier, skin type is different to skin condition. A skin condition is usually temporary.

Things like breakouts, photodamaged, sensitivity, dehydration, milia, rosacea, pigmentation are all skin conditions. If a client comes to me with skin concerns, once we have established their skin type, we can work on the skin condition. I will go more into skin conditions in a future post as I am sure by now you have had enough!

I hope this post has been of some use to you. This skincare series is a little “wordy” but I am trying to keep each post as short as possible. Please bear in mind that these are generic and not all encompassing. Its just to help you try to understand the mystery of skin and how to care for it a little better. The skincare industry is forever telling us that we need this that and the other, “influencers” are constantly selling to us, even department stores are throwing products at us when we are buying a lippie! Im hoping this series makes you a little more informed and not such an easy sale haha!

Please let me know if there are particular topics that you would like covered in a post. Im trying to work from the basics up. The next post I think will cover some of the ingredients in skincare and what they actually do for us. Would that be useful? Im hoping that it will help you know what may suit and be effective on your skin. Im also planning on covering food to include in your diet for skin health, and also explanations of some results driven facials.

Do you struggle to find products suitable for your skin? Do you know your skin type? Let me know whether this post was useful xx

***Please note – other than the photo of me, I have used free stock images as I didnt want to include any branding in these posts.




  1. May 27, 2018 / 11:04 am

    Informative as always, I don’t think it’s too long at all – I love how you included product/skincare recommendations alongside the explanations for each skin type. Great work! xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      May 27, 2018 / 11:42 am

      Thank you so much, its so hard as I dont want to be too basic, but I dont want to bore people to death either haha! Im glad you dont think it was too long. Im finding these posts are turning out quite long winded! Thank you so much for your feedback, always appreciated and welcomed xx

  2. May 27, 2018 / 3:12 pm

    This was so helpful! I had no idea what skin type I was but, thanks to You, I think I’ve now sussed it..pretty certain I’m combination. I am so glad you decided to write this series!! 🙂

    • kerrylifeandloves
      May 28, 2018 / 7:54 am

      Ohhh you dont know how happy that makes me to hear its helped a little. This is exactly what Im hoping to do, yayyyy! Once you have sussed your skin type, it makes it so much easier to find suitable products xx Thank you for reading and your feedback xxx

  3. May 27, 2018 / 5:37 pm

    A great guide and easy to read through. Most people with oily skin make the mistake of not buying hydrating products. Oil is caused by a lack of water in the skin. I spent my teens and early twenties buying these products which just stripped it. And now my face is no longer shiny because I use hydrating products. xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      May 28, 2018 / 7:57 am

      Thank you so much. Yes I think people think of what the “problem” is with their skin, then attack it haha! In my clinic, we had countless times people with an oily skin had sensitised it by stripping it. Im so glad you found your way with your skin. Thats why I am hoping to educate and give a little guidance. (Plus Im a nerd) haha! Thank you for reading xxxx

  4. May 28, 2018 / 9:39 am

    This is so so helpful, for ages I had no idea what sort of skin I had. Skincare was something I had always just sort of ignored but starting to get a bit better at it. Definitely going to return here next time i’m buying skincare products. Really in depth but easy for us novices to understand! Thank you Kerry xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      May 28, 2018 / 4:11 pm

      Im so glad that you found it of use Grace. The skincare industry is such a huge market that its so easy to get confused with it all. If it gives a tiny nudge in the right direction then I’m happy! Thanks for reading xxx

      • May 29, 2018 / 8:39 am

        There are so many choices and options on the market nowadays, it’s definitely helpful to know more about my skin before trying to purchase products! It’s definitely going to help next time I go skincare shopping xxx

        • kerrylifeandloves
          May 29, 2018 / 8:43 am

          Well that is fab. I hope each post in the series is as useful….lol

  5. May 28, 2018 / 11:13 am

    Another great blog post Kerry. It makes such a change to read a skincare article that doesn’t blind me with science and bog me down with too much confusing information. You would think that at my grand old age I would have figured out my skin type by now, but I honestly have no idea, so I usually opt for combination as it seems a safe bet. My skin is pretty good except that I’ve developed broken capillaries across my cheeks so I look rosy cheeked. My nan had them too. I don’t think it’s rosacea though, but then, who am I to know! Keep the posts going. I might then get the hang of this skincare thingy! xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      May 28, 2018 / 4:14 pm

      Ahhhh I am sure you will get the hang of it! Its not always easy to work out your skin type, so dont feel you should have it figured out. Skin has a habit of throwing in a few curve balls now and again too, just to confuse the matter more. Broken capillaries can be treated if you wanted to treat them. I will be covering more on skin conditions in a future post. Redness can also occur from the skin being sensitised too, so dont use anything too harsh xx So glad you are finding these posts simple and of use, thats exactly my intention. Thank you for reading and the feed back xxx

  6. Lise
    May 29, 2018 / 5:01 am

    I’m so grateful for this series! I never trust all of those thousand of web pages telling you you’re skin is like this and that and that you should do this and that.. It’s so much more comforting to hear it from someone I know has experience with it. Looking forward to the next one! xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      May 29, 2018 / 7:23 am

      Thank you so much Lise, thats so great to hear. I think it can be so overwhelming with all the opinions and marketing thrown at us. Thats why I want to strip it back, give facts and build peoples knowledge in as simple a way as possible. Thank you so much for reading and your feedback xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      June 2, 2018 / 6:35 am

      Thank you! You are so welcome, hope it helps a little xxx

  7. June 1, 2018 / 10:14 pm

    I’m a sensitive/dehydrated skinned woman! Pores are what my main issues are at the mo. Huge pores on my nose! Any suggestions Kerry?
    Laurie xx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      June 2, 2018 / 6:38 am

      Enlarged pores are usually a sign of an over production of oil at some point. Do those areas feel a little oilier? Its incredibly difficult to reduce a pore size once stretched, but Products that help build collagen in the skin may help as they kind of push everything tighter. Also some clinical facials could help like laser treatment or gentle peels xxx

  8. March 11, 2019 / 1:39 pm

    Right! Well,this was eye opening and I loved reading this. I have decided I shall be avoiding AHA’s, focusing on healing my poor skin and keeping it hydrated. I have enlarged pores and oily skin so i need to focus on refining and tightening, so I’ll look into gentle peels once I’m on the home stretch to safety! Let’s do this thing! You’ve been so helpful, THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!!! xxx

    • kerrylifeandloves
      March 11, 2019 / 7:37 pm

      Oh I am so glad that you found it useful! I am always happy to answer any general questions on message, email etc. I really hope you get sorted, I know how hard it is to have skin that wont behave! xxx

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