Understanding The Four Skin Types
Understanding the four skin types: normal, dry, oily and combination
There are four basic types of healthy skin: normal, dry, oily and combination skin. Skin type is determined by genetics. The condition of our skin can, however, vary greatly according to the various internal and external factors it is subjected to.
If you need help with identifying your skin type the skin test may be a useful tool. If you need further advice on how best to care for it, you contact a Dr. Sujaya S N at Surgiderma Skin & Plastic surgery center
What is normal skin? ‘Normal’ is a term widely used to refer to well-balanced skin. The scientific term for well-balanced skin is eudermic. The T-zone (forehead, chin and nose) may be a bit oily, but overall sebum and moisture is balanced and the skin is neither too oily nor too dry.
How to identify normal skin
Normal skin has:
good blood circulation
a velvety, soft and smooth texture
a fresh, rosy colour uniform transparency
no blemishes and is not prone to sensitivity.
As a person with normal skin ages, their skin can become dryer. A velvety, soft and smooth texture is a sign for a healthy and radiant skin.
What is dry skin? ‘Dry’ is used to describe a skin type that produces less sebum than normal skin. As a result of the lack of sebum, dry skin lacks the lipids that it needs to retain moisture and build a protective shield against external influences. This leads to an impaired barrier function. Dry skin (Xerosis) exists in varying degrees of severity and in different forms that are not always clearly distinguishable.
Significantly more women suffer from dry skin than men and all skin gets dryer as it ages. Problems related to dry skin are a common complaint and account for 40% of visits to dermatologists.
The causes of dry skin
Skin moisture depends on supply of water in the deeper skin layers and on perspiration.
Skin is constantly loosing water via:
Perspiration: active water loss from the glands caused by heat, stress and activity.
Trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL): the natural, passive way in which skin diffuses about half a litre of water a day from the deeper skin layers.
Dry skin is caused by a lack of:
Natural moisturising factors (NMFs)– especially urea, amino acids and lactic acid – that help to bind in water.
Epidermal lipids such as ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol which are needed for a healthy skin barrier function.
As a result, the skin’s barrier function can become compromised.
Tightness and a rough skin feeling often indicates a dry skin.
Elderly women with dry skin have more pronounced wrinkles and lines.
How to identify different degrees of dry skin
Dry skin ranges from skin that is a little bit drier than normal, through very dry skin to extremely dry skin. The differences can normally be distinguished by:
Mildly dry skin can feel tight, brittle and rough and look dull. Skin elasticity is also low.
Very dry skin
If the dryness is not treated, skin may develop:
mild scaling or flakiness in patches
a rough and blotchy appearance (sometimes it appears to be prematurely aged)
a feeling of tightness
It is also more sensitive to irritation, redness and the risk of infection. Find out more in dry skin.
Extremely dry skin
Certain areas of the body – particularly hands, feet, elbows and knees – are prone to:
chapping with a tendency to form rhagades (cracks)
Extremely dry skin is most commonly found on the elderly or on severely dehydrated hands. Internal and external factors can disrupt skin´s hydration ability. T he soles of the feet tend to become dry and cracked.
What is oily skin?
‘Oily’ is used to describe a skin type with heightened sebum production. An over production is known as seborrhea.
The causes of oily skin
A number of issues trigger the over production of sebum:
hormonal changes and imbalances
comedogenic cosmetics (make-up products that cause irritation)
Oily skin tends to have blemishes.
How to identify the different types of oily skin?
Oily skin is characterised by:
enlarged, clearly visible pores
a glossy shine
thicker, pale skin: blood vessels may not be visible
Oily skin is prone to comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) and to the varying forms of acne.
With mild acne, a significant number of comedones appear on the face and frequently on the neck, shoulders, back and chest too.
In moderate and severe cases, papules (small bumps with no visible white or black head) and pustules (medium sized bumps with a noticeable white or yellow dot at the centre) appear and the skin becomes red and inflamed.
Oily skin can be characterized by enlarged and visible pores.
Acne concerns often appear in the T-zone, especially during puberty.
What is combination skin?
In combination skin the skin types vary in the T-zone and the cheeks. The so-called T-zone can differ substantially – from a very slim zone to an extended area.
Combination skin is characterised by:
an oily T-zone (forehead, chin and nose)
enlarged pores in this area perhaps with some impurities
normal to dry cheeks