Paulien Eeckels

27 May 2020

How and Why You Should Define Your Skin Type

The world of exfoliating, serums, and toners can be confusing and overwhelming. So, we at Enfnts Terribles decided to give you a dedicated skincare guide where we go through all of it. Literally all of it. Every week we will elaborately discuss all the steps your skincare routine should include and how to execute them properly. But before we do that, we will give you all the necessary information about your skin itself. Because it is very important to know your skin type for your skincare to work as intended.


Unfortunately, beautiful skin requires commitment, not a miracle. But remember to have fun and use your morning and evening routine as a little me-time.

Different skin types

A first big misunderstanding in the world of skincare is not knowing your skin type. The main thing you have to figure out is whether you have dry or oily skin. The second one is figuring out if your skin lacks hydration. These two are often confused because the symptoms are very similar.

Other vital information is whether or not you suffer from sensitive skin. Sensitive skin reacts differently to certain ingredients than normal skin, so it’s important to be aware of that. Figuring out your skin type is important for your products to work properly. Some products will be perfect for more oily skin, while it doesn’t work at all for dry skin, and vice versa.

Dehydrated skin vs. dry skin

OK, so what is the difference? The problem of dehydrated skin is that it can’t retain moisture, probably because your skin was damaged by too aggressive cleansing, dry air, or just a general lack of water. Dehydrated skin typically looks dull and can show premature signs of aging, like surface wrinkles and loss of elasticity. It can occur to literally everyone and has nothing to do with your skin type (dry or oily). Your skin will still be able to produce sebum which is the oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands. More about that later.

Now we know what dehydrated skin is, we still need to know how to take care of it. Dehydrated skin needs moisture. Ingredients you have to look for are hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Drinking a lot of water or moistening your environment can also help (certain plants and water on your heater, for example).

Dehydrated skin is often confused with dry skin. However, it is not the same. Dry skin lacks oil. Dry skin is also something you have probably struggled with your whole life. Typical symptoms are a tight and rough feeling, especially after a shower. Your skin appears dry and it can be flaky. But a lack of oil is easily fixed with a thick layer of products with ceramides, shea butter or jojoba oil. More about the treatment in the upcoming weeks.

Oily skin

And now on to oily skin, another very tricky one. Remember how dehydrated skin is still able to produce sebum? Well, a typical characteristic of oily skin is producing too much sebum. So, people with oily skin are often scared to treat their dehydrated skin because they think it will lead to even more sebum, while that is everything but true. Hydration is about water and moisture, remember? And everybody needs hydration! This is an important step in your routine.

Another big mistake made by people with oily skin is over-cleansing. Washing your face too much, and with aggressive cleansers can be damaging. You are trying to dry out your skin, but it actually has the opposite effect. Your skin will always produce sebum, and by trying to dry it out, it will only produce more and more to compensate. So, not the way to go.

Don’t be fooled though, sebum isn’t all that bad. It is actually vital for keeping your skin healthy. It is the “too much” that is the problem. Too much sebum can lead to oily skin, which means clogged pores and thus (sometimes) acne. Typical symptoms of oily skin are a shiny or greasy appearance, large pores, skin that looks thick or rough, pimples (occasional or persistent), clogged pores, and blackheads.

Sensitive skin

You can recognize a sensitive skin by a flat appearance that easily flushes with possible red patches and rashes. General redness is another characteristic. But it may not come as a surprise that sensitive skin can have multiple causes. Chances are that if you suffer from dry skin, you also have sensitive skin. So, if you take care of your dry skin and use gentle ingredients, your issue should be solved quite easily. You also might be allergic to certain ingredients that are used in products such as soaps, lotions, fragrances, and cosmetics. It can really be anything you are allergic to, but a tip I can give you is to use fragrance-free products.

There are a lot of different causes of sensitive skin, so if it is a really big issue, I recommend you go to a doctor or dermatologist so they can give you the right advice. I do have some general tips for sensitive skin:

– Avoid harsh astringents and exfoliants
– Use a gentle, fragrance-free soap
– Gently pat yourself dry after a shower (instead of rubbing) and apply skincare right away
– Test new products on a discreet area of skin at least one day before trying a full application

Normal or combination

Now if you feel like you neither have a dry, oily, dehydrated nor sensitive skin, congratulations, you are God’s favorite. You have normal skin. But even for you, it is still important to maintain a proper routine. Although it is sometimes tempting to not care too much about your skin, I promise you, you’re 50-year-old self will be very happy you did. On a daily basis, we are getting exposed to damaging goods for your skin, like UV-light, pollution, or just make-up. And a big part of skin care is cleansing and protecting your skin from all that.

Another option might be you recognize both types, and then I’m very sorry my dear, but you are not God’s favorite. You suffer from combined skin. And that can be very confusing, but no worries, I’m here to explain how to treat this type as well. Most people that suffer from this skin type, have an oily T-zone (your forehead, nose, and chin) while the rest of your skin is normal to dry.

If I may recommend, even if you don’t really recognize any signs of dehydrated skin, it is still a good thing to include hydrating steps in your routine. A little hydration never hurt anybody. Most of the time products will say what skin type they were made for, but during this series, I will give you some more information about different ingredients and formulas and which ones you should choose according to your skin type.

So basically, you can have normal, oily, or dry skin or a combination of these three. And on top of that, you can have dehydrated and/or sensitive skin. Now that you have this information, it will be easier to pick out the right products for your skin. Something I will discuss in the upcoming weeks.

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