Understanding your skin and your skin type is an important and unavoidable aspect of your skincare routine.
Without being too techie I wanted to analyze for you all these aspects and features your skin could present.
There are four major skin types, with overlapping skin conditions. This allows for a large number of possibilities. Let’s delve into the special cases of skin types!
1- Oily skin can also be dry
If, however, the areas involved are different.
Let’s go back to the presentation of each of these skin types.
First of all, oily skin, which is due to an excess of sebum accumulating on the surface of the skin and is essentially composed of lipids (which protect against water loss), makes the skin rich in water.
Conversely, dry skin is skin that has lost water for a variety of reasons. Therefore, in the same area, the skin cannot be both oily and dry at the same time.
However, on the face, for example, some areas may be oily (often the T-zone formed by the forehead, nose, and chin), while others may be dry (such as the cheeks).
This skin is known as combination skin.
Another possibility is a change in skin type over time. For example, if a skin tends to produce a lot of sebum but if this is intensely eliminated (by the use of very detergent products for example), then what was originally meant to be an oily skin will be dry skin.
2- Aging can change the skin type
One main characteristic of aging is the decrease in cellular activity.
This is experienced in many ways.
For the skin glands, for example, it leads to the depletion of skin secretions.
Therefore, with age, the skin becomes increasingly dry due to a lack of sebum. Thus, formerly oily skin will be less and less oily and skin that is already dry will become dryer and dryer.
More generally, all skin cells are affected by the mechanisms of aging.
Thus, the epidermis becomes thinner, the dermis loses its capacity to hold moisture and becomes more fragile.
And consequently leads to a new skin type: mature skin (also known as senescent skin).
3- Dry skin necessary lacks water
But indirectly it lacks sebum above all.
As previously stated, sebum is a lipophilic (tends to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats) secretion.
Located on the surface of the skin, it prevents the passage of water.
For dry skin, this sebum deficit can have different origins:
- a total absence of sebaceous secretion (the term alipidic skin is then used) or
- a lack of sebum on the surface of the skin (the term hypolipidic skin will be used here).
In the case of hypolipidic dry skin, the lack of sebum can again have two causes:
- either the sebum is produced in too small a quantity (due to hormonal disorders or the taking of certain medication),
- or the sebum produced is eliminated in high quantity from the skin surface (by using too many detergent products or too frequent baths and showers).
However, in all the cases mentioned above, the lack or absence of sebum means that the water present within the skin structure is no longer retained.
It escapes then by evaporation through the skin layers, which is called perspiration, leading to signs of dry skin.
4- Hormonal variations have no effect on skin type
Hormones, mainly sex hormones, have a strong effect on skin secretions, which leads to consequences on skin type.
Like this, male hormones, such as testosterone, activate the secretion of sebum.
Conversely, female hormones slow down the secretion of sebum.
So, for example, in pregnant women, the very significant increase in female hormones will greatly reduce the production of sebum.
This will be good news for women who used to have oily skin, which will then be less oily.
However, for women with normal or even dry skin, this can lead to skin dryness.
This pattern will be the same, up or down depending on the situation, for other periods of life when sex hormone levels vary: namely puberty, menopause, the postpartum period or the middle of the menstrual cycle.
5- The sun can change the skin type
The sun can also alter sebaceous secretion.
Indeed, in case of prolonged exposure to the sun, the skin will produce more sebum, because it helps fight against dryness and will contain a few molecules that filter UV rays.
And as a consequence, exposure to the sun increases the oily nature of the skin.
However, this effect is not immediate, as sebum production will take place with a certain delay due to the time needed to produce sebum, which is about two weeks.
Thus, during prolonged and exceptional exposure to the sun, in the case of holidays for example, during the first few days, the sun will tend to dry the skin.
So a woman who usually has oily skin will find that her skin condition improves. However, due to the delayed production of sebum, it is very common for the situation to worsen with an increase in the sebaceous secretion, which often occurs after returning from holidays.
So people think, falsely, that the sun has improved their skin and that working in the sun is bad for it!
6- The sensitivity of the skin is characteristic of dry skin
By definition, sensitive skin, also known as reactive skin, is skin that reacts easily under certain conditions.
It then shows some redness, a feeling of heat and may create tingling.
The conditions leading to these reactions are diverse, they can be
- temperature variations,
- friction or
- contact with certain normally harmless products.
Indeed, due to their fineness, dry skin is often sensitive. But other types of skin, mature, oily or even normal, can present this type of abnormality.
In fact, the sensitive nature of skin is not considered a skin type but a skin condition, which can, therefore, be found in all skin types.
7- There are different skin conditions that can overlap with skin types
Skin conditions are temporary characteristics of the skin, unlike skin types, which are long-lasting characteristics.
So, as presented earlier with sensitive skin, different skin types can take on momentary characteristics.
As a result, several skin conditions have been identified:
- First of all, sensitive skin, which is characterized by the presence of redness.
- Dehydrated skin is due to an internal water deficit. This condition is logically associated with dry skin, but can also affect other skin types in the case of moisturization disorders (not drinking enough, for example) or exposure to extreme weather conditions.
- Hyperhydrated skin is also a skin condition that is characterized by an accumulation of water within the skin; this is what happens to the fingertips when you stay in a bath for a long time (called skin maceration). Sometimes roughness is also considered a skin condition.
8- Dry skin and dehydrated skin is the same
We have just seen that dry skin is a skin type (characterized by a sebum deficiency) and that dehydrated skin is a skin condition (characterized by a lack of water).
It is indeed true that the two are intimately linked.
But you will have understood that dehydrated skin is not necessarily dry. If, for example, a person does not drink enough water, they may have oily, dehydrated skin.
9- Only visual criteria can be used to differentiate between different skin types
There are visual as well as tactile criteria to differentiate between skin types.
- Indeed, for visual criteria, you can take into account the complexion which corresponds to the overall color and luminosity of the skin, the skin texture which describes the state of the skin surface and finally the possible imperfections present on the surface of the skin.
- But you can also use tactile criteria, by touching the skin, to determine the skin type. For example, by pinching, you can determine the thickness of the skin and its consistency, i.e. whether it is more or less elastic. By touching the skin, its texture can be determined; for example, whether it is rough or oily.
A total of six criteria are usually selected: three visual and three tactile.
10- Normal skin doesn’t really exist
Because, by definition, normal skin is skin that has no imperfections, that does not react to the multiple aggressions that we experience, that is neither too oily nor too dry, in a nutshell, like in a dream.
Even on the most perfect woman, her skin will have a small pimple, a small pigmented trace.
In fact, normal skin is an ideal we would like to strive for. And for that, we need to make skin anomalies disappear, regulate skin secretions. And this, very often, thanks to the advice of a beautician or reading trustworthy information.
I tried not to be too scientific here and write this article to help you define your skin type and skin condition, two main parameters that will make you better choose your skincare products.
Don’t hesitate to write a comment below and share your own experience and discoveries with your skin.