How Should Different Skin Types Be Cared For?

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Skin is the largest organ of the body. It is the first line of contact for any external agents and acts as a major portal of entry and exit in the body. Many a time when we talk about the skin, we only take into consideration the facial skin forgetting the rest of our body.

Although clear flawless skin is everyone’s dream and this is not just confined to the female gender, it is seldom possible for all of us to achieve that glassy dewy appearance that is cliched by our beloved cosmetic industry. That being said it is not just the face but the skin all over your body that needs to be taken care of.

Skincare is a very subjective matter and even in this case, the one size fits approach is of no good. You should understand your skin and care for it accordingly. All of us have different skin types, skin types change in different body parts in the same person too. In this article, you can read more about these different skin types and how to take care of your skin according to the types under which you fall.

Types of Skin

In the early 1900s, cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubinstein claimed that dry, oily, combination, or sensitive were the best words to label what could be considered the four fundamental types of skin. For the ensuing century, these categories have been used to characterize skin types with only minor, if any, modifications.

During the same time period, the skin care product market developed into a multibillion-dollar industry which in recent years, also witnessed the emergence of ‘‘cosmeceuticals,’’ a new product category that refers to cosmetic products that may impart some biological function to the skin.

Amidst a market now deluged with a plethora of skincare products, the traditional designations for skin types have been seen as incomplete and they do not provide enough guidance to select the most suitable skincare products. A more thorough depiction of skin type could prove to be beneficial as some skincare products are now marketed based on the skin types for which they are designed.

But does a person have simply dry or sensitive skin? The skin types identified by Rubinstein tell only a fraction of the story. Hence Baumann suggested an innovative approach to classifying skin, the Baumann Skin Type Indicator (BSTI). BSTI treats two of Rubinstein’s categories as one of four paired parameters to characterize facial skin types. Evaluating the skin based on all four parameters yields 16 potential skin-type permutations (1).

Although this classification is made variability is a key concept when it comes to skin type. Skin types are not necessarily static. Moving to a different climate or experiencing marked stress fluctuations, pregnancy, menopause, or other significant exogenous and endogenous events can engender skin type changes. Let us read more about the different skin types based on BSTI and the best possible ways to take care of it.

Oily Versus Dry Skin

Having skin that is sufficiently hydrated will fall in the middle of the oily–dry spectrum, which is most often considered ideal regarding this parameter. The dry end of this spectrum is considered more troublesome than the oily end. Dry skin is characterized by dull color (typically gray white) and rough texture.

Sebum, the oily secretion of the sebaceous glands makes the skin oily. Reduced sebum production is rarely the source of complaints, but elevated sebum production, rendering oily skin that can lead to acne, is a common complaint amongst all.

Sebum levels are typically low during childhood, increase in the middle to late teens, and remain relatively stable for decades until decreasing in the seventh and eighth decades of life.

Hence teens are more prone to acne. One’s genetic background, diet, stress levels, and hormone levels also affect sebum production.

Sensitive Versus Resistant Skin

Resistant skin or normal skin is characterized by a robust upper layer that strongly protects the skin from allergens and other irritants. Although acne is rare in people who have resistant skin, it may emerge because of stress or hormonal fluctuations. These individuals can use most skin care products without fear of adverse reactions but they may be unable to detect differences among various cosmetic skin care formulations.

Sensitive skin is a more complex phenomenon and more difficult to characterize. It is commonly seen in healthy women of childbearing age. There are variations in the qualities of sensitive skin and depending on the variation this type may be classified as

  1. acne type (propensity to develop acne, blackheads, or whiteheads)
  2. rosacea type (tendency toward recurrent flushing, facial redness, and experiencing hot sensations)
  3. stinging type (proclivity to experiencing stinging or burning sensations),
  4. allergic-type (prone to manifesting pruritus, and skin flaking).

Despite such differences, the four subtypes of sensitive skin share one significant feature: inflammation.

Pigmented Versus Nonpigmented Skin

This skin parameter does not pertain to skin color, but to the propensity to develop undesired hyperpigmentation on the face, chest, or arms. The skin pigment melanin gives color to the skin. Melanin is synthesized by melanocyte cells. Ultraviolet (UV) irradiation can also induce melanin production.

 Wrinkled Versus Tight Skin

These parameters typically refer to the aging of the skin which is a complex multifactorial phenomenon. It can be of two types namely intrinsic and extrinsic aging. Intrinsic aging is a function of hereditary and is considered inevitable and beyond human volition.

Extrinsic aging is premature aging of the skin and is driven by chronic exposure to the sun and other deleterious environmental elements (e.g., cigarette smoke, poor nutrition) and, therefore, can be avoided, though not always easy. Cutaneous aging is evidenced, first and foremost, by the formation of wrinkles.

D=Dry O=Oily S=Sensitive R=Resistant P=Pigmented N=Nonpigmented W=Wrinkled T=Tight

How To Take Care of The Different Skin Types

Normal or Resistant Skin

If you assume that this type of skin does not need any care then you are unfortunately wrong! A basic skincare regime should be followed by all and especially by those having normal skin types so that it continues to remain the same. the following tips will help if you fall into this category

Wear sunscreen– Exposure to the sun can lead to dry skin and wrinkles hence sunscreen is a must for the overall health of your skin to avoid pigmentation or tanning and pore-clogging.

Moisturizer– Moisturizers help in reducing the overproduction of sebum that may lead to oily skin and is a must for any skin type.

Remove any makeup products before sleeping– sleeping with your makeup on may lead to acne breakout due to clogged pores. You need to let your skin breathe while sleeping and hence this step is very important.

Drink plenty of water– keep yourself properly hydrated throughout the day. This will help in decreasing excess oil production and also reduce dry and flaky skin.

Oily Skin

Those who have oily skin need to follow the above tips for normal skin too. Replace your moisturizer with a lightweight moisturizer that is advised for oily skin. Apart from that you also need to

Wash your face twice a day– to remove any dirt and bacteria that may clog your skin pores.

Avoid touching your face constantly– to prevent the spreading of acne that is normal in such skin types.

 Use non-comedogenic makeup products– to prevent the clogging of skin pores with the makeup.

Dry Skin

Again, those with dry skin need to follow the above tips for normal skin. Replace your moisturizer with a hydrating moisturizer that is advised for dry skin. Apart from these, you may also need to:

Take shorter showers– as hot and more frequent showers strip the skin off the natural moisture and dry it further.

Not scrub your skin while bathing or drying– Gently pat your skin to dry it and do not scrub.

Use a humidifier– this will help retain the natural moisture in your skin.

Sensitive skin

Always do a patch test– as sensitive skin may be allergic to several products hence a patch test is imperative. Wait for 24 hours after the patch test and if there is no reaction you can go ahead with the product. Do not blindly follow hypoallergic labels without a patch test.

Do not use too many products– use mild skin care products and avoid slathering your skin with many of them.

Avoid extremely hot showers– very hot temperatures can leave your sensitive skin inflamed and irritated hence no matter how happy a hot shower makes you feel do not indulge.

Basics of Skincare

  1. Always keep yourself hydrated intrinsically by drinking plenty of water and extrinsically by using a moisturizer.
  2. Use protective coverings like sunglasses, hats, etc to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
  3. Follow basic hygiene practices, wash your skin regularly but do not overdo the same.
  4. Do not use harsh chemicals on your skin.
  5. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, green vegetables, etc.
  6. Work out regularly to be stress-free.
  7. Always consult a dermatologist for all your skin-related issues. Dermatologists can diagnose and treat them appropriately. Do not use products recommended for your friends or family members for yourself unless advised by your dermatologist.

 The categories used to describe skin types have changed little over the last century, whereas the skin care product market has undergone rapid innovation and exponential growth. Although the skin type may change from person to person, skincare remains fundamental to all. You need to understand your skin type to know what best care and what best products you can use for your skincare routine.

 Let us know in the comments section below if you can identify your skin type based on the information in this blog.


  1.     Baumann L. Understanding and treating various skin types: the Baumann Skin Type Indicator. Dermatologic clinics. 2008 Jul 1;26(3):359-73.

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