Get to Know Your Skin
Learn the difference between skin tone and skin type, and how to identify your own skin tone and skin type. Knowing your skin type can help you understand common skin problems and find the best skin care solutions for you.
Your skin is unique. Many factors, such as genetics, ethnicity, age, lifestyle, and environment, play a part when determining skin type. Dermatologists classify our skin type by sensitivity, sebum production, water retention, and tendency towards certain skin conditions. Understanding the specific qualities of your skin will make choosing your skincare products easier and the products more targeted for your specific needs so they’re much more effective for you! The best skincare routine for your unique skin type can help you optimize skin health and radiance, age elegantly, and enhance your natural features.
In this article:
- What’s the difference between skin tone and skin type?
- What is my skin tone?
- What is my skin type?
- What are the different types of skin types?
- How to care for different skin types?
- What are the best skincare routines for healthy skin?
What’s the difference between skin tone and skin type?
Although both skin tone and skin type relate to the skin, they are different and it’s important to know the difference between them and how to use each. Knowing your skin tone is helpful when shopping for color cosmetics whereas understanding your skin type helps discern which skincare products meet your specific needs and can address possible skin conditions.
Your skin tone reflects the amount of melanin in your outermost layer of skin, the epidermis. Skin tones have a wide range of unique hues, but they are generally classified light, medium, or dark. Skin also has an undertone, which is the muted color beneath the skin surface, varying between neutral, cool, and warm.
Skin types are generally classified into four groups: normal, dry, oily, and combination. Each skin type has specific characteristics and associated conditions that require different treatments. The best practices for caring for your skin will vary based on your skin type. For example, those with dry skin should avoid overwashing their face, whereas those with oily skin should avoid using oily products.
What is my skin tone?
Understanding your skin tone can help you make informed decisions when buying skincare and cosmetic products, so they blend seamlessly and naturally with your skin tone. Factors that influence skin tone include both genetically predetermined melanin levels and sun exposure. The skin tone you were born with is based on your genetic makeup. But the amount of sun exposure and how your skin reacts to it also influence skin tone because ultraviolet light stimulates the production of additional melanin. Keep this in mind because your skin tone can vary between seasons.
Determine your skin tone by observing your face in natural light and by considering how your skin reacts to sun exposure. Those who burn easily likely have a light skin tone, while those who tan easily have a medium or dark skin tone. Of course, these three general skin tone classifications can be divided into more specific hues, which can vary depending on your unique undertone.
While the skin tone is the surface color of your skin, and can change with sun exposure, the skin’s undertone is the muted color beneath the skin, and it does not change. You can determine your skin undertone by checking the appearance of your veins in natural light. Look at the veins in your hands or wrists for these color traits:
- If your veins appear purple or blue, you have a cool skin tone
- If your veins look green or greenish-blue, you have a warm skin tone
- If you can’t tell whether your veins are blue or green, you likely have a neutral skin tone
Are dark spots related to skin tone? Dark spots on the skin can be a sign of sun damage or of hyperpigmentation, where the skin area is forming excess melanin. Other possible causes of dark spots are acne scars, skin disorders, and hormone imbalances.
Keep in mind that your skin complexion is different from your skin tone. Skin complexion refers to your skin’s overall appearance, including texture and areas that may have additional redness or pigmentation.
What is my skin type?
Figuring out your skin type is easily determined by simple observation. Two types of at-home tests will help you discover your skin type. With 30 minutes and a little effort, you'll know which products work best for you. We suggest two potential approaches.Wait and Watch
You can learn a lot about your skin by just observing how it behaves after cleansing. This test takes 30 minutes and only requires a gentle cleanser. Simply wash your face with a mild cleanser and gently pat it dry.
After 30 minutes, watch for these key traits to determine your skin type:
- If your skin feels non-oily, comfortable, and hydrated, you likely have normal skin
- If your skin feels tight, scaly, or flaky, you likely have dry skin
- If your skin appears shiny throughout, you likely have oily skin
- If your skin appears shiny only in the T-Zone (forehead, nose, and chin), you likely have combination skin
An alternative test is to use blotting sheets. When pressed against skin, the sheets will absorb oil. First, wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. Wait 30 minutes, and then press blotting sheets to various areas of your face. Hold the sheets up to the light to see the oil residue.
- If you see minimal oil from every area of your face, you most likely have normal skin.
- If they absorb little to no oil, then you most likely have dry skin.
- If the sheets reveal oil in all areas of the face, you have oily skin.
- If the sheets only show a small amount of oil from your T-Zone, you have combination skin.
Learn more about the four main skin types and how to care for your specific type below.
How do I care for different skin types?
Skin types are generally classified into one of the four types, and each has its own particular characteristics and needs.
- Oily, or
Normal or Eudermic skin means well-balanced skin. It has normal ranges of sebum production and moisture content, and its skin health factors are average. This skin type most likely occurs in younger people.
The normal skin type has:
- Good blood circulation
- Radiant complexion
- Smooth, even, and clear skin appearance
- Minimal skin blemishes
- Barely visible pores
- Skin that is neither too oily nor too dry
The Eudermic skin type is less likely to suffer from skin conditions and appears radiant, clear, and overall healthy. Individuals with normal skin types can maintain their skin with regular cleansing, moisturizing, and preventative skin treatments when necessary.Characteristics of Dry Skin:
Dry skin or Xerosis can result from genetic, lifestyle, or environmental factors. For example, women are more prone to dry skin than men. In addition, skin becomes dryer as it ages, and certain areas of the body are more prone to dry skin, such as the hands, arms, legs, palms, and soles of the feet. Dry skin types may produce less sebum than other skin types or have a weakened or compromised skin barrier. Because of that, dry skin types require additional moisturizing and assistance to help the skin retain water by strengthening the skin barrier.
Dry skin types are likely to notice:
- Skin complexion that appears blotchy or dull
- Susceptibility to redness, irritation, and infection
- Scaling, flaking, tightness, and itchiness
- Lacking elasticity
- Proneness to cracking and chapping
- Rough skin texture
- Noticeable fine lines and wrinkles
- Barely visible pores
Dry skin types need consistent daily moisturization and should avoid skincare products that use drying ingredients, such as denatured alcohol, that strip the skin of sebum. Things that exacerbate dry skin and should be avoided are UV exposure, long hot showers, central heating and cooling, and certain medications. Dry skin-specific formulated moisturizers are essential for dry skin types and must adapt to seasonal environmental changes.Characteristics of Oily Skin:
Oily Skin or Seborrhea is the effect of overactive sebaceous glands. Oily skin is more common in men and more frequent during puberty and young adulthood. This skin type is more prone to acne, blemishes, and skin issues. Genetics is a significant factor for oily skin types. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy or puberty, stress, diet, certain medications, and choice of skincare products can also lead to oily skin.
The oily skin type may experience:
- Pale complexion
- Shiny or greasy skin
- Thick texture
- Visible and enlarged pores
- Susceptibility to acne around the nose, chin, and forehead
- Skin that looks plumper and less aged
Oily skin types should focus on lightweight, quickly absorbing, non-oily, non-comedogenic skincare products that won't clog their pores. Suggested skincare practices are daily gentle cleansing, avoiding oily products and fatty and greasy foods, and steering clear from certain medications when possible. In extreme cases, consult with a medical professional for medications that reduce excess sebum production.Characteristics of Combined Skin Types:
The most common skin type is the combination of oily and dry skin. Individuals with combination skin types often experience oily and dry skin in different face areas: the T-zone marks the forehead, nose, and chin where oily skin is most present. Frequently, there is an overproduction of sebum in the T-Zone. Conversely, the cheeks, eyes, and mouth may have dry or normal skin due to a lack of sebum production.
Combination skin types may have:
- Dry or normal skin around the mouth, eyes, and cheeks
- Oily skin centered around the forehead, nose, and chin
- Proneness to acne on the forehead, nose, and chin
- Visible and enlarged pores around the forehead, nose, and chin
Individuals with combination skin types require different skincare routines and products for each skin region to properly treat their specific conditions. For example, use lightweight products on the entire face, including the T-zone as the first step. Then apply a bit more of the same product or apply oil-based products around the dry skin area, such as around the eyes or cheeks.
Balanced Skin with Fresh Daily Duo
When caring for your skin, striving for balance is fundamental. The founders of LightWater are leaders in the beauty and skincare industry and are re-imagining skincare with their fresh, patent-pending products. The Multivitamin Moisturizer and Replenishing Cream balance the skin with peak efficiency. Both products are suitable for all ages, skin tones, and skin types. Both formulas are light-as-air, non-greasy, and absorb quickly into the skin.
What are the best skincare routines for healthy skin?
The best skincare for you is the one that works with your skin type. Now that you better understand your skin type, here are some considerations for your skincare routine. Regardless of your skin type, having a daily regimen will optimize your skin health, prevent skin conditions, help you age elegantly, and enhance your natural beauty and features. When it comes to quality, choose products that provide the most nutrients for the skin. Search for items that are clean, fresh, pure, and free of heavy preservatives and allergens. We learned that effective skincare starts with a healthy skin microbiome, so we must choose products that actively nourish and balance our skin and avoid products that eliminate the beneficial microbes or strip away the skin’s acid mantle. LightWater’s fresh ingredientschallenge the beauty industry’s standards. It's time to toss the harsh chemicals, toxins, and any fragrances out of your skincare altogether.
Here are your key players for healthy and fresh skin. First, opt for fragrance-free products that won’t contain allergens and irritants, even for sensitive skin. Then, shop for products that won't clog your pores. For acne-prone skin, products may feature Hyaluronic acid or skincare acids such as ascorbic acid, citric acid, or salicylic acid. Our Fresh Daily Duo regimen includes a morning moisturizer and evening replenishing cream for an easy, optimal daily skincare routine.Your Personalized Skincare Products May Include:
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Skincare acids such as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), citric acid or salicylic acid
- Protection from UV (SPF) or blue light
Cleansers: Choose a gentle cleanser that removes the impurities that stick to your skin, like excess sweat, oil, and other external substances. A morning cleanser will refresh the face after a good night's sleep and set you up for the next steps in your skincare routine. Nightly cleansers are necessary to remove any leftover makeup and dirt from the day and should leave your skin feeling soft, clean, and refreshed. Choose cleansing products that promote pH balance and hydration to rejuvenate the skin.
Moisturizers: Facial Moisturizers and cleansers work together to achieve balance and proper hydration. Use morning and evening moisturizers to support and balance the skin barrier. When shopping for moisturizers, choose hydration formulas that nourish the skin from the inside out to reduce fine lines and boost elasticity. Remember that night creams and moisturizers made from fresh ingredients, that are free of harsh chemicals, and are focused on balancing the microbiome are essential.
Hyaluronic Acid: This naturally occurring sugar molecule increases skin hydration, promoting fresh, bouncy fullness. Natural hyaluronic acid binds to collagen and water molecules, yielding plump skin. As we age, our collagen and hyaluronic acid decrease and impact our skin's hydration levels. Hyaluronic acid products replenish and rehydrate aging skin while reducing puffiness and fine lines. Hyaluronic acid readily absorbs into the skin in moisturizers, eye creams, and serums. Sodium Hyaluronate is a form of Hyaluronic Acid that has lower molecular weight so it can penetrate the dermis more effectively; it’s one of the key ingredients in LightWater’s Multivitamin Moisturizer.
Skincare acids such as ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), ferulic acid, citric acid, or salicylic acid: Ascorbic acid is a potent antioxidant and anti-aging ingredient as the active form of Vitamin C. Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant and protects the skin from the damaging free radicals generated by UV. Citric acid is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) that helps remove dead cell and dirt. Salicylic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory, works to unclog skin pores, and is a popular ingredient against acne, spots, and blemishes. Salicylic acid is more oil-soluble and can penetrate the skin through the lipid layer. However, it's important not to overuse this ingredient as it can irritate dry or sensitive skin. It’s best used only for acne-prone areas.
SPF or blue light protection: Have you noticed any dark spots lately? Dark spots are the result of hyperpigmentation. Most dark spots or sun spots are preventable with proper sun protection. Support your skin with SPF-containing products and reapply every two hours if outside or sitting near a window. If you spend plenty of time looking at computers or smartphones, also use products containing blue light-protecting ingredients. Choose products without harmful chemicals and ones that contain antioxidants to protect skin from free radical damage. Learn more by reading our blog post: The toll of sun damage and the importance of quality skincare
Want radiant, fresh, and healthy skin? Work with your skin type, remember to lighten the preservative load and choose fragrance-free products. LightWater provides simple and safe skincare solutions for every skin type. Nourish your skin with LightWater.