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Description of Skin Types

About Your Skin
Your skin is the largest organ of you body. It serves to protect your body from external influences, senses the environment with nerves and hair, eliminates toxins and helps control internal temperature through sweat.

About Skin Type
The cosmetic industry attempts to define the skin's needs and reactions to skin care products by assigning it a category. The most common are Normal, Oily, Acne, Dry, Damaged, Mature, Sensitive and Combination. Most people will find that their skin does not rigidly fit into one specific category, meaning that Combination skin is the most common.

Factors that Influence Skin Type
There are many external and internal reasons why skin behaves as it does. Working to eliminate or change these factors can greatly improve the skin.

External Influences:

  • Climate/Weather - Cold, Warm, Humid or Dry will all affect your skin. Cold/Dry environments will take the moisture from the skin causing it to be dry and vitamin deficient, whereas Humid environments will cause sweating and excess body moisture leading to oily/acne prone skin. The best thing to do for Cold/Dry environments is to use a humidifier during sleep to replace lost moisture. Steam is a powerful healing agent for any skin type, even oily/acne, since it will eliminate toxins and balance the skin. For Humid places, use rice paper blotters throughout the day to remove excess sweat/oil from the skin. Again, steaming and deep cleaning the skin at least once a week is important to remove excess sebum build-up that occurs in these environments.
  • Hard Water vs. Soft Water - The type of water you use to bathe and wash your face does affect your skin. If you live in the city you will likely use chlorine treated water. This type of water dries and depletes the skin. Whereas, those with water softeners will have water with a high salt ratio and usually no harsh chemicals added. This type of water is more suited to cleaning the skin and leaves it feeling soft. If you have hard water the best thing to do is to buy some distilled or purified water to wash your face.
  • Sun Exposure - Every person needs a little sun in their daily life to create valuable Vitamin D. Most can achieve this with about 5 to 15 minutes a day of sun exposure. Getting moderate amounts of sun without burning or tanning is recommended. Sun burn leads to skin damage. It can take years for this damage to show up or cancer to develop. Most middle aged people acquired their damage during childhood/teen years. Sun damage will cause premature lines and wrinkles, sun spots/freckling or hyperpigmentation, dry and peeling skin, and at worst skin cancer. Always protect your skin with a sunblock or SPF moisturizer. Avoid sun exposure for prolonged periods and never burn your skin.

Internal Influences:

  • Hormones - Women and men have hormonal fluctuations that will definitely change their skin. At puberty the body goes through radical changes and it is common for excess sebum and acne to appear. Women experience monthly changes with their menstruation, while pregnancy and menopause have their own complications. This type of influence is the worst since it is difficult to control hormonal fluctuations which can change from day to day.
  • Genetic predisposition - Every person is likely to have an inclination to one type of skin or another. Ethnicity is one example. Fair (light) skin tends to be drier, shows age and freckles/burns easily. Darker skin has more natural sun protection, ages gracefully, but has a higher sebum production. Understanding how your genetics play a role in your skin type can help you take precautions or make changes in your skin care routine.
  • Smoking - Actually causes external and internal damage. Smoking depletes the body's nutrients and hinders the immune system. Toxins build within the body which will be apparent in the skin. Smoking causes deep lines around the mouth, while the skin will appear dull and dry. Overall it will cause a premature aging effect. It can take years for these symptoms to appear, but it can be prevented by not smoking or quitting before they begin.
  • Diet/Nutrition - You've likely heard the expression 'You are what you eat.' This simple fact will be apparent in your skin. Eating unhealthy foods like those high in sugar, carbohydrates and fats, as well as those with artificial ingredients will lead to toxins building up within the body. The body naturally eliminates these through the skin. An unhealthy diet can lead to a variety of skin conditions. The best kind of diet for your body is balanced meals of carbs, proteins and essential fatty acids that consist of plenty of organic (when possible) vegetables, fruits and meats. Avoid processed sugar foods, fried foods and artificial ingredients. Most importantly try to get as much variety in your diet as possible.
  • Water - Drinking plenty of water will help your body expel excess toxins and hydrate your body internally/externally. The recommended amount of fluid intake per day is 8  8-ounce glasses. Herbal teas can account for some of this amount, while soda, juice, coffee and black tea do not.
  • Exercise - While not a direct reflection on the facial skin, exercise does help with stress relief, increasing immunity and removal of toxins. All of these benefits will help the entire body including the skin.
  • Sleep - During sleep the body rejuvenates itself. This is highly important for all body functions. Be sure to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Illness/Medications - When the body is ill, either through chronic illness or a temporary cold or flu, it will be reflected in the skin. Likewise, many types of medication will alter the skin.

Skin Type Changes
Throughout life your body will go through many phases which will affect your skin. During youth most will have normal skin, however this will change at puberty. For some people the skin type they develop as an adult will mostly stay the same, for others with many internal or external influences the skin type may change frequently.

A Note About Acne
There are actually several causes of acne that should be taken into consideration prior to choosing skin care products. Acne can have external or internal origins. External causes of acne include bacteria on the skin that causes breakouts or reactions. This type of acne will often clear up by introducing products that include oxygen or peroxide ingredients since these will kill the surface bacteria. Internal causes of acne such as a genetic disposition towards oily skin, hormones or diet are much harder to treat. You must try to make changes internally or skin care products will only be slightly effective in combating the problem.

What Every Skin Type Needs
Regardless of your skin type, every person needs:

  • To avoid prolonged sun exposure that will lead to burning
  • To avoid smoking and drugs
  • To drink plenty of water to keep the body hydrated
  • To eat a balanced and natural diet
  • To get enough sleep and learn stress coping methods
  • A regular daily skin care regimen with a cleanser, toner and moisturizer
  • When possible to have a professional facial or home facial for deep cleansing and skin rejuvenation

Types of Skin & Determining Yours
 

Normal/Young
Normal skin is not too oily or dry in any particular area. Normal skin is firm with a healthy glow or shine with a tendency toward smooth texture and small pores. It is not easily irritated and blemishes are rare. Most children and young adults have normal skin, while it is uncommon in adults. It is important to protect normal skin by using sunblock and proper hygiene to prevent skin care problems from forming.

Questions for Normal skin:

  • Do you have even skin color, free of red or dark patches?
  • Are you free of enlarged pores?
  • Did acne problems clear up after puberty/teen years?
  • Does your hair stay fresh between washing?
  • Can you try products without fear of irritation?
Combination Skin
Areas of normal, oily and dry skin existing at one time. Generally dry on the cheek area, while oily in the T-Zone (forehead, nose and chin). This is the most common skin type. Products that balance the complexion are recommended.

Questions for Combination skin:

  • Do you notice patches of dry skin and/or oily skin on different parts of your face?
  • Do you have irregular breakouts or random blemishes?
  • Do you find that products suited for oily/acne skin dries your skin, while dry skin products make your face too oily?
Sensitive Skin
This type of skin may be easily irritated by soaps, touch, or other substances in the environment. It may be thin, dry, with fine pores. It may become red and damaged easily, while appearing blotchy and irritated. Broken capillaries and vessels beneath the surface may be apparent. Great care must be taken to not over-stimulate sensitive skin and hypoallergenic products must be used. Avoid harsh detergents and products with alcohol, dyes and perfumes.

Questions for Sensitive skin:

  • Does your facial skin turn red or breakout after touching the face or cleansing?
  • Do you find that using products, especially those with alcohol or chemicals/artificial ingredients, causes your skin to become irritated, itchy, red or blemished?
  • Do you have fair or light toned skin, which might tan or burn easily?
  • Do you have known skin allergies or prone to hives/itching?
  • Do you have food allergies or follow a restricted diet due to a medical condition?
Oily to Acne Skin
Oily skin often has large pores. Forehead, nose and chin are often shiny or greasy. Under the skin there is fatty tissue which creates higher sebum production with the probability of blackheads, blemishes and acne. Severe acne can lead to scarring, hyperpigmentation and pitted skin. Glycolic products are highly effective at treating oily to acne skin. Acne caused by bacteria on the skin responds well to oxygen or peroxide products. Steam and deep cleansing treatments are also recommended. Great care must be taken to avoid using too many products that will dry (alcohol, salicylic acid, or sulfur) the skin as it will lead to peeling or irritation or the skin will often retaliate by producing more sebum. Its best to take the approach of balancing the skin.

Questions for Oily/Acne skin:

  • Did you have a problem during puberty/teen years?
  • Does your hair tend to be oily/greasy?
  • Does your foundation wear off within a few hours?
  • Do you wake up with an oily film on your nose, forehead or chin?
  • Do you have darker skin tones or tan easily?
  • Do new products cause your skin to break out?
  • Do you notice that your skin breaks out during your monthly cycle?
  • Are you troubled by dandruff?
  • Do your parents or family have a history of acne?
Dry Skin
Dry skin is not able to sustain a significant moisture level and irritation occurs. It can be characterized by redness, roughness, and flaking or peeling skin. The skin is tight, lacks suppleness and fine lines appear around the eyes and lips. This type of skin is likely to occur in those with fair skin, hard water or cold/dry environment. Products that exfoliate and nourish the skin are recommended. Glycolics followed by an appropriate moisturizer are effective. Use of a humidifier or steam treatments are excellent ways to replenish lost natural moisture.

Questions for Dry skin:

  • Are you under 35 years old?
  • Is your hair dry or brittle?
  • Do your hand often feel tight and rough?
  • Does your skin feel tight after washing or showering?
  • Do you rarely have blemishes?
  • Does your make-up tend to crease or look as though it hasn't absorbed into your skin?
  • Is your facial skin texture rough, peeling or cracked?
Mature Skin  
From 35 years on, the skin starts to loose tone and elasticity due to diminished production of Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid. Menopause depletes the body of the hormone estrogen which keeps the body youthful. Fine lines may appear, as well as, dryness and a loss of elasticity. Products with collagen and elastin are recommended along with vitamin serums for skin rejuvenation. Glycolics are beneficial at smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, texture and eliminating hyperpigmentation.

Questions for Mature skin:

  • Are you over 35 years old?
  • Do you have raised brown spots, large freckles or reddish patches on your skin?
  • Have you developed lines around your eyes, lips, and forehead?
  • Is your skin dull with a pale or yellowish tone?
  • Does your skin sag along the jawline?
Environmentally Damaged Skin
  Exposure to the sun, pollution, smoking, stress and many other factors  can damage the skin. It is characterized by brown spots, roughness, loss of elasticity and premature aging. Products that are suitable for dry and mature skin work well for this type of skin. Care must be taken to remove the external causes of skin damage for treatment to be effective.

Questions for Damaged skin:

  • Have you spent prolonged time in the sun during your childhood and teen years, often resulting in tanning or burning?
  • Are you a sun worshiper who likes to tan often?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you live in a cold/dry climate?
  • Do you notice brown spots, large freckles or reddish patches on your skin?
  • Have you developed lines around your eyes, lips and forehead?
  • Is your skin dull with a pale or yellowish tone?
  • Do you have premature aging or appear older than you should?
 

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