Oily, dry, combination: There are 5 main skin types. Here's how to find out which one you are.

In a world where we're constantly bombarded with new, buzzy skincare products, it can be hard to know which ones to buy. Especially when we're a little on the fence about our skin type.

Oily, sensitive, combination...raise your hand if you're a grown woman and you're still not quite sure. *Raises hand.*

Just quickly, here are seven ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

Thing is, determining your skin type is the first and most vital step towards achieving clear, glowing skin.

We spoke to PHD qualified scientist and Qr8 founder Dr Michele Squire, to learn about the five main skin types and what the signs of each are, and help us all figure out which category we fit into. 

1. Normal skin.

"Normal skin is the ultimate goal of cosmetic skincare and is described as skin that is in balance," Dr Michele told Mamamia.

Signs of normal skin:

  • It is neither oily nor dry.
  • Has infrequent breakouts.
  • Small, but just visible, pores. 
  • It feels soft, smooth and comfortable.
  • Doesn’t suffer from barrier issues, so isn’t easily irritated or reactive.

2. Oily skin.

"The technical name for excessively oily skin is seborrhoea," Dr Michele explained. "Oil (sebum) is produced by our sebaceous glands which are larger and more numerous in the upper body, particularly the upper back, scalp, forehead and chin." 

"Seborrhoea is a common complaint in adolescents, caused by hormonal stimulation of sebaceous glands but hormonal imbalance at any age can trigger it. Other factors that can impact oil production are genetic background, stress, heat and humidity," she said.

Signs of oily skin:

  • Shine appears a short time after cleansing. 
  • Enlarged pores. 
  • Reddening. 
  • Thicker, roughened skin. 
  • Acne is often a feature, and scaly patches (seborrheic dermatitis) can also develop.

3. Dry skin.

"Dry skin is known as xerosis, and is characterised by a loss of moisture," Dr Michele said. 


"True dry skin, such as in the elderly or those with skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema, is caused by a complex interplay of natural factors within the skin, but temporary dry skin can also be created by exposure to cold, sun and wind, and over-processing with chemicals such as exfoliants, acids, retinoids and cleansers," she continued.

Signs of dry skin:

  • Dull, tight, rough, reddened appearance.
  • Scaling/flaking, cracking, irritation and itching.
  • Stinging and burning when skincare and cosmetics are applied, which can lead to acutely sensitive skin.

4. Combination skin.

"Combination skin is the most common cosmetic skin type and can possess traits of all previously described skin types," Dr Michele said.

Signs of combination skin:

  • Typically oily in the T-zone (forehead, nose, chin) and normal or dry elsewhere.

5. Sensitive skin.

"Sensitive skin is a controversial topic! Although it is a widely-reported skin type, and there are a plethora of products designed around it, there is still no consensus amongst dermatologists and scientists about what a sensitive skin type actually is, what causes it and how to test for and diagnose it," Dr Michele explained.

"In general, it is thought to be a disorder involving negative skin responses from a combination of barrier deficiency, specific ingredients/products and dysfunction of the sensory nervous system. 

"Although 'sensitive skin' as a general skin type is contentious, there are a few recognised causes of acutely sensitive skin including skin conditions like rosacea, eczema or psoriasis, irritant/allergic contact dermatitis (from a specific product or ingredient) and dry skin," she continued.

Signs of sensitive skin:

  • Intolerant to topical cosmetic products.
  • Reacting with sensations like stinging, itching and burning.
  • Visible reactions like hives/redness/peeling when products are applied, especially soon after cleansing.

Now you know a little more about your type, you can choose products that work harder for your skin's specific needs.

Got more questions or comments about your skin type? Share yours in the comments below.

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Feature image: Getty.