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I feel like around about 15 years ago there was so much emphasis on knowing your skin type, like it was the be-all and end-all, however over time I've definitely shifted away from this and here's why...
Skin type is essentially a measure of how much sebum (skin oil) you naturally produce. Nothing more, nothing less! Acne, sensitivity, rosacea and ageing are all actually skin concerns, which we will discuss in more detail later. Your skin type is whether you're oily, combination (areas of dryness and areas of oiliness), normal (no specific leanings towards oiliness or dryness) or dry. Understanding this can be helpful but it's not necessarily the thing that's going to give you amazing skin results.
Skin is ever-changing
There are so many internal and external factors that can affect your skin. Firstly, as someone who ovulates, hormonal fluctuations play a huge role in how my skin feels and reacts throughout the month. Typically, at the start of your cycle, hormone levels are low which can lead to skin dryness. However, as the month progresses, oil production increases and that's when you get those hormonal breakouts. These fluctuations are experienced every single month, so (if you have a pronounced expression of them) they can really affect what you think your skin type is.
Likewise, the time of year can really change how you experience your skin. I don't know about you but my skin gets pretty rough in the winter. It's dry, it's tight, it's sometimes flaky and I have to layer on all the rich creams and oils I can get away with. Whilst my skin doesn't get oily or spot-prone in the summer per se, it definitely needs to breathe and light, hydrating layers are the way to go. Does that mean I have dry skin in the winter and oily skin in the summer? I just don't think it's a helpful way to look at things.
You will get the best results by targeting specific concerns
I really think it's important to consider what it is you're trying to achieve with your skincare routine because by targeting those concerns, you're going to get the best results. And, to be honest, most of the products you use for this are going to be the same no matter how much oil your skin produces: serums are lightweight, concentrated actives so they don't really care what your skin type is. If you have acne, if you have rosacea, if your skin is sensitive, if your skin is dehydrated, if you have melasma, if you're noticing early signs of ageing, addressing these issues is what your skincare routine should really be about. The rest is supplementary!
There should be room for flexibility within your routine
The fact you did that little test at the Clinique counter back in the day and it shows you have 'combination skin' shouldn't hold you back from being responsive in your skincare routine. I'm not saying everyone needs a boatload of products like I have, but let's say you have your summer lineup and winter lineup; if it's June and your skin is feeling dry and lacklustre then go for that winter moisturiser. And if it seems sorted the next day: jump back into your light gel moisturiser. Understanding your skin type is meant to save you time and money because you're not buying products with textures that are wrong for you, it's not supposed to be a restriction on what you can and can't do.
When skin type can be helpful
It's not all bad: I do think skin type can be helpful! For me, it's specifically useful when it comes to assessing whether a cleanser or a moisturiser is going to be right for me. As someone with normal-to-dry skin, a light oil-free gel is usually not going to do a lot for me in the moisture department and super foaming gel cleansers are my worst nightmare. I'd obviously rather not waste my money to find out that a moisturiser is inadequate for my skin or that a cleanser is way too stripping, so knowing the skin type of the person discussing the product and understanding my own is really helpful. Moisturisers and cleansers drive the equilibrium of our skin so this is where skin type should drive the products you use.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts on how important skin type is / isn't in the comments!