There are four main skin types that are generally recognized: normal, oily, dry and sensitive. Of course you may have more than one skin type which is then classified as combination skin. There are a number of factors that influence your skin type including genetics, hormones, free radicals, diet, medicine, stress and smoking.
Normal skin is smooth with fine pores, no visible blemishes, dry or oily spots and is more common in younger people. Wash face twice a day and cleanse, tone and moisturize regularly. Exfoliate 2-3 times per week and wear sunscreen.
Dry skin is characterized by dull, flaky skin that may itch or burn, invisible pores, more visible lines and is commonly found in mature skin. To take care of this skin type, avoid ingredients that are drying, use a humidifier and exfoliate 2-3 times per week with a physical exfoliator such as sugar or seeds (avoid chemical exfoliants such as retinol and glycolic acid). Avoid long hot showers, use gentle products and moisturize while skin is still damp. Look for products that contain baobab, jojoba, rice bran, borage, argan, hempseed or evening primrose oils as well as ceramides, gylcerin, aloe, hyaluronic acid, panthenol, hydrolyzed proteins and dimethicone. Use a facial oil 1-2 times per week. Avoid matte foundation and eye shadow and go with creamy products rich in oils.
Oily skin is usually shiny with enlarged pores and prone to blemishes. Drink lots of water to flush out the skin and use a light cleanser. Use toner sparingly and choose a water based moisturizer or one that contains oils that are light and won't clog your pores (baobab, grapeseed, jojoba, sea buckthorn or hazelnut). Look for products with salicylic acid, glycolic acid or beta-hydroxy acid or papaya extract (chemical exfoliators) and zinc oxide, as it makes your skin inhospitable to acne bacteria. Then you only need to exfoliate with a gentle physical exfoliator, such as sugar or seeds, once per week. Use a mud or clay based face mask for very oily skin. Use a matte face primer, dust with an oil-control product and use oil free make-up.
Sensitive skin may turn red, dry, itchy or burning when applying products. Look for moisturizing soap, avoid long hot showers, moisturize while skin is damp and avoid all alcohol based products. The fewer products used the better (to avoid chemicals). Avoid colours, formaldehyde and fragrances. Pat face dry and moisturize twice a day with a product containing natural ingredients such as jojoba oil, baobab oil, raspberry seed oil, sunflower oil, panthenol, allantoin and sodium lactate. Avoid all liquid cosmetics and choose powder-based instead. Pay attention to expiry dates. Use earth tones for eye shadow as they contain a lower colour concentration. If you need anti-aging ingredients, look for green tea, aloe vera, rose or lavender.