Not all skin types are the same, so your skin care should not be the generic either. Here Dr Giulia D’Anna, founder of Dermal Distinction, has written a guide about how to look after your skin based on your skin type.
How can you tell what skin type you have?
This is the single most difficult thing for most people. So we created an online skin analysis guide to help you wade through and discover your skin type. This will never replace having an in person skin analysis done, but will certainly help guide you in making some decisions about your skin.
Dry skin: Low oil and low water
Skin dryness and dehydration are common, and although they are separate skin concerns the two are closely linked. Dehydration refers to a lack of water in the skin, whereas dryness refers to a lack of skin lipids and water due to a poorly functioning skin structure and physiology.
Keeping the skin hydrated is essential as all biological processes. Without skin hydration, enzymes required for skin cell production and barrier function maintenance cannot function optimally leading to the formation of dry skin.
Hydration in the skin relies on the natural moisturising factor within the skin, and the barrier function of the skin.
People with dry skin usually complain of: Scaly, flaky, rough skin, sensitive skin to most ingredients, dull looking skin, feeling tight, skin cracks
Dry skin – Best to use
- Mild cleansers and avoid the use of soap due to their high pH further drying out the skin.
- When cleansing or washing the body, it is recommended to shower or bathe with lukewarm water to prevent further dehydration.
- Also drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to maintain a positive skin hydration strategy.
- Serums should include: Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Alpha hydroxy acids.
- Moisturisers should include ingredients like: glycerin, ceramides, alpha hydroxy acids, macadamia oil, hyaluronic acid, essential fatty acids, shea butter, olive oil, squalane, niacinamide, allantoin and vitamin E.
Oily Skin: High sebum content and breakouts
Oily skin is characterised by an increased amount of sebum (or oil) production from the sebaceous glands in the skin. The skin can appear shiny or waxy as a consequence. Oily skin can still be dehydrated, as oil sits in the pores and floods the top layer of the skin, whereas the water content of the skin normally sits in the surrounding skin cells. This is a very common misconception, and people often starve their skin of moisturiser when they have oily skin, which cause stress in the skin.
People with oily skin often have breakouts as the oil gland can get blocked by the thick sebum. This traps the sebum in the gland, where bacteria live, causing small infections or pimples. This process is very exaggerated in people with acne, where the sebum production is high in response to androgenic/testosterone production.
People suffering from acne may also experience oily skin, inflammation, redness, sensitivity, reactivity to products, hyperpigmentation and pitted scarring in acne.
OILY SKIN: Best to use
- Deep cleansers that contain both AHA (water soluble lactic acids) and BHA (oil dissolving salicylic acid), and double cleanse. Some cleansers also contain Tea tree oil which a great anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient.
- Serums should include: Vitamin A to help reduce the amount of dead skin cells, and regulate skin cell cycle. Vitamin B is great for hydration. Look for products with Witch Hazel, as it has anti-inflammatory, and having antioxidant properties.
- Exfoliate no more than once a week. Most people with oily skin overdo it, causing the skin to go into stress and be inflamed. This further aggravates the skin to breakout.
- Moisturisers should be limited in oil, and there are plenty of oil free moisturisers on the market.
Pigmentation: Melanin accumulation and age spots
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin concern and is due to the over production of pigment in the deepest layer of the epidermis of our skin. Our body produces pigment through a very complex process, and this is influenced by UV light, hormones, inflammation (or infection) and trauma. We can of course control the UV component by wearing sunscreen, but some of the triggers are internal and are not so easily controlled.
Over the years, cosmetic chemists have researched the best ingredients to try and modify the behaviour of our skin, and in particular the pigmentation process. This generally revolves around the enzyme Tyrosinase which triggers the melanin or tan cascade. Often you will see the words “tyrosinase inhibitor” on products, and this indicates that those ingredients help to slow the melanin production by the melanocyte cells in the skin.
Pigmentation – Best to use:
- There are many cosmeceutical ingredients that have the ability to reduce the activity of Tyrosinase and melanin longevity in the skin. Skin brightener serums should include: Vitamin A, vitamin C, soy bean extracts, kojic acid, niacinamide, licorice plant extracts, resveratrol, lactic acid, salicylic acid and glycolic acid.
- Serums should be based on using at least one or more of these ingredients.
- SPF – particularly a physical sunscreen is very important, as UV is the biggest trigger here. You can also speak to you GP about changes to your contraceptive pill if you suspect that your pigmentation is hormone induced (Melasma).
Rosacea or Sensitive skin – Reddened and sensitised skin
Skin that easy flushes is often referred to as Couperose, whereas skin that is permanently flushed is called Rosacea.
Rosacea is an inflammatory skin disorder affecting 10% of the population, and it occurs mostly in fair-skinned females over the age of 30. It does also occur in men. The exact cause is, but there can be many triggers that link to the gut, thinner skin and irritants that are used on the skin such as cosmetics with a high alcohol content.
Common symptoms include Dilated capillaries, Skin inflammation, transient or persistent facial flushing, papule/pustules, pain or stinging skin, itchy skin, extreme skin dryness and dehydration.
Sensitive skin – Best to use:
- Regular skin cleansing is important to remove environmental pollutions, cosmetics and bacteria that can make the skin more vulnerable. A creamy cleanser that is mild on the skin is also important.
- Moisturisers assist with supporting the skin barrier function, and also assist in skin hydration.
- To reduce further irritation, sunscreens are essential to guard against UV exposure and the associated triggers. Physical sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are generally best as they sit on the skin, and generally contain fewer irritants than their chemical counterparts.
- Serums should contain antioxidants for their anti-inflammatory action. Ingredients that are great are Ginko biloba, green tea, Aloe vera, allantoin and liquorice. Vitamin A or retinol need to be lower strength and encapsulated to help assist the skin cell cycle without stripping it away. There are some great cosmeceuticals that are made with Rosacea in mind.
Aged skin: Fine lines and wrinkles.
When we are our young, most of us have healthy, bright and elastic skin that heals rapidly if injured. Later in life, visible signs of growing older include wrinkles, sagging skin and an increasing number of age spots, freckles, moles and other changes to pigmentation caused by sunlight. As we age, the skin becomes thinner and blood vessels become visible, our pores may also increase in size.There are changes beneath the surface too, as the collagen and elastic fibres that allow our skin to stretch start to degrade.
One of the key chemicals in our skin, hyaluronic acid, reduces over time, leaving our skin dryer and rougher. And there will be changes in skin tone, fat distribution and elasticity that mean facial contours also alter. Older skin retains less water and becomes dryer and thinner, making it more susceptible to irritation and infection, while wounds take longer to heal.
Aged skin – Best to use:
- Serums should include vitamin a or retinol. This is scientifically proven to be the best anti-ageing ingredient all round. It is perfect in its ability to regulate cell communication, skin cell turnover and the ability of other skin care ingredients to enter the skin and perform their function.
- Include hyaluronic acid serums. These cannot enter deep into the skin to rejuvenate the skin (despite all the marketing), but they can sit in the top layers of the skin, increasing skin hydration and make the skin glow and look beautiful.
- Moisturisers should also include similar ingredients to Dry skin moisturisers, as the natural ability of the skin to stay hydrated is lower than when we are young. We lose so much hyaluronic acid, that all the help we can get is perfect.
- Finally to help feed the skin, copper peptides and vitamin c are essential building blocks for collagen production. These ingredients can also be useful in their antioxidant effects and helping to safe guard against free radicals too.
- All of this needs to be topped off with SPF, as UVA is responsible for 80% of skin ageing (at least).
Knowing your skin type is super important when trying to decipher which is the best skin care to use. Your skin care will then deliver great results and you will look brighter and more radiant than ever before.
Thanks for reading!