Your skin is one of the first things people notice about you, and it can make or break your appearance. There are countless products on the market promising to fix every skin ailment imag4inable, from wrinkles to acne to oversized pores. But the first step in proper skin care is to know your skin type. It's likely you fall into one of the basic categories:
- Normal -- People with a normal complexion have the ideal skin type. The skin is not too oily or dry, and it appears smooth, clear and healthy. Normal skin has a nice balance of moisture and oil, with good elasticity. The pores are minimally visible, and the skin has an even tone.
- Dry -- Many people have a dry skin type. Dry skin does not retain enough moisture, which causes wrinkles and fine lines to develop more easily. A lack of oil makes the skin flaky and fragile and reduces its ability to act as a protective barrier. As a result, the skin is much more susceptible to the effects of external elements such as pollution, UV radiation and extreme weather. Small pores are another characteristic of this skin type.
- Oily -- Some people have oily skin, particularly during adolescence. The skin has large pores and produces too much oil, which gives it a greasy, shiny appearance. People with an oily complexion tend to develop lots of blemishes, pimples and blackheads, and the skin looks plump because dead cells do not shed as quickly.
- Combination -- People with a combination skin type have both dry and oily areas. The skin is usually most oily in the T-zone -- the forehead, nose and chin -- with dry patches on the cheeks and around the eyes. Combination skin can be difficult to manage because the various areas of the skin require different treatment.
- Sensitive -- This skin type is the most fragile. People with sensitive skin tend to burn easily, and the skin is prone to irritation and redness [sources: MayoClinic, WebMD, The National Skin Care Institute].
Knowing your skin type can help you learn how to treat your skin right. Read the next page to learn about an easy test that will help you determine what category you fall into.