Know Your Skin Type

What Is My Skin Type

How To Find Your Skin Type?

Have you ever wondered how to know what type of skin you have? Many brands offer a skin type quiz, but these skin quizzes are geared to promote the brand’s own products.  When a skin quiz is inaccurate or biased, you may waste money on the wrong skincare products and possibly hurt your skin’s health. Instead of taking just any “What type of skin do I have?” quiz, only trust the skin test used by doctors to diagnose your skin type.


Only Skin Type Solutions uses the skin type quiz and skin typing system used by dermatologists. The scientifically validated skin quiz determines your Baumann Skin Type®.  The Baumann Skin Typing System is the gold standard of skin typing and is found in the major dermatology and plastic surgery textbooks. The best way to correctly know your skin type is to visit one of the medical providers listed under the “Find a Provider” tab. The second-best way to know your skin type is to take the 16 skin types quiz.

This brief guide will help you understand how to know your skin type.


What Skin Type Do I Have?

When my patients ask me “What is my skin type?”, I ask specific questions to determine skin type.   I have been specializing in skin typing since 2004, so it is easy for me to know your skin type. It is much harder for you to figure out your own skin type.  In fact, studies have shown that over 80% of people are wrong about their skin type when asked to self-diagnose. Let’s look at the various components of skin type and discuss how you know which skin type you have.

Dry or Oily?

The most common mistake people make when they try to determine their skin type is to think that their skin is dry when it is actually oily. This occurs because the majority of people feel tight and dry immediately after washing the face. The face will feel uncomfortable in most people for 10- 20 minutes after washing the face because this is how long it takes for the sebaceous glands to repopulate sebum on the skin’s surface. During this 10-20 minutes time period, most people apply a moisturizer and go on with their day assuming that the moisturizer is necessary. But did you need that moisturizer and is it the right moisturizer for your skin type?

How to know if I have oily skin?

Wash your face with a neutral pH gel cleanser like Cerave or Cetaphil.  Do not use a creamy cleanser, glycolic, salicylic or foaming cleanser. Do not apply a moisturizer. Wait 20 minutes.  How does your skin feel?  If it is shiny and very hydrated, you are very oily skin type. If it is comfortable and hydrated but not shiny, your skin is a normal oily skin. If it still feels like it needs a moisturizer, feels tight, stings or feels rough, you are a dry skin type. If you could not wait the 20 minutes because you were so uncomfortable, you have very dry skin type.


Clues that you have oily skin include:

  1. You can use foaming cleanser without problems including bar soap.
  2. You do not feel a need to wear a moisturizer.
  3. You forget to put on a moisturizer.
  4. Need to wash the face in midday.
  5. It is difficult to find a sunscreen that does not feel greasy.
  6. Your pores are enlarged.
  7. You have glowing skin.
  8. You have an oily T-zone.


How to know if I have dry skin?

When you do the activity above, your skin will feel rough, tight, and dry 20 minutes after washing the face (unless you have used a cream cleanser). You may not have been able to wait the entire 20 minutes because your skin felt uncomfortable. Dry skin types prefer the way their skin feels when it has a moisturizer on it. Very dry types always use a moisturizer twice a day.  it is unusual for a dry skin type not to wear a moisturizer. My dry skin type patients complain that their skin is not radiant. Darker skin types with dry skin may have ashy skin because the dry skin cells look white on a darker skin surface giving a grey ashy skin tone. 


Clues that you have dry skin include:

  1. You cannot use bar soap on the face.
  2. You would never wash your face with shampoo.
  3. You use a moisturizer twice a day.
  4. You prefer heavy creams.
  5. You like the feel of oil applied on the skin.
  6. Dull skin
  7. Rough skin
  8. Ashy skin
  9. Flaking skin
  10. Itchy skin
  11. Eczema


Do I have combination skin?

There is no such thing as a combination skin type. However, there is a “changing skin type” that changes from a dry skin type in cold or dry climates to an oily skin type in warm or humid climates.  If you have an oily T zone (even if the sides of the face are dry) you are considered an oily skin type.


Do I have normal skin?

Normal skin is actually a normal oily skin type because it makes an adequate amount of sebum to keep skin healthy and “normal”. Normal skin makes at least 1mg of sebum per 10 cm2 of skin every 3 hours. If you have normal skin, it is more correct to say that you have oily skin.

Once you have determined if your skin is dry or oily, then you can move on to evaluate if your skin is susceptible to inflammation (known a sensitive skin). Both dry skin types and oily skin type can be sensitive skin types.

Sensitive or Resistant?

Sensitive skin is skin that can easily become inflamed. Inflammation is manifested as redness, stinging, flushing, burning, acne, or rashes. There are 4 sensitive skin subtypes:

  1. Acne
  2. Rosacea
  3. Stingers
  4. Allergic/susceptible to irritation

If you have redness, pimples, and rashes on the face more than one time a month, then you have sensitive skin. Most people know when they have sensitive skin, but the problem is that you need to know which sensitive skin type you have.   It is possible to have more than one type of sensitive skin.  For example, rosacea suffers often have pimples in addition to facial flushing.  Stingers do not get redness or pimples but their skin stings when they use a low pH product on their skin such as Vitamin C, lactic acid or the preservative benzoic acid. Rosacea skin types are often also stingers. 

Resistant skin types won the skin type lottery.  They rarely react to skin care products and only occasionally have pimples or facial flushing. They can usually try any product without seeing any skin problems.


Pigmented or Non-Pigmented?

In the Baumann Skin Typing System, “Pigmented Skin” means skin of any color with an uneven skin tone and dark spots.  This pigmented vs non-pigmented skin type designation is not a measure of darkness or lightness of skin color and is not related to ethnicity; rather it measures evenness of the complexion. For example, if you have dark skin that is even in skin tone and color then you are considered a Nonpigmented Baumann Skin Type (N). If you are a redhead with freckles and dark spots that you want to get rid of, you are considered a Pigmented Baumann Skin Type (P).

The P vs N skin type designation depends also upon the desire to even the skin tone.  If you are a redhead who likes their freckles and you do not want to lighten the dark spots, you are considered a Nonpigmented Baumann Skin Type (N). The easiest way to think of it is: pigmented skin types want skin-lightening ingredients in their skincare routine and non-pigmented skin types do not.


Wrinkle-prone or Tight?

If you are over 30 or you have at least 4 lifestyle factors that increase your risk of aging, your skin type will be designated as a Wrinkle-prone type.  This does not mean that you have wrinkles, but that you are prone to get them if you do not take steps to prevent skin aging. 


How To Know Which of the 16 Baumann Skin Types I Have?

The Baumann Skin Typing System divides skin into 16 skin types based on the presence or absence of barriers to skin health discussed above. The healthiest skin type is oily and resistant, with an even skin tone and few lifestyle habits that lead to aging, or ORNT (Oily, Resistant, Non-Pigmented and Tight). The 16 skin type quiz assigns your skin to one of each of the binary choices described above. You will be assigned a 4 letter Baumann Skin Type.


Why is Skin Type Important?

If you do not know your skin type, you will not be able to properly choose the correct skin care products to maximize your skin health. There are several reasons to know your skin type:

  • The proper skin type diagnosis leads to better skincare recommendations
  • You can track progress as your skin type improves
  • Allows better communication with your medical provider/ dermatologist
  • Helps us educate and empower you to purchase correct skincare for your skin type
  • Using the wrong skincare products can reduce skin health
  • Allows your doctor to update your skin care regimen as your skin improves
  • Allows us to inform you when new discoveries occur that affect your skin type

What happens if I use the wrong skincare products for my skin type?

Using the wrong skincare for your skin type is more than a waste of time and money.  Using the wrong skincare can cause underlying skin issues such as dryness and inflammation.  Inflammation leads to both uneven skin pigmentation and skin aging- and even worse- inflammation can lead to systemic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.  Many studies show that calming skin inflammation has a benefit on overall health.

Using the wrong skincare will also prevent you from achieving the benefits of the correct skincare- glowing healthy blemish-free skin.

Find Personalized Skincare Solutions with our Skin Type Quiz

 The ONLY way you can be certain that you are using the correct skincare for your skin type is to take the quiz.  Even though this guide helps you determine your skin type, taking the quiz enters your skin type in your account so we can give you targeted educational materials and medical advice on skincare from our team of dermatologists and medical providers.





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