Is my Skin Dry or Oily?

Most people guess wrong about if their skin is dry or oily, so it is best to take the scientific quiz that is used by dermatologists and researcher to diagnose skin type.

I tell my patients in my dermatology practice that it is very important to understand whether their skin is dry, oily, or combination. Using products that are not formulated for your specific skin type can actually do more harm than good. For example, if you have naturally oily skin but use heavy moisturizers meant for dry skin, you may end up with more clogged pores and acne breakouts. On the other hand, if you have dry skin but use products for oily skin, your skin may become irritated, flaky, and stripped of natural oils. I always advise my patients to evaluate their skin - paying attention to shine, tightness, and how skin feels after cleansing - before choosing cleansers, toners, and moisturizers. An accurate assessment of skin type is crucial for establishing an effective skincare regimen.

Is my Skin Type Oily or Dry?

7 Symptoms that you have Oily Skin:

  1. It is hard to find a sunscreen that does not feel greasy
  2. You do not like the feel of oil on your skin
  3. You do not like heavy creams
  4. You moisturizer once a day or less
  5. You can use any soap on your face
  6. You are shiny in photos
  7. You have no trouble the first 3 days in a dry climate that you ae not accustomed to

8 Symptoms that you have Dry Skin

You do not want to neglect your skin barrier so it is important to know if you have dry skin.

Here are 8 signs that you have dry skin:

  1. skin feels rough
  2. skin does not reflect light
  3. you like the feel of oil on your skin
  4. you rarely go without a moisturizer
  5. hyaluronic acid serums do not feel hydrating enough to you
  6. bar soap and foaming soaps make you itch or get a rash
  7. you have scaling
  8. your skin itches

Why take a skin type test to determine if I am oily or dry?

When I was a Professor of Dermatology at University of Miami for 13 years, I was surprised about how many people thought they had oily skin when they did not.

This is why I developed and validated a series of questions to determine if skin is oily or dry. I spent the last 19 years validating and perfecting the questionnaire and developing over 40,000 recommended skin care routines based on how the questions are answered.

This scientific oily or dry skin quiz is used by dermatologists around the world to accurately diagnose the Baumann Skin Type.

Do not try to guess what your skin type is! Even if you took our skin type quiz before- your skin type can change.

So if your skin care is not working- take the skin type test to see if misdiagnosed your own skin type.

Or  visit one of our doctors or medical providers near you who uses the Baumann Skin Typing system in their medical practice.

Are you wrong about if your skin is oily or dry?

Can my skin be oily and dry?

Why it is important to know if my skin is oily or dry?

Oily skin needs very different cleansers and moisturizers than dry skin.

Using the wrong cleansers and moisturizers for your skin type will decrease the effectiveness of your skin care routine.

You should not try and guess if your skin is dry or oily because studies show that people almost always guess their skin type incorrectly. (1)


Your skin type can change from oily to dry or from dry to oily

Your skin type can change seasonally. (2)

If your moisturizer feels too heavy or too light, you need to retake the skin type quiz to see if your skin type has changed.

When your skin type changes from oily to dry or dry to oily- change your cleanser and moisturizer.

"Combination skin types" are:

  • dry in cold climates
  • dry in hot dry climates
  • oily in hot humid climates

Factors that can cause a change in skin oiliness and dryness.

  • Stress
  • Hormones
  • Diet
  • Climate

Your skin type can also change depending upon what skin care products you are using.

How to know if you have dry skin or oily skin on the face

In most cases, you cannot tell if you have dry skin or oily skin.

That is why you need to take our scientific skin type quiz. Once you know your Baumann Skin Type, we can help you shop for skin care products.

You should retake the quiz if:

  • your products stop working
  • your moisturizer feels too heavy or too light
  • you move to a different climate
  • your hormones change
  • your stress level changes

All of these will can change if your skin is oily or dry.

Our goal is to change you to slightly oily skin which is a normal skin type.

Oily skin is healthier because the sebum on the skin is protective. As your skin type improves, you may need a lighter moisturizer. But- in winter and dry geographic locations, you may change back to a dry type.

Expect that your skin type can change. Any time your products stop working, retake the quiz.

Retake the quiz here

How to know if I have oily skin?

People tend to overestimate how much sebum they make.  So try this at home test to see if you have oily skin:

  1. Wash your face with a neutral pH gel cleanser like Cerave or Cetaphil.
  2. Do not use a creamy cleanser, glycolic, salicylic or foaming cleanser.
  3. Do not apply a moisturizer.
  4. 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.

8 Clues that you have Oily Skin

  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.

Eight clues that you have Dry Skin

  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.

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.

The best way to know if your skin is oily or dry is to take the quiz!

Once you know your Baumann Skin Type- we will give you a custom skin care routine.

You will be able to choose products from a list of products that are correct for your skin type.

Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

Best References and Scientific Publications on How to Diagnose Skin as Oily or Dry

  1. Youn, S. W., Kim, S. J., Hwang, I. A., & Park, K. C. (2002). Evaluation of facial skin type by sebum secretion: discrepancies between subjective descriptions and sebum secretion. Skin Research and Technology, 8(3), 168-172.
  2. Youn, S. W., Na, J. I., Choi, S. Y., Huh, C. H., & Park, K. C. (2005). Regional and seasonal variations in facial sebum secretions: a proposal for the definition of combination skin type. Skin research and technology, 11(3), 189-195.
  3. Baumann L.  Chapters 10,11,12 of Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology Ed 3. (McGraw Hill 2022)
  4. Baumann, L. S., Penfield, R. D., Clarke, J. L., & Duque, D. K. (2014). A validated questionnaire for quantifying skin oiliness. Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, 2014.
  5. Oliveira, R., Ferreira, J., Azevedo, L. F., & Almeida, I. F. (2023). An Overview of Methods to Characterize Skin Type: Focus on Visual Rating Scales and Self-Report Instruments. Cosmetics, 10(1), 14.
  6. Baek, J. H., Lee, M. Y., & Koh, J. S. (2011). Relationship between clinical features of facial dry skin and biophysical parameters in Asians. International journal of cosmetic science, 33(3), 222-227.
  7. Baumann, L. (2009). The Baumann skin-type indicator: a novel approach to understanding skin type. Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology, 3rd Edition, Informa Healthcare, New York, 29-40.

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