Skin Types

I'm a board-certified dermatologist whose research has focused on skin types and skin typing for over 2 decades. One thing I have learned is that over 80% of people are wrong about their skin type (1), so if you want to know your skin type, simple observation is not enough. There are basic and simple skin type classifications but these are not comprehensive enough to use to customize a skincare routine. This article will discuss skin types vs skin conditions, skin diagnoses, and skin concerns and will tell you how to know what skin type you have.

There are many different ways to type skin, but the skin typing system used by dermatologists is the one I described in my NY Times Bestselling book on skincare The Skin Type Solution (Bantam 2006). This skincare book explains the Baumann Skin Typing System and 16 Skin Types. (2-23) The most recent version of the skin type quiz known as the Baumann Skin Type Indicator(12) is used by Skin Type Solutions.

Different Types of Skin

16 Baumann Skin Types

The Baumann Skin Typing System used by dermatologists divides skin into 16 face skin types based on the presence or absence of 4 skin issues.

4 main issues determine your face skin type:

  • Dehydration
  • Inflammation
  • Uneven pigmentation
  • Aging

These are combined to form 16 Skin Types and 4 Sensitive Skin Subtypes.

skin concerns used to diagnose skin type

Different Types of Skin Concerns

You may have been told you have one of these types of skin, however, it is not accurate enough to divide skin into these skin type categories:

These are skin concerns- not true skin types. This is why the above nomenclature is outdated. Labeling your skin with only one skin concern does not take into account all of your skin's issues and does not tell you your true skin type. For example, if you focus on acne alone, you will not be treating other issues like oiliness, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation. This is why we use the Baumann Skin Type classification to customize our skincare advice and give dermatologist-recommended product suggestions to treat any and all of the 4 barriers to skin health tha your skin has.

This is why you need to know what your real skin type is- your Baumann Skin Type. You need to know all of the underlying factors affecting your skin health- not just one. 

5 Primary Types of Skin

For many years the American Academy of Dermatology divided skin types into:

  • normal
  • dry
  • oily
  • combination
  • sensitive

However, this skin typing system is outdated. We now know this is not enough information to prescribe a custom skin care routine to improve your skin type. However, this blog will briefly review each of these skin types and tell you the signs and symptoms of each of these basic skin types.

What are the 7 Types of Skin?

Some website use a system of 7 Skin Types. These are listed below and again are complete enough to use to prescribe skincare routines so these are not used by dermatologists. 

These are the terms used to describe 7 different types of skin.

  1. acne prone
  2. dry
  3. combination
  4. mature
  5. normal
  6. oily
  7. sensitive

I will discuss each of these after I summarize the different classifications of skin types.

Normal Skin Type

Normal skin is healthy skin that does not have dark spots, redness, or dryness. In the Baumann Skin Typing System. Normal skin is Baumann Skin Type 10: ORNT.

Normal skin has:

  • a strong skin barrier
  • adequate sebum production
  • resistance to inflammation
  • properly functioning melanocytes
  • age under 30
  • no aging risk factors

Normal Skin Characteristics

Normal skin is characterized by a harmonious balance, where it doesn't feel excessively dry or oily. Typically, individuals with normal skin have small pores, a smooth skin texture, and are less prone to issues like breakouts, flakiness, or excessive greasiness. This skin type is generally not sensitive and tends to have fewer blemishes. While individuals with normal skin may not face specific skin concerns, maintaining its health and appearance still requires a appropriate skincare routine that focuses on proper cleansing and sun protection.

Dry Skin Type: Causes, Characteristics, Pros and Cons

If your skin often feels tight, rough, or looks dull and flaky, you likely have a dry skin type. Let's take a closer look at what defines dry skin, what causes it, and how it impacts your complexion.

Dry skin is dehydrated which impairs exfoliation and increases the risk of inflammation.

Dry skin has:

  • a defect in the skin barrier
  • rough texture
  • increased risk of sensitivity
  • less natural protection
  • dullness
  • ashy tone in dark skin

Causes of Dry Skin Type

Dry skin results primarily from a defect in the skin's permeability barrier that allows excessive water loss. This barrier impairment can be caused by genetic factors, hormonal changes, aging, and environmental elements like low humidity, hot showers, harsh soaps, and exposure to irritants. When the skin barrier is compromised, the skin loses its ability to retain adequate moisture.

Definition of Dry Skin Type

Dry skin is characterized by an impaired barrier and reduced sebum production. Whereas normal skin produces about 1-2 mg of sebum per 10 cm² over 3 hours, dry skin produces between 0.5-0.9 mg/10 cm² in the same time and area. Very dry skin produces even less, under 0.5 mg/10 cm². This lack of natural oils, combined with a defective barrier, leads to excessive transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and skin dehydration.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Skin

Some of the characteristics of dry skin include:

  • Skin feels tight, especially after cleansing
  • Rough, flaky, or peeling skin
  • Dull, lackluster appearance
  • Invisible pores
  • More prominent appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • In darker skin tones, skin may look ashy or gray

If you notice these symptoms, you likely have dry skin and should use skincare products designed to replenish moisture and support your skin's natural barrier.

Benefits of Dry Skin

While dry skin comes with challenges, there are a few silver linings:

  • Less prone to breakouts and enlarged pores
  • Tends to be less sensitive than oily skin
  • Often feels soft and smooth when properly hydrated
  • Minimal shine and oiliness

Downsides of Dry Skin

On the other hand, dry skin does have some notable disadvantages:

  • Prone to flaking, peeling, and irritation
  • Can feel itchy and uncomfortable
  • More vulnerable to environmental damage
  • Shows signs of aging like wrinkles more readily
  • Makeup may cling to dry patches
  • If severely dry, skin barrier may be impaired, increasing risk of sensitivity and inflammation

Dry Skincare

To keep dry skin looking and feeling its best, the key is using gentle, nourishing skincare products that restore the moisture barrier with essential fatty acids to reinforce the skin barrier. Look for creams with oils and occlusives like ceramides and plant butters to lock in hydration. Avoid harsh cleansers, alcohols, and fragrance which can further dry out and irritate your skin. With consistent care, you can alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of dryness and help your skin become smooth, supple and healthy.

Oily Skin Type: Causes, Characteristics, Pros and Cons

Do you have skin that seems to always look shiny and feel greasy? You likely have an oily skin type. Let's take a closer look at what characterizes oily skin, what causes it, and the benefits and drawbacks of having this skin type

Causes of Oily Skin Type

Oily skin is primarily caused by overactive sebaceous glands. These glands, located within the skin's pores, produce an oily substance called sebum. With oily skin, the sebaceous glands produce an excess amount of sebum, leading to that characteristic shiny, greasy appearance. Genetics play a big role in having overactive sebaceous glands. Hormonal changes, especially during puberty and menopause, can also increase sebum production. Humid climates can make skin feel oilier and using the wrong skincare products for your skin type may exacerbate oily skin.

Definition of Oily Skin Type

Oily skin is characterized by an elevated rate of sebum production, typically exceeding 1.5 mg/10 cm² every three hours. This rate contrasts with the average production of about 1 mg/10 cm² every three hours, essential for maintaining skin hydration and health.

Oily skin is healthier long term than dry skin because it has more natural protection. The sebum in oily skin has many protective properties such as fatty acids and antioxidants.  Not sure if you are oily or dry? This is where most people get their skin type wrong so take our skin type test to be certain. 

Signs and Symptoms of Oily Skin

Visible signs include a glossy appearance, enlarged pores, and a tendency towards acne breakouts due to the accumulation of sebum and dead skin cells. Individuals with oily skin may also notice their makeup doesn't stay put and may struggle with a perpetual shine.

Some of the telltale signs that you have oily skin include:

If you notice these symptoms, you likely have oily skin. Oily skin is characterized by increased sebum production, clogged pores, and difficulty finding a suitable sunscreen.

Benefits of Oily Skin

Despite its challenges, oily skin has its advantages. It's less prone to wrinkling and signs of aging, thanks to the extra layer of moisture provided by sebum. This natural oil also plays a protective role, shielding the skin from environmental stressors.

Benefits of increases sebum include:

  • Reduced risk of premature aging and wrinkling due to the natural moisture
  • A dewy, youthful glow when sebum production is under control
  • Extra protection from environmental stressors and irritants
  • May be less prone to skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis

Downsides of Oily Skin

Oily skin isn't always a walk in the park. Some downsides include:

  • Frequent breakouts, blemishes and clogged pores
  • Difficulty controlling a shiny appearance, especially in humidity
  • Greasy-looking hair from oil migrating from the scalp
  • Need for specialized skincare products to manage oil
  • Makeup slides off easily

Oily Skincare

The key with oily skin is using the right products and techniques to keep your sebum production in check while still allowing your skin to reap the hydrating and protective benefits. Look for lightweight, non-comedogenic, oil-free products that won't clog pores. Incorporate ingredients like salicylic acid and retinol to unclog pores and regulate sebum. With the proper care, you can keep your oily skin healthy, balanced and glowing. And consider yourself lucky. The ideal perfect skin type is an oily type!

Combination Skin

We do not use the term combination skin here at Skin Type Solutions. You can learn why here.

When my patients say they have combination skin, they usually mean one of these issues:

  • dryness in cold weather
  • oiliness in hot humid climates
  • increased sebum in T zone
  • different skin care routine needs each season

Sensitive Skin Type: Causes, Characteristics, Pros and Cons

Do you struggle with skin that easily reacts, flushes, stings, or breaks out? You likely have a sensitive skin type. Let's dive into what defines the sensitive skin type, what causes it, and how it impacts your complexion.

Causes of Sensitive Skin Types

Sensitive skin is "primed" to react due to several factors. Blood vessels in sensitive skin are more likely to dilate in response to friction, inflammatory factors, irritants, and allergens. This means that sensitive skin flushes and swells more readily. Mast cells, which release histamine and trigger inflammation, are more prone to degranulate in sensitive skin. Some sensitive skin types may also have higher levels of IgE antibodies, increasing reactivity. The specific triggers depend on which subtype of sensitive skin you have:

  • Acne type (S1): Prone to papules, pimples, and pustules
  • Rosacea type (S2): Easily flushes and turns red
  • Stinging type (S3): Feels burning, stinging, or itching often
  • Allergic type (S4): Susceptible to contact and irritant dermatitis and allergic rashes

It's important to note that many people confuse dry skin that has an impaired barrier with sensitive skin, but they are distinct. Sensitive skin is defined by inflammation and may or may not have a compromised barrier. You may more than one subtype of sensitive skin.

Mature Skin Type: Causes, Characteristics and Care

As we age, our skin undergoes a variety of changes that can lead to visible signs of aging. For those over 60, these changes become more pronounced, especially in postmenopausal women who are not on hormone replacement therapy. Let's explore the unique characteristics of mature skin, what causes aging, and how to care for your complexion in your 60s and beyond.

Mature Skin Type Causes

Mature skin is a result of both intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) aging factors. Intrinsic aging is the natural, inevitable process of aging which leads to:

Extrinsic aging, on the other hand, is caused by lifestyle and environmental factors like sun exposure, smoking, pollution, and poor nutrition. These accelerate the breakdown of collagen and elastin, leading to premature signs of aging.

Characteristics of Mature Skin

The specific characteristics of mature skin can vary depending on individual genetics and how well you've protected your skin from extrinsic aging factors over the years. Common signs of mature skin include:

  • Thinning and loss of volume, particularly in postmenopausal women
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Sagging and loss of elasticity
  • Sun spots and hyperpigmentation
  • Dryness and rough texture

While some degree of aging is inevitable, the severity of these signs can be minimized with a consistent, targeted skincare routine.

6 Fitzpatrick Skin Types

Another skin typing system that divides skin into 6 types is the Fitzpatrick Skin Typing System.

This skin typing system divides skin into 6 types depending upon how it reacts to sun exposure.

The Fitzpatrick Skin Type System is not good for choosing a skin care routine or skin care products, however it can be used to choose makeup or tinted sunscreen colors.

What Type of Skin Do I Have?

Most people guess wrong about whether they have oily or dry skin. We ask questions about how your face feels after washing, how often you moisturizer, and do you prefer heavy moisturizers. These questions and others have been shown to accurately predict your sebum secretion levels (3) and tell us if you have oily skin or an impaired skin barrier.

Our skin type quiz also looks for signs of skin inflammation and asks you about habits that lead to skin aging. Did you know you can be in your 20s and have an aging skin type? Our data from over 100,000 people shows that over 80% of people in their 20s need an antiaging skin care routine. So- no matter your age- take the skin type quiz to make sure you are correct about what your skin type is.

Why it is important to know your skin type:

Once you know your skin type you can:

  • Learn about your skin
  • Read product reviews from others with the same type
  • Receive personalize educational material 
  • Share advice with others that have same skin type as you

When you take the quiz and buy a custom regimen, you will receive personalized information on what to expect and how to know if your skin care routine is working.

Our advice and your results will vary greatly by skin type- so take the quiz to get the best skincare advice.

Acne-prone Skin Type 3

Skincare Advice Customized by Skin Type

Once you take the quiz to find your face skin type- you will receive:

16 Different types of skin

Can your skin type type change?

Your skin type can change. In fact, it changes often- sometimes seasonally.

Your skin type can change with any differences in:

  • skin care products
  • seasons and climate
  • hormones
  • stress levels
  • vitamins and supplements
  • diet
  • consistency of using skin care routine

The goal of getting on the right skin care routine for your skin type is to change your skin to a healthier skin type. Baumann Skin Type 10 is the ideal skin type.

How to Find Your Skin Type

The best way to identify your skin type is to take the Baumann Skin Type Indicator which is the diagnostic tool that dermatologists use. It can be found at this link.

There are other ways to try and figure out your skin type but they are not as accurate.

The Wash and Wait Method

Some people call this the "Watch and Wait" Method" but I call it the Wash and Wait. To identify your skin type at home using the "wash and wait" method, you can follow these steps:

1. Start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser, then gently pat it dry.

2. Wait for 30 minutes without applying any other skincare products.

3. Observe how your skin looks and feels during this time. You will feel dry for about 20 minutes until your sebaceous glands have enough time to make sebum- so make sure you wait the entire 30 minutes.

4. If your skin appears shiny all over, you likely have oily skin.

5. If your skin feels tight, flaky, or scaly, you probably have dry skin.

6. If you notice shine only in your T-zone area, you may have combination skin.

7. If your skin feels well-hydrated, comfortable, and not oily, you probably have normal skin.

By following this "watch and wait" method after cleansing your face, you can determine your skin type based on how it reacts and feels without any additional products influencing the assessment.

Blotting Sheet Method

To identify your skin type at home using the blotting sheet method, follow these steps:

1. Begin by washing your face with a gentle cleanser and patting it dry. Allow your skin to rest for about 30 minutes after cleansing.

2. Take a blotting sheet and press it onto different areas of your face, especially focusing on the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin.

3. After pressing the blotting sheets onto your face, hold them up to the light to examine the oil markings.

4. If the blotting sheets soak up a significant amount of oil from all areas of your face, it indicates that you have oily skin.

5. If the sheets absorb very little to no oil, you likely have dry skin.

6. In the case where the blotting sheets show minimal oil from the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) but less oil from other areas, you probably have combination skin.

7. If there is only a small amount of oil absorbed from every area of your face, then your skin is considered normal. By following these steps and observing the oil absorption on the blotting sheets, you can get an idea of your skin type at home using this blotting sheet method.


Sebutape to  find skin type at home

A more accurate way to measure sebum production to see i you are an oily skin type is with Sebutape. Sebutape is a simple and affordable method to measure skin sebum levels. A small piece of special adhesive tape is applied to the skin, typically on the forehead, for a set time (usually 1-3 hours). The tape absorbs the oils produced by the sebaceous glands. The transparency of the tape is then measured using a sebumetric scale or light transmission. Higher oil absorption results in a more transparent tape, indicating greater sebum output. Sebutape is a reliable way to categorize skin as dry, normal, or oily.


sebumeter can diagnose skin type

The Sebumeter is one of the most accurate ways of measuring oil production, so this is why it is the method we used to validate our skin type quiz. (3) The Sebumeter is an electronic tool that measures sebum levels on the skin's surface. It uses a special cassette with a 64 mm² measuring section that momentarily touches the skin. The cassette contains a mat tape that becomes transparent when it absorbs oil. A photocell measures the transparency of the tape, and the device converts this to a numerical sebum value. The Sebumeter is highly accurate but more expensive than sebutape. It would not be affordable to use this at home to diagnose your skin type; however our quiz was shown to correspond with sebumeter readings. (3)

Once you know what your skin type is, you can:

  • Discover what brands and products are right for you
  • Build a skin care routine
  • Shop for products
  • Learn from our library
  • Receive relevant and personalized emails about your skin type
  • Review products for others with same skin type as you
  • Give better advice to others about skin care
  • Refer friends and earn money
  • Earn points with purchases

Best Books About Skin Type:

The best book on skin types is The Skin Type Solution that I wrote in 2006. I know it is cheating to say my own books are best, but I do not know of any other books written about Skin Types.

Best book on skin types

Knowing your skin type will change the way you read product reviews and how you shop for skin care!

Shop for skincare by skin type
Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

How can you determine your skin type through simple observation?

To determine your skin type through simple observation, it is important to know the common characteristics associated with each type. By paying close attention to your skin and observing its behaviors, you can identify your skin type- but many people guess wrong so this is not ideal. The best way to find out your skin type at home is to take the Baumann Skin Type Quiz.

How do dermatologists diagnose skin type?

Many use the Baumann Skin Type Indicator which is a validated Skin Type test that diagnoses skin as 1 of 16 Facial Skin Types.

How do I know if I am wrong about my skin type?

The best way to know your skin type is to take the Baumann Skin Type Quiz either online at SkinTypeSolutions.com or in your dermatologist's office.

What is the ideal cleanser for your skin type?

The ideal cleanser for your skin type is one that is tailored to meet the specific needs of your skin. It is essential to identify your skin type, whether it's oily, dry, combination, sensitive, or acne-prone, as this will guide you in selecting a suitable cleanser. For oily skin, a foaming or gel-based cleanser that helps control excess oil production may be ideal. Dry skin types may benefit from creamy or oil-based cleansers that provide extra hydration. Combination skin can benefit from a gentle cleanser that balances the oiliness in the T-zone while hydrating drier areas. Sensitive skin types should opt for a fragrance-free and gentle cleanser that minimizes irritation. For acne-prone skin, a cleanser containing acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide may be the best choice. Ultimately, choosing a cleanser that matches your skin type will help maintain a healthy and clear complexion.

References and Medical Publications on Skin Types:

  1. Data on file with Dr. Leslie Baumann MD based o over 200,000 quizzes
  2. Baumann, Leslie. “Validation of a Questionnaire to Diagnose the Baumann Skin Type in All Ethnicities and in Various Geographic Locations” Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications 6 (2016): 34-40.
  3. Baumann, Leslie S., et al. “A Validated Questionnaire for Quantifying Skin Oiliness” Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications 4 (2014): 78-84.
  4. Lee, Y. B., Park, S. M., Bae, J. M., Yu, D. S., Kim, H. J., & Kim, J. W. (2017). Which Skin Type Is Prevalent in Korean Post-Adolescent Acne Patients?: A Pilot Study Using the Baumann Skin Type Indicator. Annals of Dermatology, 29(6), 817.
  5. Choi, J. Y., Choi, Y. J., Nam, J. H., Jung, H. J., Lee, G. Y., & Kim, W. S. (2016). Identifying skin type using the Baumann skin type questionnaire in Korean women who visited a dermatologic clinic. Korean Journal of Dermatology, 54(6), 422-437.
  6. Lee, Young Bin, Sung Ku Ahn, Gun Young Ahn, Hana Bak, Seung Phil Hong, Eun Jung Go, Chang Ook Park et al. "Baumann Skin Type in the Korean Male Population." Annals of Dermatology 31, no. 6 (2019): 621-630.
  7. Ahn, S. K., Jun, M., Bak, H., Park, B. D., Hong, S. P., Lee, S. H., ... & Goo, J. W. (2017). Baumann skin type in the Korean female population. Annals of dermatology, 29(5), 586-596.
  8. Baumann, L. (2006). The skin type solution: a revolutionary guide to your best skin ever. Bantam.
  9. Baumann, L. (2008, 2012, 2019). Cosmetics and Skin Care in Dermatology. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine. 7t, 8th and 9th eds. New York: McGraw Hill.
  10. Baumann, L. (2020). 14 A Scientific Approach to Cosmeceuticals. The Art of Aesthetic Surgery, Three Volume Set: Principles and Techniques.
  11. Baumann, Leslie S. “The Baumann Skin Typing System” in Farage MA, et al. Textbook of Aging Skin Skin. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg (2017): 1579-1594.
  12. 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.
  13. Baumann, L. (2008). Understanding and treating various skin types: the Baumann Skin Type Indicator. Dermatologic clinics, 26(3), 359-373.
  14. Hong, J. Y., Park, S. J., Seo, S. J., & Park, K. Y. (2020). Oily sensitive skin: A review of management options. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 19(5), 1016-1020.
  15. Shin, Y. B., Kwon, C. I., Jo, J. W., Jeong, H. B., Moon, Y. S., Jung, E. C., ... & Yoon, T. J. (2018). P199: Baumann skin type in outpatient. ????? (? ???), 70(2), 457-457.
  16. Park, J. W., Park, S. J., Park, K. Y., Ahn, G. Y., Seo, S. J., & Kim, M. N. (2019). P062: A study on the correlation of skin types with genetic factors and environmental factors in Koreans. ????? (? ???), 71(2), 354-354.
  17. Lee, Y. B., Ahn, S. K., Ahn, G. Y., Bak, H., Hong, S. P., Go, E. J., ... & Goo, J. W. (2019). Baumann Skin Type in the Korean Male Population. Annals of Dermatology, 31(6), 621-630.
  18. Ahn, S. K., Jun, M., Bak, H., Park, B. D., Hong, S. P., Lee, S. H., ... & Park, K. (2017). Baumann skin type in the Korean female population. Annals of dermatology, 29(5), 586-596.
  19. Choi, J. Y., Lim, J. Y., Kim, H. S., Min, J., Kim, J. I., Seo, H. M., ... & Kim, W. S. (2015). P241: A study on Korean womens skin types by baumann skin type questionnaire. ????? (? ???), 67(2), 501-502.
  20. Kim, B. K., Choe, S. J., Lee, S. H., Min, P. K., & Hana, B. (2014). P110: Analysis of Baumann skin type in Korean women. ????? (? ???), 66(2), 355-355.
  21. Roberts, W. E. (2009). Skin type classification systems old and new. Dermatologic clinics, 27(4), 529-533.
  22. Choi, J. Y., Choi, Y. J., Nam, J. H., Jung, H. J., Lee, G. Y., & Kim, W. S. (2016). Identifying skin type using the Baumann skin type questionnaire in Korean women who visited a dermatologic clinic. Korean Journal of Dermatology, 54(6), 422-437.
  23. Lee, Y. B., Park, S. M., Bae, J. M., Yu, D. S., Kim, H. J., & Kim, J. W. (2017). Which Skin Type Is Prevalent in Korean Post-Adolescent Acne Patients?: A Pilot Study Using the Baumann Skin Type Indicator. Annals of dermatology, 29(6), 817-819.

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