The Skin Coach: what's your skin type?

The Skin Coach is a monthly column by San Francisco esthetician and skin specialist Kimmy Williams of Acqua e Sapone Aesthetics.

What is your true skin type?

Determining which of the five basic skin types you have can be a difficult task because the skin is a constantly evolving organ. Weather, lifestyle, diet and hormones are just some of the factors that are constantly affecting the condition of our skin and it can be hard to distinguish a temporary condition from your true skin type.  Here are a few tips to help you determine your true skin type. 

Normal Skin Type: This skin type is not too oily or dry. The pores on the face are barely visible and blemishes are infrequent. This skin type is still susceptible to dryness and flaking if you are using products that are too strong or abrasive for your face.

Oily Skin Type: Having this skin type does not mean that your skin gets oily towards the end of the day. If you are human, your skin produces oil and it will show at some point even if you have normal skin. A true oily skin type would be someone who cleanses their face and gets shiny very shortly after on most of their face.

Dry Skin Type: A true dry skin type is the result of under-active sebaceous glands. This is different from dehydrated skin which is a skin condition usually caused by products that strip the surface of the skin of its natural oils. If your skin gets flaky or cracks when you smile, it's a good sign that your skin is dehydrated and over-exfoliated and it is time to reassess your skincare regimen.

Combination Skin Type: This type is characterized by skin that is oily in some areas and dry in others.  Most people will fall into this category because the sebaceous glands tend to be more active on some parts of the face than others. Many people with oily skin though mistakenly think they have combination skin when they are actually just over-exfoliated on certain parts of the face from using the wrong products. 

Sensitive Skin Type: A true sensitive skin type would mean that the protective layer on the surface of your skin called the lipid barrier is naturally broken down and so water does not stay in and products do not stay out, causing greater sensitivity. This is different from using a product that strips the lipid barrier and makes products sting and burn. If your skin is feeling sensitive, get rid of mechanical exfoliants like scrubs from your skincare regimen and make sure you are not using chemical exfoliants with a high percentage like an at-home peel.