The Easy Guide to Determining Your Skin Type (and the Best Routine for Your Skin)

Caring for your skin begins with knowing your skin.

Just as a medical check-up reveals what you should eat more of and what you should cut from your diet to maintain a healthy body, identifying your skin type will help you craft a skincare routine that works best for you.

We’ve all seen products labeled “for dry skin” or “suitable for sensitive skin” but what do these phrases really mean?

How do you know – for sure – which skin type you have?

How to Figure Out Your Skin Type

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. Leave skin bare - no serums, moisturizers, nothing. After 30 minutes, check for oil with a blotting sheet. Gently press the sheet all over your face and hold it up to the light to see how much oil is absorbed. You can also look in the mirror and give yourself a big smile to see how your skin feels.

If your skin feels tight and the sheet picked up little to no oil, you most likely have dry skin.

If there is shine on your skin and the sheet picked up lots of oil, you most likely have oily skin.

If there is oil on your T-zone (nose, forehead, and chin) but not on other areas, you mostly likely have combination skin.

If your skin feels comfy and the sheet picked up just a hint of oil, you most likely have normal skin.


Dry Skin

This is when your skin produces less oil than normal.

You Might Experience:

  • Tight, dull, and rough skin
  • Noticeable flaking
  • Irritation and itching
  • Loss of elasticity - leading to more visible lines

Your Nourishing Skincare Routine

When you have dry skin, you want to make sure your skin is fed plenty of moisture with a heavier cream to seal everything in.

In the AM

Cleanse with So Fresh if needed
If skin doesn’t feel oily when you wake up, simply rinse your face with water - no cleanser needed.

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars) if needed

Moisturize with Matte Hydrator
The hyaluronic acid in it holds onto water and keeps skin hydrated.

Double moisturize with Protective Moisturizer
This strengthens your skin barrier and seals in moisture.

Protect with your favorite non-comedogenic sunscreen
Choose a sunscreen with SPF 35+ and a PA+++ rating.

In the PM

Remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser

Cleanse with So Fresh

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars) if needed

Clear clogged pores with Clear Out if needed

Moisturize with Matte Hydrator
The hyaluronic acid in it holds onto water and keeps skin hydrated.

Double moisturize with Protective Moisturizer
This strengthens your skin barrier and seals in moisture.

 

Do you have dry or dehydrated skin?
Yes, there’s a difference! Dry skin is when your skin has too little oil and dehydrated skin is when there’s a lack of water.

This means you can have dehydrated skin even if you have oily skin. Quench thirsty skin by using a product with hyaluronic acid – such as the Matte Hydrator.

Oily Skin

This is when your skin produces more oil than you need, often leading to clogged pores and breakouts.

You Might Experience:

  • Shiny, greasy skin – especially in the T-zone
  • Enlarged pores
  • Clogged pores – leading to acne

Your Pore-purging Skincare Routine

Excess oil on skin often causes clogged pores which lead to acne. You’ll want to be extra careful and choose non-comedogenic products that won’t block pores. You can also benefit from products that are tough on sebum - such as salicylic acid.

In the AM

Cleanse with Balancing Cleanser
It’s formulated with both glycolic acid and salicylic acid to gently exfoliate skin.

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Matte Hydrator
This oil-free moisturizer nourishes skin without adding any shine.

Protect with your favorite non-comedogenic sunscreen
Choose a sunscreen with SPF 35+ and a PA+++ rating.

In the PM

Remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser

Cleanse with Balancing Cleanser
Once a week, leave the Balancing Cleanser on for 30 minutes for a gentle peel.

Remove stubborn oil with Clarifying Toner
If your skin feels extra oily, soak a soft cotton pad with the Clarifying Toner and swipe it gently across your face. The witch-hazel in the toner is a natural astringent that helps tighten pores and remove excess oil.

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars)

Clear clogged pores with Clear Out

Moisturize with Matte Hydrator
This oil-free moisturizer nourishes skin without adding any shine.


Combination Skin

As the name suggests, this is when you have a combo of oily and dry skin.

You Might Experience:

  • Dryness on the cheeks
  • Oily and shiny skin in the T-zone

Your Balancing Skincare Routine

Look for products formulated for all skin types and where possible, use different products for the different areas of your face. For example, you can cleanse oily areas with the Balancing Cleanser and wash the dryer areas with So Fresh. Dryer areas may also benefit from an extra layer of the Protective Moisturizer after you apply the Matte Hydrator.


Normal Skin

This is when your skin is well-balanced, being not too dry and not too oily.

You Might Experience:

  • Minimal skin concerns and sensitivity
  • Smooth texture
  • Few or no blemishes and breakouts
  • Barely visible pores

Your Healthy Skincare Routine

When you have normal skin, you might find you have very little skin concerns. Still, it’s important to be diligent with your routine to keep skin healthy and happy for the many years to come.

In the AM

Cleanse with So Fresh

Moisturize with Protective Moisturizer

Protect with your favorite non-comedogenic sunscreen
Choose a sunscreen with SPF 35+ and a PA+++ rating.

In the PM

Remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser

Cleanse with So Fresh

Moisturize with Protective Moisturizer


Sensitive Skin

Unlike the previous skin types, sensitive skin cannot be determined by the wash and blot test. But you probably are aware of whether you have sensitive skin from how it reacts to certain products. While normal skin types might have no reaction, sensitive skin types often show a negative reaction to irritants.

You Might Experience:

  • Visible redness
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Irritation and itching
  • Stinging and burning
  • Feelings of tightness and discomfort

Your Gentle and Kind Skincare Routine

With sensitive skin, you want to be careful when using any new product. Introduce one new formula at a time to identify which ingredients irritate your skin and always do a patch test (such as on your inner forearm and behind your ear) before applying anything on your face. You’ll also want to choose gentle products that are formulated without fragrance and harsh chemicals. Try this:

In the AM

Cleanse with So Fresh

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars) if needed

Moisturize with Protective Moisturizer

Protect with your favorite non-comedogenic sunscreen
Choose a sunscreen with SPF 35+ and a PA+++ rating.

In the PM

Remove makeup with an oil-based cleanser

Cleanse with So Fresh

Spot treat with Lighten Up (for red post-acne scars) and Dark Mark Defense (for brown post-acne scars) if needed

Clear clogged pores with Clear Out if needed
Slowly introduce your skin to Clear Out by applying it on alternate evenings. When skin feels ready and no irritation occurs, you can start applying it every evening.

Moisturize with Protective Moisturizer

Keep in mind that your skin type can change over time depending on the seasons, your hormones, your age, and more. Check in with your skin once in a while – just as you would with your body.


Still unsure what your skin type is? We can help you figure it out and build a personalized skincare routine to help you reach your skin goals!

Get in touch with us on Messenger chat or Instagram DM (@clearlybasics).

Disclaimer: This article should not be interpreted as personal medical advice. For medical-related matters, please consult your dermatologist.

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See what others have to say about Clearly Basics.

Based on 24 reviews
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Skin Type: Normal
Comments: Any ideas on how to get rid of brown skin damage
Skin defence

Marks of sun damage are still there they haven't faded much after using twice a day for 60 days. . I will continue until product is finished. I'm a bit disappointed

Skin Type: Combination

I am so happy that I stumbled upon clearly basics on instagram. I was skeptical at first but decided to give it a try and bought clear out clarifying lotion. It's been 2 months and my skin has improved a lot. I can see significant reduction in pores and acne.

Skin Type: Combination
Amazing

After years of medication and products, I decided to try clearly basics. In just 6 weeks my skin has calmed and I am now able to treat scarring.

So glad to have found these products!

Finding products that helped to control my acne without irritating my sensitive skin has always been a huge challenge. The clearly basics products have been my saviour, I can't recommend them enough ☺️

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Excellent and actually works

I am so incredibly impressed with the TLC for pore minimising - it 💯 works and has transformed my skin.

I’m in my 50’s and always had hormonal flare ups with larger pores as I age - this is a game changer and have just reordered my 3rd bottle !

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Skin Type: Sensitive / Dry
The only moisturiser I trust

I am super sensitive and this is the only moisturiser that I trust honestly incredible.

Skin Type: Combination
Amazing!

I use this product and with the clear out and it has really helped my hormonal acne.

Skin Type: Sensitive / Dry
Here one day, gone the next!

After success with Clearly Basics for my acne scars, I stocked up with all of the active acne products to prepare myself for how angry my acne would get when going off hormonal birth control. I have tried and failed twice as my acne comes back so bad that I just start taking it again. This time I have been using clearly basics without fail every day (lighten up and clear out). I have had 3 pimples start to form and I use ‘Stop Spot’ and the next day instead of a much redder, much angrier pimple with a big white head - the pimple is gone! I have been very happy with this product. I’m one month down (typically when acne gets the worst) - let’s do this!

I love that these products are gentle on my daughter skin.

This skin care routine is the o lay one that has helped clear up my daughters skin.

My daughters skin is really starting to look better!

Skin Type: Oily
So far so good

Bought this for my daughter that has struggled with acne for years. She has seen improvement and less frequent breakouts.

Best moisturizer I have found!

V
Lighten Up Redness Rescue Cream
Veronica Ilenya Ranieri
Skin Type: Sensitive / Dry
Perfect

Has changed my skin from acne pro to almost perfect 😍😍

Skin Type: Combination
Obsessed !!

Obsessed with this cleanser!! It left me feeling fresh and prevented break outs. It is incredible . Loved this product so much

My skin feels so soft after using this moisturiser!

My skin feels so soft after using this moisturiser!

Skin Type: Combination
Fresh and clean!

My face is filled with energy and feels so fresh and clean!

Skin Type: Normal
excellent item!

have been using this for years! so good for my skin :)

C
So Fresh pH Balancing Cleanser
Carmelinda Di Manno
Skin Type: Combination
Fresh Feeling

My skin feels so clean and still hydrated when I use this cleanser. It’s balancing and refreshing. My skin has responded really well to it and at times my skin can be sensitive. I highly recommend this product to anyone with relatively oily t-zone area

Skin Type: Combination
Very happy!

Love the texture, the minty scent and the lather.
I wish the bottles were a bit bigger HOWEVER they are just small enough to fly with.

Skin Type: Normal
Comments: The only thing I now need to use to keep my skin clear.
The holy grail for clearing hormonal acne.

This is the only product that I have needed to keep my skin clear since discovering it about 2 years ago, after suddenly developing cystic hormonal acne at the age of 25. I now only need to use it every second night, so it's incredibly affordable. It has also never irritated my sensitive skin and it has faded previous acne marks to truly clear my skin. After years of trying expensive supplements/products/harsh prescription creams, Clear Out was the only thing that gave me long-lasting results.

Skin Type: Oily
Clearly Basics is the only product that has helped my Adult Acne

I have always struggled with dehydrated acne prone skin. Every month like clockwork I would get a new breakout on my chin or cheek area. These included large cystic acne that by the time they came to a head would take me months to clear. With new breakouts each month this created more & more spots before the first could heal leaving more hyper pigmentation spots that never have time to clear. Clearly basics changed all that for me. It gave my skin a chance to heal and reduced the number of breakouts each month. When I do get a new breakout it resolves itself quickly with less scarring and redness. Now that the acne is under control the products are helping to eliminate the remaining hyper pigmentation spots left from years of acne. I have not been using the product for long but I will continuing relying on this product and look forward to the day I can happily look in the mirror at a smooth clear & even complexion some day soon.

Skin Type: Combination
Comments: Product consistency in terms of smoothness/coarseness/stickiness/ is sometimes a miss, don't believe it affects the result provided.
Great Combo

Have seen great improvements by using these 2 items concurrently, hard to fault and wil continue purchasing.

Individual results may vary

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