What Skin Type Do You Have?


The main skin types are normal, dry, oily, combination (dry and oily), and sensitive.1

American Academy of Dermatology. Skin care tips dermatologists use.

 Your skin type is usually predetermined by genetics, causing your skin to lack hydration, produce excess oil, or have the perfect balance of hydration and skin oils. Environmental factors like sun damage, hormonal changes, and health conditions can also influence your skin type.23

Understanding your skin type can help you learn how to care for your unique skin—so you can have healthier and happier skin. 

Normal Skin

Normal skin has balanced oil and hydration, so it doesn’t feel dry or oily. If you have a normal skin type, you typically won’t deal with acne breakouts or product sensitivity. Essentially, your skin has the perfect balance of hydration and oil production. You probably have normal skin if you have clear, smooth, and hydrated skin.1

Dry Skin

Dry skin, aka xerosis or xeroderm, lacks hydration and the ability to retain moisture. The epidermis, or the top layer of skin, is designed to hold in water to protect and hydrate your skin. If you have dry skin, this skin barrier loses moisture too quickly—causing skin to lack hydration and moisture. People with dry skin experience rough, tight, flakey, or itchy skin. Skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis can also cause excessively dry skin.4

Oily Skin

Oily skin produces excess sebum—oil produced by the sebaceous glands in your pores that helps protect the skin. If you have oily skin, your skin often looks shiny or greasy. Oily skin types are also more acne-prone because excess sebum can clog pores. You probably battle shine, pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads if you have oily skin.3

Combination Skin

Combination skin is both oily and dry. If you have combination skin, areas of your skin lose moisture too quickly and dry out. At the same time, other areas produce excess sebum and feel oily.1 Typically, oily skin is on the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin), and dry skin is on the cheeks. As a result, people with combination skin may have tight, rough, and flaky skin on the cheeks. They also have shiny and oily skin on the forehead, nose, and chin. 


Sensitive skin has a broken down skin barrier, causing skin that itches, stings, or burns—especially after contact with products. This skin type isn’t fully understood, but it is likely caused by certain climates, products, or underlying conditions that irritate the skin. If you have sensitive skin, you may deal with redness, swelling, peeling skin, and rough patches of skin after a skin reaction.15

What is your Fitzpatrick skin type?

The Fitzpatrick skin type (or phototype) is a scale created to classify skin types based on how the skin reacts to sunlight. Some healthcare providers use this scale to determine how likely someone is to develop skin cancer. Your Fitzpatrick skin type depends on the amount of skin pigment (aka melanin) that protects your skin from damaging sun exposure. Fitzpatrick skin types include:6

Type I: Pale or white skin that always burns and doesn’t tan. 

Type II: Fair skin that burns easily and barely tans. 

Type III: Darker white skin that tans after burning.  

Type IV: Light brown skin that barely burns and tans easily. 

Type V: Brown skin that rarely burns and tans easily. 

Type VI: Dark brown or black skin that never burns and tans easily. 

How to Identify Your Skin Type

If you’re not sure what your skin type is, you don’t need to take a fancy skin type quiz. You can easily test your skin type at home by observing your skin.

Follow these simple steps to identify your skin type:

Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and gently pat dry.

Go about your day for about an hour, resisting the urge to touch your face. 

After an hour, dab your T-zone with a blotting sheet or a tissue. 

Now check the tissue and examine your face for the following signs:1

Normal skin: No flakes or grease on the sheet, and no face redness or irritation 

Dry skin: No grease on tissue, but skin is flakey, tight, or rough.

Oily skin: Tissue is greasy, and the face looks shiny. Pores may also appear enlarged or inflamed.

Combination skin: Tissue is greasy, and T-zone looks shiny. Other areas of the face are flaky and dry.  

Sensitive skin: Tissue may or may not be greasy, and skin looks irritated and red 

Does Skin Type Change?

Over time, skin typically becomes more dry, but your skin type can change for various reasons. Here’s how you can start to develop a different skin type: 

Aging: Getting older causes the skin to lose collagen, a protein that helps keep the skin plump and elastic. As a result, more mature skin appears thinner and less elastic—often causing fine lines and wrinkles. Thinner skin can be more delicate, sensitive, and prone to dryness. 7

Hormonal changes: Teenagers going through puberty typically produce more sebum, causing oily, acne-prone skin.8 As people age, they produce less sebum, which causes dryer skin.9 Hormonal changes during menopause also dry out the skin as the skin struggles to retain water. 10

Climate and environment: Cold winter weather and low-humidity climates lack moisture in the air, leading to dry skin.2 Turning on the heat in cold weather also reduces humidity, drying out skin. Humid climates and hot summer weather can also make the skin produce more oils, resulting in oilier skin. 3

Sun damage: Unprotected sun exposure can damage skin, making it sensitive, dry, and thin. It can also cause dark spots (hyperpigmentation) and premature fine lines.11

Smoking: Smoking can also visibly age skin, causing dry, thin skin. Smoking can also delay skin wound healing and increase the risk of psoriasis. 12

Underlying conditions and nutrient deficiencies: Diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid disease can lead to excessively dry skin. Vitamin A, zinc, niacin, or iron deficiency can also cause dry skin. 9

How to Build a Morning and Evening Skincare Routine

How to Care For Your Skin Type

Every skin type needs to care for their skin with a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.13 But tailoring your skincare routine to your specific skin type can help treat any skin issues and improve your skin health. 

Normal Skin

If you have normal skin, you still need to keep your skin clean, moisturized, and protected. Since you don’t have any issues with dry skin or breakouts, you can do a bare minimum skincare routine that includes:13

Washing your face with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water.

Using a moisturizer to hydrate skin. 

Applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 every morning.

Dry Skin

Dry skin craves moisture, so you want your skincare routine to help add moisture back to your skin barrier. To help address flakey, dull, and rough skin, your skincare routine should include:14

Washing your face with a moisturizing cleanser or an oil-based cleanser.

Use thick cream or oil-based moisturizers with ingredients like ceramides and glycerin to repair the skin barrier and lock in moisture. 

Applying sunscreen with at least 30 SPF every morning. (You can also try moisturizing sunscreens.)

See a dermatologist if your dry skin is caused by a skin condition like eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis. They can help you find the proper routine and treatments to heal and manage your dry, sensitive skin.14 

Oily Skin

Oily skin needs help balancing oil production and avoiding products that can clog your pores. Always look for products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic to avoid causing breakouts. To help treat acne and reduce oil production, your skincare routine can include:1516

Washing your face with a gentle, oil-free cleanser.

Using toners with astringent ingredients like salicylic acid or witch hazel—which reduce excess oil.17

Applying a serum or acne treatment with ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to help clear out pores. Salicylic acid also helps remove oil from the surface of the skin. 18

Using a retinol or prescription retinoid at night to help stimulate cell turnover and reduce breakouts.19

Applying oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizers or lightweight gel moisturizers with hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin without clogging pores.20

Applying sunscreen with at least 30 SPF every morning 

Combination Skin

Caring for combination skin includes keeping dry areas hydrated and oily skin balanced. You may have to get creative by applying acne products to your oily, acne-prone areas and thick moisturizers to dry areas. A skincare routine for combination skin may include:1416

Washing your skin with a gentle, oil-free cleanser.

Using a serum or acne treatment with ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide for oily, acne-prone areas.

Applying thick cream moisturizers with ceramides and glycerin to dry areas and lightweight gel moisturizers to oily areas. (Or try a medium-weight moisturizer with hydrating hyaluronic acid all over the skin.)

Applying sunscreen with at least 30 SPF every morning.

Sensitive Skin

Since sensitive skin is easily irritated, you want your skincare routine to help calm red, itchy skin. Your routine should also help prevent future skin reactions. When in doubt, talk with a dermatologist to help determine what may be triggering your sensitive skin reactions. Some ways your skincare routine can soothe sensitive skin include:21

Washing your skin with a gentle, soap-free, and fragrance-free cleanser.

Avoiding any skincare, beauty products, and laundry detergents with fragrance. 

Applying a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizer with hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin-repairing ceramides. 

Using over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams on inflamed skin.

Applying a hypoallergenic or mineral-based sunscreen with at least 30 SPF every morning.