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  • DrKathrynBell

I Was a Skincare Junkie: How to Shop For Your Skin Type

I once was a skincare junkie. Who’d buy whatever was funky.

Be it cream, oil, or serum,

It was hard on my income…

But now I know I was a numpty!

When I was young, Mum would give me her samples and sometimes even whole bottles of goodies.

Of course, I ended up having an array of mix and match products- but nothing made me feel more beautiful. As a child I’d sneak small spots of L’Occitane hand cream and savour the feeling as the formula sunk in, knowing this luxury would be with me all day. That is the feeling I experience now, as an adult, with new skincare products.

We are spoilt for choice with creams, lotions, milks, oils, serums, active ingredients, acids, extracts, clay masks, jelly masks, sheet masks … There are so many things to try!

The packaging makes you go “ooh”, then they look fabulous on your dressing table - What is not to love? How does anyone not indulge?

Unfortunately, marketing is powerful wizardry. I get sucked into the latest, most fabulous, must-have products… but the truth is, you should only put on your skin, what is good for YOUR skin.

I changed my ways once I became more involved in the beauty industry, now, I still indulge, but my skin is in much better condition because I shop with my skin in mind.

How do you know what’s good for your skin?

You know that feeling when you are excited to start using a new product that everyone’s raving about, and gives your skin that ‘glow’? Then you apply it, and after a week you are covered in spots, your acne flares up, your skin is dry and irritated… You know, that disappointed feeling? It shouldn’t feel like that.

If you spend some time getting to know your skin type, then you can enjoy trying out new products knowing that you are buying that is going to work with your skin, as opposed to working against it.

How to figure out your skin type

First, remove all makeup, cleanse and dry your face, then get up close and personal with your mirror in a well-lit room. Survey all areas of your face (cheeks, chin, eyes, nose, forehead, jawline…) and take mental note of pore size, skin tone, texture, elasticity, blemishes, and evidence of moisture.

Normal skin

The texture of your skin is soft, smooth, and tends to have good elasticity. The skin is neither too oily or too dry, meaning your skin has a normal water and oil content. Your pores are either small or medium in size, mostly blemish free and not prone to sensitivity. If this is your skin, you are truly blessed.

Dry Skin

The skin itself can look dull and blotchy with uneven pigmentation. It can feel tight and coarse, these are signs of reduced elasticity of the skin. Pores are small and tight. The moisture content is low and can be lacking in oils (skin needs a balance of sebum and moisture to be healthy). Dry skin is notoriously prone to sensitivity, which is why you may also find your skin easily irritated or red.

Oily Skin

The tell-tale feature of oily skin is spots. Blackheads and whiteheads are common, and this skin is prone to acne, papules and cysts (bumps underneath the skin with no obvious ‘head’). The pores are enlarged and easily visible beneath a glossy shine. The shine is an indication of ‘oiliness’ or increased sebum production, which is a waxy substance that clogs pores. The skin has good moisture content because of this, but the texture can be coarse, and complexion can be sallow with uneven pigmentation.

This just so happens to be a detailed description of my skin. Despite oily skin being mostly associated with teenage skin, here I am at almost 30, so don’t assume you are safe from oiliness once the terrible teens have passed!

Combination Skin

This is the most common skin type, a combination of oily an dry skin. Most commonly, the T-zone has oily characteristics like shininess and large pores, while cheeks have normal or dry characteristics. Your skin type can change over time and be influenced by seasonal changes, diet and lifestyle - so take to time to assess your skin every once in a while.

Now what?

Now that you are more in tune with your skin, you can start addressing the concerns you have with the appropriate products.

As an example, for my oily skin, water-based cleansers and cleansing milks are more beneficial than oil-based cleansers, which would add to the oil content at pore level.

Oily skin can be exfoliated several times a week, but the use of AHA and BHA (exfoliating acids) will inflame more sensitive skin types. Frequent exfoliation of any kind (including the use of cleansing brushes) will contribute to dryness, so isn’t recommended for dry skin types.

My skin still needs moisturising, despite the tendency to be oily, but a thick occlusive moisturiser (more suited for dry skin) containing large particle ingredients like shea butter and petrolatum, will clog my pores promoting breakouts.

So you see, it is now more easy to identify the products your skin needs, and if in doubt, quick google of “best moisturiser for my skin type” will give you loads of suggestions to narrow down something new to try.


  • Shop for your skin type

  • Make good investments

  • Address your skin concerns

  • And if you want to treat yourself, just do it!

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