If you’re someone that has a hard time figuring out what is wrong with your skin, and what kind of skin type you have, then this post is for you!
I’ve been asking around to some of my friends and family on what their biggest skincare concerns are, and what are some ingredients they just don’t understand. I put together a list of concerns and ingredients that help out, and man oh man did I get sucked into the world of dermatology in the last few days. Open below for better skin!
First, let’s figure out what skin type you have. This is pretty simple and you may already know. You may also know that your skin type may change with the seasons or as you get older. I’ve listed all the skin types below, and common problems that come with those skin types. Listen to your skin and watch how it changes in relation to your lifestyle/hormones. Are you over-exfoliating and making your skin dryer or over-cleansing and making it oiler than it is? Are you using a moisturizer that is too heavy? Making your face happy means balancing all of its natural oils and evening the complexion with serums and skin food.
“The average rate of sebum production in adults is 1mg/10cm2 every three hours. When rates are less than 0.5mg/10cm2 every three hours, patients can suffer from xerosis or dry skin. Conversely, when sebum production exceeds 1.5mg/10cm2 every three hours, it is considered excessive and results in seborrhea or oily skin.” – The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology
Normal skin means just that – you don’t have an overly oily T zone (middle forehead and sides of the nose,) and you don’t have dry patches. This doesn’t mean you won’t have slightly oily areas because, as stated above, your skin naturally does release some oils. It also doesn’t mean that if you don’t use moisturizer your skin won’t get dry. Normal skin means your skin doesn’t lean one way more than the other.
Dry skin usually comes with uneven texture when applying makeup or that tight feeling after you wash your face. Dry skin just means your skin needs more love, and more of it’s natural oils balanced.
There are so many factors that attribute to oily skin. Do you go for more mattefying products when you’re picking your makeup? Or, if you don’t wear makeup, do you notice your skin gets shiny or sweaty looking throughout the day and not just in your T zone, but also on your cheeks or eyelids? Do you tend to have to blot or control your skin throughout the day? Oily skin usually comes with greasy or shiny skin problems, sometimes accompanied by acne and large pores.
“…sebaceous glands are present at birth and display relatively high production of sebum at this time. shortly after birth, sebum production decreases until puberty, at which time it dramatically increases. sebum production does not decline again until after menopause for women and around the sixth to seventh decade for men. – The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology”
Combination can get confusing because skin changes often. If you have one oily day you’re stuck thinking you have oily or combination skin. Basically, if you have normal skin, but you get a little oily during your period, you probably still have a normal skin. Combination skin is when your T zone is uncontrollably oily, and you need to balance the oils in your face. Use this term lightly. When looking at products that say “combination skin,” just know it’s hydrating, but for more oily-skinned types.
Now that you’ve found your skin type you can start treating your problem areas. I had a quick run down of skin types because if you have dry, acne prone skin for example, you want to find a product that isn’t going to completely dry out your skin and irritate it even more. The problems you face with your skin can have multiple explanations. Finding the exact product or ingredient that’s going to fix it may be challenging. The suggestions below are just some common, mostly successful, solutions for these problems. Also these aren’t all the options available, these are just the most popular, dermatologist-tested, result driven ones. For example, I know there are multiple fruit extracts that are radiant, complexion boosting, ect., but I’m not listing every fruit under the sun.
There are so many reasons someone can have acne. It could be a from your skin type, not washing your face enough/too much, your diet and allergies/irritations, hormone imbalance, ect.
Acne is commonly attributed to oily skin because acne is released from the same glands as your oils.
Some ingredients you can try:
- Azelaic Acid – anti-inflammatory and kills the bacteria that infect pores, while preventing future pores from being clogged.
- AHAs – group of alpha hydroxy acids: lactic acid, glycolic acid and citric acid: gets rid of dead layer of skin on epidermis, fight clogged pores, increases collagen/elasticity, and promotes turnover, but makes skin photosensitive meaning you need to wear SPF if used during the day.
- BHAs (salicylic acid) – beta hydroxy acid that helps block cells from being trapped in the pore aka cleans out your pores, less aggressive than other options, but may promotes rapid peeling of dead skin.
- Benzoyl Peroxide – anti-inflammatory medicine for blemishes or clogged pores, but you need to find the right percentage/formula for your skin. Gels and water-based forms are more stable and less irritating than creams or lotions because of their drying effect.
- Tea Tree Oil – antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory essential oil; can cause allergic reactions if stored improperly in heat or sun.
- Topical retinoid – tretinoin (common ingredient in resurfacing products) and adapalane are common ingredients to look out for. The main side effects of these are redness, irritation, and burning all depending on skin type.
- Isotretinoin (Accutane) and Spironolactone are for the more severe cases; prescription retinoid that help with oily skin and severe acne – talk to your doctor about these options and if they’re right for you. Isotretinoin is more for acne, but has several common secondary skin side effects. Spironolactone is also used for thinning or excessive hair i.e., alopecia and male pattern baldness.
First off, you need to know what kind of scars you have in order to treat them correctly with your skin type. There are many different kinds of scars: Atrophic is most common for the face, which are ice pick (deep and wide,) boxscar, (not as deep with varying edges,) and rolling (can be smoothed out when stretched). Then there are Hypertrophic (raised, but doesn’t go past original wound) and Keloid (raised, bigger than original wound).
Rolling scars are some of the most common because inflammation causes a loss of collagen fibers and fat under the skin. Unfortunately, most treatments have to be done by a professional if the scars are severe enough.
Some ingredients to try:
- AHAs – alpha hydroxy acid: lactic acid, glycolic acid and citric acid, which get rid of dead layer of skin on epidermis. They also promote cell turnover to help resurface the skin allowing for fading of scars. Note that AHAs makes skin photosensitive meaning you need to wear SPF if used during the day (recommended to be used at night).
- BHA (salicylic acid) – a strong peeling agent that promotes rapid healing of skin.
Options to try:
- Chemical Peels – superficial, medium, and deep peels are used for a variety of reasons, but could all be used for ranging acne to stimulate skin regrowth, repair collagen and even out melanin for a better complexion.
- Microdermabrasion – a painless removal of outer layer of epidermis and makes natural exfoliation quicker, but does not treat very deep scars. Deeper scars require dermabrasion, which is done under local (specific) or general (whole body) anesthesia to basically sand down the skin to a flatter level.
- Laser treatment – a good option for rolling or boxcar scars to remove the tissue using CO2 or Erbium YAG lasers. CO2 promotes healing of the wound, while also replenishing hyaluronic acid. However, these treatments come with hypersensitivity to the sun so you’ll need some time to let your skin peel and heal in the comfort of your own home. If you consider this, schedule wisely. It could take weeks to heal.
- Hyaluronic Acid fillers – a naturally occurring carbohydrate that help with skin’s elasticity and tissue hydration injected into the scars to promote collagen fibers and increases the number of cells.
Are you really excessively oily? Skin oils are tricky because your skin naturally secretes oil. Secretes a nasty word, I know, but it’s true. This is a common problem during puberty, so hormone changes could have a large effect on excess oil. Your environmental conditions could also have an impact on this concern especially if you live somewhere humid.
Some ingredients you can try:
- Retinoid – retinols (vitamin A) that help produce proteins necessary for repairing skin, or fixing the oils stuck in the glands. Retinoids repair photodamage and uses keratin, which protects the outer layer of skin, while also having anti-inflammatory actions.
If you already have dry skin this might not work for you since it will result in lack of keratin, which will cause cells to loosen from each other and make your skin flaky and excessively dry. Try it, and make sure to moisturize well.
- Topical niacinamide (vitamin B3) – lowers oil and blemishes after around 2-4 weeks.
- Green tea – an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that helps calm the skin and protect against free radicals.
Options to try:
- Exfoliate – depending on skin’s sensitivity, it’s recommended you exfoliate at least once a week. Be careful not to over-exfoliate because this will lead to more oil as your skin will think it needs to produce more to keep it healthy.
- Oil-free products – this seems pretty self-explanatory, but use makeup and moisturizers that are oil-free and water based so that you’re not adding unbalanced oil to your skin.
- Facial oil – finding the right oil to use at night can balance out your oils in your sleep when you’re not producing as much as during the day.
LARGE VISIBLE PORES + BLACKHEADS
Good news is large pores, and blackheads caused by clogged pores, are pretty similar to the treatments you’d find for acne and oily skin. The bad news is that large pores are sometimes genetically passed down, or even predisposed to our DNA.
Some ingredients to try:
- Topical retinols – Tazatorene, Tretinoin, and Isotretinoin are all great choice to reduce the size of pores, specifically if your pores are big because of excess oil. They also rejuvenate the skin and improve elasticity. Though these don’t have fast acting or dramatic results (give it a little time,) but could help especially if you suffer from both acne and pore size.
- BHAs (salicylic acid) – keeps pores unclogged and helps to keep them tighter and less visible. Good ingredient to find if you are looking to minimize your pores.
- Glycolic Acid – use at night (less than 10% every day or 30% twice a week) to help minimize the size of pores, brighten the skin, and even out complexion. AHAs make skin hypersensitive to the sun, so it’s recommended to use at night. Glycolic acid and vitamin C show even better results if you can find this combo. Products like this are usually labeled “brightening”.
Options to try:
- Masking – clay, charcoal, or peel-off masks are great for pulling dirt from pores. If you follow the mask with a toner to close pores, then a retinoid to rehydrate and heal you’ll be set.
- Deep cleansing – products like Clarisonic are very useful is getting dirt deep down in your skin that you can’t reach.
- Hydrafacial – facial that cleanses the skin and gently exfoliates, extracts the impurfections, and rehydrates beneath the outer layer with hyaluronic acid and added antioxidants. This sounds like a good facial no matter what your problems are.
- SPF – don’t mess around when it comes to SPF in general, but not protecting your skin from UV damage will result in larger pores from loss of collagen and elasticity.
AGING/FINE LINES/WRINKLES + DISCOLORATION/UNEVEN TEXTURE
Everyone ages, unfortunately, and you need to start the anti-aging process early if you want to catch it in it tracks. There are so many products on the market labeled anti-aging, repairing, restoring, ect., but here are some ingredients to look out for so you’re not running in circles.
The process of aging is internal and external, where your skin loses collagen and elasticity and has a slower turnover and wound-healing rate. This results in sagging, fine lines, wrinkles and dull skin. Prolonged UV exposure makes this happen even faster, damaging the collagen before it would naturally fall. To prevent this or reverse this process you should be looking out for products that have antioxidants and retinols. Also, always wear SPF, that’s something you just can’t afford to skip out on. One of the easiest ways to do this is to find a moisturizer, bb/cc cream, or foundation with SPF already in it for one less step in the morning.
Some ingredients to try:
- Retinoids – kills old cells and help produce proteins necessary for repairing new skin cells while improving collagen production at the same time.
- Vitamin B3 (niacinamide)- helps with discoloration and elasticity to tighten and even out your skin.
- Vitamin C (L-absorbic acid)– promotes tissue healing and stimulates collagen while protecting against free radicals. Great common ingredient for morning serums for that brightened/glowing effect, which will be in a ton of fruit oil infused products (orange, grapefruit, etc.)
- Vitamin E – anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative (stops bad cell growth,) and blocks from free radicals more so than vitamin C. Vitamin C and E together are the most effective.
- Hyaluronic Acid – Overall HA is in tact with aging, but outer layer isn’t as strong, so using a moisturizer or serum with Hyaluronic Acid helps replenish the hydration in skin’s barrier before it deteriorates.
- Zinc – antioxidant properties that protect again UV-induced damage reducing cancer risk, while boosting immune system. It also helps with problems like rosacea and eczema. There is no storage for zinc in the body so external supply is necessary.
Options to try:
- Chemical Peels – Superficial, medium, and deep peels are used for a variety of reasons, but could help with discoloration/photoaging damage from UV. It will also stimulate skin regrowth, repair collagen, and even out melanin for a better complexion.
- Dermarolling – An at-home microneedle roller that helps stimulate collagen by essentially poking under your skin. The tiny controlled injuries stimulate turnover to heal the wounds without damaging the outer layer of skin. BUT you must invest in a roller, you don’t want to needles to break in your skin because how much of a nightmare would that be? Also, make sure whatever you use after rolling is high quality skin food because it’ll be absorbed much faster than normal because of the open wounds in your face. The effects are even better when used with a vitamin C serum or tretinoin (retnoid). Use 2 times a week, and clean roller with hot water and shake dry. This can also work for acne.
- SPF – to prevent further breakdown of collagen, and additional wrinkles/fine lines. This also prevents against most other skincare concerns.
SENSITIVE/IRRITATED + CRACKING SKIN
Whether your experiencing irritated or dry skin from the weather changing, or if it’s your normal skin type, it means you need to take extra precautions.
Some ingredients to try:
- Vegan lip balms – if you have a sensitivity to lip balms it might be because of an allergy. Lip balms containing beeswax or propolis, which is essentially a bee spit/wax mix, commonly irritate sensitive skin. It’d be better for you to stick to petroleum based balms, some balms are even surgical grade petroleum.
- Shea butter – moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties help restore hydration and elasticity, has helped with conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rashes. The fatty acids help produce the skin’s natural oil barrier.
- Hyaluronic Acid – Over time the outer layer of skin isn’t as strong so using a moisturizer or serum with Hyaluronic Acid helps replenish the hydration in skin’s barrier and stabilize the moisture.
- BHAs (salicylic acid)– when skin tends to freak out a little, salicylic acid can balance and clean it out while gently promoting healing.
- Jojoba Oil– copies the skin’s natural release of oils to balance out the skin
- Tea Tree Oil – antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory; can cause allergic reactions if stored improperly in heat or sun so make sure you look up how to store your serums or essential oils.
Options to try:
- Use creams instead of lotions – creams are heavier than lotions and keep a thicker barrier on your skin.
- Facial oils – unlike other skin types, dry skin can probably get away with using facial oils both in the morning and at night. It’s good to look for antioxidants (retinols, peptides) and hydrating (cermides of hyaluronic acid) ingredients.
- Fragrance free – try fragrance free or hypo-allergenic options if your skin is constantly irritated by products and slowly introduce new ingredients into your skincare.
- Hydrating masks – both in the jar and sheet masks are great options. The best part is you can do sheet masks every day if you want switching between brightening or restoring. Try using all-natural ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter and essential oils to reduce risk of irritations.
I realize I’m not a dermatologist. Yes, I did my research. Yes, I gave you guys information from credible sources, but when it comes to more severe situations where laser treatments, chemical peels, or anything you have to do IN a dermatologist office comes in play please talk to a professional.
There are many things that determine your treatment. It could come even come down to how much time you have for the healing process, your allergies, ect. Talk to a doctor. These are SUGGESTIONS, and just that. Keep yourselves informed, don’t buy something just because the label. Look at the ingredients, and get to know your skin on a deeper level.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this, I know it was long and if you got this far you’re the real one. Comment below so I know who you are and can thank you! I hope this helped even one of you to feeling a little more confident in taking control of your skincare. Invest in your skincare, but don’t be duped.
References for This Information