Skin Types

Understanding the unique demands of your skin will help you care for it better

beautiful lady with great skinThe reason why so many people fail to get the skin they desire, is because they erroneously use products that may not be suitable for their particular skin type. Hence, knowing your skin type is important.

What's your type?

  • Normal skin: It is neither oily nor dry and hence can be termed as a balanced skin type. The balance between oil and moisture content is even, and therefore moist. The pores therefore are small or barely visible, which gives it an even tone.
  • Dry skin: This type is easy to identify with its parched appearance, and the possibility of generating small white flakes. In dry skin, the sebaceous glands are less active. People with dry skin face major problems during the cold season and thus their skin ages faster than a person with normal or oily skin.
  • Oily skin: Here the sebaceous glands are overactive and thus the skin has a greasy shine. The extra oil on the surface of the skin attracts dirt and dust. The texture is coarse due to enlarged pores. It is prone to clogged pores, blackheads, pimples and acne.
  • Sensitive skin: This type has a fine texture and is easily prone to reactions like itching, burning, chafing and stinging. Often, after a wash, this kind of skin feels dry and itchy in places.
  • Combination skin: As the name suggests, this skin type is a combination of dry and oily skin. The T-zone that consists of forehead, nose and chin is usually greasy. The cheeks and area around eyes are dry.

How to arrest the culprits

Whatever our skin type, there are some factors that have an adverse effect on our skin's complexion and texture. These include: sunlight, pollution, alcohol and smoking, hormones and stress. However, you can control or even reverse the damage. Here's how…

Sunlight

Direct sunlight means exposure to UV rays, which causes maximum damage to our skin. Some of the effects of too much sunlight are:

  • Pigmentation that leads to formation of freckles.
  • Wrinkles and skin sagging.

Solution

  • Apply sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 while outdoors.
  • Try and avoid the sun when it is at its strongest between 10.00am to 4.00pm.
  • Wear a hat and shades when out in the sun.

Pollution

Pollution is a major factor in deciding the complexion and texture of our skin. It is one of the main causes of premature ageing of the skin. Dust is responsible for clogging the pores and increases bacteria on the face, both of which lead to acne, pigmentation or spots. Also, when skin is exposed to chemicals, smoke and environmental pollution, the levels of free radicals in the body increase.

Solution

  • Cleanse your skin thoroughly to wash away all traces of dirt and grime when you come home from outdoors.
  • Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet to eliminate free radicals in your body.
  • Drink enough water to detox.

Alcohol and smoking

Smoking narrows blood vessels, depriving our skin of oxygen and making it look unhealthy.

Alcohol destroys the supply of
vitamin A to the body. Our skin needs vitamin A to fight against bacteria and infection and to generate new cells to replace the dead ones.

Lack of oxygen and nutrients allows the formation of harmful free radicals that slowly damage the elastic fibres and collagen, which keep the skin strong and flexible. The result: premature wrinkles.

Solution

  • Say no to alcohol and nicotine. Or at least reduce the consumption.

Hormones

Presence of too much or too little hormones in the body is bad. It is through hormones that our tissues, organs and cells communicate with one another. Hormones reach every part of the body, including skin cells. Skin functions are particularly regulated by chemical messengers. Often during pregnancy, hormones lead to hyper pigmentation[pregnancy mask], which worsens from sun exposure.

Solution

  • Seek professional help to identify and correct these imbalances.
  • Opt for skin treatments to treat and minimise the affects that show up on the skin. Some of them include cosmetology treatments like mechanical exfoliation like microdermabrasion; chemical exfoliation like fruit acid peels; glycolic peels and laser treatments; or a combination.

Stress

While stress may not affect our skin directly, it triggers or aggravates skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema to name a few.

Under stress, our body releases hormones that cause blood vessels to constrict, leading to poor circulation. The reduced blood supply can leave the skin feeling dry, flaky, and prone to irritation. Also under stress, our breathing becomes shallow and quicker, which reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. This leads to a pale and glow-less skin.

Solution

  • Avoid caffeine in any form as it increases anxiety levels.
  • Have fruits, vegetables and other low-fat, high-fibre foods.
  • Indulge in a hobby or activity that soothes and de-stresses you.

The something extra

Eating right and following good habits is as important to having a good skin as external care.

Good food habits

  • Make fish a regular part of your diet [if you are a non-vegetarian] as fish contains oils that help nourish the skin and add lustre to your complexion.
  • Have vitamin A-rich foods such as dark orange [carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash] and dark green vegetables [broccoli, spinach, and kale].
  • Have hazelnuts and almonds as they have vitamin E.
  • Drink enough water every day, as this will keep your body and skin hydrated.
  • Avoid processed foods because they are high on sugar and artificial ingredients.

Lifestyle

  • Take time out of your heavy schedule and work out for at least 15 – 20 minutes daily; inactivity is a major factor that contributes to dull and lifeless skin.
  • Tend to your skin regularly.
  • Try to stay happy as much as you can.
  • Eat right and on time, always.

Daily care

Most people believe that good skin is God-given. It is true to some extent, but you can certainly work towards ensuring a glowing skin by devoting few minutes daily towards skin care

For dry skin

  • Limit washing your face to twice a day.
  • Add a few teaspoons of olive oil to your bath and bathe in warm water instead of hot water.
  • Apply moisturiser while your skin is still damp to maximise absorption.

For oily skin

  • Splash water on your face 4 to 5 times daily.
  • Shower or bathe in tepid water rather than very hot or very cold water.
  • Avoid using cleansers, as they take out more oil than required, thus over-drying your skin.
  • Use non-comedogenic moisturisers and sunscreen products as they are oil-free and do not clog pores.

For combination skin

  • Treat the oily and dry zones differently.
  • Use a mild cleanser to wash your face twice a day.
  • Clean the oily area [the T zone] twice a day using an oil-free face wash or cleanser
  • Moisturise the dry areas [cheeks and neck] twice a day, in the morning and at night.

For normal skin

  • Wash your face twice a day with a face wash.
  • Use a good moisturiser at night.

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Anuradha Ch
Anuradha Ch is a trained cosmetologist with a degree from the Christine Valmy Beauty School, New York. She is also the director of Anoo's a chain of salons in South India. Anuradha's hobbies include watching movies and sports like cricket, cooking and reading books. She lives in Hyderabad.

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