How to Get Clear Skin: Skin Types Explained

Find out how to get clear skin by knowing your skin type and implementing these essential skin care tips.

Updated: Monday 24 January 2022

Our skin is somewhat of a miracle organ, protecting us from external threats such as viruses and bacteria, whilst regulating our water retention and body temperature. Many factors contribute to maintaining healthy skin, such as: our genetics, diet, fitness and the weather [1]. Therefore, it’s common for everyone to at least occasionally experience breakouts or soreness, often occurring most frequently on the face.

Establishing a routine for caring for the skin on the face is highly recommended and important to have healthy, young looking skin for as long as possible. Your skin type largely dictates the best routine for keeping your skin radiant and blemish free. Different skin types produce various levels of sebum, the oily, waxy substance your body uses to moisturise and protect the skin. Understanding your skin type is essential to knowing what your skin is either lacking or is in excess of, and from here you can more easily identify the best skin care routine for you.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the different skin types and suggest methods of obtaining great, healthy skin, whilst treating problem areas quickly and effectively.

Oily Skin

Those with oily skin produce too much sebum, the lubricating substance that rises to the surface of the skin through the pores, giving the skin a shiny look. Those with oily skin may have enlarged pores, and can be more prone to acne and breakouts of blackheads and pimples. The oiliness of the skin can depend on various factors, such as time of year, the weather, stress and hormone fluctuations (such as going through puberty).

Wash Frequency

You should wash your face no more than twice per day with a cleanser [2]. There can be a temptation with oily skin to wash more frequently to remove the excess sebum, but this may dry out your skin and lead your body to produce even more sebum to compensate, potentially worsening your skin health. Once in the morning and once in the evening is optimal; if you exercise outside of these times you may want, do so with water only or a gentle cleanser.

Skin Products

Cleansing is an important part of any skin routine, and those with oily skin should look for a water-based cleanser that is non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog your pores). Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser is great for removing excess facial oils without drying out the skin. It’s soap-free, non-irritant and produces a gentle foaming action, making it kind to your skin and suitable for both your morning and evening cleanse. Occasionally you may also want to use the Cetaphil Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser to lightly scrub the pores to unclog them of oil, dirt and dead skin; this can be used every day but if you experience irritation or dryness, reduce the application frequency to once every few days.

If you suffer from acne, you ought to use a specialist topical treatment once per day. Epiduo Gel is a popular prescription gel that targets acne vulgaris, the bacteria that causes acne. Differin Cream is a topical treatment containing Retinoid Adapalene, an anti-inflammatory medicine highly effective at reducing the formation of whiteheads and blackheads on the outer layer of skin [3].

Oily Skin Care Tips

Make sure to wash your hair frequently too, up to once per day, since those with oily skin typically also have a more oily scalp. Excess oil can sometimes move to the face, encouraging outbreaks, so washing hair frequently will help control scalp oils.

Everyone should use sun protection regularly, regardless of their skin type, but oily skin may be especially reactive to sunlight. Apply sun protection such as Nivea Sun Spray or Nivea Sun Lotion on top of your normal moisturiser whenever you’ll be exposed to sun, protecting and also preventing the premature ageing of the skin.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is characterised by an absence of natural oils on the skin, often resulting in dry or red patches of skin, and a more dull complexion. The skin is often less elastic and the individual pores are almost invisible. Without the correct level of hydration, your skin can crack and become irritated, again affected by factors such as hormones and weather, but also by your genes.

Wash Frequency

Take short showers or baths, and if your skin is really dry, don’t wash more than once per day, as this will dry out your skin more. If washing your face twice per day is proving irritating for sensitive skin, use a cleanser before bed, and then simply rinse with water in the morning.

Skin Products

With dry skin, it’s important to use products that provide sufficient hydration, so you should opt for a moisturising body wash such as this Aveeno Body Wash with its gentle, soap-free formula. When washing the face, use a cleanser that helps the skin retain water such as the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. It’s especially important with dry skin to apply a suitable moisturiser at least once per day, and lotions provide the most hydration; check out the E45 Moisturising Lotion, Aveeno Lotion or Cetaphil Lotion for daily use. For especially dry and eczema-prone skin, Aveeno Dermexa Balm and Dermol 500 Lotion are effective at reducing itchiness and irritation.

Those with particularly dry skin might be suffering from eczema or another form of dermatitis, a condition that affects approximately 10% of adults in the UK. To combat dry or inflamed skin from eczema, Eumovate Cream or E45 Eczema Repair should be used on the affected areas. For itchy and irritated skin, try using an emollient such as Dermol 500 Antimicrobial Lotion or Doublebase Gel to reduce the discomfort. For eczema on other parts of the body, Hydrocortisone 1% Cream is highly effective at reducing swelling or irritation, but is not recommended for use on the face.

Dry Skin Care Tips

Avoid perfumed, deodorant soaps as these are likely to irritate dry skin further. The E45 Emollient Bath Oil is a great option for avoiding irritation whilst washing your body thanks to its detergent-free, soap-free and perfume-free formula.

Dry air can aggravate dry skin, so using a humidifier indoors can help combat this. Additionally, try to keep the temperature from getting too hot indoors.

Combination Skin

Combination skin, as the name suggests, is when the skin on some areas of the face is more oily and some is drier. Typically, the oilier area falls in the T-zone, comprising the forehead, nose and chin [4]. In terms of skin care, it may be necessary to take a different approach to the different areas of the face, depending on the severity of the skin differences across the face.

Wash Frequency

In terms of wash frequency, it is still advisable to wash combination skin twice per day, once in the morning and once before bed with a gentle cleanser. This skin doesn’t tend to be too sensitive, but be careful of drying out the less oily patches of the skin if you need to wash more than twice per day; having moisturiser on hand to top up the dryer areas of the face after rinsing is wise.

Skin Products

With combination skin, finding the products that work for you can be a trial and error process; some people may find that an cleanser for oily skin works great on the oilier T-zone, but dries out the non-oily areas like the cheeks, while other might find it suitable for use all over the face. Foaming cleansers such as the Cetaphil Oily Cleanser are great at removing oil whilst not being too harsh on the dryer areas of the skin. For extreme combination skin, you will likely need to treat the two zones independently, applying a water-based moisturiser for oily skin on the t-zone, and using a dry skin moisturiser such as Aveeno Cream on the cheeks or any other drier patches.

Combination Skin Care Tips

You can also target the oilier areas of the face in isolation using blotting paper to remove sebum build up in the T-zone, helpful in the prevention of acne breakouts.

Using a mattifying primer in the morning can help prevent your makeup from becoming shiny throughout the day, to reduce the common makeup slippage that can occur around the forehead, nose and chin of combination skin.

When exfoliating, stick to the T-zone, as exfoliation can irritate dry areas of the skin and is less necessary if the pores are smaller and not clogged on areas like the cheeks, which is often the case with combo skin.

General Skin Care Tips

There are several rules of skin care that apply across the board, regardless of skin type.

  • Avoid popping pimples - squeezing spots disrupts your skin's healing process, exposes your skin to bacteria, and can cause scarring.
  • Try not to touch your face - bacteria and dirt often arrives on the face via our fingers, so limiting this is best for your skin.
  • Wear sun protection - every skin type needs protection from UV rays, so apply lotion or spray whenever in the sun to keep your skin looking healthier for longer.
  • Stay hydrated - ensuring you’re consuming enough water will help keep your skin hydrated, reducing dryness and helping to maintain good skin health.
  • Eat a healthy diet - it’s vital to include enough nutrients in your diet for all types of healthy body functioning. For skin, the necessary Vitamins include Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, whilst other minerals for healthy skin include Selenium, Copper and Zinc [5]. Taking a daily Multivitamin is an easy method of giving you a boost of the key nutrients needed for a healthy body.
Toby Watson

Written by: Toby Watson

Pharmica Medical Writer

Toby (BSc) is an experienced medical writer, producing educational articles on many areas of health including sexual health, fitness, nutrition and mental health.

He particularly enjoys debunking misconceptions around heath conditions and their treatments, researching each topic in detail and writing easily-accessible content.

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From Acne to Eczema: How to Look After Your Skin
From Acne to Eczema: How to Look After Your Skin