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  • Kate

What's my Skin Type?

It's crazy how patterns can arise so quickly. As soon as one problem happens for someone, then you hear it for someone else, and someone else... and then you realize, "DANG, I need to write a blog post about that!"

Lately, I had the realization that much of my acne was due to DRY SKIN.

That is a thing?! Dry skin and acne?

Yes, it totally is.

What's my Skin Type | Holistic Kate

We've been marketed and told that acne is caused by OILY skin... but as I've experimented with my skin and helped hundreds of women find a skincare regimen that works for them, I'm discovering that's not always the case.

There have been a couple cases lately where Beautycounter's Countercontrol Collection, our set of products designed for oily, acne-prone skin, did not improve my client's skin concerns. I was totally confused until I started diving into some research and thinking about my routine.

I've never had full-blown, oily, acne-prone skin - but I did think I had combination skin. I would get blemishes and breakouts, typically around my chin, that I always wrote off as hormonal. Lately, I've been really hydrating and exfoliating due to the winter weather, and guess what?! No breakouts.

Though I don't expect this to happen forever (sugar is another culprit of my acne), it has been rather life-changing!

I've discovered that the dry, acne-prone skin IS very common and many people don't realize it exists. Realistically, we would just call it "dry." Acne isn't limited to one skin type.

Skin Types

Normal - Skin feels balanced, neither dry nor oily.

Oily - Skin looks shiny all over and feels greasy.

Dry - Skin feels tight and looks flaky. It may also feel itchy and uncomfortable.

Combination - Skin is dry or normal in some areas and oily in others (typically the T zone of forehead and nose).

Sensitive - Skin is irritated, uneven, red, inflamed or splotchy.

Also note: Acne can appear with all skin types for a variety of reasons: lack of hydration, overproduction of sebum, imbalance of bacteria, reactions to foods or gut imbalances, and so on. Do not get stuck thinking you have acne because you have oily skin... that is much too simplified.

How to Identify Your Skin Type

There are several methods to identify your skin type & everyone you talk to may have a slightly different way to go about it.

Here are some of my favorite ways... but truthfully, you have to be observant and pay attention to your skin because it's dynamic. Mine definitely changes with the seasons and with my food choices (hydration levels are crticial!)

Please note: You are in control!! If you start a routine for oily skin and you notice your skin getting worse, time to change it up and try something different!

Based on the descriptions, above, you may already have an idea of your skin type, but some of us identify our skin type based on what happens by the END of the day, when in fact, it would be better to identify based on when you wake up OR after washing your face with a gentle cleanser and waiting about 30-60 minutes hour to see how you skin reacts.

For example, some people will think they have oily skin because by the time they are washing their face in the evening, there's a layer of grease or shine... but sometimes this is the result of using products that are drying your skin and thus your skin overproduces sebum to compensate, creating that greasy appearance. It could also be a reaction to products used throughout the day, environment, food choices, hydration levels, etc.

Gentle Cleanse Method

Gentle Cleanse Method | Holistic Kate

1. Cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser (I'd recommend a safer, non-scented baby cleanser).

2. Wait 30 minutes and observe your face. Is there any shine or flakiness in any areas? Make general observations.

3. Wait another 30 minutes (60 from wash time):

  • Does it feel tighter or uncomfortable in any areas? Any flakiness? You likely have dry skin.

  • Does it have shine only in specific areas, like your forehead or nose? You likely have combination skin.

  • Does it have shine on forehead, cheeks, nose, chin? You likely have oily skin.

  • Does it look pretty even and feels hydrated? You likely have normal skin.

  • Does it have redness or look inflamed in areas? You likely have sensitive skin.

Blotting Method

When you complete the blotting method will affect your results. For most accurate testing, complete steps 1-3 of the Gentle Cleanse and then instead of just observing your reflectionn, add in blotting paper...

Gently pat the blotting paper (like this one) on the different areas of your face. Hold the sheet up to the light.

  • If the sheet picked up little to no oil, you most likely have dry skin.

  • If the sheet picked up oil from the forehead and nose areas, your skin is normal/combination.

  • If the sheet is saturated with oil, it is extremely likely that you have oily skin.


Next in this series, I'm going to include a blog post that describes a safer routine for each skin type - general recommendations for products and ingredients and then a customized routine from Beautycounter (since that's what I know, use and love!)

Stay tuned! xo

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