Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Different Skin Types, Different Treatments

At Beauty College, I was taught that skin types can be classified as normal, dry, oily, combination, mature and sensitive. Skin types are seen as intrinsic factors that we are born with and these cannot change during our life time. Skin conditions are classified as dehydrated, acne, allergic, seborrhoeic and oedematous. Skin conditions are seen as temporary problems that we experience at any given time due to factors such as environment, diet, stress, hormonal imbalances, etc.

We were also taught that when you analyse a client’s skin you need to hold up a mirror, point out and tell her absolutely everything that was wrong with her skin. Imagine me sitting there and showing her every spot, pimple, wrinkle, freckle, dry patch, red patch, oily patch and every other patch you can think of. I never do this in my salon, as I am quite sure that this would end up in disaster.

Various beauty products

In various training manuals and beauty books, that I bought and read since then to try and make sense of this varied and complex subject, the classification of skin types differ depending on the author’s believes, training and experience. According to Florence Barrett-Hill in her book “Advanced Skin Analysis” only three basic skin types exist: Permanent Diffused Redness, Lipid Dry and Lipid Oily. 

What I now rely on, in conjunction with my very long and detailed questionnaire, when analysing a client’s skin, is to ask her how she experiences her skin and what her concerns and expectations are. Listening to her and taking it all into consideration, is as important as all my skin analysing techniques and training.

Here are short descriptions of the different skin types as used in most salons and these are terms that the clients are most used to and familiar with:

Normal skin: This is the ideal skin type and you should thank you stars, your mother, father and their forbearers for gifting you with these genes. It is fine and even textured, firm, supple and has a good balance of moisture and oil secretions. The skin looks clear, without any impurities or blemishes and slightly warm to the touch. Pale skins will be pink in colour, and darker skins will have a mauve hue.

Vitaderm has an Introduction Kit for every skin type

Dry skin: This skin type is caused by too little oil secreted by the skin. It has a very fine texture with no visible pores and may have a thin, almost transparent look. It will often feel tight and slightly hot and is prone to early, very fine lines and expression wrinkles. It is often sensitive to cold and wind, air conditioning and needs lots and lost of moisture/ oil combination creams.

Oily Skin: This skin type is caused by too much oil secreted by the skin. The skin texture may look shiny and uneven, having large pores with black heads (comedones) or even pastules (inflamed spots). It is difficult too keep clean but also very important not to over clean and dry out the skin. The good news is that oily skin tends to age slower because the sebum (oil) naturally prevents water loss. 

Combination skin: This type of skin has both oily and dry patches. The oily part usually forms a “T” zone across the forehead and down the nose and chin. There may be enlarged pores over the oily part but the rest of the face and neck will be dry or normal.

Mature skin: This, to me is not a skin type but a skin condition as we were not born with mature skin but this (as we all surely know) develops slowly over time as we grow older. I will 

describe the ageing process in another blog post.

Sensitive/ allergic skin: There is still a bit of debate going an about the difference between these two. However, I have always been able to contribute this problem to the use of incorrect products and it always disappears when the client uses the correct home-care products! It is usually dry with fine pores and may have red patches over the cheeks and nose. It may react to heat, cold, pressure, irritation or nervous conditions. It often responds to an allergic stimulus.

The quick route to do-it-yourself analysis:

In his book “Facelift at your fingertips”, Pierre Jean Cousin, analysed skin as follows: 

  • Clean your skin with warm water and cotton wool balls. 
  • Dry lightly with a towel and wait 30 minutes. 
  • Cover you face with one layer of paper tissue, press lightly and leave for about one minute. 
  • Remove and examine it. 

Oily stains over most of the tissue: your skin type is oily
Oily patches at side of nose, around mouth and forehead: Your skin type is combination
Faint oily traces over most of the tissue: your skin type is normal
No oily traces: your skin type is dry

Although this is far simpler than we were taught, and my lecturers will surely miss a few heartbeats by me mentioning this, it is a good start for those who need to know their skin type and can’t be bothered with lengthy and sometimes costly salon skin analysis.

Please keep in mind that when you have a skin problem like acne, very sensitive, allergic or pigmented skin, rather consult a good beautician to guide you about the care and the correct take-home products that will treat the problem and keep your skin in excellent condition. 

Whatever you skin type and condition, please treat your skin gently and remember: no tanning allowed!

For a consultation contact me at gerda@, or for more information visit our website at .

Thanks to the following authors for their hard work in writing the books that helped me to be a better skin analyst:
Florence Barrett-Hill, Advanced Skin Analysis, Virtual Beauty Corporation Ltd, 2004
Pierre Jean Cousin, Facelift at your fingertips, Quadrille Publishing Limited, 1999
Ann Hagman, Aesthetics for the Therapist, Stanley Thornes ( Publishers) Ltd 1991
William Arnould-Taylor, Physical Therapy, Stanley Thornes ( Publishers) Ltd 1997

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