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5 great ways to help you understand your skin

Without a doubt skin is hard to fathom; just when you think you’ve cracked it, something flares up or changes. Annoying as that is, it is actually one of the keys to understanding it a bit more. Accepting that our skin changes all the time, day to day, season to season, means that we can respond accordingly and give it what it needs, when it needs it. For example moving out of summer and into the cooler months will bring different skin concerns; this might mean switching to a richer moisturiser or adding an oil in. Likewise, moving into the warmer months will bring changes too.

The lure of all the amazing skincare products out there however, can make us think we need it all, we then bombard our skin with products and can often not know what is doing what for it.

I’ve been doing some lovely make-up consultations, and one thing I’ve noticed a lot is that skincare is easily misunderstood. Often a client thinks that make-up is the issue, however once we start chatting it soon appears that skincare is causing problems. Good skincare is the basis to good make-up so actually if you sort that first, make-up becomes easier.

I’ve decided to start a new little series on the blog called Skin School. It is about going back to basics and really learning to understand YOUR skin. Everyone’s skin is different and what works for one skin, is often not right for another. This first one is to help you understand your skin a little more.

Traditionally skin is categorized into skin types. This is dictated by your genes, it’s what you were born with and generally stays with you. Of course skin will change throughout your life – things like puberty and ageing are testament to that!!

There are schools of thought that don’t think we have different types. Weleda for example look at skin stages. They believe we go through cycles of seven years, and our skin’s needs change as we travel through them. They have formulated their skincare to look after us that way, as opposed to choosing through skin type. I absolutely take this on board too, skin is constantly changing and will need different care at different times of life. We’ve all experienced that for sure. 

1 – Skin types are usually split into these four 

Normal skin (is there such a thing?!) is described as well balanced – an even amount of oil and moisture. Pores are generally fine looking although perhaps a little bigger down the centre panel. This type of skin tends to have no major concerns.

Dry skin is when a skin is lacking sebum which is the oil our skins naturally secrete. Lack of sebum can cause a skin to feel tight and uncomfortable, it can feel itchy and be flakey in patches. Pores will not be visible, and without this protective sebum barrier, dry skin can be prone to sensitivity. (all skins will get drier with age.)

Oily skin is when a skin has overactive sebaceous glands, which means there is too much oil which can cause congestion and blemishes. There may be large open pores and skin can look shiny. (This type can cause issues however as a big plus they tend to age better :))

Combination skin is as it sounds, a combination of different types, the most common being oily through the t-zone and dry on the cheeks.

2 – Confused skin?

If your skin is confused and you have no idea of your type, a good thing to do is just strip back all of your products to a basic cleanse and moisturise – Weleda’s Almond Range is a lovely one to do this with. This can let your skin settle and then you can start to see how it works. Does it feel tight when you wash it, do you get a shine quite quickly into the day – these can be good indicators as to what type your skin is.

3 – Sensitivity

Sensitivity can affect all skin types. A skin may be sensitive to certain ingredients or to touch, it can also react to environmental conditions such as heat. Sun sensitivity is different and is measured on the Fitzpatrick Scale – this scale helps you to assess how your skin reacts in sunlight and how you should protect it.

4 – Skin conditions

Skin conditions are the things that will be making your skin have those perhaps daily changes I mentioned earlier. These can be influenced by diet, medication, environmental factors and hormones to name just a few. Common examples are acne, psoriasis, eczema and rosacea. 

One key condition I see so much of is dehydration, this is lack of water. Any skin can be dehydrated including oily types so it is important to hydrate every skin – once you understand your skin a bit more, choosing the right moisturiser becomes easier. Hyaluronic acid is a lovely addition to any skin really and will help to rehydrate.

5 – Using the wrong products

Using skincare that isn’t suited to your skin type can exacerbate issues, which then can lead you to using more products and so the cycle begins.. for example using a cleanser that is too harsh for your skin can dry it out, and thus you need more moisture products than you might need if your cleanser were gentler. Stripping a skin with a harsh cleanser can actually make a skin more oily, as the skin will produce more oil to make up for the stripped stuff. 

This post could go on for days and days – skin is such a big topic.. I will write more on this series for sure. However what I’d like you to take away from this post is that everyone’s skin is different so what works for one might not work for another. Indeed read reviews of products but in the end listen to YOUR skin. As tempting as it is, don’t try a million different products in one hit. Mix in one at a time and see what it does. If you do a few at a time, you won’t actually know what is doing what… Samples are great for trying new products.

Your skin will change daily so take note and be flexible with your routine – it might need more moisture on one day for example. Products that have worked previously might not work now for one reason or another. I’m all up for using products up and no wastage, but if something really isn’t working for your skin, don’t use it. I’ve done it and your skin can suffer. 

Please ask any questions and I’ll do my best to help!

What is in your skin regime? 

Images for BYBI shot by Polly Hanrahan. Make up by me.

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