γνῶθι σεαυτόν (gnōthi seautón = know thyself), in ancient Greece it was a religious maxim that first of all invited people to become aware of their weaknesses and imperfections, and then be able to exploit them in their favor. Likewise, knowing the characteristics and problems of our skin is essential to take care of it in the best possible way, especially considering the vastness of biological parameters that characterize it, and that connote the uniqueness of the biotype of each person.
Despite the extremely personal nature of our skin tissue, it is still possible to identify 6 main types of skin: normal, oily, dry, combination, sensitive and mature. The goal of this article is to shed light on the differences between these types, and to help the reader answer the most important question for choosing the most effective beauty routine: “What type of skin do I have?”
NORMAL Skin Biotype
“Normal skin“, typically characterized by optimal hydration, a perfectly structured stratum corneum and good microcirculation, is recognized for its healthy appearance and free of any imperfections, such as wrinkles, imperfections, enlarged pores, dryness problems or of excess sebum, discoloration or hyperpigmentation.
This biotype is rare, and is often overlooked due to the absence of obvious problems. However, it is good to remember that the skin is a dynamic organ, dependent on endogenous factors and in constant change, as it is influenced by lifestyle habits (stress, nutrition), climatic conditions (cold, wind, exposure to sunlight), age and any pathological conditions; for this reason it is important to choose routines that preserve their normal characteristics.
DRY Skin Biotype
Dry skin appears inelastic, fragile, rough to the touch, and often flaky and subject to frequent feeling of tension and itching.
Skin dryness can be constitutional (lack of skin lipids and sebum), occasional (dermatosis), pathological (diabetes, hypothyroidism, atopic dermatitis, etc.), or caused by skin dehydration. In all cases it involves an alteration of the barrier function of the skin, which, failing to guarantee the right degree of hydration, makes it more exposed to external aggressions and accelerates aging.
Restoring the water and lipid balance of the stratum corneum is very important for reducing the negative effects of dry skin..
OILY Skin Biotype
The “oily skin” appears shiny and oily, with clearly visible enlarged pores and the presence of blackheads and comedones caused by sebaceous hypersecretion, which in turn could depend on genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, drugs, stress or the use of comedogenic cosmetics.
Excess sebum and dead skin cells clog the pores, which become the ideal habitat for fungi and bacteria, including Propionibacterium acnes (acne bacterium). This gives rise to impurities and acne phenomena.
Unlike dry skin, oily skin is more protected from external aggressions and ages more slowly. However, those affected are more prone to the onset of severe acne, seborrheic dermatitis and androgenetic alopecia, and it is therefore important to act promptly with purifying and sebum-normalizing treatments.
COMBINATION Skin Biotype
Most common biotype, combination skin is characterized by the different composition of the hydrolipidic film depending on the area of the face. Some areas take on the typical characteristics of oily skin, and need to be purified and sebum-normalized (T-zone: forehead, nose, chin); other areas, on the other hand, appear dry and flaky and require greater hydration (cheeks, eye contour). The treatment of combination skin is complex, as it requires solutions capable of proposing an acceptable compromise between specific needs.
SENSITIVE Skin Biotype
Irritation, burning and itching feeling, and redness are the hallmark of sensitive skin, whose fragility could be related to an altered integrity of the epidermal barrier, resulting in the perception of skin discomfort. The imbalance of the intercellular lipids that constitute it, in fact, would weaken the skin barrier, facilitating the penetration of irritants and allergens, and thus preventing adequate protection of the nerve endings.
A complete and standardized symptomatology of the sensitive biotype has not yet been identified. Normally, the individual with sensitive skin exhibits a negative hyper-reactivity in response to stimuli that normally should not cause these effects (redness, itching, inflammation). This skin hyper-reactivity involves physical triggers (UV rays, climatic conditions, wind) and chemical (cosmetics, soaps, pollutants), as well as endogenous and personal factors (lifestyle, psychological and hormonal conditions, genetic conditions and related diseases).
Although we do not know the underlying causes of the increased sensitivity of this skin biotype, it is still possible to act with treatments to alleviate symptoms and problems.
MATURE Skin Biotype
Mature skin, the result of the natural flow of time, is visually less turgid, inelastic, full of marked wrinkles, solar lentigo, bags and pronounced dark circles, and is much more sensitive to mechanical trauma and the effects of solar radiation.
From the age of 25, a process of natural skin decline begins, with an annual decrease of 1% in the production of collagen and elastin.
The “scaffolding” supporting the skin gradually weakens, initially causing the appearance of fine lines in the nasolabial area and around the eyes (crow’s feet).
Over time, the natural increase in skin energy loss and exogenous factors, such as exposure to sunlight, contribute to increasing the manifestations of skin aging, with a visible loss of volume, firmness and brightness and the appearance of deep and marked wrinkles, lentigo and skin spots.
Fortunately, today there are many means to counteract the triggers of skin aging, which allow to protect the skin from external factors (pollution, exposure to UVA and UVB rays, lifestyle), and to mitigate the imperfections of age, making younger and healthier skin.
DEHYDRATED Skin is not a biotype!
The dehydration of our skin is essentially caused by external factors, including sudden changes in temperature, daily diet, excessive consumption of coffee or alcohol and low water intake; human cells will thus decrease their ability to regulate hydration levels, with direct effects on the body and skin.
It is essential to preserve the correct water balance of the skin, using moisturizing topical treatments daily.
But be careful! Our skin can be combination, oily, dry, mature or sensitive and at the same time dehydrated. Indeed, often dehydration of the skin can cause excessive sebum production, and for this reason mistakenly treated with products for oily skin, which do not allow the rebalancing of skin hydration levels, creating the perfect recipe for clogged pores and imperfections.
Today it is possible to use modern dermatological tools capable of evaluating a series of parameters, such as the degree of hydration of the skin, the amount of sebum present, the dilation of the pores and skin laxity, drawing up a real identity card of your own skin.
Listen to your skin!
Ask your Pharmacist for advice and follow our blog for the next insights on skin biotypes and specific skincare routines!