Understanding Your Skin Type


Understanding your skin type is crucial for many reasons, not least to help you select the appropriate routine to care for it. To discover your skin type, Susanna Saiu, Technical Education Manager at REN recommends the following: “cleanse your face thoroughly with a mild cleanser and gently pat dry. Leave skin bare (and do not apply any additional moisturisers, serums or treatments) and then wait about half an hour”. Take a moment to assess your skin in the mirror, noting how it feels and what it looks like, then read our guide below to decide which category best describes your complexion…

Normal Skin

Normal skin feels nicely nourished and in balance, not dry or overly oily. It is usually fairly clear and does not suffer with many problems such as breakouts, clogged pores or redness. In theory, normal skin types can experiment with any skincare they want – but why rock the boat? If you have normal, healthy skin, it’s best to take a ‘less is more’ approach. Avoid overly abrasive formulas and stick to light textures so as not to overpower your balanced complexion.

The recommended routine for normal skin begins with a double cleanse. An oil or balm-based cleanser is perfect as a first step as it removes makeup effectively; try the ultra-luxurious Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm, followed with a wash-off cleanser to clean the face like the La Mer Cleansing Gel. Inject some moisture into your routine with the La Mer Revitalizing Hydrating Serum, followed by the Sisley Black Rose Skin Infusion Cream, which is light in texture but still very nourishing and cossets skin. Finish with an effective SPF (bear in mind, all skin types should be using one every day).

Dry Skin

“If your skin feels tight and looks parched, then your skin is dry”, says Susanna. You will constantly feel like you need more moisture, and environmental factors such as cold weather can make symptoms worse. While it’s important to hydrate from the inside out (drink two litres of water a day and consume water-rich fruits such as strawberries and pineapple), a good routine can make all the difference.

Occasional light exfoliation (bi-weekly) ensures skin cells turn over regularly; this means moisture-rich serums and moisturisers can properly penetrate the fresh surface of your skin. Hyaluronic acid is your new best friend; this ultra-hydrating ingredient can hold up to a thousand times its own weight in water.

Tata Harper’s NEW Water-Lock Moisturiser is packed with hyaluronic acid and water-locking technology to not only boost hydration but help keep it locked in too. It’s a great day-time moisturiser as it also sits perfectly under makeup. For an overnight hydration hit however, try Drunk Elephant’s F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial Hydrating Mask which works to give thirsty skin a really good drink while you sleep. 

Oily Skin

Oily skin is recognisable thanks to its shiny appearance – especially on the T-zone – and congested-looking pores. Excess oil will appear throughout the day, and breakouts are to be expected. On the plus side, oily skin often ages more slowly than those on the dry side, as it has more natural moisture, so is less prone to wrinkles. Exfoliating is essential to prevent a build-up of oil in the pores; a liquid BHA is ideal for everyday use as it does not contain harsh granules. Try using a little of Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant on a cotton pad once daily.


When it comes to moisture-boosting products, it’s a common misconception that creams and oils are always counter-productive for oily skin, but it’s important not to strip your skin of moisture. Instead, pick water or gel-based products (such as the Erborian’s Bamboo Waterlock) that are light enough not to weigh down skin but nourishing enough to stop any dehydration in its tracks. Face oils can really help, explains Susanna: “If the skin is suddenly deprived of good oils, it will try to compensate by overproducing them to replenish its moisturising barrier”. Opt for a clarifying formula such as the Sunday Riley’s U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil, as it contains salicylic acid to gently exfoliate as it nourishes.

Combination Skin

Usually consisting of normal-oily skin on the T-zone with normal-dry areas around the cheeks, combination skin is out of balance. Unlike oily skin, notes Susanna, combination skin will tend to have “noticeable shine on the nose and forehead”, rather than all over. This skin type can be particularly frustrating when it comes to picking products, as different areas of the face require different treatment; this is where multi-masking comes in.

Once a week, treat skin to a mask – or in this case, two. On the T-zone, choose a clay or mud-based mask like Fresh’s Umbrian Clay Purifying Mask to draw out impurities and treat oily areas. Other than masking, exfoliating the T-zone is essential, and liquid exfoliators are most practical for this, as manual scrubs can be tricky to use on targeted areas. Moisturise with a light gel formula that will nourish the face all-over, but will not be overbearing for oily areas; the Darphin Hydraskin Light is perfect for combination skin.