Good skin is admired and highly sought after from the teenage years right through to mature age. It is important to learn how to assess our skin so we may know its skin type and any conditions that may affect it.
We first take notice of our skin at puberty, when hormonal influences commence sebum (oil) production from sebaceous glands, attached to hair follicles, in the skin. The oil gland activity varies from person to person, with some teenagers developing an oily T-zone, others oiliness all over the face and shoulders, and a few whose skin may not alter much at all, except for occasional breakouts. Some teenagers develop acne.
How the skin functions may vary from summer to winter, from influences such as health and environment and at different ages throughout our lives. It is important to be observant to the needs of our skin and to care for it accordingly. For instance, the most common skin variation is in its moisture levels, with dehydration affecting every skin type at some time.
Apart from other influences which may cause moisture loss, as we age, natural moisturising factors in the skin diminish causing our skin to dry out. Over years, oil glands produce less oil changing oily skin to oily/combination skin, and normal skin to dry skin. It is advisable to choose products specifically designed for your skin type. Click on skin types below to expand the text.
Oily and Oily/Combination Skin
Hormonal influences at puberty which increase oil (sebum) production from the sebaceous glands, may give a slightly oily or very greasy skin. Sometimes sebaceous glands become over-active. Many oily skin conditions continue for decades. The pH of oily skin is on average 4.5. Oily skin is more prone to blackheads and pimples than other skin types. These conditions are not to be confused with acne. Acne occurs on a few oily skins and includes deep and very painful cysts. Acne requires medical specialist diagnosis and treatment, although skincare designed for oily skin will assist acneic conditions by gently cleaning and purifying, exfoliating, correcting and hydrating. There is a benefit in having oily skin. The skin doesn’t usually wrinkle in the same way as drier skins. With a regular, effective, skincare routine, oily skin may be assisted to be attractive and manageable. Oily/Combination skin is typically skin that has an oily ‘T Zone’ across the forehead, nose and chin but which is normal or dry elsewhere, generally on the cheeks.
Normal skin functions well because it is neither too oily nor too dry. It often looks healthy even when tending to slight dryness. Normal skin means the skin’s functions are in balance with a pH of about 5.6. Normal skin usually looks youthful longer. Good skin however still deserves a regular skincare routine that will help prevent dehydration and ageing changes. This skin type can be taken for granted and neglected but well cared for it will retain its youthfulness for many years.
Normal to Dry and Dry Skin
Every skin type can become dry from factors such as the sun, poor diet and neglect, but primarily from ageing changes. The skin’s ability to hold moisture diminishes. If the dryness is from ageing, oil production also slows. The pH may register above 5.6. Dry skin needs good quality skincare to help keep it well hydrated protected and regenerated. Otherwise, if unprotected, a deeply dehydrated and oil dry complexion may follow which may develop redness if the skin is fair, and fine or deep wrinkles with loss of elasticity.
Skin conditions are not the same as skin types. For example, dehydrated skin is a skin condition, not a skin type. Oily skin can be dehydrated, and dry skin can also be dehydrated. Both dry and oily skin can suffer from pigmentation – and so forth. Click on skin conditions below to expand the text.
Moisture loss in the skin, which can affect any skin type or age group, may be superficial or deep depending on many factors. If dehydrated skin is neglected, the skin may age rapidly as its natural resilience to internal and external conditions breaks down. Therefore, the age of the skin can be different to the age of the person. Dehydration may be caused by air-conditioning, exposure to the sun or wind, some drugs, illnesses such as colds and flu, inadequate water intake, soap, over-use of facial scrubs, alcohol-based skincare, stimulants such as tea, coffee, alcohol and smoking, neglect, saunas, low humidity, heaters and many other factors. Skincare, even oily skincare products, need to contain the best quality humectants (ingredients which help hold moisture in the skin) to help prevent and treat dehydration.
All skin types can have a fair complexion. The lack of pigment (melanin) will often make fair skin appear reddened because of a visible vascular network. Couperose usually means reddened with dilated and broken capillaries. Rosacea also has the same sensitive redness as couperose skin but is a more severe condition that afflicts many and often includes acne type papules with the appearance of bumps and lumps. It presents as inflammation, redness and flushing of the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. This skin condition can occur when fair skin is dehydrated, and its natural resilience breaks down. All skin types from oily to dry can be affected although this condition is more typical in dry sensitive skin. It can also occur when fair skin lacks oil that forms part of its natural protective barrier. Reddened skin conditions may also be caused by extremes of heat and cold, prolonged exposure to the sun, alcohol, smoking, hot and cold drinks, spicy food, heaters, air conditioners, and a lack of protective skincare including sunscreens.
Any skin type can be sensitive to skincare products. Being sensitive does not mean the skin is allergic to ingredients in skincare. A percentage of 1% has been quoted for genuine skin allergies. A common cause of sensitivity is applying a product containing active ingredients, or coarse grains immediately after a hot shower, shaving, playing sport etc. Stinging or burning sensations may be experienced. After approximately five minutes these reactions should subside with no adverse after-effects. Getting a product in the eyes can cause sore, reddened, puffy or itchy eyes. Care needs to be taken in the application of Gentle Brightening Eye-Lift Serum. A very small amount of product is needed but many people apply too much. This product has been formulated to be super-gentle on the eyelids, so the main cause of sensitivity will be incorrect use of the product. Although the percentage is very small, a few people may be allergic to a skincare ingredient. If symptoms persist and include puffiness, soreness, itching or a rash, stop all skincare applications and visit a doctor or pharmacist. Some of the same causes as for couperose skin (previously listed), may cause sensitivity to skincare. Also, nutritional deficiencies, food and other allergies, health problems, some drugs, hormonal influences, skin disorders, alcohol-based astringents and aftershaves.
Mature skin is where fine lines, deep wrinkles, dryness and loss of elasticity may be evident. The age of the skin is important, not the age of the person. People who live in a harsh climate with hot sun and drying winds can have skin ten or more years older than their years. Other causes may be stress, smoking, misuse of alcohol, medications, incorrect use or a lack of protective skincare, crash diets, nutritional deficiencies, illness or neglect. Even in well cared for skin, small expression lines may become a permanent feature once in the thirty to forty age group when the skin starts to lose its firmness. In the forty to fifty plus age group, menopause affects the ageing of the skin. The ageing process will continue to cause the skin to wrinkle, shrink, and to be less elastic but high-quality daily skincare rituals will help hydrate, nourish, protect and regenerate mature skin.
Acne Vulgaris is the most common skin disease in the developed world affecting 70-95% of adolescents. It is caused by inflamed and infected sebaceous glands. Most skin types have been affected at some time by blemishes or pimples (also known as pustules). Many other lesions may be termed skin blemishes, for example pigmentation spots or birthmarks. Acne/Blemishes/Pimples can be caused by poor dietary habits, hormonal influences, menstruation in women, medications, stress, smoking and the wrong skincare. Constipation can cause blemishes on the face, chest and back because of a poor elimination of toxins. Because it is easy to spread bacteria from one pustule to another, constant hand and face washing is essential to help prevent further breakouts. Caring for this skin condition requires an excellent skincare ritual, sun protection, exercise, good sleep, a balanced diet, no smoking and reduced stress.
Hyperpigmentation is when patches of skin become darker than surrounding areas of skin. It occurs when the skin produces more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour. Sun exposure can be a catalyst for pigmentation or sun spots as can skin injuries, cuts, burns, hormonal changes, medical conditions and acne. Although hyperpigmentation is considered harmless, some people wish to get rid of it or reduce its visibility. This can be assisted by avoiding unprotected exposure to the sun, avoiding picking at the skin and using specialist skincare serums with ingredients that lighten and balance skin tone.