First up in the Science of Skincare series- skin types. I’ve decided to start here because as we do in medicine, you cannot treat that which you haven’t diagnosed. It is super important to understand how your skin behaves, because that informs which products and practices are for you.
The common way that people describe skin type is dry vs. oily vs. combination vs. sensitive. This classification system is from way back in the 1900s, where it was coined by Helena Rubinstein- cosmetics innovator and entrepreneur. This way of typing skin is a great first step, but unfortunately, it is way too simplistic and it does not address all of the common skin problems experienced universally.
Enter the Baumann Skin Type Indicator (BTSI) pioneered by Leslie Baumann, an American dermatologist. This is a 64 question tool that will ultimately classify your skin into one of 16 (yes, SIXTEEN), skin types. Before you stop reading, no, I will not put you through that sort of torture. Instead, I’ll use the four basic parameters used by the BTSI to guide the rest of this blog post.
So according to the questionnaire, a skin is a combination of four main parameters:
Oily vs Dry
Sensitive vs. Resistant
Pigmented vs . Non-Pigmented
Wrinkle-Prone vs. Tight
Based off what I know about my own skin, I would be dry, resistant, pigmented and tight. If you have the time, energy and curiosity, you can take the questionnaire for yourself.
- Oily vs. Dry: this one is pretty self-explanatory. The main factor here is how much sebum do you produce, and how tight is the fat layer overlying your skin?
- Sensitive vs. Resistant: The main event for those with sensitive skin is inflammation, and this can manifest itself in four ways-
- Rosacea (redness of the skin)
- Allergic reactions
- Pigmented vs. Non-pigmented: Hyper-pigmentation or uneven skin-tone.
- Wrinkle-prone vs Tight: This is related to how elastic your skin is. Naturally, the skin gradually loses elasticity with age. However, you are at risk for wrinkled skin if you have excessive sun exposure or if you smoke.
Depending on whatever combination your skin turns out to be, your skin care routine needs to try and target all four parameters. Now, before you reach for a myriad of products, remember that the way that your skin behaves is influenced by a number of factors: the climate of where you live, hormonal imbalances and changes, stress, as well as one’s overall health. Just like happiness, skin health is often an inside job.
Having said that, next up on the series is Step 1: Cleansing: why, how and with what. Stay tuned!
Peace & Lovely Things,