There are many products available today that have been made to care for your skin – but which ones are right for you? How do you choose which moisturiser will suit your skin’s needs, whether you really need a toner after cleansing or which mask will do the job you want it to? The first step to understanding what products you need to use on your skin is to understand your skin type.
Identify Your Skin Type
Your skin is a living, dynamic organism that is constantly reacting and changing to its internal and external environment. During your lifetime your skin type can change, for example you may develop skin sensitivities or problems. Your skin can even change between seasons, becoming oilier in summer and drier in winter. To identify what to use on your skin to suit its condition you need to identify the characteristics of different skin types. Skin types usually fall into these categories:
- Combination (a combination of dry and oily)
Dry Skin: feels taut after cleansing, is prone to fine lines, tends to age faster than oilier skin types, may be susceptible to flaking, and can be irritated by extreme conditions of hot or cold
Oily Skin: can look shiny, is prone to enlarged pores, and may develop problems such as blackheads and spots; however, it tends to age slower than drier skin types
Combination Skin: is usually oily around the t-zone (an area of skin covering the middle of the forehead, the nose and chin) and drier around the cheeks and outer areas of the face
Problem Skin: is often identified as oily and prone to enlarged pores, blackheads, spots and acne; however, there can be other types of skin problems such as excema or psoriasis
Sensitive Skin: is prone to extreme stress and reacts with contact to specific allergens by flaring up to become inflamed, irritated, red and rashy
Dehydrated Skin: not to be confused with dry skin, this skin type has a dry, dull and flaky appearance and crinkles when you push it upwards; even oily skins can develop a dehydrated condition due to a number of causes such as excessive sweating, poor diet, harsh cleansers or office air-conditioning
Mature Skin: shows signs of fine lines, wrinkles, sagging and often looks dull and sallow; it is often caused by your body’s aging metabolism which slows down the process of skin renewal and sebum production, although lifestyle factors (eg smoking) and external environments (eg excessive sun exposure) can accelerate skin aging.
Once you have identified your skin type through recognising its characteristics, you can choose appropriate products to use. Plant-based products, such as those used in aromatherapy, are an excellent choice for all skin types as they help to soothe problem conditions and enhance the natural beauty of your skin. A summary of essential oils and carrier oils suitable for specific skin types is provided below.
- Dry: essential oils – chamomile, lavender, geranium, rose, neroli, ylang ylang, jasmine, rosewood, sandalwood and frankincense; carrier oils – sweet almond, jojoba, avocado, wheatgerm, evening primrose, borage, apricot and peach kernel oils
- Oily: essential oils – lavender, geranium, cedarwood, bergamot, tea tree, cypress, juniper berry, palmarosa, myrtle, mandarin, petitgrain, niaouli and most citrus oils; carrier oils – jojoba, grapeseed, sweet almond and carrot-seed infused carrier oil
- Combination: essential oils – lavender and geranium (these oils are particularly good at balancing and normalising dry and oily skin conditions), palmarosa, chamomile, rose, rosewood, sandalwood, neroli, mandarin, petitgrain and frankincense; carrier oils – sweet almond, jojoba, apricot kernel and evening primrose oil
- Problem: essential oils – lavender, geranium, chamomile, tea tree, palmarosa, niaouli, myrtle, manuka, mandarin, bergamot, cedarwood, cypress and juniper berry; carrier oils – jojoba, grapeseed, sweet almond and carrot-seed infused carrier oil
- Sensitive: essential oils – chamomile, lavender, geranium, rose (although some very sensitive skin types may react to rose), neroli, mandarin, petitgrain and frankincense; carrier oils – sweet almond, jojoba, calendula-infused oil and evening primrose oil.
- Dehydrated: essential oils – chamomile, lavender, geranium, rose, jasmine, sandalwood and frankincense; carrier oils – sweet almond, jojoba, avocado, wheatgerm, evening primrose, borage, apricot and peach kernel oils
- Mature: essential oils – chamomile, lavender, geranium, tea tree (surprisingly helps skin renewal to speed up (1)), patchouli, palmarosa, rosewood, sandalwood, frankincense and rose; carrier oils – sweet almond, jojoba, avocado, wheatgerm, evening primrose, borage, apricot and peach kernel oils.
How To Use Essential Oils For Your Skin Type
Essential oils can be used in all types of skin products: cleansers, toners, scrubs, masks, moisturisers and serums. The beauty industry has used plant essences and extracts in cosmetics for decades. You can buy aromatherapy products and check the label to see whether it contains essential oils that match your skin type, or you can, very easily, make and blend your own tailor-made skincare products. For example:
- Cleanser For Dry Skin – mix two parts aloe vera gel with one part jojoba oil and add a couple of drops of chamomile oil
- Toner For Oily Skin – add a couple of drops of tea tree oil onto a damp cotton wool pad
- Moisturiser For Mature Skin – add a couple of drops of frankincense and rose oils to a small bottle of unfragranced moisturising cream.
These are very simple ways in which you can enhance your skincare regime by adding essential oils to the mix. The following articles in this series will explore how you can make skincare products using essential oils specifically chosen for your skin type.
- Janetta Bensouilah and Philippa Buck, ‘Aromadermatology. Aromatherapy in the treatment and care of common skin conditions’. 2006, Oxford, Radcliffe Publishing.