Does anyone really know their skin type? I think… No. Or, to put it with an MTV masterpiece: you think you know, but you have no idea. It’s like whether we all have the wrong bra size, or how all our astrological signs may or may not be out of place – when it comes to self-diagnosis, the source material is not entirely reliable. I had a hard time labeling my skin type as long as I knew it could be labeled. Was it dry? Sometimes, but not always. And it gets scaly and red and it bursts and what should I do with it? But going to school to become a beautician means that you will see things – namely a lot of other people’s faces with skin as complicated and nuanced as yours. There is never a secret algorithm for determining the type of skin. It’s actually very simple and it all starts with the pores.

Traditionally, pores are mentioned in beauty as a symptom of skin type: you have oily skin, so your pores are bigger. However, cosmetologists are trained to consider them as an indicator of skin type. A big reason why pores are a good crucial point for skin type is that they usually don’t change much over time. “Our skin often looks like our parents’ skin,” confirms Dr. Morgan Rabach, a Board-certified dermatologist, “and pore size is linked to genetics.”

Instead of deciphering the oil on the surface of the skin, I suggest taking a close look at your pores. (And please, do it in a regular mirror and not in a magnifying mirror, everyone seems to have great pores inside.) initial look at the pores on the wrist. You can’t see them because the pores on your wrist are very, very small. Look at your cheeks now. Do you see individual points? If you do, your pores are probably larger. Also check for large and visible pores on the forehead, chin and nose. If your pores are usually large in these areas, you have oily skin – because the pores are larger, more oil escapes. Does this make sense? If you have only noticed the larger pores in the center of your face (the “T-Zone” in skin type jargon), you probably have combination skin. Traditionally called balanced or “normal” skin, most people fall into this category and it just means that they are more oily in some places than others. And if you don’t really see pores, your skin is dry. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Or maybe it seems too easy and you are wondering where your acne, sensitive, mature and dehydrated skin is in all this. In fact, your skin can always be any combination of these, but these are states, not types. They will help you choose the right targeted treatments for your skin (especially when adding or avoiding mixture), but don’t let your assessment of your type confuse you. Unlike your skin type, conditions can change constantly.

However, sometimes your pores change and your skin type also changes. Dr. Rabach notes that the pores may appear larger as the production of collagen and elastin decreases over time. On the other hand, vitamin A reduces your skin’s natural oil production, which is why those who regularly use tretinoin or who have visited Accutane have smaller pores and less oily skin. In this matter, you need to pass your new pores through the above matrix and treat them like the pores they are.

But let’s not complicate things, because the skin type really is not. This is just a starting point to help you find the products that work best. Another reason to thank your pores the next time you see them.

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