Finding Acne Treatments That Are Right for Your Skin Type

Skin type test

How well an acne system works depends on your skin type

If there is anything about acne treatment that can be said with confidence, it is that no single acne treatment works for everyone. The benzoyl peroxide product that is a “miracle” acne treatment for a person who has naturally moist and chemical-resistant skin may generate a horror story for someone who has rosacea. The exfoliant that works great for blackheads on oily skin may offer no benefits at all for someone who has tiny red pimples on dry skin. And cosmetic coverups that work great on one skin type may cake or smear on another.

Acne treatment is not all or nothing. The “wrong” product may not cause you major skin problems. It may just not do you a lot of good. But since there is almost always a product that is a good match to your skin needs, you can save months of embarrassment and hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you just know your skin type and find the products that match your specific requirements.

What Determines Skin Type?

Skin may be dry or oily. It used to be thought that acne only occurred on oily skin and that drying out skin was a good thing. Now it’s known that it’s only the oil that accumulates in pores, not the moisture in the epidermis of the skin, that is relevant to acne care. And it is also known that excessive oil in and of itself does not necessarily result in acne.

Skin may be sensitive or resistant. Some people experience redness or irritation no matter what chemical comes in contact with their skin. They are said to have sensitive skin. Other people have skin that is naturally insensitive to allergens and chemicals. They are said to have resistant skin. A treatment that works well on resistant skin may cause serious complications on sensitive skin.

Skin may be loose or tight. If you have loose skin, the way you hold your head has a lot to do with whether your blemishes are visible. If you point your chin down, blemishes may disappear into your skin. If you gaze upward toward the ceiling, your skin may loosen and reveal all. Tight skin is obviously clear or blemished all the time. Unless you plan to look at the ground the rest of your life, taking the tightness or looseness of your skin into account is a critical step in choosing the right acne product.

And skin may be pigmented or non-pigmented. In skin care, pigmentation usually refers to tiny areas of pigmentation, not the overall color and tone of the skin. Some types of skin are much more prone to change color—either darker or lighter—as acne heals. If you have olive, tan, black, or Asian skin, chances are you will have more problems from changes in pockets of pigment in your skin than you will from acne itself. Since products that inflamed the skin to get rid of acne can trigger a series of changes leading to permanent changes in color, it is important to know whether you have pigmented or non-pigmented skin, especially before choosing an exfoliant, a skin peel, or a benzoyl peroxide product.

Following are 38 questions that will tell you whether your skin is oily or dry (or combination), sensitive or resistant, loose or tight, and pigmented or non-pigmented. There are 8 to 10 questions about each set of characteristics. Just choose the the response that best describes you and note the point value for your answer, and add up your points for each section. (If addition just isn’t your thing, you can enter your values separated by plus signs on Google’s search page and the search engine will do the math for you.)  At the end of this quiz you’ll know all four of the important qualities of your skin that can help you choose acne treatments that really work.

Is Your Skin Dry or Oily?

Even if you have acne, you may have dry skin. And even if you have oily skin, you may not have acne. These 10 questions will help you make an objective determination of oily versus dry skin. Choose the response that best describes your skin. The total of the points for each of your responses will help you determine whether your skin is oily, dry, combination (more about that in a moment) or normal.

1. You wash your face, pat it dry, and don’t use any skin care products at all. Three hours later you look at your face in a mirror under bright light. Your cheeks and forehead look:

(0) So shiny that you see glare off your face.
(1) Very shiny, as if you had rubbed oil on the skin of your cheeks and forehead.
(2) Healthy and hydrated.
(3) Just a little tight, with no visible pores.
(4) Flaky, gray, or ash-colored, or rough, red, and irritated.

2. In hot and dry weather, or during the winter when you heat your home with a forced-air furnace, if you don’t use moisturizer, the skin of your face:

(0) Looks moist and shiny.
(1) Doesn’t require any special attention.
(2) Tends to get a little dry and flaky.
(3) Tends to crack and peel.
(4) Looks red and rough unless you use moisturizer several times a day.

3. When you wash your face with a sudsy, foamy, bubbly soap (maybe some product that produces bubbles that look like dish washing detergent), your skin:

(0) Still feels oily after you rinse off the soap and pat your face dry.
(1) Feels clean and refreshed.
(2) Feels rough or dry but does not crack.
(3) Feels both rough and dry and sometimes cracks.
(4) Feels rough and dry and always cracks or you don’t use foamy detergent facial cleansers because they irritate your skin.

4. In a brightly lit space, look at your face in a magnifying mirror. How many enlarged pores do you see?

(0) Lots and lots all over your face.
(1) Lots, but mostly on your cheeks and across your forehead.
(2) A dozen or more in various locations on your face (or just on your cheeks and forehead).
(3) One or two where you recently had blackheads.
(4) None at all.

5. If you don’t use moisturizer, does the skin on your face feel tight?

(0) Never.
(1) Only if the weather is unusually dry or you’ve used an extremely harsh soap.
(2) Sometimes even when the atmosphere is not especially dry.
(3) Usually, but not always.
(4) Always unless you are caught out in the rain without rain gear or an umbrella.

6. Your barber, hairdresser, aesthetician, or cosmetologist has told you that your skin is:

(0) Very oily.
(1) Oily.
(2) Combination.
(3) Normal.
(4) Dry.

7. In photographs, does your face ever appear shiny, especially around your eyes or on your nose?

(0) Every single time.
(1) When you’re caught off guard and haven’t washed your face or used powder.
(2) Sometimes, but not always.
(3) On very rare occasions, maybe after you have just put on sunscreen.
(4) Never.

8. You have clogged pores:

(0) All the time, in locations all over your face.
(1) All the time, but they are worst across the cheeks and forehead.
(2) All the time, but only on the sides of your face or along your jawline.
(3) Occasionally, but you have more of a problem with pimples.
(4) Almost never; your acne issue has more to do with pimples or redness of the skin.

9. A few hours after you apply foundation (base makeup), your face appears:

(0) You don’t ever use makeup.
(1) Shiny and streaked.
(2) Shiny.
(3) Just as smooth as when you put it on.
(4) Clumped or caked.

10. You yourself would characterize your skin as:

(0) Very oily.
(1) Oily.
(2) Normal.
(3) Dry.
(4) Very dry.

Add up the points for each of your answers. There is a maximum of 40 points. If your score is 20 to 40, you have dry skin. If your score is 35 or higher, you may need acne care products designed for “very dry” skin.

If your score is between 0 and 20, you have oily skin. And if your score is from 0 to 4, you have extremely oily skin.

Question number 8 identifies combination skin. Some people have dry skin on the sides of their faces but oily skin in the “T zone” (forehead and nose) in the middle of their faces. They usually benefit most from using different products on the different parts of the face. If you chose “All the time, but only on the sides of your face or along your jawline” for question 8, you probably have combination skin. In theory, you might need both products for dry skin and products for oily skin, but usually it is only the oily skin in your T zone or the dry skin on the side of your face that is really a problem.

Oiliness and dryness of the skin are relative terms. Very few people have skin that is extremely oily or extremely dry. Most of us have skin that is more oily than dry or more dry than oily, but some fortunate individuals don’t have to worry about this issue at all.

Even if you have oily skin, applying oils to your skin is not necessarily a problem. Like dissolves like. A cleanser that contains oil can dissolve excess oil on your pores. But if you have dry skin, you need to avoid products that can make it drier, especially those that contain alcohol.

What about scores that right in the middle of the scale? Well, no test is perfect. In these cases, go with the description you believe best describes you skin, and 99% of the time you will make the right choice.

Is Your Skin Sensitive or Resistant?

The next 10 questions will help you determine whether your skin is sensitive or resistant. Sensitive skin breaks out when it comes in contact with allergens or certain chemicals. Resistant skin can take higher concentrations of some of the active ingredients in products that treat acne. As before, choose the response that best describes your skin.

1. How often do red pimples (small or large or in between) break out on your face?

(0) Just about every day.
(1) At least once a week.
(2) At least once a month.
(3) Occasionally, but not on a regular basis.
(4) I never get pimples.

2. Do cleansers, soaps, perfumes, fragrances, or acne care products make your skin feel tingly, itchy, or irritated, or make it look rough or red?

(0) Almost any skin care product makes my face feel irritated or look red.
(1) Sometimes just about any skin care product makes my face feel irritate or look red, but sometimes I’m not bothered with skin reactions to skin care products.
(2) Certain kinds of skin care products (for instance, a particular brand of perfume or after-shave, or a formulation of benzoyl peroxide) always make my face feel irritated or look red, but others do not.
(3) Once in a great while the skin on my face will look red or feel itchy after I put something on it.
(4) My skin does not react to any skin products.

3. If you wear jewelry that is not 14-karat gold (for example, silver bracelets or nickel earrings), does your skin break out?

(0) Always.
(1) Usually.
(2) Occasionally.
(3) I think wearing may have made my skin break out once or twice.
(4) Never.

4. Have you ever been told you have a skin condition called rosacea?

(0) Yes. I have had a severe case.
(1) Yes. My doctor has diagnosed me as having rosacea.
(2) Yes. My beautician or a friend has told me I probably have rosacea.
(3) No, but I have wondered if I might have rosacea.
(4) No, and I have no reason to believe I might have rosacea.

5. Do you ever get rashes on your skin where you wear rings?

(0) All the time.
(1) Often but not always.
(2) When I wear nickel or silver jewelry, but not when I wear 14-karat gold.
(3) Occasionally.
(4) Never.

6. Have you ever been diagnosed with or told you have eczema or atopic dermatitis?

(0) Yes. I have it now.
(1) Yes. I had it as a child but I outgrew it.
(2) Yes. I used to break out when I ate certain foods.
(3) Yes. But it’s mostly poison ivy or poison oak that causes a problem for me.
(4) No.

7. Does wearing sunscreen make your skin feel itchy or turn red?

(0) Any kind of sunscreen makes my skin feel itchy or turn red.
(1) Certain kinds of sunscreens always cause skin problems for me, but those that are made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are usually OK.
(2) Sometimes I seem to burn even if I use sunscreen, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference how bright the sun is.
(3) Scented sunscreens sometimes make my skin itch.
(4) No.

8. Can you use the soaps and toiletries provided by hotels?

(0) Never. I have to bring my own toiletries or my skin will break out.
(1) Sometimes. Any kind of soap or bath product that is strongly scented makes my skin break out.
(2) Usually. I’ve had a problem with bar soap but not with other products provided by hotels.
(3) Occasionally. I’ve had a problem with skin care products when I traveled internationally.
(4) Never. Hotel soap, shampoo, and body wash always work fine for me.

9. What happens if you use scented laundry detergent or static-control sheets when you dry your clothes in the dryer?

(0) Any clothes, sheets, or towels in the load make my skin feel itchy or break out.
(1) Sheets and towels are not a problem, but my skin feels itchy or I break out in a rash when I wear clothes that have been washed with scented detergent or dried with scented laundry sheets.
(2) My skin feels itchy when I wear clothes that have been laundered with scented detergent or scented static-control sheets.
(3) I’m not sure.
(4) No.

10. Your face turns red when (choose all that apply):

(0) You eat spicy food or drink hot beverages.
(1) You drink alcohol.
(2) You feel embarrassed.
(3) You spend time out in the sun.
(4) My face almost never turns red.

Add up the points for each of your answers. Like the last quiz, this quiz has a maximum of 40 points. If your score is 20 to 40, you have resistant skin. If your score is 35 or higher, you probably can use just about any skin care product without worry that it might make your skin break out.

If your score is between 15 and 25, you have  resistant skin, and you only need to avoid common irritant ingredients such as cinnamon, menthol, mint, peppermint, wintergreen, and witch hazel.

If your score is between 0 and 20, you have sensitive skin and you need to use products that are designed for sensitive skin. And if your score is from 0 to 4, you have extremely sensitive skin and you probably need to stick to very basic skin care products.

Is Your Skin Loose or Tight?

Most consumers of acne care products don’t realize that it makes a difference whether your skin is loose or tight. Loose skin tends to trap cellular debris and acne bacteria on the skin in tiny folds. These folds may be visible as wrinkles, but it is more common for people with acne who have loose skin just to have slight, barely noticeable changes in the contour of their skin as they move their heads up and down.

There is no such effect in people who have tight skin. If you have tight skin, there are not as many tiny lines in your skin that can give an acne bacteria a home. You may not need cleansers that are quite as strong—and you may be able to use milder products that have fewer side effects.

As in previous sections, each statement or question is followed by five options. Choose the response that best describes our skin.

1. Do you have wrinkles in your facial skin?

(0) Yes. Even when I’m not raising my eyebrows, talking, smiling, or frowning, there are visible wrinkles in my face.
(1) Yes. I have wrinkles on my face even when I’m not raising my eyebrows, talking, smiling, or frowning, but they are not easy to see if my face is not moving. Or I have only a few facial wrinkles that are visible when my face is not moving.
(2) Yes. My skin looks wrinkle-free when my face is at rest, but some lines are visible when I make facial movements.
(3) Yes. I have tiny wrinkles that seem to come and go depending on how dry my skin is.
(4) No.

2. When people guess your age, are they usually right?

(0) No. People usually guess I am 5 to 10 or more years older than I actually am.
(1) No. People usually guess I am 2 to 5 years older than I actually am.
(2) Yes. People usually guess my age correctly.
(3) No. People usually guess I am 2 to 5 years younger than I actually am.
(4) No. People usually guess I am 5 to 10 or more years younger than I actually am.

3. How old do you think you look?

(0) Five to 10 or more years older than I actually am.
(1) Two to 5 years older than I actually am.
(2) I think I look my age.
(3) Two to 5 years younger than I actually am.
(4) Five to 10 or more years older than I actually am.

4. Over your lifetime, how many packs of cigarettes have you smoked?

(0) I currently smoke a pack or more every day.
(1) I currently smoke 1 or 2 cigarettes up to a pack a day.
(2) I used to smoke every day but I quit or I don’t smoke but I live or work with someone who does.
(3) I have smoked a few packs, total, in my lifetime, and I don’t live or work with anyone who smokes now.
(4) None, or just one or two individual cigarettes.

5. What is your natural skin color?

(0) Black.
(1) Mostly golden skin tones (Asian).
(2) Mostly olive or brown skin tones (Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Hispanic)
(3) Mostly light skin tones (Caucasian with brown or black hair).
(4) Very light skin tones (Caucasian with blond or red hair).

6. What is your ethnicity?

(0) African or African-American.
(1) East Asian.
(2) South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Hispanic.
(3) European (Southern Europe).
(4) European (Northern Europe).

7. What describes air quality where you live?

(0) The air quality is poor most of the year because of high levels of sulfur dioxide, ozone, and petrochemicals.
(1) The air quality is poor most of the year because of dust and particulate matter.
(2) The air quality is poor up to 30 days of the year for any reason.
(3) The air quality is good for all but a few (fewer than 5 days) of the year.
(4) The air quality is good every day of the year.

8. Which of these statements best describes the places you have lived most of your life?

(0) The places I have lived have sunny days and strong sunlight almost every day of the year.
(1) The places I have lived have bright days in the summer but winters are cloudy.
(2) The places I have lived have occasional bright sunny days but few days where sunburn is a problem.
(3) I’ve lived part of my life in sunny locations and part of my life in cloudy locations.
(4) I’ve always lived where there is cloudy weather most of the time.

9. During the last 10 years, how often have you participated in outdoor activities in bright sunlight without using sunscreen?

(0) Every day.
(1) Every week.
(2) A few times a month.
(3) Nearly every month.
(4) Never.

10. How many times in your life have you used a tanning bed?

(0) At least once a week for more than 5 years.
(1) At least once a month for more than 5 years.
(2) During the winter months for more than 5 years.
(3) Not more than 10 times in the last 5 years.
(4) Never.

As for the other sections, add up the points for each of your answers. There is a maximum of 40 points. If your score is 21 to 40, you have loose skin. You may benefit from toners and astringents once you get acne under control

If your score is between 0 and 20, you have tight skin. The good news is that you are highly unlikely to develop a problem with wrinkling, but you don’t want to use any products that “tone” your skin and lock bacteria, excess sebum, and skin debris into your pores.

Is Your Skin Pigmented or Non-Pigmented?

The final 10 questions will help you determine whether your skin tends to be pigmented or non-pigmented. Pigmentation refers to the concentration of color in the skin as it heals from inflamed acne blemishes. The pigments in the skin do not just give us our skin color. They are also antioxidants. The skin can use them to stop inflammation.

The good thing about having rich, dark skin tones is that the skin can stop inflammation relatively easily. The downside to having rich, dark brown or golden skin tones is that the process of stopping inflammation can leave specks, spots, or blotches of discoloration on the skin.

As in the other sections, choose the statement that best describes your skin. Unlike other sections, the skin pigmentation quiz only has eight questions. Also, there are fewer choices for some of the questions.

1. How often does a pimple on your skin leave a brown spot after it has healed?

(0) Never.
(1) Sometimes, but the brown discoloration quickly fades.
(2) Sometimes, and the brown discoloration is permanent.
(3) Usually, and the older I get the more brown spots I have.
(4) Always, and the brown spots don’t fade away.

2. After you cut yourself, you

(0) Develop a red or pink mark that is quickly replaced by healthy skin.
(2) Develop a brown mark that fades over the course of a few weeks or months.
(4) Develop a brown mark that fades slowly or not at all.

3. Do you have any small brown spots on your face, arms, legs, or torso?

(0) No.
(1) I used to, but they have all gone away.
(2) Yes, a few (up to 10).
(3) Yes, more than a few (more than 10 but fewer than 20).
(4) Yes, lots (20 or more).

4. What is the color of your hair? (If your hair is now gray, what color was it before it turned gray?)

(0) Blond
(1) A mixture of brown and blond.
(2) Brown.
(3) Black.
(4) Red.

5. Do spots on your skin get darker when you go out in the sun?

(0) I don’t have any spots on my skin.
(1) I have spots on my skin, but exposure to the sun does not make them darker.
(2) Yes, a little darker.
(3) Yes, a lot darker.

6. If you stay indoors all winter and then spend a day out in the sun, what happens to your skin?

(0) It burns, but it does not tan.
(2) It tans, but it does not burn.
(3) It neither tans nor burns.

7. What happens if you spend a lot of time in the sun later in the summer?

(0) I may get sunburn or blister, but I don’t tan.
(1) My skin is a little darker, but not a lot.
(2) My skin gets a lot darker.
(3) I don’t have a problem with sunburn, but my skin does not change color when I get lots of sun.

8. Have you ever been told you have melasma or age spots?

(0) No.
(3) Yes.

As before, add up your points from each question. This quiz has a maximum of 30 points, but this time there is a different way to interpret your score. If your score is 15 or higher, consider your skin to be pigmented. You may not have spots on your skin right this very moment, but your skin will tend to form pigmentation when it has been irritated.

If your score is less than 15, then your skin tends to be non-pigmented. You don’t have to be quite as careful about whether a skin care product irritates your skin, because your skin is less likely to form spots. You also don’t have to be quite as careful about using sunscreen when you use benzoyl peroxide or tretinoin topical to treat blemishes.

Putting It All Together

The skin type quizzes tell you whether your skin has a tendency to be oily or dry, sensitive or resistant, tight or loose, and pigmented or non-pigmented. Knowing your skin type helps you choose products that have the ingredients that are best for your skin. There are some ingredients that are almost always helpful and other ingredients that are almost harmful, but which products are harmful or helpful depends on your skin type.

Here is an overview of product ingredients that can help you choose the right acne care products for your individual skin type. Click the link below describing your skin type to jump directly to  the personalized recommendations:

If you have oily, sensitive, tight, and pigmented skin:

  • You can use benzoyl peroxide for treating pimples.
  • You should use salicylic acid (and not an alpha-hydroxy acid) for treating blackheads.
  • You are likely to have freckles and age spots.
  • You should learn the warning signs of melanoma.
  • Sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide tend to leave your skin looking purple.

If you have oily, sensitive, tight, and non-pigmented skin:

  • Your face tends to signal your emotions.
  • American nickels and the new euro coin make your skin break out.
  • Your acne tends to be more a problem of broken capillaries just beneath the skin than clogged pores.
  • Any kind of “deep cleaning” or detergent product can leave your skin looking even worse.
  • You need to know the signs of non-melanoma skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma).
  • ProActiv acne products are designed for your skin type.
  • Use benzoyl peroxide (except in ProActiv) as a spot treatment. Don’t put it over your entire face.

If you have oily, sensitive, loose, and pigmented skin:

  • Pimples will tend to leave brown spots.
  • Treating pimples with harsh chemicals will also tend to leave brown spots.
  • Most sunscreens will leave your face feeling oily, except those made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
  • Sun won’t clear up your acne. It will make it worse.
  • Heat, steam, or ice treatments for acne can leave permanent discoloration on your face.
  • Clearasil will work well for pimples.

If you have oily, sensitive, loose, and non-pigmented skin:

  • You have the skin type most prone to rosacea.
  • Most acne products will cause stinging and burning and many kill trigger a rosacea attack.
  • Retinol (vitamin A) products are the most beneficial for blackheads and whiteheads.
  • You should never use any product that contains mint, menthol, wintergreen, or witch hazel.
  • Almay Clear Complexion Concealer with Salicylic Acid helps disguises blemishes while they heal without injuring your skin.

If you have oily, resistant, tight, and pigmented skin:

  • You will probably have acne during your youth, but your skin will age well.
  • You will seldom develop stinging or burning when you use skin care products. More than other skin types, you are less likely to have problems with exfoliant peels or 10% benzoyl peroxide. (Just test them on a small spot of skin first, before spreading any untried product all over your face.)
  • Often your “age spots” will turn out to be an ingrown hair.
  • You should use glycolic acid products rather than salicylic acid products to treat discoloration of the skin.
  • Retinol products (not used at the same time) will also help.
  • You may need facial wipes to control “shine” across your forehead and cheeks.

If you have oily, resistant, loose, and pigmented skin:

  • You are likely to have a problem with enlarged pores. It’s very important never to “mash” blackheads or whiteheads, since this can leave enlarged pores.
  • You aren’t particularly like to have a problem with pimples.
  • You can use most skin care products without any problems (although there are a few products that just aren’t good for anyone). You can use the strongest concentrations of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide.
  • Skin masks are especially beneficial for your skin type to give it the ingredients it needs.

If you have oily, resistant, tight, and non-pigmented skin:

  • Ageless, radiant, and perfect are adjectives often used to describe your skin.
  • You tend to have smooth, oily skin.
  • You have more of a problem with enlarged pores and blackheads than with pimples.
  • Toners will leave your skin feeling good although you don’t need them to look good.
  • You need to avoid any products containing petrolatum or mineral oil. They can make your skin feel and look greasy.
  • Your skin responds just as well to skin scrubs as to microdermabrasion.

If you have oily, resistant, loose, and non-pigmented skin:

  • Although you will tend to have some pigmentation left behind as acne heals, it usually won’t be noticeably dark.
  • Controlling the oiliness of your skin is your priority before age 35. Controlling wrinkles is your priority afterward.
  • Never squeeze blackheads. Use a cleanser that contains salicylic acid instead.
  • Toners won’t help control shine on your skin. You’ll need to use an oil-control powder instead.
  • You’ll probably have minimal problems with acne. Treat it gently, and you won’t have any lasting reminders of your pimples.

If you have dry, sensitive, tight, and pigmented skin:

  • Your skin type is prone to rosacea, eczema, contact dermatitis, and allergies.
  • More than other skin types, many of your acne problems can actually be caused by the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate, found in mouthwash. This ingredient is especially likely to cause acne on the chin.
  • Many people of dark-skinned Hispanic ancestry have this skin type, although it is also common in African-Americans.
  • Products used on black hair in this skin type can cause forehead acne if they are not rinsed away from the face.
  • People who have this skin type should never use any kind of “foamy” cleanser.
  • People who have this skin type should not use any kind of exfoliant, even if it is labeled “non-irritating.” Even salicylic acid is too strong for this type of skin.
  • Cinnamon oil, coconut oil (in skin care products), cocoa butter, isopropyl myristate, isopropyl stearate, and peppermint oil can cause breakouts in this skin type.

If you have dry, sensitive, tight, and non-pigmented skin:

  • This is the skin type for “thirsty” skin. It is especially prone to be dull or gray when it is not moisturized.
  • This skin type is particularly prone to getting pimples in an area other skin types don’t, the earlobes. Any kind of earring or ear stud that is not made with 14-carat gold can also cause skin inflammation.
  • Vitamin A, retinol, and tretinoin topical are not especially helpful for this skin type.
  • The best way to prevent breakouts on this type of skin is to keep it moisturized with products that contain water and ceramides but no isopropyl alcohol.
  • Never cleanse the skin with ordinary soap. It’s too irritating.
  • People who have this skin type should never use toners, although facial waters applied before using moisturizer can reduce redness and irritation.

If you have dry, sensitive, loose, and pigmented skin:

  • If you have this skin type, chemical ingredients such as detergents, preservatives, and benzoyl peroxide can cause redness and irritation. But certain natural ingredients, especially lanolin and cocoa butter, also can.
  • Fighting acne requires controlling dryness and reducing irritation.
  • Sunscreen is essential for preventing brown spots as acne heals on this skin type.
  • Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Perfecting Lotion may help prevent inflammation.
  • Carbonated water such as Pellegrino (no Diet Coke!) splashed on your skin will relieve redness.
  • Never exfoliate your skin. Treat acne by adding moisture to your skin.
  • If you have acne, you need to avoid all products that contain butyl stearate, cinnamon oil, oil of cloves, coconut oil, decyl oleate, any chemical that begins with the term “isopropyl” or “myristyl,” lanolin, peppermint oil, PPG-2, and retinol. Alpha-lipoic acid is also probably too strong for your skin.

If you have dry, sensitive, loose, and non-pigmented skin:

  • This is the skin type most prone to “acne emergencies.”
  • Your skin will crave moisturizer, but many moisturizers will irritate your skin. The fewest ingredients usually indicates the best moisturizer for you.
  • Don’t exfoliate. Benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid are all too drying for your skin.
  • Most people who have this skin type are of northern European ancestry.
  • Don’t stop steroid creams abruptly. “Rebound redness” may result. Instead, gradually increase creams containing licorice and/or arbutin.
  • Antioxidant creams used at night help control redness.
  • The single best thing you can do to treat acne is to keep your skin hydrated. Improvement will be slow but steady.

If you have dry, resistant, tight, and pigmented skin:

  • Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren, Lucy Liu, and Halle Berry all have this skin type.
  • This skin type is less common among people who have Scandinavian or British ancestry, but it can occur in any ethnic group anywhere in the world.
  • People who have this skin type are the most likely to develop friction acne (acne mechanica).
  • It’s better to treat skin discoloration after acne (or any other source of inflammation) in this skin type with kojic acid rather than with hydroquinone.
  • The darker the skin in this type, the more drying makes it look ashen.
  • Cleansers with glycolic acid help your skin absorb other healing ingredients better.
  • Glycerin based soap helps moisturize your skin.
  • Don’t use products that contain soy, especially if you use birth control or take estrogen replacement therapy. They can darken your skin.

If you have dry, resistant, loose, and pigmented skin:

  • This skin type usually does not develop acne as a teen.
  • The big problem comes later in life with wrinkling.
  • More than any other skin type, this skin type must avoid drying out the skin to treat acne.
  • Tanning this skin type is especially likely to cause wrinkling.
  • Don’t use alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic acid) if you don’t use sunscreen.
  • Microdermabrasion can be helpful, but do it only once a week until you are sure you are not irritating your skin with the treatments.

If you have dry, resistant, tight, and non-pigmented skin:

  • Some dermatologists would say that you have won the skin type lottery. You are unlikely to have serious acne when you are young or wrinkling when you are older.
  • This is the skin type of the supermodel Iman.
  • You can maintain an even matte of your skin by using sunscreen or by avoiding the sun.
  • As long as you make sure you are keeping your skin moisturized, you can use any skin care product you want.

If you have dry, resistant, loose, and non-pigmented skin:

  • This is the skin type that is shared by most Americans.
  • Most people who have this skin type don’t have serious skin problems before the age of 35, or if they do, they were caused products and treatments themselves (opening a pimple with a needle at home, using harsh detergents on the skin too often).
  • When people with this skin type have acne, they respond especially well to products that contain green tea extract. The green tea extract both reduces sebum production in the skin and offers sun protection.
  • Bar soap is too drying for this type of skin.
  • Face washes that contain glycolic acid are especially helpful for this skin type. They won’t open pores, but they will help other ingredients penetrate the skin.
  • Alcohol-based toners, colognes, and after-shaves are too drying for this skin type.
  • People who have this skin type are more likely to have a “moisture emergency” than an “acne emergency.” Exposure to dry air or hot sun or working under bright lights can cause the skin suddenly to crack and peel. Applying moisturizer before it is evident that it is needed can help prevent this complication.
  • People who have this skin type can tolerate foaming skin cleansers.
  • This is the skin type that responds best to acne treatment with Exposed Skin Care.

Which Skin Types Respond Best to Exposed Skin Care?

If you have read many pages on this site, you know that we often—although not always—recommend Exposed Skin Care for treating acne. They offer a collection of products that work together a lot better than any single treatment for acne for a much smaller expense, for most people.

Who shouldn’t focus on other products instead of Exposed Skin Care? If you have acne, chances are you will get a good response to Exposed Skin Care. And if you happen to have one of the skin types that isn’t an ideal match for Exposed Skin Care (such as oily, resistant, loose, pigmented skin), chances are that acne really is not your most important skin problem. If you have acne, try Exposed Skin Care.

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