How to build the best skincare routine for your skin type

With so many skincare products promising to combat dry patches or banish blemishes, The Star Sydney’s Darling Spa manager Danielle Williams explains how to identify your skin type and build a skincare routine that will guarantee a glowing complexion.   

We all know that great skin is the product of good habits, but the first step to building your skincare routine is knowing which of the five different skin types best describes your skin.

“Skin type is so important because it will help you build a routine using the right cleanser, toner, serum, mask, eye cream and moisturiser in the right order to achieve the best results,” Danielle says.

Normal skin

Your complexion is clean and clear, with no dry spots or greasy areas. “This is the least problematic skin type as the moisture content of your skin and production of oil is perfectly balanced,” Danielle says.

How to take care of normal skin

Use a gentle, sulphate-free cleanser, and an alcohol-free toner with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid. Finish with an SPF30+ moisturiser, and sunscreen with has a minimum SPF30+ and a PA + rating to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.

In the evenings, cleanse and tone, then apply an antioxidant-rich serum with ingredients such as algae extracts, resveratrol, and vitamin C. Finish with an eye cream formulated to address any specific issues like dark circles or puffiness and a moisturiser.

Dry skin

Your skin lacks moisture and is dry and flaky. It might feel tight, and you’ll have finer pores and finer lines. The focus here is on maximum hydration.

How to take care of dry skin

Stick to cleansers that don’t lather and use a toner with ingredients such as cucumber and aloe vera. An antioxidant serum with vitamins A, C and E will reinforce your skin’s defense and curb collagen breakdown. Apply a thick moisturiser that contains hydrating ingredients such as dimethicone, ceramides, and glycerine followed by an SPF30+ serum sunscreen.

Try a retinol serum in the evenings to slough off dead skin cells and prevent fine lines and an eye cream with peptides to improve cell turnover. Moisturisers containing evening primrose oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, cranberry oil or rosehip seed oil will reinforce your skin’s moisture barrier.

Oily skin

Your skin is often greasy and shiny with enlarged pores, and you are more susceptible to pimples, blemishes and blackheads. “Oily skin has overactive glands that produce excess sebum,” Danielle says. “Our aim is to minimize oil while maintaining hydration levels.”

How to take care of oily skin

Cleanse with a face wash or oil-free cleansing gel or foam. Oily skin is prone to clogged pores, so use a mild scrub to clean the skin properly once or twice a week but avoid harsh exfoliants. Apply an alcohol-free toner with astringent ingredients like sodium PCA, witch hazel, or geranium, and an oil-free, water-based product moisturiser. Sunscreens with zinc oxide will leave skin with a matte finish and prevent breakouts.

Apply an AHA/BHA serum in the evenings to minimise the appearance of your pores. If you have acne-prone skin, look for ingredients such as tea tree oil, salicylic acid or retinol.

Combination skin

The most common skin type is actually a combination of two different skin types: dry skin – usually on your cheeks – and oily skin on the forehead, chin and nose. Fortunately, combination skin doesn’t require two different routines, just the right balance between them.

How to take care of combination skin

Cleanse with a face wash or oil-free gel or foam but switch to cleansing lotion if your skin feels dry. Follow up with an alcohol-free toner, and then a hydrating serum that contains hyaluronic acid. Finish with a lightweight moisturiser and sunscreen. In the evening, cleanse and tone, then apply an AHA/BHA serum, eye cream and moisturiser.

Sensitive skin

Your skin often feels tight and itchy, and is prone to redness, dryness and irritation. This is the most delicate of all skin types, so it’s important to make sure the products you’re using are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and formulated for sensitive skin.

How to take care of sensitive skin

Start with a gentle sulphate-free cleansing lotion that doesn’t lather, and then a toner containing anti-inflammatory ingredients such as green tea, white tea, chamomile, and beta-glucan. Spritz a hydrating and gentle facial mist and then moisturise. Suncreens that contain zinc-oxide are less likely to irritate your skin.

In the evening, apply a serum with hydrating and calming ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, chamomile and calendula oils. Finish with eye cream and a night gel.

How to identify your skin type at home

  1. Cleanse your face with a mild cleanser, pat dry and don’t apply any moisturisers, serums or treatments.
  2. After 30 minutes, examine your cheeks, chin, nose and forehead for any shine. If there is shine on your forehead and nose, your skin is most likely normal/combination. If there is also shine on your cheeks, your skin is most likely oily.
  3. After one hour, evaluate whether your skin feels parched, particularly when you make facial expressions. If it feels tight, your skin is most likely dry.
  4. If your skin feels red, itchy and inflamed from any product usage you may have sensitive skin.