What is the difference between a skin type and skin condition?
Everyone has a skin type but not everyone has skin conditions. In short your skin type is what you were born with – there are five main ones and you will always have a skin type. A skin condition is something that develops as a direct result of something (this could be hormonal, illness, lifestyle etc) it can be temporary and usually can be treated.
There are five main skin types;
Everyone will fall into one of these skin types. It is possible for your skin type to change throughout your life however it doesn’t change regularly- most people generally fall into one of these types and it stays with them for a long period of time if not forever. Each skin type has certain characteristics which are very common for most people within that skin type category to have- although you can’t treat or deliberately change your skin type you can treat these ‘characteristics’.
- Normal skin- Skin is balanced and doesn’t get either particularly oily or particularly dry.
- Combination skin- A mix of two or more skin types- skin could be oily in some places yet dry or normal in others. The most common type of combination skin has an oily ‘T zone’ (Imagine a letter T going across the forehead and down the centre of the nose and chin) and dry or normal skin on the rest of the face.
- Oily Skin- over produces on sebum which can lead the skin to be shiny, it is more prone to blackheads and breakouts.
- Dry Skin- The skin under produces sebum and other natural moisturising factors- it can feel dry and tight and look dull and flaky.
- Sensitive skin- if your skin type is sensitive you are very prone to itchiness, redness and burning sensations on your skin. This can be triggered by a number of different things. Sensitive skin can also be a condition if your skin is not regularly like this and is more of a temporary reaction.
Most people will recognise which skin type they fall in to- if you’re unsure ask a skincare professional to help. When choosing your skincare you should bear your skin type in mind- especially if you are wanting to treat some of the characteristics of your skin type (for example if you skin is oily and you want to focus on blackheads it is is probably a good idea to stay away from a facial oil- and if you have dry skin don’t use an ‘anti shine’ moisturiser that is designed to balance oil production).
A skin condition is a specific problem that you are having with your skin- they can be temporary and can usually be treated (although not always cured). You can have treatment for skin conditions- often they will need medical treatment from a GP or dermatologist but some can be treated by a skincare professional.
- Acne- Spots, cysts, blackheads and whiteheads are all symptoms of acne. Severe acne is best treated by a dermatologist but mild forms of acne can be treated with skincare or in salon treatments.
- Dehydration- Often confused with ‘dry skin’ , dehydration can affect any skin type (so you could have oily skin but still suffer with dehydration). Its a lack of water in the skin. This is easily treated by using the right serum or moisturiser- unfortunately just drinking more water will not treat dehydrated skin. If you have multiple skin conditions or concerns and you have dehydration I would recommend treating your dehydration first. Often it can be a contributing to factor to other conditions and they may improve once your skin is more hydrated (it’s also very easy to treat so once it’s treated you can move on to your next concern).
- Scarring- Usually from acne, best treated by a dermatologist or skin care professional. It may not be cured but there are lots of treatments to improve the appearance of scarring.
- Pigmentation- There are many types of pigmentation conditions- some are hormonal, some hereditary and some down to lifestyle. Depending on the type some go away on their own, some can be treated in salon and with skincare and other types may need to managed by a dermatologist.
- Rosacea- Rosacea is an inflammatory condition which can look like redness, flushing and sometimes spots that can look like acne. It can treated by a doctor but not usually cured- it can come and go.
- Broken veins- Broken capillaries look like little red veins usually on the nose or cheeks. They can be usually be treated in salon most commonly with IPL/LASER.
- Exzema/Psoriasis- These need to be treated with prescribed creams. Both of these skin conditions can be present from birth or appear in later life. Exzema is dry, itchy inflamed skin and psoriasis is a condition in which the skin cells renew themselves too quickly which can result in a build up of red or silvery patches of skin that are itchy.
You may have other concerns with your skin such as ageing or dark circles around the eyes. If you have a concern with your skin that bothers you then focus your skin care on these concerns, including in salon treatments and the products you use at home. It’s important to let your skin care professional know what your skin concerns are so they can focus your treatments around that. Sometimes our concerns don’t seem anywhere near as bad to others as they do to us and your skincare professional might pick up on other things in your skin and not realise your main concerns- so tell them! They will then be able to treat your skin how they see fit (do listen and take their advice) but also include what you want to work on- it is your skin after all so you are the one who needs to be happy with the results.
If I have more than one skin condition or concern how do I know which one to treat?
When choosing your skin care it can be difficult to know what to focus on- do you choose something for your skin type or for your skin concern or condition? Bear in mind your skin type when choosing skin care, make sure it is suitable for your skin type however your main focus should be your skin concern or condition. What bothers you the most about your skin, what do you want to change about it? – Focus on that. If you have more than one concern or condition and you don’t know which to focus on then ask a skin care professional- you may be able to use different products to treat more than one concern or condition at once or you may be best treating one first before moving on to another.