You and your skin.jpg

You and your skin

By SUZIE BELL [email protected]

A COMMON mistake made by both client and skin therapist is not knowing the difference between skin type and skin condition. These are two entirely different things and should always be determined by a professional skin therapist.

Your skin type is determined genetically by your parents and can generally be measured by the amount of oil secretion in the skin. High sebaceous activity will produce an oily skin and underactive sebaceous glands will produce dry skin. The skin’s reactivity, capillary activity and sensitivity can also be genetically determined.

Skin conditions are entirely different. They may include such things as dehydration, pigmentation, sensitisation, premature aging and breakouts. These conditions can affect all skin types and will regularly change, possibly from day to day. Skin conditions can, in most cases, be treated effectively and need not affect you in the long term, provided they are treated correctly.

It is for this reason that whenever you go for a professional facial treatment, your therapist should always assess your skin to find out what conditions you are experiencing. It is only after a thorough analysis that your therapist will be able to confidently treat your skin, knowing that the products they have selected to use are right for you and will help you to achieve the results you desire.

Skin types


A normal skin type will have a healthy glow and even colour, no large open pores, no or few wrinkles and no fine lines. The skin will feel soft, moist and plump with a fine smooth texture. Very few people are lucky enough to have a normal skin type. If you are one of these lucky few it is still important to adopt a good basic homecare routine, to ensure that you maintain a healthy skin in the future.

A cleansing facial wash should be used to cleanse your face morning and night and, depending on the cleanser you use, it may then be necessary to use a toner. You should use a good day cream that is medium weight and always wear sun protection during the day.

Your night cream should be a similar consistency to your day cream but should not contain a sun protection factor. You should use a scrub based exfoliant two to three times a week. The mask that you use should be selected depending on your skin conditions.


If you have a dry skin type, you will see visible dryness, you will have quite tight pores, with poor skin tone and, unfortunately, your skin will be prone to wrinkles. Your skin will feel tight and the texture will be rough in places.

If this sounds like your skin, you should use a creamy cleanser morning and night and, once again, after cleansing it may be necessary for you to tone. Your day cream should be heavier and must contain an SPF. At night you should use a heavy cream or a night balm to really nourish your skin.

A scrub based exfoliant is also ideal for a dry skin as this helps to stimulate the skin, but skin conditions should also be taken into account when choosing an exfoliant. You should use a masque one to two times weekly, which should usually be a moisturising or vitamin based mask but, once again, skin conditions should be taken into account.


An oily skin will appear shiny with large pores. Breakouts and blackheads may be present but there will be little wrinkling. If you have oily skin, you should thoroughly cleanse your skin morning and night with a cleansing or antibacterial wash.

You will not want a heavy cream on your skin and you should therefore look for a lighter moisturising lotion that contains a SPF. For an oily skin, a leave-on exfoliant is more appropriate as you don’t have to massage it in, which would therefore lead to over stimulation, which could cause your skin to produce more oil. The masque that you use will depend on whether you have breakouts or not but should generally be a clay based mask to help absorb the excess oils on your skin.

There are three other main skin types: acne, sensitive and rosacea. These skin types are much more difficult to identify and select products for, but all should be treated with great care. If you suspect that you have such a skin type, it is recommended to seek the advice of a professional skin care therapist.

Skin Conditions

It is much more complicated to diagnose a skin condition and to implement products to help treat it. The reason for this is because conditions can be caused by diet, stress, the weather, sun, lack of water, air conditioning or medication. In each case, the method of treating the condition may differ dramatically.

Skin conditions can be very serious and can lead to, and highlight, other problems on the skin. For example, a skin that is dehydrated can also suggest that you have an impaired barrier function. This means that you could be losing water through the barrier.

If you have an impaired barrier, your skin can very quickly become sensitised, meaning that you may start reacting to products that you have been using for years. This can result in heightened capillary activity on your skin, redness will occur and permanent damage can be caused in the form of broken and damaged capillaries, resulting in permanent redness in certain areas.

Skin analysis

A therapist cannot accurately choose the products for your skin without first establishing your skin type and conditions.

Always ask your therapist about your skin. Never leave the treatment room not knowing your skin type and conditions. Most product companies train their therapist in skin analysis as the importance of this step in the facial treatment is becoming ever more recognised. Dermalogica, the leading professional skin care company in the world, leads the way in skin analysis techniques. Dermalogica therapists should always use a technique called face mapping, in which the therapist analyses each zone of your face with a magnifying lamp to determine your skin type and any conditions present on your skin. This type of analysis is extremely detailed and even looks into Chinese diagnostics to determine why certain conditions may be present in certain areas.

The skin is a very complex subject and should be taken seriously. If you would like further help and advice on your skin, contact your skin or beauty therapist.

How many of you actually know your skin type? Do you know the difference between skin types and skin conditions? Do you know what type of moisturiser you should be using, or how often you should exfoliate? Do you know how to solve dehydration on your skin? If not, this is your chance to find out. Email any questions you have regarding your skin, beauty products and beauty treatments to [email protected]. One or two questions will be printed but every one will be answered personally.

Prize Giveaway

Win a face mapping treatment at Senses Skin Care Centre in Lagos and a skin kit containing a month’s worth of Dermalogica products to suit your skin type. To enter, simply send your name and contact details to [email protected] or fax (00351) 282 342 939. The first person to write in will win the treatment and the skincare kit. The first 20 runners-up will receive a Dermalogica Face Mapping Treatment.