Flaky? Slick? Sensitive? Irritable? What's your sign?
Dermal sign, that is. The skin has its own zodiac of sorts, but you hardly need to consult your horoscope for a good reading. We've gathered a few earthly experts to help each type look its most radiant.
You Know the Type: Your face tends to get shiny two hours after washing it.
Special Care: "The natural tendency is to over-scrub to get rid of the oil, but ironically that just makes it worse," says New York City dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler, MD. "You actually need to wash gently." Follow with an alcohol toner and use blotting paper throughout the day. Also, avoid products that don't one of these phrases on the label: "oil free," "water based," or "noncomedogenic."
The Fab Factor: You can bring out your natural dewiness with a light dusting of matte powder foundation, says Hollywood makeup artist Kerry Herta. The good news? Despite its bad rep, "oily skin definitely ages more slowly than other types," notes West Palm Beach dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD. "It's less susceptible to damage and you tend to have fewer wrinkles. So if you're having a tough go when you're young, know that it will work for you after age 50."
You know the type: You can't see your pores at the end of the day. The skin may feel tight after washing.
Special Care: Make sure to use a gentle cleanser and an alcohol-free toner, and stay away from gels, which tend to dry you out, says New York City dermatologist, Neal Schultz, MD. Also intensify the moisturizing. Wechsler suggests looking for products with glycerin, shea butter—"just be careful it doesn't make you break out"—and hyaluronic acid. Another good bet are night creams. "Yes, you can use them in the day," says Schultz. "It's all marketing."
The Fab Factor: This type of complexion can look dull, "so you need to create a little sheen and luster," says Herta. "I'm a fan of creamy foundation, blushes, and eye shadows with glossy lips." She often uses Koh Gen Do's light-illuminating primers and foundation on her dry-skin clients.
Your Know the Type: The texture is smooth; the tone, even. Your oil and water levels are in balance.
Special Care: "I hate to be a nag, but you really need to use sunscreen," says New York City-based makeup artist Tracy Murphy. "You've got to protect your greatest beauty asset. Also, don't forget to take off your makeup at night." Otherwise, just follow the basic regimen: Cleansing in warm water, and moisturizing with a cream or lotion that feels good without making the skin greasy. Schultz is also a big believer in starting regular exfoliation after your first pimple.
The Fab Factor: A healthy complexion doesn't need foundation, in Herta's opinion. But if you want to even out your tone, try dusting your face with mineral powder. "It's so easy," she says. "Take a Kabuki brush (the kind with a short handle) and buff it around in little circles wherever you need it."
You Know the Type: The T-zone (forehead, nose, chin, and above the mouth) is oily, but your cheeks are flaky and dry.
Special Care: You may need to use two different cleansers—a strong one for your T-zone and a gentle one for the cheeks (or don't even wash them). "It's also important to use a water-based moisturizer," says Schultz, "but you may find it's not enough for the dry areas, in which case, add one that has more oil."
The Fab Factor: Go with foundations for oily skin; then add something luminescent on the cheek, like a cream blush, says Herta. Or try patting a highlighter (Smashbox and Benefit have great ones) on the upper cheek area, right above where you would put the blush. "It will bounce the light and look really pretty."
You Know the Type: Your face may sting or burn after cleansing. You often get a rash after using new products.
Special Care: Number one, commit yourself to "fragrance free" products. Also look for "hypoallergenic" and "allergy-tested" on the label. "Before trying any new cream or makeup," says Wechsler, "first dab a little on the side of your ear for three nights in a row to see if you react."
The Fab Factor: A light brush of mineral powder may be the best coverage for you (so you don't have to rub and irritate the skin.) One line to try, Herta suggests, is Josie Maran. Created by a former Maybelline model, it's earth friendly and natural, and great for sensitive types.
You Know the Type: Irritation and inflammation can produce dark marks or discoloration in skin of color.
Special Care: As with sensitive skin, stick to fragrance-free products, advises Philadelphia dermatologist Susan Taylor, MD, who is founding director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke's Hospital in New York. Red flag ingredients include propylene glycol, alcohol, and lanolin. Instead look for products with soy (it's calming and can help with pigmentation) and antioxidants like pomegranate, grapeseed extract, and vitamin C which decrease inflammation. You also need SPF, stresses Taylor. "Sun exposure makes those dark marks darker and more difficult to treat."
The Fab Factor: Taylor recommends skin brightening creams that contain licorice and arbutin. "Some of these products help minimize the marks while others can give you a glow," she says. If the hyperpigmentation is dramatic, Dermablend and Cover FX offer serious camouflage. "Above and beyond that, just use a regular concealer, powder, and oil-free foundation. Discoloration can really affect your self esteem. This will make a huge difference."