What determines my skin type?

The term skin type describes the condition of the skin and is also referred to as skin condition in dermacomsmetics. The skin condition can change over time and depends on many internal and external factors. Everyone inherits a basic skin condition through their genes, but this condition can develop differently from that of their parents due to various factors.

With age, the skin usually becomes drier, impurities subside and pigmentation spots form. Exposure to sunlight, extreme climatic conditions, dry air, hormonal influences, diseases, medication and many other factors affect the skin and its behavior. Therefore, cosmetic skin care must always be adapted to the current skin needs.

List of skin types: normal skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, combination skin, oily skin, impure skin, aging skin

Internal Factors


  • Inheritance
  • Age
  • Hormones (e.g. puberty, menstrual cycle, pregnancy)
  • Illnesses (allergies, diabetes, mental health)
  • Stress

External Factors


  • Climate (UV-rays, cold, wind)
  • Humidity
  • Season
  • Room air
  • Skin care
  • Lifestyle
  • Nutrition
  • Medications

Picture with the word: Sensitive skin

What is sensitive skin?

There is no fixed definition of what sensitive skin should look like, in most cases, it is determined by the subjective perception of the affected person. Related to the skin type are redness, feelings of tension, itching and scaling. The skin reacts with redness even on slight contact. The application of skin care products or contact with other substances easily causes a burning sensation. Further, the tolerance to UV light is very low.

The causes are very difficult to determine. These symptoms usually affect a low-fat, dry skin condition. Due to the disturbed barrier layer, a particularly large number of irritating substances are absorbed through the skin. These lead to inflammatory and immune reactions in deeper skin layers. Under certain circumstances, this can increase the skin’s sensitivity to otherwise well-tolerated substances. For this skin type, the careful selection of active ingredients and skin care products is therefore particularly important.

How to care for sensitive skin?


Aim: restoring the skin’s barrier layer, moisturizing, regenerating the lipid layer, avoiding irritants and removing itching.


Cleansing: The same rules as for cleaning dry skin apply to cleansing the face and body of sensitive skin. Gentle cleansing milks or creams are suitable for cleaning the face. A gentle cream peeling should not be performed more than once a week. You should only shower briefly once a day, not too hot, and bathe once a week at most. Generally the following applies to dry skin:

  • Spare use of water and cleaning products
  • Avoidance of soaps as surfactants (vegetable soaps)
  • Use of mild surfactants (betaines, collagen surfactants)
  • Additions of fats in cleaning products
  • Thorough rinsing of cleaning products to avoid residues
  • slightly acidic pH value (5.9-5.5) of cleansing products (skin neutral)
  • Avoidance of perfume and if possible of preservatives


Maintain: Especially the active ingredients urea and NMF have shown the good effects on sensitive skin so far. In order to regenerate the lipid layer, vitamin E and ceramides, but also lipids and waxes (such as olive oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, soybean oil, evening primrose oil) are used. Basically, however, the only way to find out what you tolerate well is by testing yourself. As with neurodermatitis or psoriasis, there are strong individual differences in the sensitivity of skin.

Sources: Elsässer, S. (2008). Körperpflegekunde und Kosmetik: Ein Lehrbuch für die PTA-Ausbildung und die Beratung in der Apothekenpraxis (1. Aufl.). Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag. | Herrmann, K. & Trinkkeller, U. (2006). Dermatologie und medizinische Kosmetik: Leitfaden für die kosmetische. Würzburg, Heidelberg:Springer Medizin Verlag Heidelberg.