Different Skin Types

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.

Internal Factors


  • Inheritance
  • Age
  • hormonal situation (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

Skin Areas


The various cosmetic products on the market are usually divided according to the different areas of skin on the body.


  • Face
  • Eye area
  • Lips
  • T-Zone
  • Neck / décolleté
  • Scalp
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Thigh-But-Area
  • Genital area


There are disproportionately many care products for the skin in the facial area. This region is constantly exposed to various environmental influences and therefore usually needs more care than the rest of the body.

Skin Consitions


Normal Skin

With normal skin, the sebaceous and sweat glands work normally and skin impurities rarely occur. It is fine-pored, matt and has a young and fresh appearance. The right care is essential for this skin type as well, so that this skin condition is maintained. Since this skin condition is not robust, the wrong care can easily lead to dry or oily skin.


Oily Skin

Oily skin is characterized by increased sebum and sweat production and produces an oily film, especially on the chin, forehead and nose. The skin tends to have large pores and blackheads, which can also develop into acne if predisposed to it. Oily skin usually goes hand in hand with oily hair. The oily skin condition usually appears from puberty onwards and normalizes in the course of life, whereby the oily condition is only limited to the T-zone (combination skin). This skin condition is very rare after the age of 50. The positive aspect of this skin condition is the strong robustness and resistance against acids, alkaline solutions and solar radiation. Despite its robustness, oily skin also needs the right care in order to adapt to the normal skin condition.


Combination Skin

Combination skin usually has oily areas on the forehead, nose and chin (T-zone), which make the skin shine in these areas. The T-zone tends to an increased sebum production and blackhead formation. In combination skin, however, there are also dry/normal areas on the cheeks, neck and hairline. The older the skin, the drier these areas are. Thus, the correct care of combination skin has to counteract the problems of oily and dry skin at the same time.


Dry Skin

In dry skin, sebum production is greatly reduced and the water-binding properties of sebum are missing. Dry skin is mostly fine pored, brittle and tends to flake. For everyone a low-fat, dry skin condition develops at about 60 years of age. Dry skin is subject to a faster aging process than normal skin. This skin type needs careful care to avoid cracks and inflammation. The skin needs lipids and moisturizing substances.


Impure Skin

Impure skin usually has the characteristics of oily skin, but has blackheads (comedones), which can also form small reddish pustules. Blackheads develop when a folicle channel shows an increased sensitivity to degradation products of sebum lipids or comedogenic substances and thus reacts with increased formation of horny layer in the folicle channel or in the deeper sebaceous gland. As a result, the sebaceous gland enlarges and is clogged with a horny mass of sebum, horny cells, bacteria and hair remnants.   A distinction is made between open and closed blackheads. The closed blackheads lie deep in the skin with a narrow folicle channel. They can be seen or felt on the skin as a roundish elevation. The open blackheads are located further up on the skin with a widened folicle channel, which is clogged with horny mass up to the skin surface. Due to melanin and oxidation products of lipids this mass is colored black on the skin surface. 


With particularly strong cornification, the sebaceous gland inflates like a balloon, which can cause the follicle and sebaceous gland wall to tear. This causes the blackhead contents to spill into the surrounding tissue and trigger an inflammatory reaction with pus formation. Even without tearing of the gland wall, acne patients may experience irritation of the gland wall and migration into the surrounding tissue of the sebaceous gland due to bacterial enzymes and lipid cleavage products in the sebaceous gland. This also leads to the formation of pus and an inflammatory reaction. The result is painful acne pustules and nodules.In order not to unnecessarily provoke the tearing of blackheads and the inflammatory reactions, one should not improperly press on blackheads and acne pustules. 


With acne, the skin usually has an oily condition and is characterized by blackheads, pustules, cysts and scars. It occurs on skin areas rich in sebaceous glands such as the face, neck, upper chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. Although acne usually occurs during puberty, it can also break out in later adulthood. The following factors play a decisive role in its development:


  • oily skin condition
  • genetic disposition in the family
  • increased sensitivity to comedogenic substances
  • colonization of the follicular ducts with Propioni bacteria
  • excessive cornification of the follicular ducts


Aging Skin

Most skin aging processes begin in the 3rd and 4th decade of life and develop very slowly. The speed is determined by internal and external factors. The internal causes are genetically determined:


  • slowed cell growth
  • false genetic codes are passed on
  • reduced quality of the cell material
  • slower metabolism and synthesis
  • slower growth of the epidermis
  • lower elasticity of the elastic collagen fibres
  • flat interlocking and smaller contact surface of epidermis and corium
  • poorer circulation
  • lower synthesis of hyaluronic acid, which reduces the water-binding capacity of the connective tissue


As a result of these processes, the elasticity of the skin decreases, it becomes thinner and wrinkles appear. This aging process is accelerated by external factors. The main factor is UV light. However, frequent contact with detergents or water, smoking, alcohol, a stressful lifestyle, a diet low in vitamins and incorrect/inadequate skin care also accelerate the process. In order to maintain a well-cared for skin in old age, adequate skin care should be started at a young age. Cosmetic products can protect the skin from light and from physical-chemical substances and supply a small amount of missing substances. Beyond that, however, a healthy diet and the renunciation of nicotine and alcohol is also recommended.

Care Depending On The Skin Condition



Normal Skin


Aim of care: Maintaining the skin’s balanced protective acid mantle, protecting the skin from negative external influences, preventing changes in the skin’s condition caused by incorrect care.

Cleansing: The facial skin can be cleansed with an O/W cleansing milk. Washing lotions with gentle tensides and preferably slightly acidic pH-values can also be used. Surfactant-containing washing lotions should, however, be used sparingly and rinsed off thoroughly so as not to irritate the skin. Peeling of the skin is not necessary more often than once a week. The body should also preferably be cleaned with a shower gel with a slightly acidic pH value. Body peeling and full bath can be carried out. The skin should be creamed afterwards.

Toning: After cleansing, a facial toner is spread evenly over the face with a cloth or cotton pad. Any remaining make-up or washing lotion is removed. The pH Value of the skin is normalized and the skin is refreshed. For the facial tonic, a small amount of alcohol as well as moisturizing and soothing active ingredients are preferable.

Care: For day care, an O/W cream with slightly moisturizing active ingredients (aloe vera, glycerine) and protective components (vitamins C and E) is recommended. For more mature skin hyaluronic acid may also be included. For sunny months the day care should have a sun protection factor (alternatively the make-up). For night care a vitamin-rich and moisturizing cream should be used to allow the skin to regenerate. A moisturizing serum is also recommended as additional care, especially during the cold months. For the body, a thin-bodied, easily spreadable O/W body lotion can be chosen.


Oily Skin


Aim of the care: Slowing down the excessive production of sebum, allowing the sebum to drain away evenly, binding the excess fat on the skin and preventing blackheads by avoiding comedogenic substances.

Cleansing: Betaines, ether sulphates and similar ionic surfactants are suitable for cleansing the face. They have a drying effect and an antibacterial effect due to a slightly acidic pH value of 5.5. Shower or bath oils with refattening agents are rather unsuitable. A peeling can be carried out several times a week to open blackheads and absorb skin fat. However, the skin should not be irritated. Fat-absorbing masks are also effective.

Toning: A mixture with a 30% alcohol content and antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and astringent (astringent) active ingredients is suitable as a facial toner. After cleansing, the toner is evenly distributed over the face with a cloth or cotton pad.

Care: As skin care, a hydrogel or O/W cream with a high emulsifier content and little fat is suitable for absorbing the excess sebum. Antiseptics, anti-inflammatory substances like allantoin and keratolytic substances like salicylic acid which refine the skin texture are suitable active agents. For the night care the day care product cane be used, a special night care is not necessary. During the cold months it is recommended to use additional moisture concentrates to counteract the dehydration caused by the dry room air.


Combination Skin


Goal of care: Appropriate care of the individual parts of the face according to their condition and balancing the different skin conditions towards the normal skin type.

Cleansing: For facial cleansing, mild tensides are suitable, which have a non-comedogenic effect and a slightly acidic pH value. Anti-inflammatory and soothing active ingredients such as allantoin, hamamelis extract and panthenol can be used. Re-fattening agents are less suitable. Peeling or matting masks can be applied 1-3 times a week in the area of the oily skin condition. The side areas are treated with a moisturizing mask.

Toning: Also when toning, the different skin conditions should be taken into account. Therefore, it is recommended to use two facial tonics and not a combined preparation. One facial toner should be suitable for the oily condition, the other one for the drier side areas.

Care: Especially if the skin areas differ greatly in their condition, it is important to use two different care products. The respective skin area should be cared for according to its condition (see care of oily, normal or dry skin). Combined preparations for combina


Dry Skin


Aim of the care: Increased supply of lipids and moisturizing factors and protection against harmful environmental influences.

Cleansing: Gentle cleansing milks or creams are suitable for cleaning the face. A gentle cream peeling should not be performed more than once a week. It should only be showered briefly once a day, not too hot, and bathed 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

Toning: Alcohol-free water with a neutral pH value and moisturizing, soothing and anti-inflammatory active ingredients is recommended as a facial toner.

Care: As facial care, a W/O cream or a fat-rich O/W cream without perfume and if possible without preservatives is recommended. If the shiny film of a W/O cream is not desired for the day, a more greasy cream should at least be used for night care. Important ingredients are glycerin, fatty oils, hyaluronic acid, linolenic acid, panthenol, aloe vera etc. As a supplement, moisturizing concentrates can be applied under the cream. The use of moisturizing masks 1-3 times a week is also helpful.


Impure Skin / Acne


Aim of the care: prevention of deterioration of the skin condition to acne skin, binding of excess skin fat, opening of closed follicles, prevention of colonization of follicles with bacteria by use antiseptics and avoidance of comedogenic substances.

Cleansing / Toning / Care: The care of impure skin corresponds to the care of oily skin, however, antiseptic active agents (like allantoin or nicotinamide) and keratolytic active agents can be used even more. In case of acne, the care regime of cleansing in the morning and in the evening as well as the additional care with peelings and masks 1-3 times a week should be strictly adhered to. However, acne cannot be fought with cosmetic products, a dermatological therapy is necessary.


Aging Skin / Mature Skin


Aim of the care: It is important to incorporate the care of the dry skin condition with certain supplements and to avoid irritating influences.

Cleansing: Due to habits and traditions, many elderly people use the wrong cleansing products. Soaps (in the worst case curd soap) are used, although gentle cleaning lotions should be used. Hard brushes to stimulate blood circulation should also be avoided, as they strain the cornea and damage the skin. Much more suitable are gentle peelings and creams to stimulate the blood circulation.

Care: Skin care should be carried out in the morning and evening, but also after each contact with water. W/O creams and water-free preparations should be used more frequently as their occlusive effect reduces the leakage of fluid from the skin. As active agents glycerin, urea, panthenol and vitamin A are very suitable. Moisturizing masks or special concentrates should be used as frequently as possible. The common practice among elderly people of rubbing alcoholic products such as ‘rubbing alcohol’ and arnica tinctures should be avoided at all costs in order not to dry out and irritate the skin. An ointment or cream should be used for the superficial treatment of muscle pain or poor circulation.

Elsässer, S. (2008). Körperpflegekunde und Kosmetik: Ein Lehrbuch für die PTA-Ausbildung und die Beratung in der Apothekenpraxis (1. Aufl.). Berlin, Deutschland: Springer-Verlag.