How to build a skincare routine for your skin type

 February 1, 2017
Posted by Benjamin Smith

clear skin routines

There are thousands of skincare products on the market claiming to give you the flawless skin you’ve been dreaming of. However, to have a chance of delivering on their promises these products need to be suitable for your skin type. To make matters even more complicated, layering products in your skincare regime can cause interactions and unwanted irritation.

Find out your skin type and which products are suited for you using our guide below.

Dry skin

This is skin that lacks oil, not moisture (for lack of moisture see dehydrated skin below) which can make your skin flaky. It becomes drier in winter and needs special attention to keep the skin soft.

Flax seed oil can help improve dry skin

Flax seed oil can help improve your dry skin

Goes well with:

  • Oil-based moisturisers and emollient moisturisers
  • Non-soap based cleansers
  • Adding flax-seed oil to your diet
  • Non-fragranced products
  • A humidifier if your living space is particularly dry


  • Heavily fragranced products
  • Long hot showers and baths which will further dry skin
  • Soap based cleansers, which will strip out more oil
  • Alcohol based toners
  • Parabens and high strength AHAs

Dehydrated skin

Dehydrated skin is characterized by cracking, tight skin which lacks radiance. It needs care to return the balance of oils and water that the skin is craving. Minimising the number of irritating, drying products you’re using in your skincare routine is the first step to more radiant skin.

Goes well with:

  • Thick moisturisers, but be careful to trial both oil based and water based moisturisers.
    You need to work out what balance of oil and water your skin needs.
  • Gentle exfoliators, to allow moisture to get past dead skin cells on the surface
  • Exercise, which will return some moisture to your skin
  • A humidifier if your living environment is particularly dry
  • Non-soap based cleansers
  • Adding flax-seed oil to your diet


  • Over-washing or cleansing skin
  • Prolonged exposure to cold, dry weather
  • High strength AHAs such as retinol, which may further dry skin
  • Alcohol based toners
  • Sun exposure

Sensitive skin

Sensitive skin is prone to reactions and breakouts. Sensitivity differs from person to person so you need to ensure you’re doing a patch test before applying each product. This will help you to identify which products may be doing you more harm than good. Opt for fragrance free, pH balanced and steer clear of high strength AHAs where possible.

Goes well with:

Exposure to the sun will worsen your skin

  • Non-fragranced products
  • Sun protection
  • Only low strength AHAs if at all (patch test to find out)
  • Gentle moisturisers


  • High strength products (for example retinol)
  • Fragranced products
  • Combining irritants: beware of combining exfoliants and AHAs
  • Sun exposure: always wear high factor, broad spectrum sunscreen
  • Long hot baths or showers

Balanced skin

If you’re blessed with balanced skin, you can be a little less careful with your product choices. However, keep in tune with how it changes from season to season. Winter can cause it to match a dry or sensitive skin profile and summer can induce oily skin. It’s best to alter your routine according to external conditions.

Goes well with:

  • Varying moisturisers by season (see dry skin profile for winter care, and oily for summer care)
  • Medium strength AHAs (ensure to patch test)


  • Combining irritants such as exfoliants and AHAs, which could cause breakouts
  • Very oily moisturisers, which may block pores
  • High sun exposure: always wear medium to high factor broad spectrum sunscreen
  • Long hot baths or showers, which may dry your skin out


Blemishing skin

Blemish prone skin can be caused by factors such as hormonal changes or irritation. It would be wise to see a dermatologist to work out which is causing your blemishes, as they can advise on how to tackle the problem at its root.

Reduce skin breakouts with meditation

Spend time in deep relaxation to reduce your breakouts

Goes well with:

  • Exfoliants to unclog the pores which contribute to blemishes
  • Gentle cleansing, up to twice a day
  • Retinol for acne breakouts
  • Keeping your hair away from your face
  • Stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation as high stress levels can cause skin outbreaks


  • Thick moisturisers, which may further block pores
  • Oil based moisturisers, which may also block pores

Oily skin

Oily skin often has large pores and can appear somewhat shiny. The trick to taking care of it is to remove the overproduction of oil without drying it out. Medium to high strength retinol creams (0.5-1%) are a great way to tackle this.

Goes well with:

  • Retinol creams of 0.5% to 1%, which will help to control the oil production and also reduce pore size
  • Exfoliants, which is unclog the pores which contribute to blemishes
  • Gentle cleansing, up to twice a day
  • Keeping your hair away from your face


  • Oil based moisturisers, which will worsen the problem and block pores
  • Over-cleansing, which can cause your skin to produce more oil to compensate

Combination skin

Combination skin has issues with both oily areas and dry areas. Commonly, the t-zone of your face has too much oil, and the other parts of your face can be dry. The trick here is to treat these areas different, and not to try a one size fits all skincare regime.

Refer to the oily skin advice for the t-zone, and the dry skin advice for the rest of your face.

Turn back the clock and banish your eye bags

Dr Shah-Desai is an industry leading aesthetic surgeon, offering non-surgical and surgical treatments to improve your appearance and confidence.

As part of your treatment, she also provides a specialist skincare plan to reduce the signs of aging.

Get in touch today to book an appointment.