Healthy Skin Favorites

How to Determine Your Skin Type

Overwhelmed by which cleanser, serum and moisturizer to use? Learn how to find which formulas are right for you.

The first step in selecting the right skin solutions starts with determining your skin type. Determining your skin type before selecting skin care products is the best way to get the most effective formulas for your individual skin concerns.

Although everyone’s skin is unique, there are five primary skin types: Oily, Normal, Combination, Dry, and Sensitive. Understanding your skin type may help you find the right solutions to help strengthen your skin barrier and achieve your skincare goals.

Kiehl’s Guide to Skin Types

  • Oily skin refers to skin that has excess oil, most commonly throughout the t-zone of the face (forehead, nose, and chin.) Oily skin tends to look shiny, feel greasy, and is often prone to blemishes and breakouts.
  • Normal skin is well-balanced - not too dry or too oily. Those with normal skin are not typically prone to breakouts or flakiness and tend to have a balanced t-zone.
  • Combination skin has areas that are both dry and oily. For example, skin is typically shiny on the forehead, nose and chin, while appearing dry or normal on the cheeks.
  • Dry skin is generally rough, scaly, flaky, itchy or irritated with an overall dehydrated look and feel.
  • Sensitive skin varies widely from person to person but is often characterized by visible redness and dryness. Sensitive skin may not always show visible signs and may simply have feelings of discomfort.

Determining your skin type can be a daunting task, but luckily, we’re here to help! Read on to learn three ways to help you determine your skin type.


An easy way to determine your skin type is to take note of visible signs on your bare skin. You can start by washing your face with our mild foaming cleanser. Then, gently pat dry with a soft towel and refrain from applying any skincare products. After 25-30 minutes, observe your skin. What does it look like? Does it appear shiny on your cheeks and t-zone? You might have oily skin or does your skin feel tight and have flaky areas? Your skin is likely dry. If you see an unbalanced mix of oiliness and dryness, you most likely have combination skin.


Another way to determine your skin type at home is to press a clean blotting sheet on various spots of your face. Then, hold the sheet up to a light to see how much oil was absorbed. Your skin type will generally be dependent on how much oil is visible, meaning the more oil on the paper, the more likely you have oily skin. If there is little to no oil visible, you most likely have dry skin. If the blotting sheet reveals minimal oil from your forehead and nose, your skin is probably normal or combination.


Schedule a complimentary Healthy Skin Consultation at your neighborhood Kiehl’s store. During your visit, a Kiehl’s Skincare Expert will measure your skin’s moisture and sebum levels to help properly determine your skin type, and will customize a unique routine to optimize the strength of your skin barrier!


Kiehl’s skincare is scientifically formulated to restore and strengthen the skin barrier for healthier, younger-looking skin. Inspired by nature and science, our targeted treatments are powerful yet safe preparations, which act to correct and treat your specific skin needs and concerns.


Since dry skin produces less sebum than normal or oily skin, the key to caring for it is to keep the skin barrier properly hydrated. The more moisture the skin holds, the healthier the skin’s appearance is. Without sufficient moisture, skin can be vulnerable to a weakened skin barrier, resulting in dry areas and ultimately hastening the skin aging process. Those with dry skin should look for formulas that hydrate, nurture, and moisturize, and are free from alcohol, fragrances, dyes, or chemicals.

Kiehl’s Tip For Dry Skin

Look for products formulated with Squalane, a signature Kiehl’s ingredient. Squalane is a highly refined botanical lipid known to help stabilize skin’s barrier and maintain moisture. Using products formulated with Squalene for dry skin can help replenish skin for a soft, smooth, and healthy appearance.

Kiehl’s Tip For Dry Skin


Oily skin occurs when the skin barrier produces an excess of sebum, or oil, which can lead to clogged pores and blemishes. Those with oily skin should look for products that help balance excess oil and are non-comedogenic. We recommend exfoliating 2-3 times a week to help remove dead skin cells from skin’s surface and washing your face twice a day. Be sure to find a gentle foaming face wash because using a daily face wash that is too harsh can irritate your skin and even increase oil production.

Kiehl’s Tip for Oily Skin

To help detoxify skin and minimize the look of pores, try using an Amazonian clay mask.

Kiehl’s Tip for Oily Skin


Combination skin can be a little more challenging to care for since it is made up of multiple skin types. The simplest way to care for combination skin is to look for products formulated for all skin types. Typically, formulas for all skin types help balance skin without over-drying or causing excess oil. Keeping your skin balanced is key for those with combination skin!

Kiehl’s Tip for Combiniation Skin

Target multiple skin concerns at once by multi-masking 3 times a week. For combination skin, we recommend applying an efficacious clay mask along the T-zone and adding a soothing face mask with a burst of cooling hydration to cheeks!

Kiehl’s Tip for Combiniation Skin


Luckily, skin concerns for normal skin types are generally minimal, so routines may be simpler. To help maintain balanced, healthy-looking skin, it is still essential to prep your skin with a gentle cleanser, hydrate skin with a daily moisturizer, and protect skin with broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day and replenish with a nighttime facial oil at night.

Kiehl’s Tip for Normal Skin

It’s key for normal skin types to maintain and balance hydration levels, so reach for a daily facial moisturizer.

Kiehl’s Tip for Normal Skin


Visible signs of redness and the feel of tight and uncomfortable skin - all of which are indicators of a weakened and compromised skin barrier, often characterize sensitive skin. Care for sensitive skin by choosing gentle formulas that can help strengthen the skin barrier and look for treatments that are formulated to help treat visible redness and skin discomfort.

Kiehl’s Tip for Sensitive Skin

Help with skin discomfort by boosting your skincare routine with a calmative, non-comedogenic facial oil.

Kiehl’s Tip for Sensitive Skin

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