If you look for a review of a particular skincare product, you will find a disclaimer. It happens with vloggers, beauty bloggers and the fashion magazines of old, and goes along the lines of –
“My skin didn’t react to this at all, but of course, everyone’s skin is different!”
What they mean is: please don’t try and blame me if you try this product and you have a reaction to it. While there’s an element of a disclaimer in the statement, there’s also an accepted truth: everyone’s skin is different. What for some women is a miracle product, for others will cause acne breakouts and redness.
There is no uniting factor, one demonic ingredient we can pinpoint as being a bad guy. Everything, from the most natural of substances to the most synthetic and human-made, seems to impact people in different ways. Some women can use the equivalent of a laboratory’s worth of chemicals while others will rely on more natural skin care products to prevent their breakouts and discomfort.
The truth is, no one knows!
There’s a reason that the major skincare brands are now beginning to see their customers as individuals. Targeted skincare that is designed for each person is becoming more popular, with products available that allow you to alter the ingredients to suit what works for you. While we have some of the answers to the solution, there’s yet to be any strong scientific consensus as to why we’re so diverse.
The leading explanation is that we are all a sum of our experiences. First, you have our natural body levels; our hormone balances (which impacts the production of sebum, determining if we have oily, dry or combination skin) and pH. You then add in the environmental factors. It creates a blend that is truly unique, with no two people the same – meaning no two people will react exactly the same to every product.
So what can you do? Do you just have to guess what might work out for you?
Not quite. While each person is different, there are some uniting factors that mean we can at least group each individual. These are often used without much explanation, but the descriptors will be familiar.
Oily Skin: Your skin produces a lot of sebum, making it look shiny. You are more prone to blemishes than other women – but here’s the upside: you’re less prone to signs of ageing! There had to be an upside in there, right? You’re also less likely to react to products.
Dry Skin: Your skin often feels tight, in need of hydration and its natural texture is more rough than smooth. You show signs of ageing and tiredness faster than many women. Your skin can be reactive.
Sensitive Skin: Your skin reddens and easily and you react to products. It’s possible to have both sensitive and dry skin, or sensitive and oily. It’s a subcategory.
Combination Skin: You’re oily on one part of your face (often the forehead) and suffer from dryness on another. You can still have sensitive skin. Again, it’s a subcategory.
For the moment, these definitions are the best we have. Look for makeup and beauty products labelled for your skin type and always do a patch test to see if you’re going to react. One day, maybe we’ll know for sure what the differences are – but make the best of what we have for now!