“First, wash your face with a foaming cleanser to fully remove oil from your skin,” said Dr. Zeichner in a recent Instagram video. Foaming cleansers have a reputation for being drying, but in this case, they’re your best bet because you actually want to clear away all of the oil from the surface of your skin. Wait three hours, which Dr. Zeichner explains is about how long it takes for your oil glands to rev up production, then check out your skin in the mirror. “If your full face looks shiny, you probably have oily skin. If you’re only shiny in your T-zone—which is your forehead, nose, and chin—but dry in your cheeks, then you probably have combination skin. And if you don’t see much oil at all, then you probably have dry skin.”
Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to suss out exactly which products are best for your complexion. A few easy things to remember? If you have oily skin, use a foaming cleanser, opt for treatments with pore-clearing ingredients like AHAs and retinoids, and choose light lotions over heavy creams. If you’ve got dry skin, use a cream cleanser, look for hydrators like hyaluronic acid and ceramides, and stick with thicker, barrier-repairing moisturizers as the final step in your routine. And if you’ve got combination skin, you can mix and match these products on different areas of your face to get the tailored results you need.
Figuring out your skin type only takes three hours, and you’ll be reaping the benefits in your routine for years to come. From there, here is what to know about each skin type and the best way to help you care for it, straight from dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD: