Do you know your skin type?

Do you know your skin type?



At Clinique, we’ve always believed that identifying your skin type is the first step on the road to great skin – yet 1 in 5 women are unsure what skin type they have*. It may sound like skincare 101, however, as everyone’s skin is unique and our skin type can change over time, it’s unsurprising that many women remain unsure. We are here to help you demystify skin types and concerns, so you can get the very best results from your routine.


As a beauty brand built on dermatological science, skin typing has always been part of Clinique’s DNA. Way back in 1968, we created the iconic 3-Step Skincare System – a game changer in the beauty world. ‘Clinique was the first skincare brand that actually listened to women. We didn’t offer an impersonal one-size-fits-all answer to everyone,’ explains Janet Pardo, Senior Vice President of Product Development. ‘A Consultant would ask [the customer] detailed questions about her specific needs, her unique concerns, and then recommended a simple, yet effective customised regimen.’


3-Step was a major beauty breakthrough in approach, but also in its efficacy, offering women three simple steps in different formula strengths, tailored to different skin types. This innovative approach went and in hand in with our pioneering skin diagnostic tools – the first of which was the industry-first Clinique Computer. This revolutionary tool was inspired by same questions Clinique’s guiding dermatologist, Dr. Norman Orentreich, would ask his patients during an appointment to assess their skin’s needs. The ‘computer’ asked customers to answer eight questions about their skin, which lined up to reveal their skin types – Type 1: Very Dry/Dry; Type 2: Dry Combination; Type 3: Combination Oily or Type 4: Oily.


Today, our diagnostic tools have evolved to include Clinical Reality – a 30-second skin analysis built on 50+ years of dermatological science and over 2 million face scans – alongside our Skin School and Clinical Consultations services which offer a unique, personalised approach to skincare. So, if you’ve always had a question mark over your skin type or feel like your skincare isn’t working particularly well for you, it may be time to check in with your skin. Read on for our comprehensive guide to identifying your skin type with Clinique.


What are the skin types?

Oily skin: Oily skin is caused by excess sebum, the natural oil produced by the skin. This can cause the skin to look shiny or greasy, especially around the T-zone, and the excess oil can also clog pores leading to blackheads, blemishes and enlarged pores. Oily skin requires as much hydration as other skin types, however it’s key to find non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturisers that won’t clog pores, alongside a lightweight cleanser and gentle exfoliator. Shop skincare for oily skin.


Dry skin: Conversely, dry skin produces fewer natural oils than other skin types. Coupled with a lack of moisture, this can cause skin to feel rough, tight, flaky and occasionally itchy and irritated. Dry skin can also look dull, due to inadequate hydration, and is more prone to sensitivities due to barrier damage. Wrinkles and fine lines are also more pronounced on dry skin types. Dry skin generally requires more nourishing, comforting skincare products to help strengthen the moisture barrier and comfort the skin. Shop skincare for dry/dehydrated skin.


Combination skin: As the name suggests, combination skin features multiple characteristics in different areas – such as an oily T-zone (forehead, nose and chin), with dry, redness-prone cheeks. The oily areas may be shine and prone to breakouts, whereas the drier areas may appear rougher and feel more sensitive. When it comes to skincare for combination skin, it’s key to find a thorough cleanser and effective moisturiser to help rebalance your skin.


Balanced/normal skin: Every skin type is normal, however when you see skincare products tailored to ‘normal skin’, this refers to skin that’s well-balanced – so not too oily or dry. It’s generally feels quite comfortable, with smooth texture, refined pores and minimal blackheads or blemishes.


Sensitive skin: Sensitive skin isn’t an official skin ‘type’, as it can be secondary to any of the above, but it could also be your primary skin concern. Sensitive skin is prone to redness, irritation, itchiness and dryness, as it is more vulnerable to barrier damage and certain external triggers. Look out for comforting, soothing ingredients like cica to help calm sensitive skin, and avoid harsh actives and alcohol-based products. Shop skincare for sensitive skin.


How to work out your skin type:

A quick, easy way to identify your skin type is to wash your face thoroughly with a gentle cleanser, pat dry, then wait a couple of hours without applying any follow-up products. After an hour or two, look in the mirror and observe the natural characteristics of your skin. How does it look and feel without any other products? Is it oily, dry, a mix of both, or totally balanced? From there, you should be able to work out which skin type is most suited to you.


Another option is to stop by your local Clinique counter for a chat with one of our expert Consultants, who will help you diagnose your natural skin type, alongside any more specific concerns or goals.


How can skin type change over time?

Your skin type can change for a variety of reasons, including ageing, hormones and the weather. It could be a subtle change, like a new skin concern appearing, or a more noticeable one, but it’s unlikely that your skin will be exactly the same in your 30s, for example, as it was in your teens. So, if you have been using the same skincare for years and aren’t seeing the same results, it could be because your skin type has changed. If you’re wondering what to do if your skin type has changed, we highly recommend booking in for a Clinical Consultation – a bespoke skincare service led by one of our dermatologist-trained skincare experts.


Our team of Clinical Consultants are trained in partnership with our guiding dermatologists, providing them with in-depth knowledge of skincare and innovative diagnostic resources, built on dermatological science. The Clinical Consultation journey begins with an initial catch-up, where your dedicated skin coach will work with you to identify your skin type and goals, and get a better understanding of your current routine and your relationship with your skin. They’ll then talk you through their bespoke recommendations for a morning and nighttime routine – including as many steps as you feel comfortable with – before taking a baseline picture to track your progress and answering any questions you may have.


You’ll then have three follow-up check ins over the course of 12 weeks, during which you can review both short and longer-term results and make any necessary adjustments. You’ll take photos along the way, discussing your progress, before one final check in and selfie to see what 12 weeks of a consistent, tailored skincare regime has done for your skin. You can then check back in with your Clinical Consultant anytime, should any new questions or concerns arise.


Need some help identifying your skin type?

Our derm-trained experts are at your service. Book your first Clinical Consultation today to start your journey to great skin. 


*Based on consumer survey run via Toluna’s consumer panel amongst 303 women across UK, conducted in December 2023.

Words by Shona Wallace, January 2024. 

Shop skincare for all skin types: 

Dramatically Different™ Moisturizing Lotion+, Dermatologist-developed formula that supports a stronger moisture barrier for healthier looking skin.
125ml (With pump)
50ml (bottle)
50ml (Tube)
Liquid Facial Soap, Dermatologist-developed liquid face soap cleanses gently yet thoroughly.
200ml Mild
200ml Oily