When it comes to skin types, what is normal, anyway? We can all get a little greasy or a little too dry, and everyone’s skin has sensitivities. But “normal skin”, is its own category altogether. It doesn’t describe perfectly smooth, blemish-free skin, since that’d be far from normal. And it’s not even the most common kind of skin in the world. It’s something else entirely, and we spoke about it with board-certified dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali. He told us more about the characteristics of normal skin, and the best regimen for people who are lucky enough to have it.
How to Tell if You Have Normal Skin
“Normal skin”, as it’s called in the dermatological world, describes skin that is overall well balanced. Bhanusali notes that people with normal skin experience minimal irritation, redness and drying — and don’t have the overly oily skin that might lead to breakouts or enlarged pores. “Generally speaking, this tends to be a transient thing and pretty much everyone can shift between the other aspects, like dry and oily,” he says, adding that “there is adequate oil production, but the cell turnover and exfoliation of the pores is regular, and it removes all the debris and pollutants before they have time to pile up.”
How Normal Skin Differs From Combination Skin
Don’t confuse normal skin for combination skin, which is characterized by having both oily and dry skin in different parts of the face simultaneously. “Combination skin refers to people who can have an oily ‘T-zone’ or mid face, while being dry in other areas,” says Bhanusali. Combination skin requires a regimen of toning and hydrating products, whereas “normal skin generally is balanced the vast majority of the time.”
The Best Morning Routine for Normal Skin
Even if your skin type is rare, your regimen is as common as the next: Start with a gentle cleanser, says Bhanusali, targeting ingredients like chamomile or glycerin. “They help maintain the epidermal barrier, which is the surface layer that protects you.”
If you exercise in the morning (or after you exercise in the day), use an alpha or beta hydroxyl acid. Doing so a couple times a week will keep pores clean and healthy. It’s just as effective if you aren’t exercising frequently, too. “If you overdo it on these acids, you can actually cause a compensatory hyper secretion of oils and get more breakouts,” Bhanusali warns. So just put it into rotation here and there.
After cleansing in the morning, Bhanusali says to use lighter moisturizers. He adds that products with hyaluronic acid will help maintain the moisture you already have, thus preserving your precious oil balance.
The Best Nighttime Routine for Normal Skin
At bedtime, you should substitute that lighter daytime moisturizer for a heavier one. This is typically the case for all skin types, since denser night creams will help defend against dryness while you sleep, and fuel your cells with nutrients while they regenerate.
Bhanusali tells his patients to exfoliate two to three times a week, too, after cleansing and before moisturizing. This will prevent blocked pores and promote a smoother, brighter complexion — so that you can showcase just how perfectly normal your skin is. Bhanusali also recommends retinoids (prescription-grade ones, above all), since they bolster overnight cellular turnover and collagen production, while also removing dead skin cells and preventing blemishes and wrinkles.
Products to Avoid if You Have Normal Skin
The main thing you should avoid is toners. Their job is to balance oil production, so they’re only really necessary for people with oily or combination skin. If you introduce a toner to your normal-skin regimen, you run the risk of confusing your face.
Otherwise, just try not to overdo it. Using a deep-cleansing mask too often might dry out your skin, whereas too much hyaluronic acid can dry out skin and in turn spike oil production. Your skin is balanced, so your regimen should be balanced, too.
Oily skin seems like a drag. Here’s how to manage it — and piut your best face forward.