It didn't take a lot of guesswork for me to figure out my skin type: I tend to get shiny all over (which means I'm oily), and I break out often and quite easily (which means I'm acne-prone, duh). It's a common skin type I'm sure many can identify with, except for one slight difference. Despite being oily and not combination, my skin sometimes feels dry and looks patchy—especially the area around my nose—to the point where I have to use a separate cream for it on top of the oil-free gel formula I use on the rest of my face.
I've ignored this for the longest time thinking it was normal. But as always, after scouring the internet for answers, I discovered a skin category that I might've been under all this time: dehydrated skin.
I know, I definitely doubted what I was reading, too. How can someone like me, a self-sufficient manufacturer of oil, lack any sort of moisture? It doesn't seem likely at all. So to clear things up, I raised a white flag to Dr. Windie Hayano of The Skin Inc. Dermatology and Laser Center, and here's what she told me:
Can oily skin be dehydrated?
"Most people classify skin as oily, dry, or combination. But it really is not as simplistic as that. There are many factors to consider when we talk about skin condition and it is usually affected by many things from genetics, behavior, and weather.
"I personally like the Baumann classification, which takes into consideration pigmented versus non-pigmented, resistant versus sensitive, dry versus oily, and wrinkled versus tight. It combines other skin type classifications that take the following into consideration: skin color, condition, sensitivity, and age.
"Using that classification, you're probably pertaining to a skin type that is reactive or sensitive even when young (or tight), which might be the reason why people classify it as oily-dry acne prone skin."
If someone's skin is sensitive, oily, and tight, what might be happening?
"These patients are probably suffering from either seborrheic dermatitis or rosacea. Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that is multifactorial and genetic in nature. It is very common and presents as oily flaky red skin. Young patients that have this condition can also have acne, making them challenging to treat because the acne treatments can be irritating on inflamed skin.
"Rosacea on the other hand can look like acne on an extremely erythematous (inflamed) face. This is due to production of abnormal blood vessels. This condition can also be challenging because the skin is easily irritated and dry when you apply products. In the course of treating the "acne," you end up with flaking, dryness, and stinging from the medication. Hence, an oily, dry, acne-prone complexion.
"There are also people that are inherently 'sensitive' or reactive, like those suffering from dry, flaky skin from eczemas and those with a compromised skin barrier. This makes them prone to irritation. Applying drying products or traveling to very dry climates make their skin go haywire. Then of course, once puberty hits and hormones are activated, you still get acne and voila, that same skin type."
What should those who fall under this category do?
"The best advice I can give is to seek professional medical help. Your doctor can give you a proper diagnosis and treatment. Since many conditions can mimic this type of skin (llike fungal infections and autoimmune diseases), a dermatologist’s opinion is important.
"It is tempting to just Google and read beauty blogs that tend to over simplify skin problems and then proceed to recommend products, but I think at the end of the day, real expertise will come from your doctor."
What else can be done to treat this skin condition?
1. "Use a mild, fragrance, and color-free moisturizer on acne-prone skin. Studies have shown that even acne sufferers have skin barrier issues that still need moisturization."
2. "Don't overcleanse the skin and avoid harsh scrubs and brushes."
3. "Avoid products with alcohol. If a product stings on application, it may be too harsh for you. Normally, a mild stinging sensation should not last more than five minutes."
4. "Remember that anything can cause a reaction. May it be cruelty free, organic, hypoallergenic, mineral, or paraben-free, it doesn't matter. It can cause a reaction."
After my consultation with Dr. Windie, I can confidently say I'm due for a visit to my derm soon. I suggest you also check with yours if you're in the same boat!