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Understanding your skin type is arguably the most important first step in discovering the most effective way to care for your skin. Tailoring the products you use, to your skin type will make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your skincare routine. Everybody’s skin needs are unique, but broadly there are five primary skin types, dry, oily, combination, sensitive and normal. Read on to determine yours. 

Kiehl’s Top Tip: Finding the right routine for you is important. Want to speak to one of our skincare experts? Book a complimentary live video consultation or an in-store consultation. Alternatively, our Instant Skin Reader analyses your skin and makes product recommendations based on your skincare needs. 



Identifying your skin type might come easily if you have very recognisable symptoms, but if not, we suggest cleansing your face thoroughly with a mild cleanser such as Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser and then gently pat dry. Don’t apply any product at all, just leave skin bare for about 25-30 minutes and then assess your skin. Does it feel comfortable and at ease? If yes, it’s probably normal. Do you have all over shine? Then it’s likely oily. Is it parched and craving moisture? You guessed it – dry. A mixture of the two? Combination. Uncomfortable, red and itchy? Likely sensitive. 


Another simple way to determine your skin type at home is to press a clean blotting paper against different areas of your face. Next step is to hold the sheet up to a light to see how much oil was absorbed: the more oil that was absorbed, the oilier your skin is likely to be. If you see little to no oil, you may have dry skin. Finally, combination or normal skin types will show minimal oil from the T-zone on the blotting sheet. For best results, we recommend doing this test around midday or evening—blotting your skin too soon after cleansing can lead to unreliable results.

Read on to find out how to take care of your skin type. 



Dry skin feels tight and laps up product very quickly, it can often flake, feel itchy or irritated, has small pores and can look dull. Producing less sebum than normal or oily skin means that dry skin can be vulnerable to a weakened skin barrier, which results in visible dry areas and ultimately speeds up the skin ageing process. The key to caring for it is to keep the skin barrier properly hydrated. The more moisture the skin holds, the healthier the skin’s appearance is. Boost skin hydration with a twice daily application of the silky Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate which helps to visibly plump skin’s appearance. Follow with Ultra Facial Cream, which works to recover skin barrier function thanks to a unique blend of powerful hydrators.

Find out how to hydrate dry skin here.

Go straight to shop hydrating products for dry skin here.


Oily skin produces more oil than other skin types, most commonly throughout the t-zone of the face (forehead, nose, and chin.) Characterised by a shiny appearance and congested pores which often lead to breakouts, oily skin occurs when the skin barrier produces an excess of sebum, or oil. If you have oily skin, it’s not all bad news, as oily skin has more natural moisture, it’s less prone to wrinkles. Look for products that help to balance excess oil and are non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores). We recommend the gentle Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner which helps to reduce surface oil and calm inflammation. Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream is a lightweight non-comedogenic moisturiser that works to keep skin shine-free throughout the day.

Reduce the frequency of breakouts and say goodbye to shine with our handy step-by-step skincare routine for oily skin here, learn more top tips to control oily skin here or go straight to shop products recommended for oily skin here.


Combination skin has areas that are both dry and oily. Skin is typically shiny on the forehead, nose and chin, while appearing dry or normal on the cheeks. It can be challenging to find the right skincare for combination skin, since it has multiple needs. Keeping skin balanced is the key to calming and stabilising combination skin, so try Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream, formulated for all skin types, this clever hydrator soothes the skin without heaviness. We also recommend targeting multiple skin concerns at once by multi-masking two to three times a week. Try applying Rare Earth Deep Pore Mask along the T-zone and adding Avocado Nourishing Hydration Mask to cheeks to seal in moisture.

Follow our step-by-step routine curated especially for combination skin here.

Go straight to shop balancing products for combination skin here.


Sensitive skin varies widely and can be combined with any other skin type. It occurs when the skin’s natural barrier function is weakened, making it susceptible to irritants and allergens. Flare-ups can come from anywhere and at any time in your life. Signs include visible redness and the feel of tight, uncomfortable skin. Care for sensitive skin by choosing gentle formulas that can help strengthen the skin barrier and look for treatments that are formulated to help treat visible redness and skin discomfort. We recommend Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Concentrate, which helps to relieve discomfort with its 100% naturally derived formula and always protect sensitive skin with a daily SPF, such as Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50 PA++++ .

Follow our step-by-step routine to keep sensitive skin in check here.

Go straight to shop calming products for sensitive skin here.


Normal skin is well-balanced - not too dry or too oily. Normal skin is smooth and not typically prone to breakouts or flakiness. Normal skin feels nourished and balanced and doesn’t suffer with problems such as breakouts or redness. If you’re lucky enough to have few (if any) skin concerns, keep your routine simple, ensure you protect skin with an SPF such as, Ultra Light Daily UV Defense SPF 50 PA++++, and replenish every evening with a hydrating facial oil like Midnight Recovery Concentrate.

Once you’re aware of your skin type, it can help you to build a routine that suits you. It’s a good idea to consider other skin needs you might have as you choose your products, for example you might want to consider formulations for men’s skin, which tends to be thicker and oilier than women’s or target signs of ageing

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