How to Choose the Perfect Skincare Products for Your Face

What role should your skin type really play in your skincare picks? We take you from confusion to solution.

While there really is no danger in buying skincare products over the counter—they all come in “safe” concentrations for home use—it makes a huge difference to know your skin type and apply the right products that address your skin concerns.

Many of us have come to recognize only the four fundamental and traditional skin types developed in the early 1900s—oily, dry, combination, and sensitive. But given today’s multibillion-dollar beauty industry and the introduction of more advanced products, those types have become inadequate descriptions of the skin, and an insufficient guide for consumers in choosing the right skincare regimen.

“There are many ways to classify skin types. Your skin may be categorized according to color, how it tans, how aged it looks,” says Skin Inc. dermatologist Dr. Windie Villarica. “The traditional classification does not cover everything. I personally think the most accurate to follow would be the Baumann Skin Type Indicator (BSTI), which takes into consideration not just skin’s oiliness but also its sensitivity and firmness.”


Those with pigmented, tight (PT) skin are usually dark skinned, while those with non-pigmented, wrinkled (NW) skin are most likely to have a lighter complexion. Acne is usually correlated to those with oily, sensitive (OS) skin, whereas those with dry, sensitive (DS) skin are more likely to prone to eczema or other similar conditions.

This classification by Dr. Leslie Baumann uses four parameters to characterize facial skin: oily or dry, sensitive or resistant, pigmented or non-pigmented, and wrinkled or tight. Evaluating the skin based on all four results in 16 possible—and more accurate—skin types. “It gives a bird’s eye view of how ‘problematic’ the skin condition is and makes it easy to explain treatment options with the patient,” adds Villarica. “It’s important to know this because a lot of people buy products and do procedures based on what their friends recommend, what they see on TV, or what their favorite actors or actresses are using. But not everyone is the same.”

If you have given up on a sunscreen, a night cream or a serum because it feels sticky or oily or heavy, it gives you acne, or it doesn't combine well with your other skincare products or makeup, the problem may be solved by using products more suited for your skin type.

“Topical creams and serums are very good. But first, you have to know your skin type, or instead of producing good results you may actually induce more harm,” agrees Dr. Aivee Aguilar-Teo. “If you put BB cream on very oily skin, for example, it may just break out. BB cream is very popular, but you need to hydrate your skin. Those with oily skin are better off using gel creams, serums, or cleansers.”

The BSTI method will define your skin type with a mix of four characteristics. For instance, if your skin is characterized by occasional breakouts or facial redness, often followed by darkening of the skin, and have some lines in those areas as well, it could mean your skin is “Oily, Sensitive, Pigmented, and Wrinkled—classified as the OSPW skin type,” says Villarica. “This is also the type of skin of people who have past and current lifestyle habits that cause wrinkles like smoking and sun exposure.” Such a specific approach will let you know that the best skincare products for you with an OSPW skin type would be those that contain sunscreens, antioxidants, and de-pigmenting and anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Recommended ingredients based on the Baumann Skin Type Indicator

A similar specific analysis goes for the 15 other skin types. For example, those with pigmented, tight (PT) skin are usually dark skinned, while those with non-pigmented, wrinkled (NW) skin are most likely to have a lighter complexion.

Acne is usually correlated to those with oily, sensitive (OS) skin, whereas those with dry, sensitive (DS) skin are more likely to prone to eczema or other similar conditions.

If you're wondering what the ideal skin type would be, it's ORNT or Oily, Resistant, Non-Pigmented, Tight. "The naturally occurring ORNT skin type is very uncommon in ages over 20. This youthful healthy type is commonly seen in young people but without the proper skincare and lifestyle habits the skin type begins to deteriorate in the second decade of life," writes Dr. Baumann on her website.  "The goal of every skincare regimen should be to convert the skin as close as possible to an ORNT skin type."

Dermatologists in the Philippines have recently begun using the BSTI system, which asks patients a number of questions to determine their specific skin type.

Take the quiz here (page 27) to help you figure out which category you fall under and check out our list of the recommended ingredients and products for each skin type.

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About The Author
Nicole Limos Morales
Contributing Beauty Editor
Nicole is the former managing editor of Town&Country. After working as features editor and beauty editor of the title’s print edition for 6 years, she helped launch in 2016, creating new concepts and story formats, analyzing data, and mastering digital audiences—establishing the title to become the Philippines’ leading luxury lifestyle website. She left her full-time position in 2019 to focus on family life, while carrying on writing beauty content for T&C as a contributing editor. “I think what’s amazing about beauty is that in its arena, you can really only be a skeptic for so long,” she says. “There will always be a product that will make you believe.”
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