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Skin Types 101 - Kidskin

Skin Types 101

Teenagers have a lot on their plates. Between school, sports, extracurricular activities, and obligations with family and friends, they may not have much time to consider what type of skin they have and how best to care for it. That’s where we come in! At Kidskin, we know how overwhelming it can be to figure out a teen or kid skincare routine that is easy, safe, and appropriate for your child’s type of skin. We keep the importance of sensitive skin care for teens and kids in mind when creating each of our products, from face cleansers to sunscreen. We’ve created the ultimate guide just for you to help take the mystery out of proper skincare for every type of skin.

Infographic on different types of skin

Table of Contents


Why Skin Type Matters

Helping your child become familiar with their young, sensitive skin and recognizing its characteristics and concerns will help you select the kid skin products specifically made to target their needs. Selecting products with the proper formulas for their type of skin will allow them to create a routine that safely and effectively supports their hydration needs and oil concerns.

Keep in mind, their skin issues may change or escalate with time, seasons, and additional factors, including poor sleep patterns and stress. This may mean adjusting their skin routine or the need to change or modify certain kid skin products. While it can certainly be frustrating, let them know they aren't alone. It's a struggle many kids their age experience, but being diligent can help keep their delicate, sensitive skin healthy, radiant, and happy.

Their skin type can change over time and further complicate things if it naturally becomes dryer and more difficult to hydrate. This tends to happen as they approach their teen years and again as they enter adulthood. Starting a proper kid skin routine early will help them build a consistent regimen and make it easier to know when and how to adjust products as they see fit.


The Five Types of Skin

While skin type is usually determined by genetic makeup, your daily habits and various environmental factors can play a role in worsening some skin conditions. Each of the five types of skin can be characterized by different tendencies and symptoms.

The five types of skin include:

  1. Normal Skin
  2. Oily Skin
  3. Dry Skin
  4. Combination Skin
  5. Sensitive Skin

Take time to compare skin type characteristics with your child. It may help determine their type of skin in relation to the amount of sebum they deal with.


Tween leaning against a window

What is Sebum?

Sebum is the oily substance produced by tiny glands that lie just beneath the surface of the skin. Areas with the most sebaceous glands tend to be the face, neck, shoulders, chest, and back area. If you see your teen nodding their head right now, it may be because they’ve already experienced more breakouts or sensitivities in these particular areas.  

While sebum's main goal is to lubricate and protect the skin, over and under active glands can stir up trouble. When the glands produce a steady amount of sebum, the skin appears to have a healthy glow. If not enough sebum is present, the skin can become dry, cracked, or itchy. On the other hand, too much sebum can clog follicles by hardening and creating a plug that leads to acne.


1. Characteristics of Normal Skin

Most common in younger people, a normal skin type is characterized by being well-balanced with just the right amount of sebum production; it is not too dry or too oily. While some people may notice extra oil in their t-zone, or forehead, nose, and chin region, it is typically mild and short-lived.

Those with a normal skin type often have:

  • fewer imperfections and blemishes than other types of skin
  • smaller pores
  • fewer sensitivities to skin products
  • few, if any, skin discoloration concerns
  • skin appears smooth and even


2. Characteristics of Oily Skin

While teens with dry skin do not produce enough sebum, teens with oily skin produce too much. You can recognize if your teen has oily skin if it appears glossy or dewy most of the day with little relief from blotting or regular use of face cleansers.

Those with an oily type of skin tend to have:

  • a larger than average number of blemishes
  • the appearance of enlarged pores
  • acne inflammation, reoccurrence, and scarring
  • acne on their back and/or chest
  • redness around blemishes from irritation, infection, and inflammation


3. Characteristics of Dry Skin

Teenagers with dry skin produce less sebum than teenagers with normal, combination, or oily skin. The lack of sebum makes it difficult for this type of skin to retain water. Your teen’s skin will face moisture challenges and be affected more severely by outside contaminants, such as dirt and sweat.

If your child’s skin is not adequately hydrated, it will exhibit:

  • flaking
  • rough, dry patches
  • cracking
  • itching
  • redness without the appearance of acne


4. Characteristics of Combination Skin

A combination skin type can be difficult to manage, as your teen’s skin can be oily in certain areas and drier in others. Your teenager’s T-zone is especially likely to be oily, while the rest of their face will appear to be more normal or dry, making them feel like no products seem to combat all their skin concerns. Those with combination skin typically have larger pores, so blackheads may be more apparent, while acne issues may come and go, especially in the t-zone area.


5. Characteristics of Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin in teenagers can be caused by a wide range of factors, including allergic reactions to various ingredients or underlying skin disorders, such as eczema. Sensitive skin can also result from a lack of protection from environmental factors, such as excessive sun exposure. Treating sensitive skin must be done properly and with kid skin products designed to calm and soothe.

If your child has sensitive skin, you may notice they are prone to inflammation and may exhibit: 

  • rash
  • itching
  • burning or stinging sensations
  • sunburn easily

Teen with acne on her chin 

Understanding the Six Types of Acne

As if that weren't enough for your child to digest, there are also various types of acne to contend with. Acne falls into two groups – inflammatory and non-inflammatory. Understanding the acne issues your child is experiencing will help you select the proper course of action and kid skin products best suited for their young, sensitive skin.


Six Types of Acne

  1. blackheads
  2. whiteheads
  3. nodules
  4. pustules
  5. papules
  6. cysts


Non-Inflammatory Acne

Acne that does not cause your child’s skin to become inflamed is known as non-inflammatory acne. Whiteheads and blackheads are among the acne types that do not cause swelling or pain. Let’s take a closer look at each:



Blackheads are tiny, black spots that may or may not be slightly raised. Your teen will typically find these on and around the nose area. Most people associate blackheads with dirt and oils trapped within the pores. However, blackheads are actually whiteheads that have opened up and widened. When the open pore exposes oil and skin cells to the air, the darkening of its contents becomes known as a blackhead. Consistent use of a kid skin face cleanser can keep blackheads at bay.



Whiteheads are the tiny, white bumps or spots that usually appear in clusters on the surface of your child’s skin. Sometimes you’ll notice the appearance of a white, circular center surrounded by a red or pink halo. Whiteheads may be triggered by hormonal changes or begin to form as skin cells and oils clog pores.


Inflammatory Acne

This type of acne is more problematic, causing swelling, redness, and often pain. It may also cause scarring or pitting and can be warm to the touch. Inflammatory acne forms when clogged pores continue to be invaded by excess oil and lead to bacteria buildup and spreading. This can be an occasional breakout or on-going and severe. This group of acne includes:



Papules begin as small red bumps underneath the skin. The mixture of oil, skin cells, and bacteria creates a solid raised bump. While they won't fill with puss, they will spread bacteria to the surrounding areas and cause additional problems if not treated properly. Washing twice a day with the right face cleanser and acne spot treatments can make a tremendous difference in their kid skin routine.


These small but bothersome bumps tend to be extremely tender and inflamed. Pustules will fill with a pussy fluid and typically appear in clusters around the face, chest, and back. To help cut down on bacteria and inflammation, try a kid skin face cleanser with tea tree oil.

Nodular Acne

This moderate to severe form of acne forms deep within the skin and can cause pain and redness. The hardening of this acne type can cause dark spots and scarring if untreated. Face cleansers with oil-controlling ingredients are highly recommended with nodular acne. 

Cystic Acne

The large, puss-filled acne that causes pain even without touch is known as cystic acne. Cystic acne sits deep within your teen’s skin and is the most difficult to treat. A ruptured cyst may cause the spread of infection and inflammation, so be sure to tend to them immediately with a high-quality face cleanser and seek advice from a dermatologist to help address the issue.


Kidskin acne set

Choosing High-Quality Kid Skincare Products

Different types of skin and their specific struggles require different products. Before you spend money on the first kid skin face cleanser you see, remember that not all kid skin products are created equal. Depending on your teenager's type of skin, they will need to choose products that will safely and effectively clean and hydrate while addressing any sensitive skin or acne issues. Appropriate skin care for teens will help keep their delicate skin soft, smooth, and blemish-free and minimize the appearance of age spots and wrinkles as they get older.

Your child needs to realize what works for one friend may not necessarily work for them. One classmate’s acne may stem from sebum's over-production, while another may break out from sensitive skin irritations. This is why determining and understanding their type of skin is essential and should be followed by finding the gentle tween kid skincare products that target their type.


Kid Skincare: What’s in Your Product?

As you shop around for face cleansers and moisturizers, certain ingredients should be avoided. When selecting a kid skincare product line for your child, take note of ingredients known to irritate their sensitive skin. While one face cleanser may boast it’s gentle enough for a child, dig a little deeper into their list of ingredients to be sure.

To provide the best protection for young, sensitive skin, avoid products with:

  • sulfates
  • parabens
  • gluten
  • synthetic fragrances



Sulfates form when sulfuric acid joins and reacts with another chemical. You may also know them as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Sulfates may cause irritation to the skin or eyes or clog pores and draw further sensitive skin or acne issues.

If you’re environmentally conscious, selecting a face cleanser or additional kid skin product with sulfates may pose long-term effects due to its production, including:

  • climate change
  • greenhouse gases
  • pollution

Sulfate content in a face cleanser or moisturizer can range from a trace amount to as much as fifty percent of its makeup, so do your homework before choosing a product for your child’s young skin.  



Parabens, a preservative found in many adult and kid skincare lines, prolong the shelf life of many items, including your child’s face cleansers and moisturizers. Many manufacturers utilize parabens to combat mold and bacteria. While this may sound ideal, during their daily kid skin care routine, parabens in their face cleanser can enter through the surface of the skin and wreak havoc, causing allergic reactions, dermatitis, or further illness.



Gluten in kid skincare products? Yep, your child’s current face cleanser or moisturizer may contain gluten. Gluten has been linked to minor and severe irritations of the skin.

Your teen may experience:


-dry patches

-acne breakouts

-itching or burning


Gluten may also increase eczema flare-ups or dermatitis herpetiformis, so be extra diligent in your research if your teen already has sensitive skin.


Synthetic Fragrances

If your child has sensitive skin, you’re likely on the lookout for any artificial fragrances in your soaps, body wash, and detergents. Be sure to add face cleansers and moisturizers to the list. Artificial fragrances have been linked to various issues, including allergic reactions. Fragrances are also airborne, making them a potential health issue for others near you. When selecting a kid skincare line, fragrance-free face cleansers and moisturizers may help reduce:

-skin irritations, including itchiness, bumps, and rash

-contact dermatitis



-wheezing and asthma flare-ups



Teen putting on face mask


Safe Ingredients for Your Child’s Kid Skin Care Routine

Helping your teen begin a safe skin care routine is essential. Developing healthy habits now will help shape the way they select moisturizers and face cleansers in the future. When we created Kidskin, offering the safest, most natural ingredients possible was our top priority for our daughter’s young, sensitive skin. Through careful ingredient selection, we have been able to blend antioxidants and other reliable ingredients to offer all types of skin a soothing, moisture-locking line of kid skin products parents can trust. Our products are made from ingredients that will support hydration while eliminating acne, irritation, and the spread of bacteria.

These beneficial ingredients include:

-Tea Tree Oil

-White Tea Leaf Extract

-Witch Hazel

-Red Algae


Recommended Skincare Products for Your Type of Skin 

From face cleansers to sunscreen, we offer kid skin products that will support all the needs and goals of your teen. Here are some helpful recommendations.


Best Products for Dry Skin

Skincare for teens with dry skin specifically targets skin that appears dry, rough, and flaky. From face cleanser to moisturizers, our collection of products help restore balance and get them back on track. Our calming daytime moisturizer soothes dryness, hydrates flakey areas, and boosts moisture retention. Our gentle face cleanser for dry teen and kid skin provides mild, foamy hydration to calm irritations from dryness.


Best Products for Sensitive Skin

Products for sensitive skin concerns help calm and soothe the skin while restoring balance and reducing inflammation. Luckily, Kidskin has skin care for teens with sensitive skin covered! Our Gentle Skin Cleanser for Kids targets and heals sensitive, irritated skin with antioxidants and peptides to tackle bacteria and inflammation. Pair the face cleanser with Kidskin Gentle Skin Moisturizer for Kids, a lightweight, ultra-hydrating option for sensitive skin!


Best Products for Oily Skin

Skin care for teens with oily skin directly combats the overproduction of sebum and any acne that this excess sebum may have caused. Kidskin helps your teenager take on their problematic T-zone with the T-Blast Foaming Cleanser for Oily Skin. Made with natural tea tree oil, this face cleanser cuts through oil to prevent acne and other skin imperfections from popping up.


Best Products for Fighting Acne

If their skin tends to be oily, shiny, or prone to acne breakouts, selecting kid skincare products that fight infection, inflammation, and the spread of bacteria is vital. Our Z-Blast Spot Treatment contains 2% salicylic acid to help fight acne issues. Since your tween’s oily skin produces more oil than it needs, help them establish a cleansing routine at least twice a day with a kid skincare face cleanser followed by the acne spot treatment for optimal results.  


Sunscreen for All Types of Skin

Using a sunblock every day is imperative. Too many of us only wear sunblock when we are lying out on the beach, but it is a must for everyday skin care. Sunblock provides the necessary protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays, decreasing your teen's risk of cancer and sun damage. Kidskin Daily Sunscreen SPF30 provides all-natural protection on even the sunniest of days! Our lightweight formula will provide the protection their young skin needs without the greasy buildup they hate.

 Woman looking at the ocean on the beach

Best Practices for All Skin Types

Regardless of what type of skin your teen has, there are several basic kid skin care steps your child should practice daily for radiant, well-hydrated skin.


Stay Well Hydrated: 

Your teen’s skin is their largest organ, and without proper hydration, their skin can appear dry, flaky, and dull. By drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, your teen will flush out the toxins that may appear as acne and other blemishes on their face.

Maintain a Well-Balanced Diet:

We know—this isn’t the most desirable item on the list, but it is incredibly effective! Maintaining a balanced diet will ensure your teen gets the proper vitamins and nutrients for their overall health and wellbeing. Yes, this even includes smooth, hydrated, clear skin! Filling up on fruits and veggies will offer:

  • antioxidants
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
  • folate
  • omega-3 fats

Avoiding sugary and processed foods will help maintain balance in their skin while supporting the reduction of frequent breakouts.


Practice Healthy Sleep Habits:

We know today’s kids have a lot on their plates but maintaining a healthy sleep routine is imperative to their overall health. Sleep is also when the body does its best repair work. With the proper amount of rest, they can boost moisture retention, reduce breakouts, and improve texture and tone.


Wash Your Face Daily: Whether your child has normal, combination, dry, or oily skin, a daily face cleanser is beneficial for keeping their skin clear and glowing. Your teen should use a gentle face cleanser suited for their type of skin day and night. For super oily or acne-prone skin, a third cleansing is helpful mid-afternoon or following extra-curricular activities that may cause additional oil buildup.



Skincare for teens doesn’t end with a great face cleanser; they should always follow up with a hydrating moisturizer. Kidskin Calming Moisturizer for Kids is designed for sensitive skin types but can be used by all skin types to soothe skin, clear imperfections, and protect from elements. This gentle, non-greasy lotion will also protect your teen’s skin from further damage.

Now that you and your teenager have a better sense of their skin type, they can begin building a personalized skin care routine using products that will keep their skin healthy and clear. Kidskin’s mission is to help all teenagers live happy, healthy, and confident lives, and that begins with proper skin care! 

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