Truth About Skin Types: An Interview with Dr Leslie Baumann

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

I get this a lot.

You’re told there are only 5 skin types (normal, oily, dry, combination, sensitive), but your skin has other ideas. Try as you might, you can’t fit neatly into any of these categories.

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I recently had the pleasure to interview Dr Baumann and ask her about her skin types classifications, how you can identify your skin type and the future of skincare:

1. Hello, Leslie! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what made you decide to become a dermatologist?

I was always fascinated with female CEOs like Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden. I collect vintage cosmetic ads and compacts. This was a hobby.

I wanted to be a doctor starting in first grade. My uncle was the Chairman of Dermatology in Galveston,Texas. He was very active in discovering the first antifungal medications. He inspired me to do dermatology.

When I was a dermatology resident, people were starting to talk about Botox. I realized that the two loves could come together. I decided to dedicate myself to cosmetic dermatology research, even though at that time there was no such thing as cosmetic dermatology. (They only had chemical peels and sclerotherapy!).

2. You’ve devised a new way to classify skin types. According to your research, there are 16 different types! Can you tell us more about that?

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For the past decade or so, skin typing has focused on normal, dry, oily and sensitive. The problem with these classifications is that they provide very little information about the skin and consumers are generally incorrect when assessing their own.

I set out to create an entirely new skin-typing system, which was the basis of my New York Times-bestselling book, The Skin Type Solution (2005) and a PBS Special of the same name in 2010.

The 16 Baumann Skin Types® described in the book have been adopted by doctors to use in their offices using a methodology exclusive to the Skin Type Solutions Franchise System. This system is present in over 70 dermatologist’s offices and allows physicians to accurately diagnose a patient’s skin type and prescribe a customized skincare regimen for their patient.

3. According to your book, skin can be oily, dry, sensitive, resistant, pigmented, non-pigmented, wrinkled and tight. Most of these terms are self- explanatory but what does resistant and tight refer to?

Resistant skin is resistant to inflammation so less likely to get acne, redness and rashes. Tight skin is under 30 with good lifestyle habits.

4. Can you give us a few tips on how to identify our skin type? What should we be on the lookout for?

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The best thing you can do for your skin is to get properly diagnosed by a physician and or take the quiz in my book.

5. What determines what skin type we have and does it change over the years?

There are a lot of factors that determine your skin type such as whether your skin is oily, dry, sensitive, wrinkle prone etc. Yes, it can change over the years if you use the proper skincare.

6. Once a woman has identified her skin type, what steps can she take to get better care of her skin?

She should see her dermatologist to get the correct diagnosis and ensure she is using the proper skincare regimen.

7. What should we look for in a skincare product? What makes a product good?

The most important are ingredients – ALWAYS – you need to know if there are ingredients that you may be allergic to. For example, you need to know if there are ingredients that could cause you to break out (Mineral oil, Dimethicone, Tints in Sunscreens and Foundations etc.).

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Rosacea patients need to be careful of ingredients that could irritate their skin, like Vitamin C or Acids. Ingredients like oxygen, hyaluronic acid, stem cells, and peptides cannot penetrate the skin, rendering them useless.

You have to also be careful not to use a product that has ingredients that can render the active ingredient useless, Vitamin C ( L – Ascorbic Acid ), Glycolic (AHA), and salicylic acid and kojic acid can break down Retinols/Retinoids and vitamin C.

What products are layered over other products also matters. I love Vitamin C; however, it has to be packaged in a dark container as exposure to light breaks it down. Vitamin C used in the AM before your sunscreen is the best time to apply as it can slow down melanin production and protect from sun damage.

However, you have to be careful about what products you layer over vitamin C. Waiting 15 minutes after application of a Vitamin C products can help the situation. When I design skin care regimens for my patients- I take all of this into account.

8. What’s in the future of skincare?

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The role of genetics in skin condition. I am interested in skin type genetics but genetics in general is so interesting.

Thank you, Dr Baumann!

You can keep up with Dr Leslie Baumann at her website. If you want to properly identify your skin type and learn how to take proper care of it, read her book, The Skin Types Solution (review coming soon!).

What’s your biggest takeaway from this interview? Let me know in the comments below.

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