Valerie Monroe
Photo: Jonathan Skow
Q: How can I figure out my skin type?

A: It's easy. Wash your face with a cleanser designed for normal skin; rinse well, and pat dry with a soft towel. Now pick up a copy of Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader. It's a short, funny book, and if you're undistracted you can probably finish it in about an hour. When you're done, it's time to evaluate your skin. How does it feel? If it's tight, ashy, or flaky, your complexion is dry, says Susan Taylor, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University and creator of the skincare line Rx for Brown Skin. If you're oily only across the forehead, down the nose, and on the chin, you've got combination skin; and if you need to blot your whole face with a tissue, you're oily. If your face feels irritated or slightly itchy, you likely have sensitive skin.

Bottom line: Once you've established your skin type, repeat the test four times a year, because your skin probably changes seasonally.

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