Here’s Why We Need To Listen To Our ‘Skin Mood’ And Not Our Skin Type

"While a skin type is a fixed thing, a skin mood allows for much more nuance"

A couple of months ago my brother came to me looking for some skincare advice, after using a literal bar of soap to wash his face for years and seeing no results. He has normal/combination skin, with the odd dry patch and break out, and wanted a very low maintenance routine.

After doing some research, I came back to him with the best cleanser, moisturiser, and treatment for him to use, choosing products that suited his exact skin type. Between you and me, it was a highly stressful task and I wasn’t entirely confident that the bits I sorted him with would be as miracle inducing as he anticipated, but nonetheless, I tried.

A few weeks had passed and, as predicted, the products he was using didn’t give him the results he wanted. “These things don’t work,” he said, his dry patches had subsided and now he wanted to focus attention in zapping away his breakouts, I said:

“The products probably aren’t working because your skin is more oily at the minute, and when I chose those I only had your normal/combination skin in mind. I can’t find one product that will sort out every single skin issue you have now and might have in the future.”

And there it is, the perfect cautionary tale in why using products based on your skin type isn’t always fool-proof. 


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On average, our skin varies from day to day, week to week, and season to season. This makes our skin entirely unique and often extremely complicated. “Our skin is constantly changing, not only seasonally but from one day to the next – in response to our daily environment. In reaction to all these influencing factors our skin constantly sends out signals,” Dermalogica’s Louise O’Brien tells me.

Limiting ourselves to products targeting only our skin type can be reductive, your moisturiser might be able to sort out your dry skin, but it won’t be able to do much for that hormonal break-out you’ll get in a few weeks time. Explaining how ignoring the small but ongoing issues taking place on our skin can harm it over time Louise says:

“On a macro level, we experience these as signs like redness, fine lines, dark spots, and dehydration. But if we could zoom in for a closer view, we’d see that these skin conditions may actually be caused by damage that happens on a microscopic level. By the time we sense signs of distress on the surface of our skin all that microscopic damage or self defense action may have already been triggered so it’s important to regularly assess skin changes and try to determine what has caused the shift.”

Throwing the idea of ‘skin type’ into the waste bin and instead thinking in terms of ‘skin mood’ will help you to step back and actually understand your skin, and why it behaves the way it does. While a skin type is a fixed thing, a skin mood allows for much more nuance. Your skin mood can change depending on what is going on in your life and the environment around you. One day you might need to reach for a salicylic acid to blast some blackheads and the other you might need a sheet mask to bring some much-needed hydration back into your complexion.

Moods come in waves, they change things up a little and then they pass to make way for the next mood, and mastering them means we can get on the right path to our healthiest skin yet. 

Getting that all-encompassing routine in check doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time or money. Instead, Louise first recommends getting to know your skin. You can do this through taking note of any changes you see in it yourself, or you can attend a clinic for a skin mapping consultation if you’re struggling with this alone. Being able to pinpoint your skin issues and why they arise is half the battle in addressing them. Next, all you have to do is be mindful of these changes in your complexion when you’re purchasing skincare.

Instead of spending 50 on a moisturiser or face mask buy a number of products from an affordable brand, meaning you will have an array of different products in your arsenal should any skin issues crop up. If you know your chin erupts in a hormonal breakout on the third week of your cycle each month, buy some salicylic acid, if your cheeks get dry during the summer months, stock up on some hyaluronic acid or a spritz toner.

With brands such as The Ordinary and The Inkey List providing treatments and serums for as little as €5 we’re no longer shackled to the constraints of a skin type, we’re free to dabble here and there and for once actually listen to our skin and what it’s trying to communicate to us.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution – Cloud 10 Beauty

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution

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Dermalogica ultracalming cleanser

pink clay face mask

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