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The modern cosmetic and skin care product market began to take shape in 1915 amidst the intense rivalry between the burgeoning cosmetics entrepreneurs Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, both of whom opened salons that year that would grow into powerful business empires. Since that period, the categories “dry,” “oily,” “combination,” and “sensitive” have been used to characterize what Helena Rubinstein identified as the four fundamental skin types. While these designations were the virtually undisputed standards for understanding skin type, the skin care product and cosmetics markets were growing exponentially, evolving into an innovative multibillion dollar industry, and spawning a new category of products known as “cosmeceuticals,” unregulated cosmetic formulations that may impart some alteration to the biologic function of skin. In fact, these products have become so popular that relatively recent sales figures indicated that $6.4 billion in sales of skin care cosmeceuticals were projected in the US in 2004, an increase of 7.3% from the previous year.1 Such sales expectations have since been exceeded, as by spring 2006, sales of cosmeceuticals in the US had mushroomed to the $12 billion level.2

While the skin care product market has changed significantly and undergone rapid expansion during the past century, relatively few advances have been made in the understanding or classification of skin type. Indeed, the traditional skin-type designations have, in practice, come to be seen as insufficient characterizations particularly in terms of their capacity to guide physicians and consumers toward identifying the most appropriate products. This is especially noteworthy given that more and more products are marketed and designed for specific skin types, often dry or sensitive skin. When a person has dry or sensitive skin, are those individual descriptors the only or defining features? The skin types identified by Rubinstein do not address several other features of skin that have been clinically observed, such as oiliness, resistance, or propensities toward pigmentation or wrinkling. The Baumann Skin Typing System (BSTS) is an innovative approach to classifying skin type that is based on four main skin parameters:

  1. Oily versus Dry;

  2. Sensitive versus Resistant;

  3. Pigmented versus Nonpigmented;

  4. Wrinkled versus Tight (Unwrinkled).

Because these four parameters are not mutually exclusive, evaluating the skin based on all four parameters yields 16 potential skin-type permutations (Table 9-1). The Baumann Skin Type (BST) classification is determined from a questionnaire designed to ascertain baseline skin type identifications as well as assessments after significant life changes, since skin type is not necessarily static.3

TABLE 9-1The 16 Baumann Skin Types

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