- Serums deliver a concentration of active ingredients to the skin.
- Combination skin can tolerate most common serum ingredients.
- Some serum ingredients should only be applied at night and not in combination with other ingredients.
Serums can be an effective part of your daily skin care routine to deliver vitamins and antioxidants to your skin. They’re usually water-based, oil-free and formulated with small molecules so that the active ingredients can be absorbed easily into the skin.
If you have combination skin, the best serum for you is one that can improve the overall look and feel of your skin without aggravating the extremes that your skin gravitates toward.
Combination skin is characterized by an oily forehead, nose and chin (the T-zone) but dry cheeks and jawline. This skin type is often oilier in the summer and drier in the winter.
Serums can address the challenges encountered by those with this skin type in several ways: by managing acne, brightening and hydrating the skin, and erasing fine lines.
If your combination skin is acne-prone, regular use of an anti-acne serum can help control breakouts. Since you probably experience breakouts just on the oily areas of your face, this type of serum should be applied only to these areas.
Dryness often translates to dullness. A brightening serum can address dull, dehydrated skin and leave combination skin with a healthy glow. It can also reduce the appearance of dark spots.
A skin-brightening serum can be used on the entire face as it shouldn’t have a negative effect on either oily or dry skin.
Hydration is key to skin health. A daily hydrating serum can plump up your skin while actively encouraging the body’s production of acids and lipids to retain moisture in the long term.
Hydrating serums work well for combination skin because they are oil-free and can be used on the entire face to add moisture without causing blemishes.
Treat fine lines
Fine lines are usually the result of sun damage and the loss of collagen and elastin. Many anti-aging serums are formulated to reverse collagen loss and photoaging, the signs of aging due to sun exposure.
A serum that targets fine lines can be strategically applied to the areas that need it most, such as around the eyes and mouth.
Active Ingredients to Look for in Serums for Combination Skin
Combination skin can benefit from a wide number of active ingredients that promote skin’s health.
Regular use of Vitamin C can brighten dark spots and skin discoloration without negatively affecting your natural skin tone – a concern in other skin-brightening products.
Its myriad benefits make a vitamin C serum an ideal product to start with when incorporating serums into your skin care routine.
A close second on the list of most effective ingredients for combination skin is hyaluronic acid (HA).
HA occurs naturally in the body and is a humectant, meaning it attracts and retains moisture. Its low molecular weight helps HA penetrate the skin to plump up fine lines and wrinkles.
An HA serum can be used in your everyday skin routine. It’s ideal for combination skin because it locks-in moisture without adding excess oil.
Two B vitamins have been proven to benefit the skin when applied topically.
This vitamin can also reduce the appearance of large pores and reduce dryness – two common concerns of those with combination skin.
Vitamin B5, otherwise known as panthenol, has been demonstrated to deeply moisturize the skin.
This AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid) chemically exfoliates skin, making it effective for both dry and oily areas of your face. As it sloughs off dead skin cells, it prevents breakouts and brightens dull, dry complexions.
Another AHA, salicylic acid is beneficial for combination skin but may require some caution. Because it decreases sebum production, it should only be applied on the oily areas of your face, and not necessarily every day.
Vitamin E is both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. It smooths out skin texture, making it effective for combination skin that appears rough or uneven.
Not only is ferulic acid a powerful antioxidant, it can also boost the effectiveness of other antioxidants. It reduces the appearance of dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
Active Ingredients to Avoid
Combination skin can have a multitude of concerns ranging from dry patches to active acne. This means that there aren’t any ingredients that must, as a rule, be avoided altogether by people with combination skin.
Instead, it’s important to use certain ingredients sparingly and target your applications to the appropriate areas.
There are, however, some combinations of ingredients that should be avoided.
Vitamin C with retinol
On their own, both ingredients can be effective for combination skin. However, vitamin C and retinol work optimally in different pH environments. If applied together, they won’t be as efficient at delivering their anti-aging effects.
There is a way to obtain benefits from both. Simply wear vitamin C during the day and retinol at night, taking care to cleanse your face thoroughly in the morning.
AHAs with other AHAs
Although glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid individually work well to improve skin texture and prevent blemishes, AHAs should not be used together. If applied at the same time, their compounded exfoliating abilities may leave you with dry, irritated skin.
How to Use Serums in Your Combination Skin Routine
As a rule, skin care products should be applied beginning with the product that’s thinnest in consistency to the thickest. When layering products, allow time for each layer to dry to prevent pilling, or collecting on top.
Some serums are better suited for use at night than day. Any serum containing retinol, vitamin A or AHAs should be used at night as they can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
If your combination skin is on the oily side, you may be able to use a hydrating serum during the day in place of a moisturizer. But if you omit the moisturizer, you’ll still need to wear sunscreen containing at least SPF 30.
Sensitive combination skin precautions
Those with combination skin that’s also sensitive need to be more mindful of what products they use and when they use them.
For instance, sensitive skin is more susceptible to sun damage due to its weakened protective barrier against the external environment. To avoid damage or further irritation, it is advised to protect your skin and only use vitamin C at night.
The high strength of serums may cause irritation in sensitive skin. One way to prevent this is by breaking the thin-to-thick product application rule and applying your serums after moisturizing. This allows your skin to receive a more toned-down version of the product’s benefits.
Due to their powerful active ingredients, the regular use of serums can improve the health of your combination skin.
The best results will be achieved by targeting your application of ingredients to the areas where they’re needed and avoiding certain combinations of ingredients, such as retinol with vitamin C.
If you have sensitive, easily irritated skin, take special precautions such as avoiding daytime use of vitamin C.
With time, the regular use of a serum will improve the overall look and feel of your combination skin.
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