- Combination skin has both oily and dry areas.
- Choose mild, skin-balancing products to use on the entire face.
- Target problem areas with more concentrated, issue-specific products.
- Maintain your skin’s health by choosing products that include hydrating, exfoliating and anti-aging ingredients.
Combination skin is characterized by having both oily and dry areas. Usually, the forehead, nose and chin (the T-zone) are oily, and the cheeks and jawline are dry.
Proper care of combination skin requires not only using the right skin care products, but knowing where to apply them on the skin. Correct application ensures that the active ingredients are delivered to the areas that need them without irritating the areas that don’t.
How to Care for Combination Skin
As combination skin is characterized by oily and dry areas, it can be challenging to find products that are appropriate for overall use, as these areas have very different needs.
To address this issue, for any product that you use on your entire face, such as foundation, choose a formula that’s appropriate for both oily and dry skin.
For specific issues such as the dry skin on your cheeks or an oily T-zone, apply products designed to treat those specific areas alone.
Types of products for combination skin
If your combination skin is on the oilier side, try light-weight gels and lotions for your cleansers and moisturizers.
Those with drier skin can use heavier products such as creams and even facial oil, but only if it’s applied to the dry areas. To prevent greasiness, choose oil-free formulas for any products you use on the entire face. Avoid bars of soap and cleansing bars, which can further dry out your skin.
Additionally, using water-soluble products on dry areas and oil-soluble products on oily areas can help regulate your skin’s sebum production.
Ingredients to look for in combination skin products
A few ingredients are particularly beneficial for combination skin because they work well on both oily and dry areas and therefore can be used on the entire face.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes collagen growth while brightening skin tone. Because it is one of the most multipurpose skin care ingredients, it is highly beneficial to all skin types including combination skin.
For both oily and dry skin, adequate hydration is important to maintain skin health. Hyaluronic acid (HA) draws moisture into the skin to hydrate without adding any oil that causes breakouts or greasiness in your T-zone. It has also been proven to help skin retain elasticity.
For an anti-aging skin regimen, peptides are a powerful ingredient to consider. Peptides signal the body to produce more collagen and elastin, two proteins that keep skin appearing firm and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Best Exfoliants for Combination Skin
Exfoliation is a key skin care step for combination skin. Regular exfoliation loosens the debris in clogged pores that contribute to acne. Simultaneously, it clears the dead skin cells from the dry parts of your face that can make your skin appear dull and tired.
Three exfoliating ingredients to choose from are glycolic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid, the latter two being gentler and therefore better suited for sensitive skin.
Best Cleansers for Combination Skin
In addition to washing off the day’s makeup, oil and grime, a facial cleanser can provide additional benefits to balance the skin.
If your combination skin has very oily areas, you can use a product containing salicylic acid to regulate oil control and prevent breakouts. For drier skin, choose a moisturizing cleanser containing hyaluronic acid (HA) or vitamin E for deep hydration.
Best Toners for Combination Skin
A toner restores your skin to its correct pH after cleansing and, if necessary, can help with oil control.
If your combination skin is usually blemish-free, you may only require a mild, balancing toner for the entire face. Try one containing glycerin or HA for extra hydration or soothing rosewater and aloe vera; the latter reduces redness.
If you experience breakouts and shininess, you can spot treat those areas of your face with a stronger, anti-acne toner containing astringent ingredients such as witch hazel or salicylic acid.
Best Moisturizers for Combination Skin
It can be difficult to choose a moisturizer for combination skin. Products designed for oily skin can leave the dry parts of your face even drier; richer products geared toward dry skin may be too heavy for the oily areas.
Instead, try applying two products: a lighter one containing HA for the entire face and a richer one with jojoba oil or shea butter for very dry areas.
Best Anti-Aging Serums for Combination Skin
Serums deliver concentrated amounts of anti-aging molecules to help keep your skin smooth and firm.
Apart from the aforementioned vitamin C and peptides, look for vitamin E, which works with vitamin C to reduce sun damage. Another powerful ingredient is niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that has been proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin elasticity and reverse hyperpigmentation.
Retinol is a powerful anti-aging ingredient. A type of vitamin A, it increases cell turnover, promotes collagen production, lightens dark spots and can even reduce acne.
Retinol can be harsh on sensitive or dry skin and causes skin sensitivity to light. Therefore, it should be used only at night on the areas that can tolerate it for a maximum of 2–3 times a week.
Best Sunscreen Products for Combination Skin
The daily use of a sunscreen containing at least SPF 30 is the most effective way to slow the signs of aging and maintain skin health.
Sunscreens are available in two forms: chemical and physical. Skin care and makeup products contain chemical sunscreens, which protect your skin by converting UV rays into heat, but are sometimes irritating to sensitive skin.
Physical sunscreen, usually in the form of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, forms a barrier to block UV rays from reaching the skin. Because physical sunscreen is unlikely to clog pores, it works well for people with acne. It may also be less irritating than chemical sunscreens.
Best Acne Products for Combination Skin
The best acne products for combination skin are those that you can target to treat specific areas of your face.
The type of treatment you choose, whether it be a cream, gel or serum, is less important than ensuring that you only apply the product to the acne-prone areas of skin. This will focus the active ingredients on your oily areas and not dry out the other parts of your face.
Look for products containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or exfoliants such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). These ingredients will cleanse your skin of excess oil and debris while killing the bacteria that causes acne.
Products to Avoid
Avoid products containing alcohol, which is too drying even for the oily areas of your face. Whenever possible, choose products that are fragrance-free; added fragrance is one of the main causes of acquired skin sensitivity.
When you have combination skin, the way you apply your skin care products is as important as the products themselves.
Any products you will use on your entire face, such as foundation or face wash, should be mild and balanced. Only use products designed to treat extreme oiliness or dryness on the areas that need them. This strategy will prevent you from worsening the extremes between the zones of your face.
Some ingredients that work well for all areas of combination skin are vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and peptides. From there, you can build a skin care regimen using other ingredients customized to your skin’s needs.
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