- Combination skin is characterized by both oily and dry areas on the face.
- It is caused by genetics, but may be improved by a good skin care routine and exercise
- Combination skin requires the strategic application of products to suit the skin’s varied needs
Combination skin is often considered difficult to care for because it can cause a wide range of skin issues. However, with the right combination of products and a skin care routine targeted at your skin’s unique concerns, it’s possible to keep your combination skin feeling and looking healthy and balanced.
What Is Combination Skin?
Often, this skin type is drier in the winter and oilier in the summer. This is because heat and humidity increases sebum (the oil produced by your skin) production while dry winter air can strip the face of its natural oils.
Causes of combination skin
While combination skin is primarily a matter of genetics, other factors may influence it.
The overuse of harsh skin care products may contribute to uneven levels of oil in your skin. They contain ingredients that may dry the skin and as a result, may trigger the overproduction of sebum in the T-zone. At the same time, dry areas become drier.
How to Tell If You Have Combination Skin
If you experience oiliness in parts of your face at the same time as you do dry patches, it’s very likely you have combination skin. You may also have breakouts on your forehead, nose or chin while the rest of your face is blemish-free.
Best Products for Combination Skin
Because this skin type has a wider range of needs than dry or oily skin, the products you use must be gentle enough to use on the entire face or used as a spot treatment for specific issues.
If your skin has very oily areas, it may be tempting to use a cleanser designed for oily skin. However, cleansers for that skin type are likely too drying for use on your entire face and may encourage the oily areas to overproduce sebum.
Instead, the best cleanser is a gentle cleansing gel or cream. Look for one containing hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, which helps skin retain elasticity, vitamin E, which smooths the skin and calming plant extracts such as aloe vera or chamomile.
Toners are available in a wide variety of strengths and levels of astringency. To adequately address your skin’s needs, one effective strategy is to use two distinct toners applied to the different zones of the face.
First, apply a mild, slightly astringent toner to the entire face. Choose one containing niacinamide to reduce fine lines and other signs of aging, or a soothing cucumber extract.
Follow with a second, more astringent toner containing witch hazel or salicylic acid, which can effectively decrease oil production in the skin. Apply only to the oily areas of your face, as necessary.
Moisturizers and creams
The best moisturizer for this skin type is one that’s light enough for use on the entire face. Gel-based and oil-free formulas hydrate oily areas of skin without causing breakouts. For very dry patches, a heavier, cream-based or oil-based moisturizer works as a spot treatment.
Foundation and makeup
For an oily T-zone, make use of oil-blotting papers to reduce shine without disturbing your makeup.
How to Care for Combination Skin
There are a few specific strategies for caring for this skin type.
Firstly, spot-treat any skin issues that crop up. For example, if you start developing blemishes on your chin, apply a localized treatment rather than an anti-acne face wash, which would be too drying for your face, overall.
For makeup, noncomedogenic products won’t clog your pores and exacerbate acne on the oily parts of your face. If your skin is on the drier side, avoid products containing fragrance as dry, sensitive skin is further irritated by the chemical additives.
Skin care routine for combination skin
A typical skin care routine for this skin type involves balanced, gentle products and the use of an occasional stronger product when necessary.
In the morning, start with a cleansing gel, lotion or other mild cleanser. Avoid drying, anti-acne face washes. Next, use a balancing toner before moisturizing with an SPF-containing product.
Exfoliate once a week, ideally with a chemical exfoliator because the dry parts of your face are likely to be irritated by facial scrubs. Try glycolic acid, which penetrates deeply into pores to dissolve dead skin and impurities.
If your skin has excess oil, use an occasional clay mask on your T-zone to dry out excess sebum.
A few healthy lifestyle habits can help improve the state of your skin.
Daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen is the best way to maintain the overall health of your skin. Choose a product containing SPF 30 and reapply throughout the day.
Exercise may improve skin health by increasing blood circulation, which affects sebum production. However, the efficacy of using exercise to improve the skin has not been studied.
Home Remedies for Combination Skin
DIY face masks and other home remedies are safe to use on your skin as long as you only target the areas that need it.
Here are two masks you can strategically apply to balance your skin.
For the dry areas:
- Mash one-half avocado in a bowl
- Add 1 tsp raw honey and 1 tsp olive oil
- Apply to the cheeks, jawline and any other dry patches on your face
For the oily areas:
- Squeeze 1 tbsp aloe vera gel (fresh from the plant, or a store-bought extract) into a bowl
- Combine with 1 tsp honey
- Apply to your forehead, nose and chin
After 15–20 minutes, wash off both masks.
While recipes such as these are not known to have negative side effects, most DIY remedies found online have not been scientifically proven to work. Commercial products are generally more effective at improving the health of your skin.
Because combination skin often has multiple issues simultaneously, it requires a wider variety of skin care products and extra care in applying them to the different areas of the face.
Any product that you use on the entire face, such as face wash, should have mild formulations to neither dry out nor add oil to the face. Use stronger products only as spot treatments to target specific problems such as breakouts and dry patches. The same principle applies to any DIY remedies designed to tone or moisturize the face.
With strategic use of skin care products, it’s possible to keep combination skin looking healthy, hydrated and blemish-free.
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