- Combination skin is characterized by having both dry and oily areas
- This skin type benefits from mild products for use on the entire face
- Avoid products for very oily or very dry skin, unless used as spot-treatments
Combination skin has a wider range of issues than other skin types. When developing a skin care routine for combination skin, it’s not only important to find products that can address each skin concern but to apply the products strategically to keep your skin healthy and hydrated.
Understand Combination Skin
Effective Ingredients for Combination Skin
Combination skin benefits from nourishing ingredients that will neither add greasiness to the skin nor strip it of its natural oils.
Vitamin E has antioxidant properties and can smooth out skin texture. This effect is compounded when used in conjunction with vitamin C.
The B vitamin niacinamide has anti-aging effects such as reducing hyperpigmentation and blotchiness.
All of these ingredients can improve the overall health of your combination skin without exacerbating acne or dryness. They can be found in a wide range of products from eye creams and serums to face masks and moisturizers.
Ingredients to avoid
Harsh anti-acne products can harm combination skin if they are used on the entire face. While it’s not necessary to avoid these ingredients altogether, they should only be used strategically on the areas that require them.
Proceed with caution when using products containing benzoyl peroxide, retinol and witch hazel. Skip them altogether when choosing a product such as face wash that is meant to be used across the entire face.
The same principle applies to products designed for very dry skin. Avoid comedogenic or blemish-forming ingredients like coconut oil, camellia oil and sunflower oil. If you are experiencing dryness, only apply heavy moisturizers to the driest parts of your face and avoid the acne-prone t-zone.
Morning Skin Care Routine for Combination Skin
An effective morning skin care routine nourishes your skin while protecting it against any damaging environmental factors you’ll encounter during the day.
- Start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser. This will clean your face without overly drying the dry areas.
- Apply a gentle toner using a cotton pad. If necessary, use a more astringent toner on your t-zone.
- Using a light touch to avoid stretching the skin, apply an eye cream to the under-eye area.
- Moisturize with a light, oil-free moisturizer containing a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30.
Nighttime Skin Care Routine for Combination Skin
Your nighttime skin care routine is the time to both cleanse your face of any accumulated grime from the day and spot-treat any skin issues you’re experiencing.
- Wash and apply toner to your face using the same mild products.
- Apply any serums (containing vitamins C and E or hyaluronic acid, for example)
- Apply eye cream
- Apply a heavier night cream to the rest of the face, skipping the t-zone
Skin Care Routine for Combination Skin with Acne
Salicylic acid is a keratolytic, meaning it breaks down the outer layer of dead skin cells to reveal newer skin beneath. It also decreases oil production and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties making it ideal for fighting blackheads and other forms of acne.
Because salicylic acid can be drying, take care to only apply it to the areas of your face that need it. Start by using it only two or three times a week to see how your skin reacts.
For active breakouts, try using a hydrocolloid patch or other overnight acne spot treatment.
Long Term Skin Care for Combination Skin
Apart from your daily skin care routine, there are a few other things you can occasionally do to keep your combination skin looking healthy.
The occasional use of skin care products beyond your daily regimen can be beneficial to combination skin in the long term.
Face masks, whether store-bought or homemade, can be used about once a week to keep your skin looking its best.
Combination skin can especially benefit from “multi-masking”, which is the application of different masks to different areas of the face.
For instance, you may apply a clay mask on the t-zone to draw out excess oil while at the same time using a more hydrating mask on the dry parts of your face.
Chemical exfoliants can also be used occasionally to maintain your skin’s long-term health. Look for a product containing an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) such as glycolic acid or lactic acid or, if you have sensitive skin, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) such as mandelic acid.
Chemical exfoliants are suitable for use on your entire face—both the dry and oily parts of the face can benefit from them. Exfoliate once or twice a week; more often may irritate the skin.
Lifestyle habits & environmental factors
Regardless of your skin type, the most important thing you can do for your skin in the long term is to wear sunscreen every day and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Because combination skin is largely caused by genetics, it can’t be treated with preventative measures. There is some evidence linking exercise and stress reduction with healthier skin, but the causality of this has not been clinically studied.
While combination skin presents some unique skin care challenges, with the correct selection and application of products it doesn’t have to be difficult to care for.
Establish a simple skincare routine that uses mostly gentle products and save stronger ingredients for only spot treatments. The occasional face mask or exfoliant can also balance oiliness in the face and maintain your skin’s overall health.