Skin Care

What is Combination Skin Type and How to Care for It?



by Lydia


No Comments

There's a lot of buzz around skincare and people throwing terms around. So what is considered normal, oily, or dry skin? What is combination skin? Do you really have sensitive skin, or are you just using the wrong skincare products?

Fortunately or unfortunately, we don't all get to land with perfect, glowy, healthy skin. It needs some work and a level of consistency to work up a healthy balanced complexion, especially if your skin has acne or parts of your face are oily and dry at the same time. Getting radiant, dewy skin means understanding your skin type and how best to treat it.

Skin comes in 4 main types: oily, dry, normal, sensitive, and combination. If you have dry skin in some areas and oily skin in others, you have combination skin. A balancing act between 2 different skin types might seem harder than CrossFit, but once you have the basics, it's actually easier than you might think.

Do You Have Combination Skin?

If you're still not entirely sure, consider a little skin experiment at home. First, wash your face clean, then wait an hour. Then, gently pat blotting sheets on the different parts of your face. Finally, hold each blotting paper up to the light to see how much oil is visible.

If the blotting sheet picks up little to no oil, then you probably have dry skin or normal skin. If the blotting paper has oil from your forehead and nose and no oil on your cheeks, you have combination skin. Finally, if the blotting sheets are saturated with oil from your entire face, then it's likely that you have oily skin.

What Exactly Is Combination Skin?

Let’s first understand what is considered combination skin. As you'd have guessed, this is where you have 2 or more different skin types on your face. So, yes, that's possible, and this condition may fluctuate from season to season.

Despite all its mystery, combination skin is actually thought to be one of the most common skin type for most people. Generally, combination skin type is mostly characterized by dry, flaky skin on the cheeks and very oily skin that comes with the infamous shine. Having combination skin means a constant battle sebum production on the oily areas on your T-Zone (forehead, nose, and chin).

What Are the Other Symptoms for Combination Skin?

A) Large Pores

If you carefully look at your skin, combination skin has larger pores on the oily patches of the T-zone area. This is because the oil glands under your skin in this area produce excess sebum, and with time, your pores can become blocked by dead skin cells, causing the sebum to build up and then enlarge your pores.

This can be a little infuriating, and you’ve likely encountered all the 'miracle' remedies that are designed to make your pores smaller—but that doesn’t exist. This far, there's still no way to reduce the size of your pores physically, but you can make them appear smaller by keeping your pores clean with the right skincare products and regular cleansing.

B) Shiny Skin

If you have combination skin, you'll experience the shine on at least one portion of your face. However, for most, it'll be in the oily T-Zone, which is mainly due to the excess oil production in that area.

C) Blackheads and Whiteheads

When sebum is trapped in your pores and mixes with dead skin cells and dirt, it causes a plug. When that plug is open, it's called a blackhead; it's a whitehead when closed.

D) Dandruff

This isn’t always an indicator for your skin type, but many women with combination skin also have dry scalps with dandruff from studies.

E) Dry Patches and Acne

If you regularly have to deal with dry patches and acne breakouts simultaneously, you likely have combination skin.

What Causes Combination Skin?

I) Genetics 

Genetics will play a large role in the determination of your skin type. Whether you have normal skin, sensitive skin, combination, dry, or an oily skin type, you likely inherited it from your parents.

II) Skin Products

Particular environmental factors also come into play. Some products and lifestyle habits contribute to having a combination skin type. For example, harsh abrasive products containing dry ingredients that over-strip your skin barrier off moisture and its natural oils can work against you instead; by triggering your sebaceous glands to produce excessive oil, which then worsens breakouts.

Using the right products will help you manage the oily skin in your oily areas and won’t give leave you with dry, rough skin. Instead, the right products will have your dry areas softened and smoothed, plus help your pore appear minimized.

What is Combination Skin Routine?

Think conservatively on skincare routines and products. Always go for gentle products that moisturize the dry, flaky patches without triggering excess oil production on the oily areas of your face. General skin care tips include:

  • Only applying treatments for specific issues to the areas needed
  • Go for a water-soluble, oil-free, and gentle cleanser
  • Avoid oil-based products
  • Right after cleansing your face, use a hydrating, non-irritating toner that's soothing and filled with a good amount of antioxidants and skin-replenishing ingredients
  • Moisturizing with a moisturizer that hydrates
  •  Routinely exfoliate

A.M. Routine

For healthy combination skin, consider using products in this order:

  1. Cleanse - Remove all the buildup that occurred overnight
  2. Tone-  Including the right toner in your skin care is vital. The toner helps removes any oil or dirt that your cleanser couldn't. It balances your skin’s pH, which is vital for all the great nutrients to soak in. Grab an alcohol-free toner
  3. Serum- Include serums or treatments that hydrate and protect your skin. Get a serum that contains hyaluronic acid, among other things
  4. Moisturize- You can either opt for two moisturizers or use one that's neutral and non-comedogenic. If you go for 2 moisturizers; choose a creamy formula for the dry areas and a lightweight, water-based formula for the oily parts
  5. Broad-spectrum sunscreen - Opt for a lightweight formula with at least SPF 30. Wear sunscreen every time you go out, whether it’s in the summer with prolonged humid conditions or dead in the winter. Apply 15-30 minutes before you leave the house. Generally, the higher the SPF, the better the protection it gives you; however, no sunscreen will offer you 100% protection from UVB rays

If you like to wear makeup, use lightweight products that are oil-free

P.M. Routine

  1. Remove makeup- If you wore makeup during the day, use a makeup remover that helps keep your pores unclogged and that removes the dirt, giving your skin a chance to breathe
  2. Cleanser- Your nighttime cleanser or face wash should deeply cleanse your skin to remove any makeup remnants and oil buildup
  3. Tone- Use a hydrating toner to remove any stubborn dirt or oil and prepare your skin for the rest of the products
  4. Exfoliate- Use a gentle but efficient exfoliant either once or twice per week, depending on their potency. There are mild stay-on exfoliants that can be used every day. These exfoliants are great in removing dead skin cells, which keep your pores clear and soothe the dry areas
  5. Face mask- Either once or twice per week, try using different facial masks that work best for you. Clay masks and some fruit masks are great for combination skin
  6. Serum/ treatment/ moisturizer-The nighttime skin care routine is generally for stronger products that'll work on your skin as you sleep, so choose ingredient-rich products

For Acne-prone Skin

  • Make sure to use a deep cleanser that has a good amount of salicylic acid
  • Regularly double-cleanse, especially if you wear makeup
  • Always use a toner to remove the excess oil and also to help fight blackheads and blemishes
  • Include antioxidants such as Vitamin C+ Vitamin E to help brighten up the skin and fight hyperpigmentation on acne scars and general skin health

What Products Are Best for Combination Skin?

The key to finding the right skin care products is trying to achieve a balance; products that offer extra moisture to the dry areas without increasing more sweat or oil production. So:

  • Avoid skin care products with fragrance
  • Use non-comedogenic products that don't clog your pores
  • Get a rich moisturizer that strikes a balance; hydrate dry cheeks without triggering oil and sweat glands on your T-Zone to produce more
  • Exfoliation is important on all skin types, but if you have combination skin it can significantly help open and clear out the clogged pores and allow moisture to penetrate the dry areas
  • Don't use products that do the same thing (overlap) simultaneously, like using acids and retinoids. However, you can use sunscreen and antioxidants together
  • Use hydrating cleansers

Some ingredients you should consider in all the steps include:

  • Hyaluronic acid- Hydrates the skin, plumps up fine lines without aggravating the oiliness
  • Salicylic acid- Helps regulate oil production and to keep pores unclogged
  • Lactic acid- Is a great mild exfoliant that helps removes dead skin from dry areas while gently clearing your pores
  • Antioxidants- Help protect you from environmental aggressors. These include Vitamin C

Frequently Asked On What is Combination Skin

1. What is dry-combination skin?

This type of skin is majorly characterized by having dry cheeks and an oily T-zone. This means that most of your sebaceous oil glands are in your T-zone area, so your T-zone produces more sebum than the rest of the face.

2. What is normal-combination skin?

This is where your cheeks are neither oily nor dry, but your T-zone has oily skin.

3. Is aloe vera gel good for combination skin?

Aloe vera gel is great for all skin types, especially if you have dry skin or sensitive skin. It can be used especially by people with combination skin types to relieve dry skin and help keep the skin moist on the oily and dry areas. Its also used to treat various skin concerns and conditions.

4. What natural ingredients work great with combination skin?

For a balanced glowing complexion, ensure that you include skincare ingredients that reduce oil buildup and moisturizing. Look out for ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, cucumber, hyaluronic acid.

To treat combination skin concerns, any board-certified dermatologist would recommend purifying and anti-imperfection ingredients such as Zinc Oxide, BHA, and copaïba. To balance out your active oily areas and eliminate excess sebum, consider ingredients such as bearberry, rice water or powder, green clay, and silica, among others.


Leave a Comment