Are you trying to tackle dry and oily skin at the same time? Chances are you have combination skin, and of all the skin types, it can be the trickiest one to deal with. Its care routine is often challenging because it needs specific cleansing mechanisms, failing which your chosen product may not work correctly. 

Combination skin means that it is a mix of both oily and dry skin. It has the characteristics of both skin types and their respective issues. It is fairly common too in all parts of the world. However, it can still be cared for. You can do a few things to care for it effectively so that your best skin can shine through. 

What is Combination Skin?

Combination skin is typically oily in some parts and dry in others. Dermatologists state that the cause of this is non-uniform oil glands. The T-zone oil glands are more active than the rest of the face. 

Like other skin types, genetics may also affect the texture of this skin type. However, an imbalance in hormones could potentially cause changes in the

skin. Environmental factors are also known to influence combination skin and so do genetics or medications. 

How do you tell if you have Combination Skin? 

  1. Wash your face and leave it alone for an hour. You have combination-type skin if the T-zone becomes oily while your cheeks and jawline are dry or normal. 
  2. Acne breakouts concentrated along the T-zone, especially during hormonal fluctuations, could signify you have mixed type skin. It supports the observation that your cheeks and scalp feel dry.
  3. Pores along the nose, chin, and forehead are vulnerable to clogging and appear enlarged. 
  4. Patchy makeup that tends to cling to the cheeks results from combination type. 
  5. The oil-to-dry ratio fluctuates with the weather, with warm weather bringing out more oil and cold weather making skin feel drier.
combination skin care routine

Take Care of Your Combination Skin

When you care for your skin, it is necessary that you find a balance between treating the different areas, whether oily or dry. When it comes to products, stick to oil-absorbing or matte-finish formulas for the oily areas, while emollient products are the way to go for dry or normal areas. 

Lightweight formulas with a gel or liquid texture are ideal for the T-zone and oily areas. They also layer well so you can apply them on your entire face. An emollient product like a facial oil, serum, or moisturizer should only be applied over dry areas. 

Products That Dermatologists Recommend for Combination Skin

  1. Cleanser: Removing excess oil is an excellent way to start your skincare routine. The ideal cleanser or face wash for combination-type skin should contain salicylic acid as it helps prevent oil build-up and reduces clogging. 
  1. Toner: Prone to breakouts? A toner will be helpful. The only point worth noting is that it should be a gentle, alcohol-free toner with AHAs and BHAs. Just be sure to use it only on your problem areas. 
  1. Moisturizer: Moisturizer is not the enemy. One of the important facts in choosing a moisturizer for combination skin is to look for one that is water-based, oil-free, and non-comedogenic.
  1. Exfoliator: Gentle exfoliation helps combat excess oil and flaky skin. Ideally, exfoliate with an AHA/ BHA wash or exfoliant pad twice or thrice a week. 
  1. Serum: A retinol-based serum is ideal for combination-type skin as it tackles oil production, dark circles, and wrinkles. 
  1. Mask: Using different clay-based face masks on other skin parts is also a good idea. Kaolin clay masks help prevent dryness, while bentonite clay masks work best on oily areas.
  1. Makeup: When it comes to makeup, stick to lightweight products. The best foundation for this skin type is an oil-free or mineral-based one. Don’t skip out on Moisturizer in your prep. 
  1. Blotting paper: Blotting paper is your friend. It is a great way to absorb excess oil without messing up your makeup. 

The Takeaway

Combination type skin can be tricky, but as dermatologists point out, it all comes down to choosing the right products and following an appropriate skincare routine twice daily. The key lies in selecting products that are gentle and target different areas of the skin as required. 

We recommend consulting a dermatologist before changing your skincare products and regimens. It is also a good idea to do a patch test and gauge your skin’s sensitivity before committing to a product. Combination type skin is like other skin types. The right combination of products and a little TLC is all it takes to bring out your inner glow. 

Products You Use in a Combination Skin Care Routine

If you have a mixed skin type, you need to be extra careful when choosing your skincare products:

  1. Face Cream: The ideal face cream should be made with natural ingredients and free of parabens, sulfates, and silicones. Irrespective of texture, the cream should be easily absorbed into the skin, targeting dry areas while controlling excessive oil production and shine. Hydrating ingredients are essential, too but ensure that the formula is balanced so that it offers just the right amount of hydration without making your skin look oily or greasy. 

If you are opting for a day cream, ensure that it includes SPF protection. Night creams should come with nourishing ingredients that help repair the skin barrier. You can also choose a cream that works as a day and night cream to simplify your routine. 

  1. Face Gel: Gel-based products are water-based and replenish moisture without heavy textures that often cause breakouts. Face gel moisturizers for combination skin usually include hyaluronic acid and antioxidants. 

One may also opt for face gels made of glycerin, flower extracts, watermelon, kale, or watercress extracts, and fatty acids derived from olive oil. In other cases, they may also contain vitamins E, B3, B5, B6, and B9.

Despite their sticky nature at first touch, gels are more easily absorbed into the skin, which helps prevent breakouts, especially around the T-zone. These skincare products reduce hyperpigmentation, diminish wrinkles, and reverse the damage caused by free radicals.

3. Face Scrub: Face scrubs must be used with care, and before incorporating one into your routine, it is essential to gauge your skin’s sensitivity. This will determine how often you should use them. Scrubs with a grainy or sandy texture are ideal as they remove excess oil and dead skin without irritating dry patches. 

Good face scrub for combination skin should contain parabens and sulfates. A sugar-based scrub is a good choice, especially when combined with natural ingredients like kiwi, tea tree extract, and walnut. Other ingredients to look out for in a scrub include manuka honey, beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). 

  1. Face Wash: Cleansing your face is the start of any skincare routine. But when it comes to choosing a face wash for combination skin, you need to be cautious. Combination skin requires a sophisticated balance which is why not all cleansers work. You need one that can multitask. 

You should opt for a face wash that is gentle, oil-free, removes dirt from pores, and soothes skin. It should be free of parabens and sulfates because they can irritate the skin. You should also look for natural ingredients like green tea extract, aloe vera, and blueberry extract. 

  1. Face Mask: Choosing a face mask for a combination skin type is difficult as you have multiple issues to contend with. The key is to choose oil-free, non-comedogenic masks that hydrate the skin. Clay masks are often the best choice as they remove dirt and excess oil without drying the skin. 

Another option is multitasking, which uses different face masks for other areas of the skin. It allows you to target different problem areas at the same time. Drying ingredients like kaolin clay and salicylic acid are ideal for the T-zone. Vitamin C, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid are other ingredients to look out for. 

  1. Face Toner: When tackling combination skin, a good face toner should offer the best of both worlds – oil-absorbing properties balanced with hydrating ingredients. Essentially, toners need to target the skin’s dry and oily areas. They should also be free of alcohol. 

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic and glycolic acid are trusted ingredients for exfoliation and oil control. Hydrating ingredients are also necessary. Natural ingredients to look out for include lavender, chamomile, red ginseng, grape seed extract, and willow bark extract. Many of these ingredients also help with hyperpigmentation and signs of aging.

  1. Face Moisturizer: Finding the right face moisturizer for combination skin is a little trickier than it is for other skin types. It must be hydrating but non-greasy, lightweight, yet still smoothen. 

These ingredients help nourish, moisturize, and even repair the damage caused to the skin. 

8. Face Foundation: When it comes to foundation combination, skin often calls for skipping out on it. But some foundations are combination skin-friendly. Remember that the best foundation for combination skin must be lightweight, mattifying, and reduce the appearance of blemishes. Hydrating properties are always a bonus. 

The most important thing, though, is that it is oil-free. Some foundations come with acne-fighting abilities, which is something worth considering. You may look for foundations with ingredients like tea tree oil and salicylic acid. If you’re thinking about a liquid foundation combination, skin plays nice. However, several powder formulations have oil-absorbing properties too. 


  1. What is combination skin?

    Combination skin is often defined as skin that is oily in some areas, usually the T-zone. The T-zone comprises the nose, forehead, and chin, while other areas, like the cheeks, jaw area, and hairline, show signs of dryness. 
    Genetics is the leading cause of combination type skin. However, hormonal imbalances and environmental factors can influence skin texture changes. 

  2. What does combination skin mean?

    Combination skin typically displays two or more characteristics. It often manifests as oily skin along the T-zone – forehead, nose, and chin while other areas like the cheeks, jaw area, and hairline are dry. 

  3. How to treat combination skin?

    Like any skin type, following a day and night skincare routine is essential. In the case of combination skin, it is also necessary to choose the right products. These products must also be able to hydrate skin and boast oil-absorbing properties.

  4. How do I know my combination skin type?

    If your T-zone tends to get oily within an hour of washing your face while your cheeks and hairline show signs of drying, chances are you have combination skin. Acne breakouts and makeup clinging to your cheeks are other signs. 

  5. Can combination skin get acne?

    Combination skin is vulnerable to acne, especially around the T-zone, where the oil-producing glands are more active. This increases the chances of pores clogging up, appearing enlarged, and breakouts. 

  6. What should you avoid if you have combination skin?

    Even when choosing a serum combination, skin demands that you choose your ingredients wisely. Mineral oil-based products top the list of things to avoid. Harsh cleansers, abrasive scrubs, and products with synthetic scents are best kept away. You should also avoid comedogenic and alcohol-based products. 

  7. Which is the best sunscreen for combination skin?

    The best sunscreen for combination skin is oil-free but has hydrating properties. It must be lightweight to avoid clogging pores. Gel-based sunscreen is often recommended for this skin type.

  8. What is the proper skincare routine for combination skin?

    Cleansing, toning and moisturizing as an AM and PM routine, with the addition of serum and occasional exfoliation and face, is the ideal skincare routine for combination skin. However, ensure you choose the right products that maintain the fine balance of oil absorption and hydrating properties. 

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