If you’ve noticed that you experience dry areas of skin on certain parts of your face, with an excess of oils in areas like the T-zone or your chin, you might have combination skin. It can be tricky to figure out how to care for your skin properly considering that different parts of your face have entirely different needs.
When you have combination skin the only way to achieve balance is by following a skin care routine that addresses all of your skin concerns. Ahead, learn how to tell if you have combo skin, plus tips on how to treat combination skin and the best skin care products to add to your routine.
What is Combination Skin?
Combination skin is when the skin has a mix of oily and dry skin characteristics. This means your skin may be dry in areas like the cheeks, while it may be oily in areas like the T-zone, forehead and chin.
The duality of combination skin can make it difficult to identify the right skin care and makeup routines for your unique skin type. The reason is that you have two issues to focus on rather than one and a routine for dry skin typically does not work for oily skin. Rather than picking and choosing which issues you address, the best way to balance your combo skin type is by confronting both.
How to Identify Combination Skin
You’ll know you have combination skin when you feel like you’re dealing with two different skin types at the same time. When you have oily skin, you can expect to deal with a greasy-looking complexion, blackheads, frequent breakouts and enlarged pores in the T-zone. With dry skin, you can expect dry patches, skin that feels tight, flaking and dullness.
When you have combination skin, your cheeks, temples and eye area tend to be dull and dry, whereas, the other parts of your face, like your T-zone and chin, are oily. Another good indication of combination skin is if you notice a change in your skin with the different seasons. It’s not uncommon for combo skin to lean oilier in the summer and drier in the winter.
If not the seasons, it could be your skin shifting throughout the day. This means starting off matte and getting oilier as the day progresses and your natural oils shine through. At the end of the day, if your cheeks look dry but your forehead is oily, you probably have combination skin. If you struggle with finding the right foundation that won’t make your face look too greasy in some parts or too dry in others, you probably have combination skin.
What Causes Combination Skin?
The main cause of combination skin is the presence of overactive oil glands in the T-zone. However, the overproduction of oil can be caused by a number of different factors, such as hormones, stress, weather and genetics. While these factors are often out of your control, you can adjust your skin care routine for combination skin and lifestyle choices to make your combination skin more manageable.
What Types of Products Are Best for Combination Skin?
When you have combination skin, managing your overactive oil glands without irritating the dry areas of your face is as important as it is difficult. Here are three things to look for when looking for products to address your combo skin type.
1. AHAs and BHAs
Chemical exfoliation works well for combination skin because it removes the top layer of dead skin and unclogs pores. Products with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are helpful at keeping oils at bay, but you don’t want to overuse them with the risk of causing irritation.
2. Water-Based Formulas
Water-based products are often lightweight and gentler on the skin than their oil-based counterparts. Plus, most of them tend to have a shine-free finish which is really beneficial when you have overactive oil glands. When you have oily skin, you want to avoid products with oils because, as you can probably guess, they will only make your face oilier. Add a water-based moisturizer to your combination skin care routine and consider switching to a water-based foundation.
3. Oil-Free, Non-Comedogenic Formulas
Along with water-based products oil-free and non-comedogenic products are another good thing to look for because they won’t make your face feel oily or lead to clogged pores. Non-comedogenic means the product does not contain pore-clogging ingredients. When you have oily skin, you tend to experience more breakouts and avoiding products that clog your pores can help to manage that.
How to Care for Combination Skin
Check out these helpful skin care tips to help you create a skin care routine based on your combination skin’s needs.
1. Use a Gentle Facial Cleanser
Many people with oily skin think that they need to use a harsh cleanser to dry out their skin’s natural oils, but according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it’s actually the opposite. A harsh cleanser can irritate your skin, leading to a spike in oil production — the exact thing you’re trying to avoid. Instead, you’re better off choosing a gentle facial cleanser that won’t strip your skin.
2. Add Routine Exfoliation to Your Routine
If you have combination skin, exfoliating dead skin cells is key to keeping your complexion smooth and glowy. Whether that be with a serum, a toner or a face scrub, routine exfoliation will help to buff away the layer of dead skin, revealing a velvety and radiant complexion.
3. Never Skip Moisturizer
Regardless of your skin type, moisturizer is non-negotiable if you want your skin to look and feel its best. For combination skin, opt for a non-comedogenic moisturizer that’s hydrating without feeling sticky or greasy, like a water cream. This way, it won’t feel heavy on the skin, but the formula will allow you to address both the dry and oily parts of your face.
4. Avoid Touching Your Face
This is easier said than done since many of us don’t even realize that we’re doing it most of the time. Your hands carry a lot of bacteria and dirt, and you don’t want to transfer that to your face, as it could end up clogging your pores. So, avoid getting too handsy with your visage as best you can — whether you have combination skin or otherwise.
5. Blot Away Oil
If you’re struggling to combat greasiness in your T-Zone, try reaching for blotting papers. These papers are easy to fit in your bag and serve as a quick, effective way to banish an oily complexion without ruining your makeup.
If the blotting papers aren’t enough to keep your oily T-zone at bay, try a mattifying primer, like the L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab Up to 24H Matte Setter. Best suited for oily and combo skin, this makeup primer has a lightweight, non-comedogenic formula that effortlessly reduces shine and extends your makeup wear time for up to 24 hours.
6. Make Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Your BFF
Much like the way moisturizer is necessary for all skin types, so is SPF. While skipping on SPF from time to time may not seem like a big deal — it is. Doing so can accelerate visible signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots, plus, it can exacerbate dryness and make your complexion look dull.
7. Treat Your Complexion to a Face Mask
Multi-masking is a great skin care practice for combination skin. It’s all about simultaneously applying different face masks to various areas of your face depending on what each area needs. Try using a purifying clay mask in your T-Zone and greasy areas to manage oils and draw out impurities. On the drier areas, go for a hydrating face mask that will work to plump and brighten your skin.
8. Tend to Your Dry Under-Eyes
The under-eye area is not only one of the first areas to show signs of aging, but it can also be prone to dryness, especially when you have dry or combination skin. To ensure you’re tackling skin concerns like fine lines and wrinkles, as well as dark circles and dehydration, add an eye cream or eye serum to your morning and evening skin care routine.
The Best Skin Care Products for Combination Skin
Now that you know how to properly care for your combo skin, it’s time to upgrade your top shelf. Below, discover some of the best skin care products for combination skin.
When you have combination skin, you have to take both of your skin types into account and using a gentle cleanser is not only better for the oily parts of your skin, but the dry ones, too.
This micellar water is a great option for combo skin types because it removes makeup and purifies the skin without being harsh.
Reach for it in the evening as a first cleanse to remove makeup before following up with a secondary, water-based cleanser, like the L’Oréal Paris Ideal Clean All Skin Types Foaming Gel Cleanser, to remove any leftover dirt and impurities.
If you’re looking to add gentle, chemical exfoliation to your combination skin care routine, give this hydrating toner a go. Formulated with the AHA glycolic acid, this fragrance-free treatment works to gently smooth the skin’s texture, remove dead skin cells and reveal glowing skin with daily use. Use it in the evening, after cleansing and before applying serums and moisturizer.
L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream
This silky, water cream has a lightweight texture that can moisturize combination skin without feeling heavy. Thanks to hyaluronic acid and ceramides, it deeply hydrates while acting like a glue to seal in moisture and strengthen the skin barrier. Plus, it also plumps fine lines and reveals smoother, bouncy skin in just two weeks.
If you struggle with finding the right SPF for your fussy, combination skin, try this sunscreen. The lightweight finish won’t feel sticky or heavy on the skin and the fragrance-free formula won’t leave a white cast on any skin tone. It’s formulated with UVA and UVB filters to provide broad spectrum protection from sun rays that cause aging and burning, plus, vitamin C and vitamin E to protect against environmental damage that can exacerbate visible signs of aging.
Enhanced with purifying charcoal, this indulgent, clay face mask functions to balance oil for combination skin types, drawing out impurities and tightening your pores. The creamy, non-drying formula leaves the skin feeling clean and refreshed while revealing a visibly brighter and radiant complexion with just one use. apply it to the oily areas of your combination skin a few times a week.
This overnight mask is a great choice for combination skin because it works to reduce wrinkles, brighten and firm the skin while hydrating it. Combination skin is multi-faceted and so is this overnight mask. Use it while you multi-mask to target the dry areas of your face or slather it over the dry parts of your complexion before bed to treat the non-oily areas while you sleep.
Most people with combination skin tend to have dry under-eyes and this eye serum is perfect for addressing that. With a formula that includes hyaluronic acid and caffeine, it works to address fine lines, wrinkles and puffiness while hydrating and visibly brightening the delicate under-eye area. The added bonus is the metal, triple ball applicator that acts as a soothing massage when you apply it to your under-eyes.
Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Production Assistant: Jason Parigian, Digital Tech: Sam Kang, Photo Assistant: Hannah Lewis-Lopes, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Stylist: Melina Kemph, Wardrobe Assistant: Kayla Martinez, Prop Stylist: Katrina Rozeville, Prop Assistant: Zach Molina, Model: Alexandra Cunningham
Discover more tips & tricks
Keep your skin happy
Shop Featured products