The Definitive Guide To Dealing With Combination Skin

By Simone Sydel··  8 min read
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pexels-koolshooters The Definitive Guide To Dealing With Combination Skin

Combination skin is one of the most challenging skin types to maintain because certain areas of your face require one thing while others require something else.

This can make maintaining combo skin and choosing the right products extremely confusing and difficult. However, there are a few hacks you need to know about properly maintaining combination skin.

Below, I will share six ways you can take care of combination skin, but first, let's start by explaining what exactly makes combination skin stand out from other skin types:

What Does Having Combination Skin Mean?

Combination skin usually means that parts of your face stay normal or feel dry throughout the day, while other parts tend to get oily and shiny.

The parts that usually feel normal or dry are the cheeks, the area around the mouth, and the temples, while the forehead, nose, and chin are the ones that usually get oily and shiny. The oily parts of your face are known as the T-zone, indicating that the oil-producing glands are more active here than in other areas. The other drier areas may indicate a normal or a slower function of the oil-producing glands, depending on how dry the skin is.

Combination skin means that parts of your face stay normal or feel dry, while other parts tend to get oily.

Remember that healthy skin naturally falls on the oilier side, so while having drier skin is probably easier to manage, this skin type at a greater risk of discomfort, cracking, irritations, and showing premature lines and wrinkles.

To help you avoid any discomfort or premature lines, here are six things you can start doing to take proper care of your combination skin:

Don't Overdry Your Skin

This is one of the most important things to consider because overdrying your skin can have a negative effect on both the oily and the dry parts.

Dealing with excessively oily areas may be challenging; however, by overdrying your skin, you’re actually causing it to produce more oil and not less. Your skin doesn't have a way to read your mind so it doesn’t know oily areas are something you don’t want. It simply reacts by producing more and more oil to compensate when it feels dried out.

On the other hand, the dry areas can become even more uncomfortable with overdrying and are susceptible to cracking (especially around the mouth), peeling, and irritations.

By overdrying your skin, you’re actually causing it to produce more oil and not less. 

A few possible ways you may be overdrying your skin is by using harsh and stripping cleansers or other skincare products that contain drying and dehydrating ingredients such as alcohols and astringents, not using the right moisturizer for your skin needs, and using an excessive amount of mattifying complexion products and powders.

To avoid all this, try to use products intended for normal or sensitive skin as these tend to be gentler, and deal with excess oil separately by blotting or using a setting powder only in certain areas.

Apply a Hydrating Serum

Hydration is important, no matter the skin type you’re dealing with, because the skin needs moisture to look fresh, plump, and healthy.

Adding a lightweight, hydrating serum into your skincare routine won't exacerbate the oily areas. On the contrary, it will add hydration and send a signal to the sebaceous glands to slow down the excess oil production because the skin is sufficiently hydrated.

Hydration is important, no matter the skin type.

It's worth noting that adding a hydrating serum won't fully stop oil production because healthy skin needs the oil to stay lubricated, but it will definitely help balance out the greasiness.

Consider adding a lightweight serum such as the Vichy Mineral 89 that contains glycerin and hyaluronic acid, both excellent humectants that will help attract moisture into the skin.

Add an Additional, Extra Nourishing Serum to Dry Areas

The dry areas will also benefit from a lightweight hydrating serum, although you will probably need an extra kick of something richer and more nourishing.

Therefore, after applying the lightweight serum all over your face, you may want to consider topping it off with an extra nourishing boost, especially in the drier areas that need it most.

If the "drier" areas are just less oily than the oilier areas and are generally normal, you can use an extra lightweight boost such as the First Aid Beauty Hydrating Serum if you want to stay on the safe side and avoid dehydration. (This isn't necessary, and you can totally skip the extra step if you feel like your skin doesn't need it.)

However, if the dry areas are prominently dry and feel tight, stretched, and uncomfortable, you may want to consider using a richer, more nourishing boost such as the Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Serum to relieve the discomfort and nourish the skin.

Apply Different Treatments in Different Areas

If you’re using targeted treatments for various skin concerns, try applying them only on areas where you have the concern in question. 

For example, if you have pimples in the oily areas of your face, apply your acne treatments only in these areas. There’s no need to apply acne treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or adapalene on other areas of the face where you don't have pimples because these can be incredibly drying, and the effect can be even more intense on areas that are already naturally dry.

Know exactly what your treatments are for and apply them separately where the skin would benefit from them.

If, on the other hand, you’re applying oil to soften extremely dry skin, you may want to avoid using it on areas that are already oily, as this may increase your chances of experiencing breakouts.

Consider Using More Than One Moisturizer

Many professionals recommend using different moisturizers on different parts of the face, depending on the skin concern. You may have already read that using a lightweight moisturizer on the oily areas and a heavier moisturizer on the dry areas can help maintain the confusing needs of combination skin, and this is a piece of good advice.

However, it can get incredibly confusing when trying to navigate which moisturizer to apply where because our face doesn't have clear borders that indicate where the oily or the dry parts start and end. This is why a better option would be to apply a lightweight moisturizer all over the face and neck, and then follow it up with a heavier moisturizer only on areas that need the extra nourishment.

This may seem like wasting a lot of product, but all you need is a pea-sized amount of lightweight moisturizer on damp skin to help the emulsion spread easier and absorb better, and follow it up with a few dots of a heavier, more nourishing balm before the previous moisturizer has fully absorbed into the skin.

Apply a lightweight moisturizer all over and a heavier one only on areas that need extra nourishment.

Both moisturizers will probably last you a long time, and you don't even have to splurge on something pricey (unless you want to) because there are excellent, budget-friendly versions of both options. One of my favorite moisturizers for oily skin is the Naturium Niacinamide Gel Cream, which is incredibly lightweight and has a gel-like texture that absorbs easily into the skin and doesn't leave a greasy layer on the surface. And one of the staples in my routine for whenever my skin is feeling dry and irritated is the La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume, which only requires 2-3 dots to cover the entire face, and a single 100ml bottle lasts me for over a year.

Opt for a Lightweight Sunscreen

Finding the perfect sunscreen can be a challenge for any skin type but especially for confused skin like combination that seems like it can’t decide whether it's going to be normal, oily, or dry.

Which is why you can't go wrong with opting for a lightweight sunscreen that doesn't feel heavy on the face, doesn't make your skin excessively oily, and it's sufficiently moisturizing for dry areas.

When looking for a cosmetically elegant and lightweight sunscreen with a high protection factor, you definitely can't go wrong with La Roche Posay's Ultra-Light Fluid SPF 60 or the Paula's Choice Youth-Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50.

Closing Thoughts

Combination skin isn't impossible to maintain. However, it does require a bit of special treatment because some symptoms such as extreme dryness in certain areas and greasiness in others can be unpleasant.

There’s definitely a gap in the market when it comes to catering to combo folks; however, it’s incredibly difficult to formulate a product that would work for two very different skin types on one face. This is why it's best to mix, match, and cocktail your products and come up with something that works for your individual skin concerns and skin needs.

I'd love to know how you maintain your combination skin, so shoot your replies in the comment section below!

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