All skin types require some amount of care – that’s pretty obvious. But, the most challenging to manage is combination skin.
As the name suggests, combination skin is a combination of skin types – usually dry, oily, and sensitive.
If you have combination skin, your skin won’t be happy with products meant for either dry or oily skin types, and you will need an exceptional product.
Here’s a look at what combination skin is and how to recognize it. We also give you some helpful tips on choosing the best face moisturizer for combination skin and some expert face care tips for your skin.
Table of Contents:
- What does combination skin look like?
- What is the T-zone?
- Sebum production
- Heat and humidity
- Hormonal imbalances
- Using different products
- Notice how your skin feels
- Notice the pores on your face
- Notice the condition of your skin after cleansing
- Notice how often you need to use a face moisturizer
- Choose lightweight lotions
- Go with non-comedogenic products if your skin feels extra oily
- Avoid products with comedogenic ingredients
- Avoid ingredients that will harm your skin
- Choose oil-free formulas
- Choose hydrating ingredients
- Use two types of moisturizers
What does combination skin look like?
According to cosmetic surgeon Dr. Hooman Khorasani, there is non-uniform oil production in combination skin. So, people with combination skin have dry and oily areas on their faces.
There are excessively active oil glands in the T-zone, making that area oily. Simultaneously, there are less active oil glands on the rest of the face that cause those areas to be dry and sometimes sensitive.
While an oily T-zone is most common with combination skin, not everyone who has combination skin has an oily T-zone. Some people might have a dry T-zone while the rest of their face is oily.
What is the T-zone?
The T-zone on the face is the area across the forehead and down the nose to the tip of the chin. The area typically forms a “T,” giving it the name T-zone.
That is the area with sebaceous glands and more prominent pores. This area tends to be very oily in people with combination skin because of the very active oil glands.
What causes combination skin?
If you have combination skin, you probably wonder what’s causing it and what you can do to prevent it from getting worse.
Here are the most common causes for combination skin:
Sebum production is the leading cause of combination skin. Sebum is a yellowy, oily, and waxy substance produced by the sebaceous glands. The production of sebum is normal and is, in fact, necessary to coat, moisturize, and protect the skin. However, an excess of sebum production leads to oily skin or, in the case of combination skin, an oily T zone.
Heat and humidity
Heat and humidity directly impact the appearance of sebum. For this reason, people with acne-prone skin see an increase in breakouts during summer and high humidity conditions. Sweating and clogging pores together can exacerbate the situation.
It’s pretty common for people living in warmer climates and places with high humidity to have combination skin.
According to Co-Director of Research, Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, Omer Ibrahim, MD, skin responds to temperature, weather, pollution, humidity, and stimuli. So, it’s not surprising that many people constantly juggle with changing skin in response to the outside world.
Hormonal imbalances occurring during specific periods of life (puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or when starting or stopping birth control pills) can cause the sebaceous glands to become overactive. During these times, the glands produce large amounts of sebum around the T-zone.
Using different products
Overusing or misusing skincare products can cause a wide range of skin problems like skin pH imbalance, clogged pores, and dryness that happen simultaneously.
Signs and symptoms of combination skin
Specific characteristics differentiate combination skin from other skin types. If you wonder whether you have combination skin, look for these signs and symptoms.
Notice how your skin feels
Yes. The texture of your skin on any given day of the week can reveal a lot about your skin’s true nature.
If you have combination skin, you might notice an oily T-zone while the rest of your skin remains dry. You might also see oily and dry skin in different areas.
Another possibility is that your skin might shift from oily to dry and vice versa as environmental conditions or the seasons change.
Whatever the case, the bottom line is this: Two or more skin textures on your face is a sign that your skin type is a combination.
Notice the pores on your face
The size and condition of the pores on your face will tell you a lot about the kind of skin you have.
People with combination skin tend to have large pores around the nose that are often clogged because of the excessive oil production around this area. The pores on the rest of the face are small or unnoticeable.
Notice the condition of your skin after cleansing
If you have combination skin, you will notice the oily areas feel squeaky clean and fresh after cleansing, but the dry areas feel tight and exceptionally dry.
So, if you have an oily T-zone like most people with combination skin do, then you will notice the T-zone feels fresh, clean, and moisturized. But your cheeks and the rest of your face feel dry and taut.
Notice how often you need to use a face moisturizer
Most people use a face moisturizer every day to keep their face moisturized and hydrated. However, how frequently you require a moisturizer is a good indicator of your skin type.
If you have combination skin, you might find that some areas of your face get dry during the day and need to be moisturized.
In people with combination skin types, the dry areas are mostly the cheeks, jawline, neck, and under-eye regions and temples. The forehead, nose, and chin (t-zone area) feel comfortable and might even be oily.
How to choose the best face moisturizer for combination skin
While combination skin is pretty common, it can be hard to look after. When you have combination skin, your skin does not fit into any specific category like dry, oily, or sensitive skin.
It’s a combination of all these skin types, with some people experiencing more dryness while others are experiencing more oiliness or sensitivity.
People with combination skin have difficulty figuring out what’s happening with their skin because they sense a bit of everything.
Here are some tips from dermatologists to choose the best face moisturizer for combination skin.
Choose lightweight lotions
If you have combination skin, you might be better off opting for a light lotion rather than a heavy cream.
Choose a gel or water-based face moisturizer that hydrates your skin without making it feel heavy or sticky.
A light lotion will hydrate and moisturize the dry areas of your skin without causing problems on the oily T zone.
Apply a thin layer of lotion over your entire face. Next, apply another layer of the lotion only over the dry areas while avoiding the oily areas.
Go with non-comedogenic products if your skin feels extra oily
The term “comedo” or “comedone” refers to the earliest form of acne and refers to blocked pores. Non-comedogenic face moisturizers are designed to reduce the blockage of visible pores.
A face moisturizer with a non-comedogenic formula can moisturize your skin without blocking your pores (or with a reduced chance of clogging pores).
Some non-comedogenic formulas contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, oils like grapeseed oil, and salicylic acid.
Non-comedogenic face moisturizers usually steer clear of emulsifiers and thick oils.
Sometimes, non-comedogenic products can cause a breakout. If you see whiteheads or blackheads after using a non-comedogenic face moisturizer, stop using it.
Avoid products with comedogenic ingredients
Comedogenic ingredients are those ingredients that can cause pores to clog. According to board-certified dermatologist Jeremy Brauer, the list of pore-blocking ingredients includes many oils, butter, acids, alcohols, lanolins, and propylene glycol.
Note: Some fantastic combination skin face moisturizers do contain comedogenic ingredients. If these comedogenic ingredients are at the end of the list of ingredients, the product should be safe to use.
Avoid ingredients that will harm your skin
Combination skin needs extra attention. Stay away from products with abrasives like fragrances, retinoids, and alcohol. These can rob your skin of its natural oils, make dry areas drier, and cause skin imbalances.
Choose oil-free formulas
Oil-free formulas can safely be used on oily t-zones and the dry areas of your face. These formulas provide all the skincare benefits your skin requires without causing breakouts.
Choose hydrating ingredients
Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, aloe vera, niacinamide, and squalene are all superior hydrating ingredients. They will keep both the oily and dry areas of your face hydrated, balanced, and nourished. When looking for the best face moisturizer for combination skin, look for these products to help care for your skin.
Use two types of moisturizers
Instead of a single face moisturizer skin, opt for a light water-based moisturizer for the oily areas and a heavier cream for the dry areas.
Best face moisturizers for combination skin
WOW Skin Science Hyaluronic Acid Water Gel is perfect for combination skin, and it helps soothe dry skin by delivering deep hydration. This water-based gel fights dryness, spots, a blotchy complexion, and wrinkles.
Hyaluronic acid provides deep hydration and banishes the first signs of aging. Vitamin E and B5 work on repairing dry skin. The water-gel formula is non-greasy, lightweight, oil-free, and non-comedogenic.
WOW Coconut Water Full Cream with Hyaluronic Acid gives your skin the deep hydration and nourishment it needs without clogging your pores – perfect for combination skin.
Coconut water is rich in minerals, vitamins, and amino acids needed to provide deep moisture to sensitive and dry skin without excess oil. Coconut water is also known to control aging by boosting your body’s natural collagen production. Hyaluronic acid and Vitamins B5 and E provide hydration for soft, dewy, and nourished skin.
WOW Skin Science Aloe Vera Multi-Vitamin Face Cream is perfect for the dry areas of your combination skin. The dry areas of your skin are prone to skin aging and damage, which the cream’s antioxidant properties successfully stave away. The emollient-rich, non-sticky formula is perfect for the dry areas of your face, improving your skin’s overall texture and appearance.
Aloe vera extracts nourish and soothe the sensitive and dry areas of your skin. Niacinamide and D Panthenol nourish your skin and restore its cellular structure. Moroccan argan and sweet almond oil provide nourishment and moisture and improve your skin’s texture.
Combination skin face care tips
Here’s a quick skincare routine for combination skin.
- Use a gentle facial cleanser twice a day.
- Avoid aggressive exfoliation.
- Keep your skin hydrated with the right face moisturizer.
- Blot away oil.
- Use eye cream.
- Use sunscreen.
Combination skin is one of the most challenging skin types to manage because it combines two or more skin types. Finding the best face moisturizer for combination skin is the first step to taking care of this skin type. The right moisturizer can help control dryness and the oily T zone. When choosing a face moisturizer for combination skin, look for moisturizers rich in non-comedogenic ingredients. With a bit of care and the right face moisturizer, you can sport healthy, moisturized, and oil-free skin.