Your skin is designed to take care of itself, but it needs a little help. Your skin tells you what it needs and listening can help you give it the TLC it needs to stay bright and balanced. The first place to start can be identifying your skin type, which will be helpful in targeting any skin concerns and creating a tailored routine for an overall healthy and improved complexion.
You're probably already familiar with what a dry skin or an oily skin type might look and feel like. But if you have skin that’s dry in some areas while oily in others, you might have combination skin.
What does combination skin mean? Let’s dive in.
What is Combination Skin?
Combination skin is a frequently-used term to describe people with skin that’s oily in some spots and dry in others.
For many, this means having an oily T-zone — aka your chin, nose, and forehead — while the rest of your face is dry and flaky.
But signs of combination skin type might show up differently in each person. You might have more dry patches and spots than oily ones, or maybe oiliness shows up primarily on your nose instead of your entire T-zone.
If your skin is exhibiting both signs of dryness and oiliness, you might also experience blemishes and blackheads due to clogged pores. Additionally, excess dryness can make your skin look and feel rough and make fine lines more apparent.
What can affect combination skin?
Some people have a tendency for combo skin with oily and dry areas, but the weather, age, diet, hormones, stress, and the products you use can also influence these skin symptoms. For example, elevated testosterone levels can amp up oil production, making you more prone to breakouts. Oxidative stress happens when the balance of free radicals and antioxidants in your body is off. It, too, can contribute to skin issues like excess oiliness, and may even contribute to the development of acne, according to research. And oxidative stress also plays a role in accelerated skin aging, causing the skin to lose moisture more rapidly.
The weather also affects oil production. And if you have combination skin, you might notice greater fluctuations in your skin as the seasons change. Dryer weather can leave skin parched and flaky with increased redness, while warm, humid weather = sweatier, shinier skin.
Going with harsh skin care products that leave your skin barrier vulnerable can also interrupt natural sebum production.
Signs You Have Combination Skin
If your skin is showing several of the following signs, you may be dealing with combo skin or a damaged skin barrier:
- You have an oily chin, forehead, and nose, aka T-zone
- Your cheeks and the delicate skin around your eyes and mouth tend to be dry
- You often notice blackheads, especially in your T-zone
- You frequently experience blemishes and dry spots at the same time
- You have enlarged pores, particularly where your skin is most oily
- Your skin is uneven in texture — dry and rough in some spots and shiny and oily in others
- You may experience redness from time to time, especially when your skin is particularly dry
- Your skin is itchy and irritated
- You have skin peeling and flaking
- Your skin tone is uneven, and you may have hyperpigmentation
Once you've determined if you have a combination skin type, you can now tailor your skin care regimen to help balance out excess oil production or dry patches.
Tips for Combination Skin Care
The goal when dealing with skin that’s both oily and dry is to achieve balance. Here’s how to take care of and nourish your skin:
Use a gentle cleanser
A gentle cleanser won’t strip the skin of natural oils or disrupt its barrier. Products that are too alkaline (pH higher than 7) can impact the acid mantle, aka your skin’s protective film of sweat, oils, and amino acids. And ingredients like sulfates can negatively affect your skin’s barrier or stratum corneum, leaving it more prone to moisture loss and excess dryness. So be sure to choose a skincare product that will have a balanced pH and is gentle enough for your skin.
Exfoliate with a chemical exfoliant
There are many benefits of exfoliating for your skin, like removing helps remove dead skin cells that might clog pores and contribute to uneven skin texture. Clogged pores not only increase their appearance but can also trigger excess oil production and cause dullness and roughness. Exfoliation also helps encourage cell turnover and collagen production, leading to healthier skin overall. Consider using a liquid exfoliant, like Acid Potion, to help.
Moisturize to balance out oil production
You might think that because the skin in your T-zone is oily, you need to skip moisturizing, but skipping moisturizer can actually have the opposite effect and trigger the overproduction of sebum,
further contributing to clogged pores. Instead, focus on building a healthy skin barrier with essential fatty acids. Be sure to include your moisturizer during your night time routine for your face to help your skin recover as you sleep.
Treat different areas of your face separately
If your T-zone is oily and your jawline is dry and flaky, consider using two different products. For example, a moisturizer rich in fatty acids might soothe and hydrate your jawline, while a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer on your chin, nose, and forehead will moisturize without clogging pores.
Eat low-inflammatory foods and healthy fats
Anti-inflammatory foods and healthy fats like olive oil, leafy greens, nuts, and fatty fish can limit inflammation that leads to oxidative stress. These foods can also help balance out your hormones, restoring balance to your skin.
Take an antioxidant supplement
Antioxidants, like those found in SuperBeauty® skin care capsules, work to protect from oxidative stress, which can lead to skin imbalances and show up as oiliness in some areas and dryness in others.
With these skin care tips, you can make simple changes to your skin care routine or your lifestyle and diet that will help you balance your skin.
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Perfect Your Combination Skin Care Routine
Combination skin can happen for a few reasons, from weather to hormone changes. When excess dryness and oiliness happen together it might seem impossible to address two wildly different skin concerns at the same time. But certain external skin care practices, like using a gentle cleanser, and lifestyle and diet changes that address internal imbalances, can help bring balance to your skin.
Using a liquid exfoliant, like Moon Juice’s Acid Potion, can be a great way to stimulate cell turnover, improve dull skin, and unclog pores which can be a result of combo skin. Beauty supplements are another option that help neutralize free radicals and balance antioxidants for healthier skin.
- Bowe WP, et al. (2012). Acne vulgaris: The role of oxidative stress and the potential therapeutic value of local and systemic antioxidants. https://jddonline.com/articles/acne-vulgaris-the-role-of-oxidative-stress-and-the-potential-therapeutic-value-of-local-and-systemic-S1545961612P0742X
- Dry skin overview. (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/dry-skin-overview
- How to control oily skin. (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/oily-skin
- Makrantonaki E, et al. (2011). An update on the role of the sebaceous gland in the pathogenesis of acne. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3051853/
- Rinnerthaler M, et al. (2015). Oxidative stress in aging human skin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4496685/