What is Combination Skin?
As curious as it may be, many people have facial skin that is both dry and oily at the same time. This is called combination skin type, and many consider it to be the most common facial skin type. With most people who have the combination skin type, their forehead, nose, and chin (this is called the T-zone) tend to be oily, while the remainder of the face is dry or flaky.
Causes of Combination Skin
Studies have shown that genetics can play a huge role in a person’s skin type. When you think about it, this is not all that surprising in light of the fact that we inherit so many other characteristics, such as eye and hair color, height, skin color, etc. So, if one or both of your parents have the combination skin type, chances are very great that you will as well.
Another cause of combination skin is when a person uses harsh skin care product on their faces, such as products that have ingredients that dry the skin, like alcohol and sulfates. The use of these products can actually stimulate the oil glands in your face to produce more oil in your T-zone while at the same time create dry, flaky areas on the rest of your face.
Signs and Symptoms of Combination Skin
Most people who have the combination facial skin type will typically experience having:
- Large pores in the T-zone
- Shiny skin in the T-zone
- Blackheads and pimples in the T-zone
- Dull, flaky, and dry cheek areas
- High sensitivity to cleansers in the cheek areas
- Rosacea and redness only on the cheek areas
- Wrinkles and fine lines, while at the same time they are having pimples, blackheads, and shiny skin.
- They will often have a difficult time finding the best skin care regime that satisfactorily addresses both the dry and the oily conditions at the same time.
Finding the right combination of skin care products can be difficult because if you focus your skin care regiment on the oily condition, then the dry areas become even more dry; and if you focus on correcting the dry areas, then the oily areas become more oily and you can end up with even more blemishes. Understandably, this can be very disgruntling and frustrating, but it can be successfully dealt with, as we will see later on.
Diagnosing Combination Skin
Your doctor or dermatologist may want to test the dry portion of your facial skin for underlying issues such as skin diseases. They will carefully and thoroughly examine your skin, ask a variety of questions, like when you first noticed the dry skin. Knowing the answers to these questions can help them prescribe the right treatment for you, as well as order further testing to rule out other health issues.
Recognizing Combination Skin
If you are not quite sure whether you have the combination skin type or not, you can do this simple little test: Wash your face with a mild cleanser, pat dry with a soft towel, and then wait for ten to fifteen minutes without putting any other skin care products on. If you have combination skin you will notice that the skin on your forehead, nose, and chin will appear shiny and oily, while the skin on your cheeks and other areas will feel tight and dry.
Also, you may find that some skin care products leave your skin way too dull and dry; or some may even cause you to breakout in pimples. If this is happening to you, there is a good chance you have combination skin.
Treatment for Combination Skin
- Cleansers: It is best to use a very gentle, water-soluble cleanser which will help to avoid dryness and irritation. Mild foaming or gel-based cleansers work remarkably well for combination skin. Stay away from cleansers that have fragrances and known irritants. Following these guidelines is the first step in finding the best skin care regime for combination skin.
- Also, be certain to stay away from any kind of bar soap, no matter how good their claims may be. The very ingredients that hold bar soaps together in a bar can clog pores and cause irritation and drying for any kind of skin type.
Toners: Toners can help repair skin, however, be sure to read the labels. Do not use any toners that have ingredients such as alcohol, menthol, witch hazel, citrus oils, or fragrances (whether they are natural or man-made). Look for ingredients like acetylglucosamine (a skin-identical ingredient), acai, acetyl carnitine HCL (antioxidants), adenosine (a cell-communicating ingredient).
- Exfoliate: In order to reveal your healthy skin that can be hiding underneath the oiliness and dryness, you will need to exfoliate. Exfoliating is gently scrubbing off the dead skin cells that can sometimes get left behind when you only use a cleanser. Use a gel or liquid exfoliant on the T-zone where it is oily and apt to get blemishes; and use a lotion exfoliant on the dry areas. No matter which texture of exfoliant you use, be sure they have BHT (beta hydroxy acid) like salicylic acid, or AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) like glycolic acid in them. Using these regularly will keep your skin looking and feeling healthy.
- The beta hydroxy acid products are great for the areas on your face that tend to be oily and apt to develop blemishes because it goes deeper into the pores and removes the oil and debris that can oftentimes get lodged in there. Removing this debris will decrease the pore size and will remove acne forming bacteria as well.
- Moisturizers: Moisturizing combination facial skin can be a bit tricky, but when done properly, your skin will look and feel great. For the dry areas of your face, use a lotion or cream, however, for the oily (T-zone) areas, use an oil-free, water-soluble lotion periodically. Be careful not to get the lotion or cream on the T-zone, or you will definitely have shiny, greasy looking skin there.
- Sunscreen: It is a very good idea to use sunscreen every day all year long. Doing so will help slow down the aging of your skin. For skin that is inclined to breakout in pimples, using foundation and pressed powder should be sufficient protection from the sun. For skin that is prone to have rosacea (reddish skin, small, red pustules) and skin that gets irritated easily, only use sunscreens that have zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide in them.
- Makeup: If you enjoy wearing makeup and have combination skin, you can first put on a hydrating primer or serum to the areas of your face that are dry. After that, you can apply a foundation that has a matte-type finish. This will help accommodate both areas and keep your makeup looking fresh longer.
Recommended Skin Care Routine for Combination Skin
Keeping balance in your skin care is the ultimate goal; and this can be a bit challenging and can take awhile to perfect, however, it can be done.
- Washing: Wash with gentle cleansers no more than twice a day, and after strenuous exercise.
- Toner: After washing, use toners that have skin identical ingredients, antioxidants, and cell-communicating ingredients. This will help repair damaged skin without causing further irritation.
- Moisturize: This needs to be done carefully using appropriate kinds of moisturizers the area. For example, use lotions and creams where it is dry, and oil-free, water-soluble moisturizers where it is oily.
- Exfoliate: This can be done once a week to remove dead skin cells and to deep clean pores.
- Mask: Use a mask only on the T-zone, keeping it on for about ten to fifteen minutes, and rinsing it off with warm water.
- Anti-Aging Products: Using these on a weekly basis can hinder lines and wrinkles from forming. Again, use mild, natural products for the best results.
Do’s and Don’ts for Combination Skin
There are a number of things you can do and not do to avoid exacerbating your combination facial skin. Here are a few suggestions:
- Do not use bar soaps
- Do not use harsh cleansers, toners, exfoliants, or scrubs
- Do not use alcohol-based skin care products
- Do not use a mask on the dry areas of your face
- Use a mask only on the oily, T-zone
- Do not take long hot showers or baths
- Do not pop, squeeze, or prick pimples
- Choose fragrance-free products
- Do not wear makeup to bed
- Stay well hydrated
- Do not smoke
- Exercise regularly
- Keep stress out of your life by practicing stress-relief activities known to help you
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
1. Does Diet Play a Role Regarding Combination Skin?
Of course eating a well-rounded, healthful diet will not only help your skin to look its best, but it will help the rest of your body function at its best as well. However, there are a number of foods you can incorporate into your daily diet that will help moisturize your skin from the inside out. Adding a variety of essential fatty acids will do this very thing. Here are some good sources of essential fatty acids:
- Supplements such as fish oil and flaxseed oil
2. Are Skin Masks or Peels Good for Combination Skin?
It is not recommended to use masks or peels on the dry portion of your face. However, when used only on the oily (T-zone) of the face, peels can deep clean pores and help your skin feel and look refreshed. Peels that contain salicylic acid work well for most oily skin; however if you have sensitive skin, a lactic acid peel would be better. It is best not to use peels and masks too frequently, once a week is recommended. Otherwise more damage than good will come of it, including being more sensitive to the sun.
3. Is Combination Skin More Prone to Damage?
Although combination skin is a very common skin type, it is not an easy skin-type to treat properly. Finding the exact treatment that works for you takes time and experimentation, and is usually more labor intensive than caring for other skin types. If gone untreated or poorly treated, it can cause various skin issues, such as irritated, cracking skin, pronounced lines and wrinkles, pimples, blemishes, and acne.
Having combination skin type is very common, but it can also be quite frustrating to deal with. Being informed about the various treatment options recommended is a good way to start down the road to conquering the obstacles that combination skin can present. It may take time and effort to find the right skin care regime that works best for you, but in the long run, you will be very pleased that you made the effort when you see how beautiful your skin can be.