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How to Treat Combination Skin: What is it and what to do

Understanding your skin type is key to figuring out which skincare products work best for you. But while dry and oily skin almost automatically mean a certain skincare protocol, combination skin demands balance as you address varying degrees of oil production across your face.

Learn to tackle this tricky skin type with this in-depth look at combination skin. We’ll explain what it is, how to know whether you have it, and help you develop the best skincare routine to keep your combination skin healthy and radiant.

What is Combination Skin

Combination skin is when part of your face is oily and part of it is dry. Oiliness is most common in the T-zone—the t-shaped area encompassing your forehead, nose and chin— while the cheeks, hairline, and jaw tend to be drier.

These opposite skin types can occur in varying degrees of severity depending on the individual. While one person may be dry and flaky on the cheeks and just a little bit oily in the T-zone, another may be constantly battling T-zone oil while the rest of their face feels normal or slightly dry.

What Causes Combination Skin?

Combination skin is caused by overproductive oil glands in the T-zone and underproductive oil glands elsewhere on the face. While skin type is often inherited, a number of other factors can also influence how much oil your skin produces. These can include:

- Hormonal fluctuations - Seasonal changes - Stress - Medication - Skin treatments and products

How to Tell if You Have Combination Skin 

There are 5 easy ways you can tell if you have combination skin:
  1. Wash your face, then wait an hour. If your t-zone is oily but your cheeks are dry, you have combination skin.
  2. A moisturizer designed for normal skin quenches your cheeks but turns your t-zone into an oil slick.
  3. The pores on your nose are visibly larger than the ones on your cheeks and jawline.
  4. You get breakouts and dry patches at the same time, on different areas of your face.
  5. You notice that hot weather increases the oiliness in your t-zone.
If any of these sound like you, then you have combination skin. But don’t despair! You have plenty of company. While it can be the trickiest skin type to handle, combination skin is also the most common.

How to Care for Combination Skin

The key to getting healthy, glowing combination skin is addressing both oiliness and dryness simultaneously. While this might sound like doing two opposite things at once, it’s easier than you might think.

5 Tips for Healthy Combination Skin

  1. Spot treat oily areas. While treatments targeting excess sebum can help your oily t-zone, your dry areas need all the natural oils they can get. Instead of buying completely separate products, use oil-controlling ingredients only where you need them.
  2. Be gentle. Your skin has a natural protective layer—the moisture barrier — that works hard to insure that healthy, natural moisture stays in and bacteria and irritants stay out. One of the best ways to balance your skin is to use soothing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and sugarcane-derived squalane to help strengthen your moisture barrier and help your skin better regulate its oil production.
  3. Exfoliate. Gentle exfoliation using a hydrating chemical exfoliant such as lactic acid can help improve the look of enlarged pores and slough off dry, flaky skin to help your skincare penetrate better. 
  4. Use lightweight hydrators. While your dry areas are obviously crying out for hydration, the right moisturizer can also help bring balance to your t-zone. Look for lightweight gel or gel-cream formulas that use ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to deliver deep hydration without feeling sticky or greasy.
  5. Don’t skip the sunscreen. Sun exposure can throw your skin even farther out of balance, so be sure to protect it daily with a non-comedogenic SPF 30 sunscreen. Your skin (and your dermatologist) will thank you!

The Best Routine for Combination Skin

Keeping your skin clean, balanced, and hydrated is the key to getting healthy, glowing combination skin. Follow this easy layering guide for brighter, more balanced, deeply hydrated skin.

Step One: Cleanse with Squalane + Amino Aloe Gentle Cleanser

Lather this calming gel cleanser into a satisfying foam to deep clean pores without overstripping. Amino acids dissolve dirt and makeup while aloe soothes and sugarcane-derived squalane delivers a burst of hydration.

Amino Cleanser

Step Two: Balance with Squalane + BHA Pore Minimizing Toner

Balance and exfoliate with our alcohol-free toner to prepare skin to receive hydration. Naturally-sourced beta hydroxy acids exfoliate dead skin cells unclog pores while squalane mimics your skin’s natural moisture to help strengthen its barrier.Toner

Step Three: Treat 

AM: Brighten with Squalane + Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum

Visibly fade dark spots left behind by previous breakouts with this 10% vitamin C serum. Our non-irritating vitamin C boosts collagen production for increased elasticity while white shitake mushroom visibly improves uneven skin tone.

PM: Refine with Squalane + 10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Serum

Dramatically improve the look of enlarged pores with this powerful exfoliating night serum. Our 10% vegan lactic acid formula helps banish dullness by exfoliating to reveal smoother, more even-textured, hydrated skin while clover boosts lactic acid’s exfoliating benefits by revving up cell turnover.Lactic

Step Four: Moisturize

Choosing the best moisturizer for combination skin depends on how much your oil production varies from one area of your face to the next.

If your skin is super oily in the T-zone and only slightly dry on the rest of your face, our Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer is your go-to. This lightweight gel calms and moisturizes your drier areas without making your T-zone greasy.

If you have a slightly oily T-zone but your cheeks are on the drier side, our Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Moisturizer is the one for you. This silky, velvet cream moisturizer uses our sugarcane-based squalane to deeply moisturize and plump fine lines and wrinkles in your drier areas. Meanwhile, our innovative combination of Vitamin C and fermented lemon peel work together to fight free radicals and visibly improve uneven skin tone, including the dark spots that blemishes can sometimes leave behind.


Step Five (AM): Protect with Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen

Made with non-nano zinc, this non-comedogenic, hydrating sunscreen provides broad spectrum SPF 30 protection while melting invisibly into any skin tone. Reef-safe zinc provides physical protection against damaging UV rays while water lily cools and calms. Sugarcane-derived squalane drives ingredients deeper into the skin, making your skincare work 40x harder while delivering deep hydration.
Christine Tusher
Christine Tusher Writer and expert
As a lifestyle writer and journalist, I love sharing my passion for ocean conservation and obsession with clean beauty. I’ve tried almost every trend and ingredient, and Biossance’s science-backed formulas are the only ones that consistently calm my reactive skin and make it smoother, clearer, and healthier. I’m so excited to be on this journey of skincare innovation with Biossance, and to share it with you!

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