Combination or oily skin: what’s the difference?

When trying to determine skin type, there is one distinction that trips a lot of people up: combination skin vs. oily skin. While these two skin types share many similarities, they also have a tell-tale difference. Below we define both skin types so you can determine yours and find a skincare routine that works for you.

Table of Contents

Oily skin: what is it?

Oily skin is marked by large pores and a shiny, thicker feeling complexion. It produces more than enough oil so hydration isn’t the issue, but blackheads and pimples usually are. People with oily skin struggle with keeping shine down during the day, and usually feel the need to wash their face often. Oily skin can be caused and made worse by hormonal changes, cosmetics, genetics, diet or certain medicines. One benefit of this skin type is that it usually ages at a slower pace because of the extra moisture, keeping skin hydrated and less prone to wrinkles.

Combination skin: what is it?

Combination skin is essentially when you have two different skin types at the same time. While most of us have combination skin to some degree since there are more sebaceous glands (the glands that produce oil) around our nose than other areas of our face, this skin type experiences it to a larger degree. Combination skin often deals with a lot of the same issues as oily skin such as enlarged pores and acne, but the key difference is that combination skin is marked by a consistently oily T-zone (the area of your face that runs above your eyebrows along your forehead and extends down from between your eyebrows to your chin, creating a “T” shape) with dryness in other areas of the face. Combination skin types typically experience dullness and dryness on the cheeks, temples and around the eye.

This is the key differentiator between combination skin and oily skin. Oily skin will generally be oily and greasy-looking all over while combination skin mainly experiences it in the T-zone.

Read up on our combination skin care tips and the best way to treat oily skin.

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