Dry combination skin: what helps?

A combination of the skin occurs when the skin exhibits multiple skin types at once.

Wait, what exactly is combination skin?

Most of us have combination skin to some degree or another since there are more sebaceous glands (the glands that produce oil) around our nose than other areas of our face. However, combination skin types experience this issue to a larger degree. For most people with combination skin, their face is marked by a consistently oily T-zone (the central area of the face including the chin, nose, and forehead) with dryness in other areas of the face, especially on the cheeks.

Combination skin can also occur when your face experiences rosacea, breakouts or other skin issues all at the same time.

The two kinds of skin types and how to identify yours

Treat the part, not the whole

People with dry combination skin need to use different products for different areas of the face to keep their skin in equilibrium. Since you are essentially treating two different skin types, it’s important to purchase products that address both types separately. Try using a mild cleanser and heavier moisturizer on your dry areas with a more stringent product on your oily areas designed to cut through the oil. For the oily areas of your face, you generally will not need to apply moisturizer as this will only make the skin greasier.

Watch your products

In many cases, dry combination skin can simply be a reaction to products that are making naturally oily skin feel dry. This is because some products can be too harsh on the skin, causing irritation, breakouts, and tightness. Experiment with using fewer products and pay attention to how your skin reacts to determine if you really have combination skin or if maybe you’re simply experiencing an adverse reaction to certain ingredients. It’s important to look for products that promote balance and are free of harmful ingredients for this reason. Skin care expert, Renée Rouleau explains:

“Many foaming and gel cleansers made today are formulated with an ingredient called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. This ingredient is a surfactant, a cleansing agent that cuts oil from the skin. These ingredients are simply too harsh and will strip the water out of the skin after every washing.”

This is why it’s essential to pay attention to your cleanser. Try using a gel or mild foaming cleanser that is sulfate-free or look for a cleanser containing AHA or BHA, ingredients that help remove build-up in pores without drying out the skin. Also, be sure to steer clear of other harmful ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, citrus oils, and synthetic fragrances.

Don’t leave your dry areas bare

After cleansing, your skin is particularly sensitive and dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to apply a toner and moisturizer to the dry areas of your skin directly after washing to restore the moisture back to the skin right away. This will prevent any flaking and tightness from occurring later on


Exfoliating removes dead skin cells that have built up on the surface of your skin. Using exfoliants on combination skin helps promote cell turnover and reveal fresh, more balanced skin underneath. Try a BHA / salicylic acid or AHA / glycolic acid exfoliating wash to clear out your pores and encourage a fresh complexion.

5 Essential Steps to Healthy Skin

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