“Why is it so oily on your nose but not on the rest of your face?.”
When your skin has oily and dry spots in different areas, that’s one of the characteristics of combination skin.
Having combination skin can be tricky because you need to find a balance between both worlds, but with the correct information, you can solve this mystery.
What is Combination Skin?
Combination skin features two or more different skin types, and this can change depending on the climate or other factors.
Most commonly, your skin will be oily on your nose, forehead and chin — the area we call the T-Zone. At the same time, it can be dry or normal in areas such as the cheeks, jawline and hairline.
Note that the ratio of oiliness and dryness can change over time and depends on the individual. You might be combination leaning towards oily, or combination leaning towards dry. This is what makes addressing combination skin so complex.
How Can I Identify Combination Skin?
Combination skin is one of the most common skin types. But, how do you know if you have this type of skin?
To find out, wash your face when a gentle cleanser, dab your skin dry with a new, clean towel and wait for one hour, bare-faced. After an hour, if you tick off these common characteristics of the combination skin checklist below, welcome to the tribe!
✅ Pores that look larger than normal especially around the nose area compare to forehead and cheeks.
✅ Shiny and oily skin on the T-Zone area.
✅ Dealing with dry patches and acne breakouts at the same time!
✅ Cheeks feel tight and rough, but nose and forehead are slick and oily.
Why Do I Have Combination Skin?
Genetics affect the size and level of activity of the sebaceous glands – which naturally produce facial oil (sebum) to keep the skin naturally supple and hydrated. People often have varying sizes of sebaceous glands all over the face, and overactive sebaceous glands cause more oil production in certain areas, and too little in other areas. This can run in families and is passed down from parent to child via their genes.
The imbalance of hormones can cause your skin to overproduce oil in some areas while drying out in others. This is because hormones have a big influence on the production of facial oil (sebum).
This is why hormonal events such as puberty and menopause tend to be associated with skin problems. An imbalance in your natural hormone production can cause some parts of the face to be oily, but some parts to be dry – causing combination skin.
- Environmental factors:
Weather and climate play a big factor in the appearance of skin.
The high heat and humidity of tropical climates stimulate sebaceous glands to produce more sebum than usual, leading to oily skin. Similarly, cold weather climates tend to be low humidity and can lead to dehydration and sensitivity, causing dry skin.
For combination skin, the weather and climate of the area you live in will determine whether your combination skin leans towards the more oily side or the drier side of the combination.
- Lifestyle factors:
Stress and lack of exercise can be two factors that affect your skin type. When the stress hormone is increased, facial oil (sebum) production rises. It can lead to oily skin, acne and other problems.
Working out is good because it can reduce the level of stress-related hormones. So, these two factors go hand in hand. Exercise also increases blood circulation and brings new nutrients to the cells and oxygen to the skin, helping to keep your skin clear and firm.
- Using the wrong skincare products:
When people have combination skin, they tend to use products to aggressively solve one of the problems – either the oiliness or the dryness.
For example, to combat the oiliness, one may decide to use products that aggressively fight oil. But that can completely strip the skin of all its natural moisture and hydration. This leads to the skin naturally producing even more oil in your oily areas, but also worsens the dry skin areas of your face, making it even drier and more sensitive!
Similarly. to combat the dryness, one may use aggressive moisturising products that could contain comedogenic ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter or beeswax, which can clog up your pores. This may be fine for the dry areas, but it can cause the oily areas of your skin to develop acne as the pores are already clogged with oil!
While both of these strategies carry the best of intentions, they only end up making the problem worse.
The key to combination skin is BALANCE. We need to find the products that can control the oiliness of the oily areas, while also providing sufficient moisture and hydration to the dry areas at the same time. Overcompensating one way or the other just marks things worse.
How Do I Take Care of Combination Skin?
No matter your skin type, you need to create a tailored skincare routine based on your skin’s needs.
The key to combination skin is to find the right balance of products that can control the oiliness of the oily areas, and moisturise and hydrate the dry areas.
Step 1: Use a gentle facial cleanser
Cleansing removes dirt and grime built up over the course of the day and gives a clean platform for the next steps of your skincare routine.
For combination skin types, it’s best to find a cleanser that will remove dirt but won’t disrupt the balance of your skin’s natural oils. Look out for cleansers with low pH, and avoid cleansers that contain alcohol or sodium-laurel-sulfate (SLS) that can be harsh on the skin.
Step 2: Gentle exfoliation
Exfoliation can be beneficial to remove dead skin cells which can relieve dry areas and keep pores clear, especially in the oily areas.
You can try exfoliating with a physical (e.g. an exfoliating brush, sponge or scrub) or light chemical exfoliator for combination skin. However, it is best not to use both exfoliators on the same day as you risk drying out the skin too much. Start out by exfoliating once a week and see how your skin reacts, then slowly move up to two or at most, three times a week.
Be careful not to over-exfoliate, which can be extremely harsh on the skin and destroy your natural skin barrier.
Step 3: Toner at your service
A toner provides that first hit of hydration and sets up your skin to absorb the next steps of your routine. Avoid harsh, alcohol-based toners, and instead look out for keywords like balancing, purifying and clarifying toner products.
A good tip for combination skin toners is to layer on toner! So on the oilier areas of your face, you can simply apply one or two layers, but you can apply three or four layers on the drier parts.
Step 4: Never skip moisturiser
All skin types need hydration but for combination skin, look for oil-free moisturisers that won’t build up additional oil to your T-Zone. Water-based moisturisers with gel-cream textures are key here, as they can provide rich, deep hydration while being non-greasy. Keep an eye out for the ingredient hyaluronic acid, which can deeply infuse skin with moisture and hydration.
Step 5: Protect your face with SPF
For combination skin, look for sunscreens that are oil-free or non-comedogenic so they won’t clog the pores in your oily zones. You may opt for a lightweight, moisturising, quick-absorbing with a matte finish and won’t leave the skin looking shiny or greasy.
Whether you choose a physical or a chemical sunscreen depends heavily on your individual condition. If you lean towards the oilier side of combination skin, chemical sunscreens tend to feel lighter, clearer and more comfortable to wear especially in tropical climates. If you lean towards the drier side of combination, physical sunscreens can provide additional moisture, and is less likely to irritate skin with chemicals.
Play Safe with These Ingredients
Skin-loving ingredients are beneficial for combination skin because they have oily and dry areas that need your attention.
But, best to look out for non-comedogenic and alcohol-free formulations and non-pore-clogging ingredients to avoid your pores from looking more visible. So, what are the ingredients that are loved by combination skin?
- Hyaluronic acid: Never doubt this ingredient because it hydrates your skin without leaving any greasiness. The more, the merrier your skin because of enough hydration.
- Salicylic acid / Beta-hydroxy acid (BHAs): It can be in cleansers or toners. Salicylic acid is a good ingredient because it can regulate oil production and unclog pores. So, no more whiteheads and blackheads on your nose, forehead or chin area.
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): AHAs like glycolic or lactic acid are good ingredients for toners for combination skin. It’s a mild exfoliant that gently removes dead skin cells from dry areas and clears pores in the oily areas. After one use, you will notice that your skin is smoother.
- Vitamin C: To maintain skin health, Vitamin C can protect skin against environmental damage, like UV exposure. It also benefits your face because it can reduce blemishes and keep your pores clear.
If you have combination skin, before purchasing any new products, make sure to look out for these five skincare ingredients. Your skin deserves to be loved, and make sure to have fun in the process of finding the right one!
Are you still confused about your skin type? Try the myeppo skin quiz for free! After five minutes with 14 questions, you can start to explore a skincare routine that suits your skin type.