What is Combination Skin?

What is Combination Skin?

Understanding your skin type is a vitally important aspect of effective skin care. However, in many cases, combination skin is one skin type you don’t often hear much about.

This can leave many people feeling a little unsure about their skin type and what this might mean for their skincare routines.

Don’t worry, though; if this is something that’s left you feeling a little unsure about how to care for your skin, we're here to help! Keep reading to find out more about your combination skin.

After all, you deserve the best skin possible, and with a targeted approach based on your unique skin type, finding that becomes much easier than you may have realized.

What is a Combination Skin Type? 

One of the first questions we should address when discussing skin types here is, what is combination skin? Identifying your skin type is integral to finding the ideal skin care solutions for your needs.

However, while we often notice dry or oily skin easily, recognizing combination skin can become a little more involved. 

Overall, combination skin – as the name suggests – is where your skin shows a combination of skin types.

For example, if you have combination skin, you might have some patches of skin that are oily (such as around your nose). Meanwhile, other areas of your skin could be dry. 

all the different skin types graphic with face illustration

Unfortunately, this combination of different skin types can make your skincare routine a little trickier than it should be since it’s not always clear which products you should use.

In an ideal world, you should apply products for oily skin around the oily areas of your face and vice versa; but, in reality, this is incredibly impractical and unlikely to work effectively.

Generally speaking, with a combination skin type, most people will experience oily skin around the forehead, chin, and nose. Meanwhile, the jawline, hairline, and cheeks are much more likely to be dry, which could leave them more prone to cracking and general irritation.

In addition to dry and oily skin, some people with combination skin may also experience other skin types.

This could include patches of seemingly even skin or sensitive, inflamed skin. Keeping this in mind is critical if you want to ensure that you’re making the right choices to treat your oily skin.

What are the Causes of Combination Skin? 

There are many potential causes of combination skin, the most obvious of which is genetics. Indeed, as with other skin types, combination skin can be heritable from your parents.

As such, if either or both of your parents have combination skin, you may also have a greater chance of developing the condition. 

However, combination skin is not always something you're born with. In some cases, it’s possible for a person to develop a combination skin type a little later in life.

Indeed, in many cases, certain types of skin care products can be highly damaging and may exacerbate the differences between your skin types.

Furthermore, it’s well worth considering that combination skin types may fluctuate significantly depending on the time of year and season

Is Combination Skin Permanent? 

Combination skin may not always be permanent, but it’s important to consider that controlling it may be a little more difficult if you’re born with a combination skin type. 

Fortunately, combination skin types can be managed through the careful use of the right cleansing and skincare products; additionally, you may notice that the differences in your skin change during the year and may become more pronounced during extreme temperatures.

If your combination skin type is caused by using irritating chemicals, it’s worth considering that this may only be a temporary experience. Once you stop using the irritating skin care compounds on your face, your skin may begin to restore itself to a more normal state.

What Skincare Products Can Make Combination Skin More Pronounced? 

By now, we’ve clarified questions such as: what does combination skin mean? And outlined that certain irritating compounds can exacerbate it. But what skincare products fall into this “irritating” category to worsen your combination skin? 

The most common type of irritating skincare product that you might use is exfoliating creams. While gentle exfoliating creams can be an incredibly helpful product for removing dead skin cells, you should be careful not to use exfoliating creams that are too harsh.

woman exfoliating face with scrub

Strong exfoliating creams may feel like they’re doing a good job, but these can scratch away at your skin’s surface. In turn, this can cause a great deal of skin irritation, causing your skin to become drier and less oily in places.

If this is the cause of your combination skin, you might notice that the driest areas of your skin are those around the sides of your face, where you’re more likely to use a large amount of exfoliator.

Exfoliating products aren’t the only things that can exacerbate your combination skin. Another common irritant for combination skin types is bar soap, which commonly causes a tight feel to your skin.

These may leave your skin feeling fresher and cleaner than other types of soap. However, they can significantly stress your skin, resulting in it further becoming drier.

It’s also worth considering that cleaning products with a strong scent may also irritate your skin, depending on the type of scents used. Not all scents are necessarily good for your skin.

As such, if you have combination skin, opting for an unscented or gently fragranced, natural soap may be a safer bet.

Finally, numerous other compounds may effectively dry your skin (for better or worse). Alcohol-based products, such as hand sanitizers, are especially drying; however, you should never apply these to your face, especially around the eyes. 

Steer clear of the below alcohol ingredients in any product you're thinking of using on your combination skin:

  • Ethanol
  • Methanol
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Isopropyl alcohol,
  • SD alcohol
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Ethyl alcohol

Likewise, it's important to consider here that menthol and witch hazel products can also be highly effective for drying.

While this might seem like a good thing if you’re trying to reduce your skin’s natural oiliness, it will only reduce moisture in the already-dry regions further.

What is the Most Common Sign of Combination Skin? 

Generally speaking, the most common sign that you will notice for combination skin will be marked differences in the skin complexion of your face.

Oily areas of your skin will usually be shinier; meanwhile, dry areas of your face may represent the opposite, potentially having a duller color and an increased amount of dry, peeling skin.

These differences require different care and treatments to help ensure that you’re taking good care of your skin accordingly.

Other Common Signs You Should Look For 

In addition to having markedly distinct regions of dry and oily skin on your face, you may notice several other signs of combination skin. 

Notably, you may find that areas of your face look shiny, especially when accounting for the variations between the dry and oily regions. This can make the shine around your nose and forehead appear much more pronounced. 

In addition to this, it’s well worth considering that many people who experience combination skin will also often have larger pores in their oily areas.

When your skin produces too much oil, dead skin cells and dirt build up, leading to enlarged pores which may be more noticeable. This can also increase your chances of suffering from acne and blackheads compared to people with dry or normal (balanced) skin.

blackheads close up photo

Finally, a potential sign of combination skin that you may want to look out for is dandruff or dry skin on your scalp.

While this is not a conclusive sign of combination skin, it’s typically common for people who suffer from dry skin. As such, you may notice patchy areas of dandruff while washing your hair.

Tips for Managing Combination Skin

While combination skin can seem a little frustrating, it is manageable.

Luckily, there are several steps you can take to help manage your combination skin to ensure that it doesn’t become more pronounced or to reduce the risk of acne developing.

Some of the most popular choices for managing combination skin include the following.

#1 Wash Your Face with Gentle Cleansers

One of the most important factors to consider when it comes to your combination skin is using a combination of gentle cleansers.

Indeed, gentle cleansers are usually designed to help nourish your skin without causing excessive damage or drying. A high-quality face cleanser should allow you to keep your skin clear, fresh, and bright without worsening any aggravation.

#2 Focus on Sensitive Skin Products

Since your combination skin doesn’t just fall into a single category, managing it can often seem a little difficult.

With this thought in mind, in many cases, focusing on sensitive skin products is often more effective than other options. Sensitive skin products are designed to be gentle, soothing, and nourishing, reducing the negative effects you might experience due to other products.

Contrastingly, other skin care products can often cause damage to either (or both) skin types you experience. For example, using a drying cream may make your dry skin worse. Meanwhile, a heavy moisturizing cream won’t offer any benefit for oily skin.

#3 Make Sure to Use Sunscreen

Using sunscreen is highly important as part of your goal to control and manage combination skin.

The dry areas of your skin can be prone to burning, which could result in the dry regions getting significantly worse.

Fortunately, sunscreen – ideally factor 30 or higher – can be a good way to ensure that your skin is protected against UV rays, reducing the risk of further complications developing.

As such, ensuring that you use sunscreen is important to prevent the dry areas of your skin from catching the sun and worsening accordingly.

However, don’t neglect the oily regions of your skin when applying sunscreen, either. You should reapply sunscreen every few hours during high-UV days to ensure you get the highest level of protection possible.

#4 Limit Your Use of Makeup

We all want to look our best – but makeup isn’t always the answer to this. Indeed, in many cases, makeup products can actually compromise the overall strength of your skin and may leave it feeling dry or dirty.

What’s more, it’s not uncommon for makeup to get into your pores, and this can cause acne down the line if not thoroughly washed out.

As such, it’s important to consider the different options that could potentially be available to you in this regard – and choosing specific makeup for sensitive or combination skin could help.

In addition, it’s well worth considering that you may need to use slightly different makeup types for each area of your skin.

Oily regions may do best with an oil-absorbing formula, for example, or a matte finish; meanwhile, your dry skin may need slightly glossier makeup options to balance out the look.

#5 Try a Matcha Mask 

Matcha is often considered a popular option for helping even the skin tone and soaking up any excess oils.

This benefit could make them potentially valuable for combatting the oilier regions of your combination skin. These face masks can be applied exclusively to the affected oily areas.

This may help you draw out oils gently while simultaneously ensuring that your face is nourished, balanced, and cleansed.

Don’t Neglect a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle with Combination Skin

In addition to the aforementioned points, a healthy diet and lifestyle are also highly important to manage your combination skin. 

Eating plenty of nutritious foods and engaging in regular, gentle exercise can help keep your body healthy. 

A healthy lifestyle helps reduce the risk of your skin suffering from deficiencies accordingly; these could make the differences appear more prominent.

Managing stress may also be valuable in limiting breakouts and blemishes for your combination skin. 

Final Thoughts 

If you’ve been wondering what combination skin is and what combination skin means, we hope today’s guide will have given you a little more information. We’ve covered everything you need to know to manage combination skin types to help you feel at your best every day.

Remember: while combination skin is manageable, it's still important to take good care of your skin and lead a healthy lifestyle. This can help reduce the contrast between your skin types from worsening and keep your skin clear, balanced, and smooth.

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