The Ultimate (Derm-Approved) Guide For Combination Skin

Daily Routines

Getting your skin in check isn’t always an easy task, especially if you’re tackling two different skincare concerns. Yup, we’re referring to combination skin, aka when you have two or more skin types – typically, an oily T-zone and dry cheeks. To help you navigate through the daily upkeep of combination skin, we got in touch with celebrity dermatologist Dr. Lancer, for all the expert info: from the dos and don’ts to the must-have products.

How to Know if You Have Combination Skin

“There are various indicators of combination skin, one of which is the way your skin reacts to different weather patterns. Having oily skin in the summer and drier skin in the winter can often point to this conclusion,” Dr. Lancer tells us.

Another key indication of combination skin is “Having certain areas of oiliness and dryness. For example, having a T-zone that’s oily while the remainder of the face stays dry. Combination skin tends to get very oily around the T-zone, meaning the forehead, nose, chin, and area around the mouth. Often times, the cheeks and remainder of the jawline will have dry patches and areas appear drier depending on the weather.”

Dr. Lancer also says that “Pore size can also help determine your skin type as having bigger pores on the nose versus cheeks and chin often points to combination skin.”

It’s also possible to have a reverse T-zone, aka when you have a dry T-zone and oily cheeks. Dr. Lancer explains the cause, “Reversed T-zones are usually hormonally induced and can be genetic. They occur in individuals who have more estrogen being produced in the upper part of the face, while more testosterone is being produced in the lower part. Testosterone tends to cause acne-prone skin because oil glands have a sensitivity to it.”

Oily skin

How to Treat Combination Skin

“Generally, if an individual has combination skin, he or she can use the same products around the entire face. If he or she has extremely oily and extremely dry areas of the face, each area can be treated according to necessity. Depending on the level of difference around the face, I would recommend using different products to target specific concerns.”

How to Rebalance Combination Skin

“You can rebalance combination skin by changing the surface product blend that is currently being used on your skin, along with altering lifestyle and diet choices” explains Dr. Lancer. But ultimately, it starts with skincare “Adjust your skincare routine so that it starts with gentle exfoliation and cleansing and ends with hydration.” Insisting; “Make sure to have a consistent program – as loss of a regular skincare routine causes a shock to the skin due to shifting balances in acid pH level.”

“If you have combination skin, it’s best to avoid products that are alcohol-based as well as any oils that are high in oleic acid, including sunflower oil and coconut oil. Certain emollients can also irritate the skin such as paraffin and certain waxes. I would recommend using alternative oils such as grape and hempseed.” Finally, Dr. Lancer adds, “In terms of diet, limit salt, dairy, alcohol, and caffeine as much as possible.”

The Ultimate Skin Routine for Combination Skin

By shifting how you treat your combination skin based on the above, you’ll soon notice a difference. If your combination skin isn’t strictly dry and oily, there are plenty of other steps that you can incorporate. For example, if you’re looking to brighten your skin, a vitamin C serum will work wonders. Alternatively, if you have hyperpigmentation, adding retinol into your regime can help even out skin tone. Follow the steps below for a combo skin curated skincare routine.

1. Cleanse: Dr. Lancer instructs, “Make sure to use a gentle cleanser both morning and night. This will help remove excess oils around the T-zone without drying out other areas of the face.” In the evening, we recommend double cleansing – our fave K-Beauty skincare ritual, whereby you begin with a cleansing oil and follow with a water-based cleanser.

The Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, $48, is one of our fave cleansing oils as it’s not too heavy yet it’s bursting with antioxidants and vitamins that’ll help rebalance your skin. Next, follow with a gentle cleanser like the Superior OmegaNutritive Gel Wash, $32; it offers a deep cleanse yet it doesn’t strip your skin of moisture.

2. Exfoliate: “Like all skin, combination skin requires exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and impurities from the surface. I recommend exfoliating regularly as this keeps cell renewal consistent and skin looking healthy and refreshed,” explains Dr. Lancer. The Ren Skincare Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, $56, is great for combination skin as it contains all-natural exfoliants including lactic and glycolic acid. However, we recommend exfoliating just once or twice a week to avoid over-exfoliating your skin.

3. Tone: The next essential step is toning. Toners can help rebalance your skin to its optimum pH level, while also toning and tightening your pores (YAY). The Make P:Rem Safe-Me Relief Moisture Toner, $29, is super gentle and designed to balance, brighten, and hydrate your skin without causing irritation, making it great for combo skin types.

4. Moisturize: Moisturizing is super important if you have combination skin as you want to replenish dry areas and ensure your T-zone doesn’t become dehydrated, which can lead to increased production of oil to compensate for the lack of moisture. The Lancer The Method Normal Combination Moisturizer, $125, is a firm favorite as it’s made with combination skin in mind. We also love The Ordinary’s Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, $8; it’s lightweight, non-greasy and is designed to give immediate and continuous hydration with a combo of natural moisturizing factors.

5. SPF: If you ask any dermatologist, they’ll tell you sunscreen is one of the most important skincare products you’ll ever own. It should be the last step of your skincare routine, applied before you start your makeup. We’ve recently converted to mineral-based SPFs, in particular, the Soleil 100% Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30, $40, it’s great for all skin types as the zinc content will help soothe sensitive skin while simultaneously lowering oil production.

Extra step. Mask weekly: “Use a mask once per week that works to decongest the skin and pores,” says Dr. Lancer. “You can place the mask on your entire face or just on your T-zone, depending on congestion needs.” We love L’Oréal’s collection of clay masks, $13, which each work for different skin concerns. We love the Detox & Brighten mask as its formulated with activated charcoal powder to draw out oil – you can literally see the oil being extracted. Read our full review here. Our tip is to mask in the shower so that the steam prevents the mask from fully drying and becoming uncomfortable. Make sure you follow any clay masks with a hydrating serum and moisturizer to rehydrate your skin.

For more healthy skincare tips, check out how to switch up your skincare routine according to your age.