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Skincare for Combination Skin

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You know that feeling, when you simply can’t make up your mind? When you can’t decide if you want the pasta dish or the chicken at your favourite restaurant. Or whether to go out for the night or keep it simple and stay at home with a glass of wine.

Quite trivial decisions really, in the grand scheme of things. But what if your skin was like that, all time? What if your skin couldn’t decide if it wanted to be oily or dry?

This kind of contrary skin is what it’s like to live with so called combination skin, and it can be a real pain knowing how to look after it. Do you support its oily characteristics? Or do you indulge its dry side? Do you use different products on different areas of skin, imagining a line dividing the two sides of its nature?

In this article, we’re going to talk about what combination skin is and how best to look after it (clue: with super nourishing skin care products designed for contrary skin, that’s how!). So settle in for the lowdown on combination skin.

What is combination skin?

Combination skin is more common than you might first think. Many people have this skin type without realising it, and spend a lifetime trying to manage their skin, feeling frustrated at its ability to non comply.

This type of combination skin is typified by oiliness in some areas and dryness or normal skin in others. As a general rule, the oily parts of the skin tend to be in the T zone, that is, the forehead, nose and chin. Whilst the dry or normal areas of skin tend to be focussed mainly on the cheeks.

Combination skin tends to look shiny where the skin is oily, which might seem obvious, but this skin type also tends to have more visibly open pores and can be more prone to developing blackheads.

How can I tell if I have combination skin?

Obviously, we don’t really have lines drawn on our face dictating where the oiliness ends and the dry or normal areas of skin begin. It’s only a rough guide that the T zone area is oily in combination skin whilst everywhere else is dry or normal.

But it’s helpful to know if you have combination skin or not so that you can get your skin care right to support and nourish it.

So a good way to test if you have combination skin is to cleanse your face using a gentle cream cleanser and then avoid applying moisturiser, makeup or any other skin care product. After 20 minutes, get a clean tissue and press it gently over your entire face.

If you have combination skin, you’ll notice oily marks on the tissue where it touched your T zone, and elsewhere, the tissue will be clear. (This is also a good way of determining if you have oily skin, oily skin will cause oily marks on the entire tissue.)

Another test is to take a good look at your skin in an illuminated or magnifying mirror after cleansing and before applying any skin care products or makeup. If you notice that the pores on your nose are noticeably larger than the pores on your cheeks or jawline, then you more than likely have combination skin.

This is because where the skin is oiler, such as on your T zone area, the pores tend to be bigger meaning that they secrete more sebum. Sebum is a natural product that’s oily or wax like to the touch, that we need to keep our skin supple and hydrated, but is also responsible for the familiar shine of oily skin.

Those of us with combination skin may also notice that they develop flakey areas where the skin is oiliest and may notice breakouts of spots in the same area. Having combination skin can also mean that you suffer with dandruff too, which is caused by having oily patches of skin on your scalp.

What causes combination skin?

Like with most of our traits and characteristics, the majority of the time, having combination skin depends on our genetic makeup. Often inherited, if one or both of your parents have combination skin, then the chances are, you will too.

Also, and this is more of a trigger than a cause, if you notice your oily areas feel worse around the time of your period, during pregnancy or during the menopause, then this is down to your fluctuations in hormones during this time.

What skincare should I use for combination skin?

Having combination skin isn’t something we can change, but we can do all we can to support it, helping to control oil and shine and hydrate any dry patches.

Using a moisturiser for normal skin on your combination skin will usually mean that your cheeks feel fine, but your T zone appears very shiny after an hour or so. Similarly, using products that contain harsh ingredients will make any dry patches feel worse and can also stimulate the skin to produce even more oil.

So it’s important to strike the right balance with your skin care products.

All skin types respond well to a gentle cream cleanser that’s made with natural plant based ingredients that won’t strip the skin of oil (even oily skin responds badly to oil stripping products as they encourage the skin to overcompensate and produce even more oil.

You could also benefit from a balancing toner for oily skin on your oily T zone after cleansing that will help to keep shine at bay. Avoid using this on your cheeks if they’re dry, as it can cause the skin to dry out even more.

When it comes to a moisturiser, here’s where you’re best off treating your skin to two different products. Use one for oily skin on your T zone and one for normal or dry skin on your other areas. Or, use a different moisturiser in the morning to the one you use at night. The trick is finding what works for you.

Silica based moisturisers or those containing salicylic acid help to mattify the skin or try one with an oil free hydrating ingredient such as hyaluronic acid.

We developed all our products with skin just like yours in mind, using botanicals and alkalising silica salts to support healthy skin. From our creamy cleanser to our moisturisers, looking after your skin has ever been so simple. Try our products and join our long list of skin happy customers!


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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