What Is Combination Skin And How To Treat Different Skin Types

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Your approach to skincare greatly hinges on your specific skin type. Sensitivity levels can vary from person to person, prompting the need for meticulous care in your skincare regimen. And the first step is learning your skin type. Regardless of your individual type, comprehending the spectrum of skin types and their corresponding treatments is important.

Among these classifications is combination skin. So, what is combination skin? This prevalent skin type poses a distinctive challenge concerning skincare routines and remedies. If your T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) tends to be oily while your cheeks lean towards dry or normal, you likely fall under the category of combination skin.

Effectively tending to this skin type demands a customized approach that adequately addresses both the oily and dry sections. Throughout this article, you will learn the nuances of combination skin, how to identify your skin type, and how to care for your skin.

Understanding Combination Skin

woman with towel head applying cream to her face

Combination skin is characterized by having different skin types in different areas of the face. Typically, the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) tends to be oily, while the cheeks may be dry or normal. This duality often poses a challenge in finding the right skincare routine.

What Causes Combination Skin?

A combination skin type is typically characterized by having different areas of the face with varying skin characteristics.

It results from a combination of genetic factors, hormones, and environmental influences. Here are some of the key factors that contribute to combination skin:

  1. Genetics: Your skin type can be influenced by your genetic makeup. If your parents or close relatives have combination skin, you may be more likely to have it as well.

  2. Hormones: Hormonal changes can play a significant role in determining your skin type. Fluctuations in hormones, especially during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can affect the production of sebum (skin oil). This can lead to oilier skin in certain areas and drier skin in others.

  3. Sebaceous Gland Distribution: The distribution of sebaceous (oil) glands on your face is not uniform. Some areas, like the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin), tend to have more sebaceous glands, making them oilier. Other areas, such as the cheeks, may have fewer glands and therefore be drier.

  4. Environmental Factors: Environmental factors, such as climate, humidity, and pollution, can also impact your skin type. For instance, living in a humid environment may exacerbate oiliness, while a dry climate can contribute to dry skin.

  5. Skincare Products and Habits: The use of certain skincare products or habits can influence your skin type. Using harsh or drying cleansers can strip the skin of natural oils, leading to dryness. Conversely, over-moisturizing or using heavy, pore-clogging products can make oily areas oilier.

  6. Diet and Hydration: Your diet and hydration levels can affect your skin. Consuming a balanced diet and staying adequately hydrated can help maintain a healthy skin barrier and prevent excessive dryness or oiliness.

  7. Aging: As you age, changes in collagen and elastin production, as well as decreased oil production, can alter your skin type. This may result in drier skin in some areas and the development of wrinkles.

To manage combination skin effectively, it’s important to tailor your skincare routine to address the specific needs of different areas of your face. This might involve using a gentle cleanser, a balanced moisturizer, and spot treatments for oilier or drier areas. Consulting with a dermatologist can also provide personalized guidance on managing combination skin.

Identifying Your Skin Type

woman with nose piercing applying face cream

Before you can effectively treat your skin, you need to identify your skin type. Combination skin can be identified by its varying textures and needs in different facial zones. Oily areas may appear shiny, especially around midday, while dry areas might feel tight or flaky.

We determine what skin type we are based on ‘normal’ skin. Normal skin isn’t overly oily or overly dry. When you have skin that is oily in comparison to ordinary skin, then that is your skin type. The same goes for those who have unusually dry skin.

Those who have both overly oily and dry skin together have combination skin. These types are even more complicated to treat.

4 Skin Types and How to Identify Them

What is Combination Skin?

Combination skin is the most difficult to treat. Because your skin is both dry and oily at the same time, you require a treatment that can be absorbed quickly while still moistening the individual skin cells well.

Finding such a product for combination skin types is quite difficult. If you’re having difficulty locating one, consider consulting your doctor to learn more about what you can do.

Combination skin can be identified by:

  1. Oily T-Zone: An excess of oil, visible pores, and a tendency to have breakouts around the forehead, nose, and chin.

  2. Dry/Normal Cheeks: What causes combination skin lies in the sebum production. The cheeks may feel rough, tight, or flaky.

  3. Visible Pores: Enlarged pores are common on the nose and surrounding areas.

  4. Occasional Breakouts: Breakouts may occur in the oily areas, while the dry areas remain relatively unaffected.

What is Normal Skin?

Normal skin is the easiest to deal with. You can follow the regular skincare regimen without much worry. You’ll need to exfoliate the skin once a week to remove dead skin cells and apply moisturizers every morning or night for the best effect. Occasionally you could do microdermabrasion at home to get a clearer and smoother skin.

It is unlikely that anything serious will occur if your skin is normal. Obviously, you’ll still get acne and other things, but they will be easily removed. So long as you follow a balanced regimen, you should be good to go!

Normal skin has a well-balanced sebum production and is not overly oily or dry. To identify normal skin, look for:

  1. Even Texture: The skin has a smooth and even texture.

  2. No Excessive Shine: Normal skin doesn’t appear too shiny or too dry.

  3. Few Blemishes: Blemishes and breakouts are rare on normal skin.

What is Dry Skin?

Dry skin is a tad more complicated to work with. When your skin is dry, acne and other things occur more frequently and spread more quickly.

You’ll need to use gentler skincare products to protect your skin from cracking or getting worse. You should always moisturize your skin before sleeping when you have dry and flaky skin.

Overall, treatment is still manageable, but it requires a more delicate approach than for those with normal skin.

Using essential oils will also help reduce the dry skin issue. Applying essential oils will moisturize [1] your skin in such a way that lasts in the long term.

Dry skin lacks proper moisture, often leading to flakiness, itchiness, and redness. To identify dry skin, look for:

  1. Rough Texture: The skin feels rough and uneven to the touch.

  2. Tightness: Dry skin often feels tight after cleansing.

  3. Flakiness: Flaky patches, especially around the nose and cheeks, are common.

What is Oily Skin?

Oily skin is technically the opposite problem to dry skin. You may think that using harsher exfoliators and moisturizers would resolve this issue. Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. Using harsher products only causes your body to generate more oil to compensate for it, leaving you right back where you started.

Instead, what you need to do is use products that can be quickly absorbed. Products that get absorbed quickly allow you to use them for a shorter time, which restricts the effect it has on the oiliness of your skin.

Oily skin is characterized by excessive sebum production, leading to a shiny complexion and a higher likelihood of acne. To identify oily skin, look for:

  1. Shiny Appearance: The skin appears glossy, especially on the forehead, nose, and chin.

  2. Enlarged Pores: Oily skin tends to have visibly larger pores.

  3. Prone to Acne: Oily skin is more prone to blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.

hands applying serum or cream

Tailored Care for Combination Skin

Managing combination skin involves a balanced approach that addresses both oily and dry areas effectively. Here’s how to care for combination skin:


  1. Gentle Cleanser: Use a mild, pH-balanced cleanser to prevent over-stripping the skin of its natural oils.

  2. Double Cleansing: Incorporate double cleansing, using an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based one, to thoroughly cleanse without causing dryness.


  1. Balancing Toners: Opt for alcohol-free toners that balance the skin’s pH levels without drying it out.


  1. Hydration: Apply a lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated without clogging pores.

  2. Spot Treatment: Use targeted treatments like salicylic acid for oily areas and richer creams for dry areas.

Sun Protection

  1. Broad-Spectrum SPF: Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to protect all areas of the skin from UV damage.

Treating Different Skin Types

Apart from combination skin, other common skin types should also be cared for. Here are ways to manage oily skin and dry skin and maintain a healthy skin:

Oily Skin

Oily skin is characterized by excessive sebum production, leading to a shiny complexion and a higher likelihood of acne. Treatment involves:

  • Oil-Free Products: Use oil-free or mattifying products to control shine.

  • Salicylic Acid: Incorporate salicylic acid to prevent and treat breakouts.

  • Lightweight Moisturizers: Choose gel-based moisturizers to provide hydration without excess oil.

Dry Skin

Dry skin lacks proper moisture, often leading to flakiness, itchiness, and redness. Treatment includes:

  • Rich Moisturizers: Apply emollient-rich moisturizers to lock in moisture.

  • Hyaluronic Acid: Look for products with hyaluronic acid to boost hydration.

  • Avoid Harsh Ingredients: Steer clear of products with alcohol and fragrances that can exacerbate dryness.

Normal Skin

Normal skin has a well-balanced sebum production and is not overly oily or dry. Treatment involves:

  • Maintaining Balance: Use a gentle skincare routine to maintain the skin’s natural equilibrium.

  • Regular Hydration: Keep the skin hydrated with a moderate, non-heavy moisturizer. 

close up of the face of a man with bangs

Frequently Asked Questions

Can combination skin change over time?

Yes, factors such as age, climate, and hormonal changes can impact your skin type.

Is it necessary to use different products for different areas of my face?

Not necessarily. Some products can be applied strategically to target specific areas.

Can I skip sunscreen on cloudy days?

No, UV rays penetrate clouds. Sunscreen is essential every day.

Are natural ingredients better for sensitive skin?

Not always. Some natural ingredients can also cause irritation. Patch-test first.

How often should I exfoliate oily skin?

Aim for 2-3 times a week to prevent excess oil and dead skin buildup.

back of a woman on the beach


In the quest for healthy and radiant skin, understanding your unique skin type is of utmost importance. Combination skin, with its blend of both dry and oily areas, demands a well-balanced and personalized approach to skincare. By identifying your skin type and tailoring your skincare routine accordingly, you can unlock the path to achieving that desired glowing complexion.

It’s crucial to remember that skincare is highly individualized, and what works for one person may not be the perfect fit for another. Ultimately, taking care of your skin is an investment in your overall well-being, and with the right care, you can confidently put your best face forward each day.

Also, check out the other comparison review I did below for more options on facial care procedure: