Continuing with the skin typing exploration from last week, today’s post from the Byrdie Blog puts combination skin in focus, with a deeper dive into how to recognize it and how to create a proper skincare routine that fits your needs.
You may think you have oily skin in some places of your face or dry skin in others, but it could be a combination of both. As with most skin types, there is more than one factor at play, and it’s totally normal to have different skin types at the same time.
We asked dermatologists to give us the down low on what combination skin means. They answered questions on how to tell if you have this skin type, the best ways to care for it with it, as well as essential information on what causes combination skin.
Skin never stays exactly the same as it may easily be affected by seasonal and hormonal changes. While these are factors to take into consideration, there are also some more definitive signs that you may have combination skin. According to our experts, the signs are as follows:
Your t-zone (forehead, down the nose to the chin) is oily, while your cheeks are dry.
Your skin is oilier in summer and dry in winter. In spring and fall, your T-zone is oily while your cheeks are dry.
When you are on your period, your skin might experience breakouts causing you to think your skin is oily. But once your period is over, the breakouts may clear right up and your skin may become flaky.
There are many factors that lead to your skin type. Genetics is one of the main factors and can even determine the amount of oil your skin produces because they regulate cell production.1 People often have varying sizes of sebaceous glands—which produce sebum (one component of our important hydrolipidic film). Overactive sebaceous glands cause more oil production.
Hormones are another factor to consider and might cause your skin to overproduce oil in some areas while drying out in others. The root cause of oil secretion is “directly related to male hormone content” and that your body reacts to this hormone, or the perceived imbalance of the hormone, by making too much oil. You can thank your parents and your age for that. After menopause, however, your skin will produce much less oil and you'll likely be left with drier skin.
Another big thing is your environmental factors like heat and humidity, since your skin is naturally more oily in these kinds of temperatures. Prolonged humid conditions cause sweat glands to produce more sweat, leaving the skin moist and shiny, whereas low humidity causes the skin to dehydrate and increases sensitivity and irritation. This is also why in winter when the furnace heat kicks in and the cold starts to strip your skin of its natural oils, the skin will often compensate as your oily spots may become more normal and your cheeks become dry and flaky.
The secret to combination skin is in finding a balance between treating any oily and dry areas. One of the biggest issues is that often, people with combination skin are afraid of moisturizer and sunscreen, as they’re generally associated with creating more oiliness. This is not, in fact, true, and choosing the right products, and using them properly might actually help control oil production.
This is why a good skincare ritual can be so essential to keeping skin happy. Oftentimes, it’s best to keep everything as basic as possible and always account for sensitivity when building a skincare regimen—with products in your routine that are as gentle as possible.
Start With A Cleanser And Moisturizer
First, it’s important to remove excess oil with a good cleanser. Look for one that has salicylic acid to help reduce oil build-up and clogging. You’ll still need to use a moisturizer no matter your skin type.
Euro Tip: For cleansers, we recommend Euro Botanicals AHA/BHA Cleanser (gentle exfoliating wash) or our signature Rosehip Seed Cleansing Crème. For a gentle nighttime moisturizer, try our Marine Hydration Crème and in warmer weather, or when your skin is craving something really lightweight, a gel-based moisturizer like Lemon Gel Crème, an excellent hydrator that absorbs easily.
Gently Exfoliate With AHA and BHA
While some products can help hydrate, others can dry your skin out so be careful when it comes to trying something new. Gentle exfoliation is recommended to help with excess oil or flakiness, but this also depends on what product you’re using, the season, and your personal needs. People with any oiliness may feel that more exfoliation is better, but over-drying skin can cause irritation and lead to worsening skin problems as the skin tries to compensate when it's dried out.
Typically exfoliate 2-3 times per week using an AHA/BHA wash or gentle exfoliator. If you suffer from breakouts, a gentle alcohol free toner may help but only use it on your problem spots, avoiding dry areas.
Retinols are also great for reducing oil production, treating associated acne, and other skin concerns like dark marks and fine lines.
Depending on how sensitive your skin is, you may want to use different masks in different areas of your face. Use a clay mask—meant to help discourage the formation of blackheads—on your t-zone every now and then, or opt for a gentler kaolin clay mask which promises to prevent dryness, and manage excess t-zone oiliness.
Overall, the choice is yours when it comes to masking, and makeup, but as the dermatologists said above, it really comes down to using proper skincare twice a day. If you experience any adverse reactions or have more prominent skin conditions or areas of concern, consult with a dermatologist as it could be more than just normal combination skin issues at play.
Written by Julyne Derrick for Byrdie, April 2023