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Best routine for combination skin

Skincare can be fairly intuitive. Knowing which skincare products to choose based on your exact skin type generally makes sense. You have oily skin? Avoid oil-based skincare products. Your skin is on the dry side? Opt for moisturizers with deeply hydrating ingredients (like hyaluronic acid). 

But what about combination skin? 

How do you choose the right cleanser if your skin is oily in some areas, but dry in others? How do you treat oily acne breakouts if you have patches of dry skin at the same time?

Everyone’s skin is different. Even within the different skin types, there’s still tons of room for variation. The combination skin type is where things can be especially tricky, even though this is themost common skin type. 

Treating multiple skin types at once—oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin—requires an effective skincare routine, designed specifically for combination skin needs. Finding the perfect routine for combination skin doesn’t have to be difficult. 

With the right ingredients, you can balance your combination skin for a naturally hydrated, healthy, matte complexion.  

What is a combinatination skin?

If your skin tends to be a mix between oily and dry, with a touch of sensitivity, you likely have combination skin. Individuals with combination skin may observe oiliness in certain areas and dry, flaky patches in others.

This fluctuation between oily and dry can vary with the seasons, throughout the day, during different times of the month—or seemingly for no reason at all. That’s the unpredictable nature of combination skin.

Typically, combination skin presents with oiliness in the T-Zone (forehead, nose, chin) and dryness along the cheeks and sides of the face.

Genetic predisposition is usually the root cause of combination skin, though various factors can exacerbate or contribute to this skin concern. Harsh ingredients in skincare products can intensify the oily-to-dry imbalance. Frequent cleansing, excessive use of physical exfoliants, and applying thick, pore-clogging moisturizers can also exacerbate combination skin.

Moreover, individuals with combination skin, especially those prone to acne, may also experience issues like dark spots.

Choosing the right moisturizer, avoiding dryness, aiming for lightweight lotions instead of heavy creams, and incorporating gentle eye creams can help manage combination skin.


How Do I Know If I Have Combination Skin?

If you aren’t sure whether your skin is oily, dry, or somewhere in the middle, there are a few telling signs you can observe on your skin:

  • Large pores:Enlarged pores can indicate acombination skin type. When the skin is considerably oily, this is caused by the sebaceous glands under the skin producingsebum (the body’s natural oil) at a faster-than-normal rate. Assebum production increases, the pores can become clogged by theexcess oil mixing withdead skin cells, dirt, and debris. When pores are clogged, they appear larger than they are—and that’s how enlarged pores are born.
  • Dry,flaky skin and acne coexist:This sign is very telling of acombination skin type becausecombination skin isquite literallythe combination ofdry areas andoily areas. When acne andblemishes exist, the sebaceous glands producesebum in excess, and the skin becomes increasingly oily.Excess oil production causes pores to become clogged withdead skin cells and dirt, which give rise to acne, whiteheads, and blackheads. When the skin is erupting withblemishes in some areas, but dry andflaky in other areas, this means there’s both an excess of oilanda deficiency of oil—combination skin.  
  • Shiny skin: If you try to remedy your shiny skin with oil-blotting sheets or tissues regularly, there’s a good chance you have acombination skin type.Excess oil production around certain areas of the face, especially around the chin-nose-forehead ‘oily T-Zone’, and dry spots around the cheeks and jawline are common signs of thisskin type.

To find out if you possess combination skin, observe your skin in its natural condition. Are there visible blackheads and enlarged pores predominantly around your nose?

Do you often attempt to moisturize dry patches while being cautious of excessive hydration, as it may result in an oily film across your face if you over-apply moisturizer?

Is it notably easy to overdo the hydration? If these indicators resonate with you, it's likely that you have combination skin.

Crafting the best skincare routine involves addressing dry patches with an appropriate moisturizer while being mindful of potential oiliness. Once you’ve identified yourskin type, you’re ready to start crafting the perfectskin care routine, one ingredient at a time. 

Best Skincare Ingredients forCombination Skin

ChemicalExfoliators: AHAs andBHAs

Put down the physicalexfoliators—the harsh, grainy scrubs—and pick up the chemicalexfoliants—the transformative cleansing solutions withBHA and AHA ingredients. 

AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) are a class of chemicals that have an extreme,hydrating effect on the skin. 

These chemicals are water-soluble, and they treat the surface of the skin by pulling inmoisture and enhancing the skin’s ability to reap the benefits ofmoisturizing products. The most commonAHAs include glycolic acid and lactic acid, and these ingredients are infamous forhydrating the skin, but also for reducing wrinkles, signs of aging,sun damage, andhyperpigmentation.

BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) are the other important class of chemicals, but these onesdon’tremain on the surface of the skin. 

BHAs delve below the surface, within the hair follicles, to eliminate dirt and debris and unclog the pores. 

Skincare products withBHAs are effective for releasing dead, trapped skin cells that causeblemishes,breakouts, blackheads, and whiteheads. 

The most commonBHAs in skincare includesalicylic acid and citric acid, and these ingredients dry out excesssebum to regulateoil production and remove dirt and skin cell buildup to treat acnebreakouts.

BHAs and AHAs are commonly used in lightweightexfoliating face washes, leave-onexfoliant solutions, and soothingface masks. These ingredients are excellent for thisskin type becauseBHAs treatoily skin, and AHAs treatdry skin—the perfect duo forcombination skin.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid isalways in our skincare line-up, and for good reason. This naturally-occurring ingredient is a humectant, meaning it’s a magnet formoisture andhydration

Because hyaluronic acid has a naturally lightweight composition, this ingredient provides the optimal amount ofhydration, without leaving a film of oil or grease on the skin. 

This ingredient works by pullingmoisture from the air or from previously-applied ingredients on the skin and locking inhydration

Moisturizers withhyaluronic acid are ideal forcombination skin because they provide deephydration to thedry areas of the skin. 

The Best Routine forCombination Skin

Step 1:Cleanser

It all begins with acleanser. Cleaning the skin is critical for mitigatingoiliness and properlyhydrating thedry areas of the skin. 

Acne-prone skin, characterized by combination skin, tends to experience breakouts due to its excess sebum production. It benefits from nourishing care to maintain balance and clarity.

Cleansing the pores of acne-causing debris we’ve accumulated throughout the day, and thedead skin cells trappedin the pores is the first line of defense against the oily side ofcombination skin

As for the dry side ofcombination skin, a gentle, non-drying facial creamcleanser is key topurifying the skin without losingmoisture or irritating the skin—because unfortunately,combination skin often meanssensitive skin too.

Even ifsensitive skin isn’ta part of yourcombination skin experience, an effective,gentle cleanser will leave yourskin feeling smooth, bright, and refreshed. 

Combination skin should be washed in the morning and at night. Cleaning the skin and ridding itof city dirt, debris, and pollution is important for fighting off harmful free radicals and regulatingsebum production for balanced skin.

Cleaning the skin in the morning is important for removing the sweat, dirt, and oil you’ve accumulated during your sleep. (Your pillow might not be doing your skin any favors either.)

Step 2:Exfoliator

Once you’ve cleansed your skin and purged the surface of bacteria and leftover skincells, a chemicalexfoliating solution withBHAs or AHAs is essential for reaching the gunk buildupbelowthe surface. 

An AHA orBHA exfoliant will not only pull the dirt from within the pores and hair follicles (where the sebaceous glands are located), but it’ll also promote cellular turnover. The cellular turnover process is responsible for sheddingdead skin cells (the ones thatclog pores and cause acnebreakouts) and generating new skin cells. 

Cellular turnover, or skin cell regeneration, is vital for tight, youthful,supple, andcleanskin. No matter yourskin type, you’re probably in pursuit of firm, ageless skin, but people withcombination skin should beespeciallygrateful for this biological process. The shedding and regeneration of skin cells leave us with purified, detoxified, minimally oily skin

Exfoliate with a lightweight,BHA, or AHAexfoliating solution every nightorevery other night, depending on your skin sensitivity. If you’re just starting out with a chemicalexfoliant, use it two to three nights a week to see how your skin reacts. If you don’t notice any adverse reactions or irritations, you can increase yourapplication every other night, then tryincreasing it every night. (Alternate between aBHA and AHAcleanser to experience the benefits of both chemical classes.)

Always listen to your skin, and don’t push it to its limits. Respect your skin by allowing it to adjust to newskincare products without overwhelming it.BHAs (likesalicylic acid) and AHAs (likeglycolic acid) are potent ingredients and should be used only as much as your skin allows. 

Step 3:Toner

Balancing your skin tone is a crucial step in fortifying your preceding cleansing and exfoliating efforts within your skincare regimen.

A toner serves to purify your skin by eliminating impurities, dirt, debris, and dead skin cells while restoring your skin's pH level and fortifying the skin barrier. When selecting the appropriate toner for your skin, it's important to avoid products containing alcohol, as they can exacerbate skin conditions.

Alcohol, a highly irritating ingredient, has the potential to dry out the skin, accentuate fine lines and wrinkles, and deplete natural oils.

An ideal toner can work wonders, especially for combination skin types. Seek toners containing a balanced blend of replenishing and hydrating components such as ceramides and lactic acid, alongside cleansing and purifying agents like witch hazel and salicylic acid.

Effective toners can help regulate oil production, minimize redness and irritation, and eliminate bacteria and urban pollutants, which are essential for maintaining happy combination skin.

Gentle toners are suitable for use both morning and night, following your cleansing and exfoliation routine.

If your skin reacts adversely to your toner, causing irritation or redness, consider switching to a natural alternative like rose water toner or basil water toner, or reduce your toner application to once daily.

Adding toner to your skincare routine helps balance skin tone, reinforce the skin barrier, and maintain a healthy complexion, particularly for those with normal skin.

Step 4: SPF 30 (or Higher)Sunscreen

Sunscreen shouldneverbe overlooked, regardless of your specific skin care goals. It’s no secret that the sun’sUV rays are much tougher than your skin. Your face is especially prone tosun damage because theskin on it is thin and delicate. 

Sun damage significantly increases a person’s chances of developing skin cancer. It also causesphotoaging, which manifests as undesirablefine lines, wrinkles, and unhealthy, sagging skin. Choose an effective anti-agingsunscreen withSPF 30 or higher to protect your skin fromsun damage and from various environmental pollutants. 

Always applysunscreen before stepping outside. If you choose a chemicalsunscreen, apply it after yourtoner (in the morning) to ensure its effectiveness. Chemicalsunscreen needs time to permeate through the skin, so wait about 15 minutes before applying your nextskincare product or before stepping outside. 

Mineralsunscreens, on the other hand, should be applied last in yourskincare routine.These sunscreens work by forming a barrier over the skin to prevent harmful UV rays from penetrating.

Many people with combination oroily skin use mineralsunscreens because thesesunscreens create more of amatte finish than chemicalsunscreens. (Some chemicalsunscreens can be fairly oily.) 

Step 5: Serum

Serums give your skin the nutrients it needs. They’re added to askincare routine to nourish the skin with fundamental vitamins that enable the skin to repair itself, protect itself fromUV rays and free radicals, and minimize the signs of aging.

Two of the most therapeutic serums forcombination skin arevitamin C serums andhyaluronic acid serums. 

Dermatologists often recommend vitamin C booster serums to improve the skin complexion, becausevitamin C is a naturalbrightening agent. This ingredient is also anantioxidant, meaning it neutralizes the free radicals (unstable molecules) that cause illness and rapid aging.Vitamin C serum alsohydrates the skin and stimulates the body to renew skin cells. 

Applyvitamin C serum to your face once to twice daily to experience its benefits. It’s a good idea to applyvitamin C in the morning to allow it to protect the skin from free radicals throughout the day. 

Hyaluronic acid serums are also essential for balancingcombination skin.Hyaluronic acid provides the necessarymoisture that many people withcombination skin are lacking. This ingredient attracts water and retainsmoisture to infuse and replenish the skin.

A hydrating serum withhyaluronic acid should be applied once daily, in the morningornight, to heal dehydrated skin, fillfine lines and wrinkles, and renewcombination skin

Step 6:Moisturizer

Ahydrating, strengtheningmoisturizer can be exceptionally healing forcombination skin.Moisturizer serves to form a barrier on top of the skin, locking in themoisture and nutrients below. 

Finishing off yourcombination skincare routine with the rightmoisturizer allows the underlying skincare ingredients to penetrate deep into the skin without escaping or evaporating from the surface of the skin. 

Depending on how oily or dry yourcombination skin is, you might want to opt for a lightweightgel cream to preventclogged pores without reducing the effectiveness of a finalmoisturizing step in yourskincare routine

A creamy, anti-aging facemoisturizer is also excellent forcombination skin that requires a little extra protection from damage.

Soothingmoisturizing creams that includeceramides, peptides,hyaluronicacid, andamino acids and are non-comedogenic, paraben-free, and fragrance-free are important for healing the skin on a cellular level without irritatingsensitive skin, clogging pores, or increasingoiliness and greasiness. 

Alwaysmoisturize your skin at the end of your daily and nightly routine to maximize the effects of your products and replenishmoisture lost throughout the day. 

Withcombination skin, the goal is to keep the skin optimally hydrated, without contributing to its oily tendencies. Skincare is only effective if you know yourskin type, and your skin will tell youeverythingyou need to know if you listen to it. 

Observe how your skin reacts each time you integrate a newskincare product into your routine. Using the right products for yourskin type is key to establishing a healthy routine that regulatesoil production, invigoratesdry skin, and transforms your complexion.

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