Everything You Need To Know About Combination Skin

When it comes to navigating the beauty aisles, the process can be overwhelming and the marketing jargon can be confusing. Skin types are thrown around left, right and centre but knowing what’s right for you is complicated. Many people are told they have combination skin but what does it mean, and how do you treat it?

We spoke to Dr Justine Hextall ,Consultant Dermatologist on behalf of The Harley Medical Group, to get the lowdown, and scroll to the bottom to see our top product picks.

How do you define combination skin?

Combination skin is skin that has both areas that are oily and areas that are drier. In fact, due to the distribution of the oil secreting glands on our face we all have combination skin to some degree.

In some individuals, skin care regime can cause areas of dryness and sensitivity, hence the term combination. It is very tempting to use heavy, often alcohol based or foaming cleansers when oiliness is a concern. The issue with this is that the skin barrier can become unbalanced and become inflamed, dry and in fact often produce more oil in areas to compensate. This may be referred to as ‘combination skin’ when in fact it is unbalanced skin as a result of the wrong skin care regime.

What skincare routine would you recommend for combination skin?

I recommend a gentle wash, such as The Harley Medical Group’s DermaQuest Essential Daily Cleanser), matching the skin’s natural pH. When skin is rinsed it should feel calm and hydrated not tight. This skin friendly approach stops the over production of oil to compensate. A light moisturising lotion keeps skin hydrated without being comedogenic.

Are there any products you would particularly recommend for combination skin? A serum is always recommended as an active treatment to protect skin and help the cells to regenerate. I favour anti-oxidants to protect the skin against daily stresses such as pollution and UV exposure. Serums are light and often water based and well tolerated. After the serum, has been absorbed a light moisturizer, preferably a lotion or hyaluronic acid gel should be applied to keep skin hydrated and maintain that glow.

Should you exfoliate combination skin?

Exfoliation is helpful to remove dead skin cells and excessive oil. I recommend this no more than twice a week though and often a hot flannel rubbed firmly over the skin will effectively remove any build up on skin.

How should you treat acne if you have combination skin?

The same rules apply. A gentle wash stops the skin becoming to dry and sensitive. Salicylic acid in washes and masks works to both breakdown the build up of skin and oil in blocked follicles and also soothe skin. Benzyl peroxide again helps to unblock pores and reduce inflammation. Interestingly studies have shown that benzyl peroxide reduces vitamin E in skin a natural anti-oxidant so I always recommend applying a light vitamin E cream when treating acne.

How should you deal with areas of dry or flaky skin?

Gently exfoliate skin once or twice a week. Apply a calming and hydrating mask looking for ingredients such as vitamin E, glycerin, salicylic acid, calendula and aloe vera. Remember it may be your cleanser unbalancing your skin. Try a cleansing lotion rinsing with a mineral water spray such as Avene Eau Thermale.

What is the best way to cover up a shiny t-zone?

Personally, I recommend Dr Feelgood Mattifying Balm by Benefit. This balm removes shine and minimizes pores in oily areas. Skin looks smooth and flawless without appearing dull and powdery, perfect for combination skin.

If you have combination skin, what should you look for when buying foundation?

Avoid heavy coverage and powder based bases as oily bases may exacerbate acne and powder compacts will highlight areas of dryness and make skin appear dull and lifeless. I love Nars Sheer Glow Foundation, it is light and lifts skin reflecting light away from problem areas giving the illusion and clear hydrated skin.

See our favourite products for combination skin in the gallery below.


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