Dealing with Combination Skin

The Importance of Skin Types

Skin types can be confusing and finding the right products can be a nightmare.   Step 1 is knowing what type of skin you have and understanding what that means.   There's Combination, oily, normal, dry, and sensitive.  Here's a questionnaire from Paula's Choice you can use to quickly determine your skin type.  Addressing the wrong skin type can cause breakouts and irritation.  We've always been of the belief that being informed as a consumer is the best way to make a purchase decision.  Don't just read the marketing labels! Understanding and looking for certain key words will make you a smart shopper and help you sift through the millions of products you will be faced with at a pharmacy or Sephora!  If you walk in clueless you'll probably end up overwhelmed and empty handed or with the wrong product.   Most women, we are guilty of this too, turn to the trial and error method when it comes to cosmetics and skincare.  In other words, you buy the newest best thing you heard something about only to be disappointed.  Maybe it was a great moisturizer for someone else, but it just didn't work for your skin.  You end up with a bunch of half used products (probably expired by now) and a huge credit card bill.  Most often, this cycle occurs when you have combination skin because it requires a careful balance of ingredients and every case is different.  If you have a more straightforward skin type, like dry skin for example, the issue becomes easier to address with a more hydrating cream.  

Do You Have Combination Skin?

Contrary to popular belief most people actually have combination skin to some degree.  If some parts of your skin are dry and flaky while others (usually the T zone) are oily, you have combination skin (or if you have any two skin types on different areas of your face).  You also have combination skin if your skin changes with the seasons or climate, going from dry to oily or vice versa.  Usually combo skin is oily in the summer (sebum production goes up in the humidity and heat) while dry in the winter.  The important thing to understand is that oily skin does not mean hydrated skin.  You can have oily dehydrated skin!  Commonly, people with oily skin will OVER wash their faces to get rid of the oil, which only causes your skin to dry out and produce more oil to compensate.  So the oil production is not a function of cleanliness and you shouldn't wash your face more than twice a day. Generally the oil glands around your chin, forehead, and nose are more active than other areas of the face.  Some products can contain irritants that cause your oil glands to be more active, clogging pores and worsening the situation.  You need to find products that provide balance to your skin, soothe it and moisturize it.

Dealing With Combination Skin

One of the best tips for dealing with combination skin, that tends to breakout in certain areas, is to spot treat problem areas.  The unfortunate truth is that combo skin is more work to deal with and you have to be attentive to how your skin behaves.  Here are some pointers, tips, and things to consider. 

  • Seasonal Skin Care Routines
    • You might need to have a different skin care regime for summer vs winter because your skins behavior changes entirely.  In the summer, use a cleanser and moisturizer for oily skin that helps control sebum production. In the winter use a cleanser for combination skin (normal to dry) and add in a more hydrating cream.  
  • Always use oil- free, chemical free, and fragrance free products (avoid irritants).  Things like alcohol, soap and sulphates will strip your skin of natural oils and cause more oil production.
  • Look for words like non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic.  These are GOOD WORDS. 
  • Stick to GENTLE gel-based or mild foaming cleanser for combination skin. Combination skin requires balance and soothing products not harsh chemicals. 
  • Exfoliate with a warm clean wash cloth 3 times a week to remove dead skin cells and breakdown oil.  
  • Do a clay mask once a week to remove impurities. 
  • Spot treat problem areas

So whatever skin type you have, the important thing is that you understand it.  We didn't mention any products here because we don't want to influence your decision or promote any one item.  Instead, we challenge you to listen to your skin, observe it, understand it and then venture into the pharmacy informed and ready to make a good purchase decision!  Good luck!!