It’s not always easy to divide things into neat little boxes, especially when it comes to skin. Case in point: combination skin.
There are widely considered to be four key skin types: normal, dry, oily and combination. Combination skin covers a grey area, with aspects of both dry and oily skin all at once. Common signs of combination skin are:
Combination skin is very common, as the majority of our skin’s oil-producing sebaceous glands are in our T-zones.
The most challenging part of caring for combination skin is that it's effectively two skin types in one. The following factors can aggravate combination complexions…
Caring for combination skin is all about keeping the balance. Picture your skin as a see-saw, you want it to sit perfectly in the middle, without too much weight on either side.
When your T-zone is congested and overwhelmed, it’s tempting to blitz that excess oil with harsh, stripping cleaners. But using the wrong cleanser, or washing your face too much, can cause problems by making already dry areas even drier. Instead, use a gentle cleanser. Double cleansing in the evening will ensure all daily grime is sent packing down the plughole instead of clogging your pores.
Liquid exfoliants can also play a key role in balancing combination skin. By breaking down the bonds that hold dead skin cells to the surface of the skin, dry skin will become smoother, and oily skin clearer. Start slow and low with polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) such as gluconolactone and lactobionic acid. Using just three times a week will improve both the tone and texture of your complexion. If your skin can tolerate it, you can eventually graduate to alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), lactic and malic acid. Or, simply use AHAs as a targeted treatment on oilier areas.
Another skincare myth that needs debunking is that moisturiser is the enemy of oily and combination skin. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. That being said, something heavy and blanket-like will likely lead to breakouts. Choose an airy formula with humectants (water-attracting ingredients) and light emollients to hold that moisture there. This will help to keep the thirstier bits of your skin hydrated and happy, and the oilier sections brilliantly balanced.