How To Tell If You Have Combination Skin & How To Treat It

Do Your Own experiment

Getting a radiant complexion means understanding your skin type and how to treat it. There are four main skin types: dry, oily, sensitive, normal, and combination.

Let’s do a little experiment. Wash your face with your normal cleanser, then wait an hour. Feel your skin and observe any appearance changes, then match your observations to the descriptions on the left.


What is combination skin


First, let’s define combination skin. This skin type features two or more different skin types on the face, and the condition of your skin may fluctuate between seasons.

Typically, the combination skin type is characterized by dry, flaking skin on the cheeks, while excessive oil and shine appears on other areas of the face.

Those with combination skin – myself included – are in a constant battle with their T-Zone, which includes the forehead, nose, and chin.


What Causes Combination Skin

Genetics play a large role in determining skin type. Whether you have dry, oily, sensitive, or combination skin, it’s likely that you inherited it from your parents and grandparents.

When you have combination skin, there are more sebaceous glands in the T-Zone, which are responsible for creating sebum, the waxy substance that keeps your skin soft and supple. The glands in this area tend to be more active in those with combination skin type, producing excess sebum that can lead to a shiny look, and can contribute to breakouts. 

However, there are environmental factors that come into play. Certain products and lifestyle habits can contribute to combination skin type; using harsh products that contain dry ingredients can trigger your skin to produce excess oil, which can worsen breakouts in the T-Zone while drying out other parts of the face.

How to treat combination skin

The secret to treating 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, in fact, not true, and choosing the right products, and using them properly might actually help control oil production.

Further it’s important to avoid products that incorporate excessive fragrance and products that clog your pores.

As mentioned before If you have combination skin type, you likely deal with dry, flaky skin in at least one part of your face. Dry skin can be sensitive, and may be more easily irritated by products that contain chemically created fragrances. Stick to products with natural ingredients and avoid chemical irritants that could worsen breakouts or dry out your skin. 

Certain products are more likely to clog up your pores. It helps to find products that don’t make breakouts worse. Stick to non-comedogenic makeup and skincare products designed to be gentle on the skin while providing the coverage and treatment you need. 


Here is a Breakdown of my own Skin Routine:

  1. Use a gentle cleanser

Don’t be tempted by harsh cleansers. Their effects don’t last very long and they dry out your drier areas even more.

I like to use a ph-balanced foaming cleanser in the morning to get rid of the little dirt that deposited on my face during the night. They’re usually gentle enough for the entire face.

At night, I opt for a cream or oil-based cleanser that melts away makeup in minutes and replenishes oil.

Or you can totally go down the two-products route and use a foaming cleanser on your oily areas and a cream cleanser on your drier areas.

  1. Use the right Toner

If you really want a toner for your combination skin, choose a hydrating formula rich in antioxidants to help fight the premature signs of aging.

Whatever you do, stay away from toners that contain alcohol. They only dry out your skin.

  1. Exfoliate the right way

Combination skin is the only skin type that would benefit from more than one exfoliating acid.

I’m a huge fan of salicylic acid (BHA) for those oily areas. It gets inside the pores, removing all the excess oil and dead cells that clog them up. Of course, it exfoliates the surface of the skin, too.

On the drier areas, I’d stick to glycolic acid (AHA). It exfoliates the surface of your skin AND boosts hydration.

If you only want to use one, go with salicylic acid. Glycolic won’t do much for your pimples and blackheads. Or, better yet, use an exfoliant that has both.

  1. Use A Hydrating Serum

Hydrating serums are perfect for combination skin. They contain humectants, i.e. moisture magnets that attract moisture from the air into the skin. The most famous member is hyaluronic acid.

Humectants are great for combo skin because they hydrate all over without adding extra oil.

No greasiness. No shine. No breakouts. Just soft, supple skin.

Bonus points if the serum has antioxidants.

  1. Use Two Moisturizers

I find it really is the best recipe for combination skin.

Dry areas need occlusive formulas that can lock in moisture, but those are usually too heavy for oily skin. Oil-free moisturizers work best there.

Oil-free moisturizers are great because they contain emollients that act like oil. They lock in moisture but without adding more oil to the oily areas.


  1. Wear Sunscreen

You need sunscreen EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  The only way to protect your skin from wrinkles, sun spots, cancer, and all the damage UV rays cause. Choose a lightweight one, so you can use it comfortably all over the face, oily t-zone included.

Your Source for Clean Beauty

Fatma Haddad
Fatma Haddad

Fatma, born in the Netherlands and currently living in Beirut, is a mother of three.
After studying law and working in the corporate field for years, she knew that her passion was elsewhere. Her dream was to own a clinic for non-invasive beauty treatments, which led her to become a certified beauty therapist.
For years she was the co-owner of a beauty clinic in Beirut – Lebanon, and is co-founder of YIVINA where she is also the Director of Content Development.