What is Combination Skin?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Combination skin is a term used to describe facial skin that shows symptoms of both dry skin and oily skin. Combination skin can be a challenge to care for effectively, as oil-decreasing products may be overdrying in certain places on the skin, while moisturizing products may cause excessive oiliness in other areas. To correctly balance a skincare regimem, people with combination skin may need to employ trial and error to find the right products to create a desired look.

Oily skin is most likely found on the nose.
Oily skin is most likely found on the nose.

To identify whether skin is combination, wash the face well with water and dry with a soft cloth. Areas of dry skin may feel tight, or exhibit signs of skin peeling or flaking. Oily skin will look shiny and have a visible sheen, and may show signs of pore-clogging blackheads or pimples. If skin is combination, it will show signs indicating both oiliness and dryness.

People with combination skin may benefit from using a toner on their T-zone.
People with combination skin may benefit from using a toner on their T-zone.

Oily skin is likely to occur on the nose and above the eyebrows, an area known as the T-zone for its shape. Dry skin more commonly appears on the cheeks and neck, and is often characterized by increased sensitivity to cleansers and flaking or peeling skin. The chin may be oily or dry, and depending on the skincare regimen, may switch back and forth between extremes.

Some cosmetic and skin care companies offer product lines specifically for combination skin. These products are meant to remove excess dirt and oil to prevent breakouts in oily areas, while providing moisture to dry areas to prevent redness or flaking. Many people with combination skin find success by using a variety of different skincare products and applying them carefully on specific facial areas. For instance, some people may apply an oil-reducing toner along the T-zone, while applying a moisture-boosting serum on dry cheeks and throat.

Trial and error is often the main way to find a balancing regimen for combination skin. Some experts recommend that an oil-free, sunscreen-containing moisturizer be used every day to protect skin from damage while providing moisture and preventing breakouts. Since oily skin can be prone to breakouts, it may be important to find an acne-preventing formula that does not cause excessive drying. Dry skin, on the contrary, may be more likely to react to harsh products, so consider purchasing a gentle cleanser and put toner only on oily areas. If a product does not appear to be benefiting the skin after two weeks, consider trying something new.

Combination skin has both dry and oily patches.
Combination skin has both dry and oily patches.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


I have adult combination skin, and am always looking for cleaners that can keep my skin clear, and at the same time those that do not dry out my skin. I made from Earth's Green Tea Cleanser Wash in the summer, but in the winter time, this is the cleanser that I use every day, morning and night.

To me, the most important thing about this cleanser is that it cleans quite well but does not make your skin feel dry and tight. Most of the times I use this cleanser and it is enough to give me that deep clean feeling.


my skin is combination, i presume, around the top of my cheeks i have what seems like pimples. Below my lip i also have a rough patch of dry skin and every night i use Simple exfoliating wipes and e45 cream on the dry skin but it hasn't yet worked. I have quite sensitive skin so i don't know whether these breakouts are due to the make up i wear. Please help me with some advice on getting rid of this.


I didn't have bad skin, but I didn't have perfect skin either until I started using Shielo's Hydrating Mist Spray on a daily basis. I'm on my fourth bottle, and I plan on purchasing another one as soon as I finish typing this.

With this spray, it's pretty much foolproof in achieving the perfect look. Every time I wear this, I get compliments. This spray goes on evenly, it's light weight and does not feel like I'm wearing a a thick moisturizer.

I personally think that it's more hygienic than regular moisturizers (which are applied by the hands and contaminate your face) and improved my skin condition overall.


These are a few tips for combination skin:

Don’t wear makeup for long periods of time. Combination skin needs to breathe. Use moisturizers that are oil free. Water based gels work well with more oily skin. Try to keep your face free of dirt and grime. Wash it throughout the day when you are at home.


@snowywinter: Honey is great to use for combination skin because it contains potassium. Potassium is a natural antibacterial agent that helps to prevent breakouts and heal the ones you already have. It also is a natural emollient which is great for moisturizing.

I have combination skin and I make my own cleanser. Mix together ¼ cup of honey with ½ cup mild liquid soap and ½ cup of water. I put it in a pump container. Massage into the skin and then rinse with lukewarm water. It works great. I use it twice a day.


@snowywinter: It is very difficult to choose facial cleansers, as there are hundreds on the market now. Every one of them promises to be the best.

Once you have determined that you have combination skin, you should move on to choose your cleanser. You probably need one that has exfoliating properties. That will help to remove dead cells and smooth your skin’s surface. Look for one with alpha-hydroxy acids, as well.

If you plan on using it every day, choose a mild cleanser.


What is the best cleanser for combination skin?

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